A year after his release from prison, Michael Vick is probably worth less now - in terms of football value - than he was after serving 18 months for dogfighting crimes.

The quarterback, who received hardly a nibble from other NFL teams this off-season as the Eagles dangled him on the market, said that the tepid interest did not come as a surprise.

"Actually, I understood because I'd been out of football," Vick said Monday after a workout at the NovaCare Complex. "I didn't play behind a center for three years. I know how good I am. The [Eagles] coaches know how good I am. I know I could have landed some place, but it wasn't meant to be."

Instead, Vick is the backup to newly christened starter Kevin Kolb, also a first-time attendee Monday at this set of workouts. It's a role the No. 1 overall pick of the 2001 draft and former Falcons starter has had little experience in.

Last year, fresh out of prison, he was the third-string Wildcat wild card. This year, he's moved up the depth chart but may play even less.

"Being a competitor, you always want to start," Vick said. "I know in my future that's there for me. I'll be a starter in this league again. Right now, I'm just having fun honing my skills."

When Vick signed with the Eagles last August, he said one of the reasons he chose Philadelphia was so that he could learn under the tutelage of coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. For the most part, however, he received the Cliff Notes version.

To start with, Vick was out of shape. And when the season commenced, he saw very few repetitions in the Eagles' traditional offense. After the season, he let the coaches know he wanted to start. And then he let the rest of the league know he wanted to start as well as he campaigned for a trade.

Despite those few missteps, Vick spent the bulk of the off-season in the area, working out and learning the Eagles' West Coast offense.

"My skills are back," Vick said. "I'm ready. I'm faster than I've ever been before. I'm quicker, light on my feet. So I guess somebody missed out this time around. But I'll make it work here, and they'll see."

Earlier this month at minicamp, Reid said that "you see his quickness and speed back." But does that matter in this offense? More than gauging his athleticism, the Eagles will use the following three weeks of workouts to measure Vick's understanding of their scheme.

He may still be vital in the Wildcat role, but Vick's duties - as they are - are much different than they were a year ago. What if Kolb gets hurt or is a complete bust? Can the Eagles risk injury by throwing their backup out on the field for six to 12 spread option plays a game?

There is still the perception that Vick won't even make it to the season opener, that he will eventually be traded and old faithful Jeff Garcia will be reacquired as the No. 2 guy. The Eagles, however, have already made a financial commitment, having paid $1.5 million of Vick's $5.25 million salary.

"I expect to be here," Vick said. A year ago May 21, Vick was released from Leavenworth federal prison. He said that he didn't have the date circled on his calendar, but it was an anniversary he did not forget.

"I celebrated the anniversary. Well, I didn't celebrate," Vick said. "But I thought about it and it brought back a lot of memories, how far I've come on and off the field."

He still has a ways to go.

"When I get back to [practicing more], I'm going to be dangerous," Vick said. "That's all I can say. I'll be dangerous."

Extra points

Aside from Kolb and Vick, the following veterans participated in the rookie/selected vets workouts for the first time Monday: cornerback Ellis Hobbs, linebacker Ernie Sims, running back Mike Bell, defensive end Darryl Tapp, center Mike McGlynn, and cornerback Dimitri Patterson. . . . Linebacker Moise Fokou, who practiced last week, was not required to be at Monday's session.