After all these years, Michael Vick is really, finally, absolutely going to start sliding, he promises.

"I'm sliding now, I'm getting down, I've made my mind up," Vick said on Wednesday. "There's going to be times when I can't get those extra yards, but I have to get down."

Vick has made similar vows before, but never with such conviction. The Eagles quarterback missed the last three games because of broken ribs, the second time in two seasons that such an injury has caused him to miss that amount of time.

And so, Vick said, his days of fighting for extra yards are over.

"I get too caught up in the game sometimes, but that leads to you being sidelined and not being accountable for your team on Sundays and not being out there," he said.

His first test comes Sunday at Miami. Barring a setback, coach Andy Reid said, Vick will start for the first time since Nov. 13. The 4-8 Eagles technically are not out of the playoff picture, but these final four games should be more about building momentum for next season.

And a strong, injury-free stretch by Vick is of the utmost importance. Vick said he plans to wear extra padding around his torso on Sunday. If he truly intends to avoid unnecessary contact, he may not need it.

But it will be difficult for him to change his spots and overcome his instincts - formed years ago when he was a running back - and not fight for extra yards.

"I just have to start playing smarter and being conscious about what I'm doing when I'm in the moment," Vick said.

And he has to slide.

Vick has said the fear of a leg injury was what often kept him from sliding and giving himself up. Late last season, he tried. The results were awkward, but he managed to avoid contact. But when this season started, it was back to the old Vick.

His first two injuries this season, however, came from out of the pocket. He suffered a concussion at Atlanta in Week 2 and a bruised hand a game later against the New York Giants.

The Eagles said Vick broke his ribs on the second play of the Arizona game when he took a shot in the pocket. But Vick endured a blow to the same area later in the game while he was scrambling.

Nevertheless, Vick said, he concluded that he must start sliding, in part because his teammates "week-in and week-out" have been asking him to just get down.

"I've been running after him this year and seeing him juking people and I'm screaming, 'Slide!' from 10 yards behind him," center Jason Kelce said.

Aside from wanting his quarterback to stay healthy, Kelce said that Vick's improvisation sometimes can tax his blockers.

Offensive-line coach Howard Mudd, before the season, said that blocking for Vick isn't more difficult than it is for stationary passers, as long as the quarterback passes from the designed throwing spot.

"We're going to protect that spot," Mudd said then. "If we don't get that job done - we whiff, someone gets loose - then [Vick] was to deal with it however he deals with it."

But he often doesn't throw out of that spot.

"It goes both ways," Kelce said. "It makes our job more difficult, really, most plays because you don't really know where he's going to be.

"But it can also make you look pretty good, because if you completely blow a block, he has the ability to get out of a sack."

And then there are the extra hits Vick takes because he sometimes holds onto the ball too long in the pocket. Of course, Vick's ability to spin out of would-be sacks and gain large chunks of yards when he scrambles is one of the skills that make him special.

Will he suddenly stop being that guy?

"No, I'm still going to play the way I want to play; I'm just going to get down," Vick said. "It's not worth taking a hit for the extra one or two yards unless the first-down marker is right there."

Vick smiled.

"So I guess I still haven't changed."

Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745, jmclane@phillynews.com, or @Jeff_McLane on Twitter.
Staff writer Jonathan Tamari contributed to this story.