Kevin Kolb will start Sunday for the Eagles against Dallas, according to team sources, allowing Michael Vick to rest a bruised thigh in a game that has no impact on the team's playoff standing.
For Kolb, though, the game is far from meaningless. It could be the quarterback's final start as an Eagle and his last chance to showcase his talent for off-season trade suitors, though there is still a long way to go before his future is decided. The primary goal, Kolb said, is for the offense to get back on track.
"It's important to get back in a rhythm and make sure we're ready to go," he said.
Neither he nor offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg would say who will start, but Vick sat out practice Thursday. With such a short week, that's a clear sign that he won't play.
"I'm just preparing like I'm going to be [starting], and that way I'm ready to go if that's what's called," Kolb said.
Vick had treatment on his quadriceps Thursday and did not speak to reporters. After Vick's three-turnover performance Tuesday, Mornhinweg said the quarterback needs to protect the ball better. He also said Vick sometimes tries to do too much.
"And that's not a bad thing, as long as he keeps that under control just a little bit," Mornhinweg said.
The Eagles, though, have leaned on Vick to fuel their offense, and usually he has delivered. But in the last two games, and particularly Tuesday, his mistakes hurt the team. He has been hit hard in that time. Still, Mornhinweg defended the offense's pass protection and his own play-calling. He said Vick needs to protect himself better from big hits.
"It's part of the game. I would like to see him protect himself just a little bit better, and there are ways to do that and he's gotten a little bit better at it," Mornhinweg said.
Vick did not adjust to some blitzes Tuesday, but other times his protection simply broke down. Mornhinweg chalked up the quarterback-protection issues to "leaving details on the field." The problems Tuesday were varied, he said: getting fooled by some Vikings formations, losing one-on-one blocking battles other times. The problems were spread throughout the offense, from the line to the receivers and quarterback and running backs, Mornhinweg said.
"It was not any one thing," he said. As for giving LeSean McCoy just 13 carries while Vick took a beating, Mornhinweg pointed out that the team averaged just 2.9 yards per carry in the first half.
"We weren't running it very well early," he said. "You always go back and critique exactly what you did."
The result of the missed blocks and pass-heavy game plan was a limping Vick shortly before the playoffs open.
That leaves Kolb poised for his first start since Oct. 24. Tackle Winston Justice said Kolb's attitude has not changed from the off-season - when he was the new face of the franchise - to now, when he is a backup whose main contribution comes while leading the scout team.
"I don't sense anything different," Justice said. "He's approached it like a professional."
As he prepares for his fifth start of the year, Kolb said he is not thinking about his NFL future - whether that will be with the Eagles as a backup next year or elsewhere as a starter.
"I like this team so much, and of course I like being around Mike so much that I think it's an injustice to the team to put my focus anywhere else," he said. "There's plenty of time for that this off-season, and when that time comes, I'll give it thought, but right now I'm focusing on winning this next football game and hopefully going and winning the Super Bowl."
Kolb acknowledged that it has crossed his mind how things might be different had he started the entire season.
"But how do you argue with the way Mike's played?" he asked. "I like where we're at with what he's done this year."
Birds Playoff Tickets
Tickets for the Eagles' playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field will go on sale at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
The team will host its first game of the NFL playoffs during the weekend of Jan. 8-9.
Tickets will be available through PhiladelphiaEagles.com and Ticketmaster.com, or by calling Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000.