NICK FOLES will get his first NFL start Sunday at Washington, barring a miracle of healing for Michael Vick.
Eagles teammates seemed almost as eager as fans Monday to see what the big rookie quarterback from Arizona might do with a full week of starter prep.
"I see Nick every day in practice, from being the scout team quarterback, and I see the passes he's capable of completing," cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said. "Main thing is, that guys gotta pull together, rally around him, let him know we believe in him."
What does DRC like about Foles? "The way he stands in the pocket, delivers the throws, and gets the ball out quick. He makes good judgments and he makes them fast."
Right guard Dennis Kelly said: "Obviously, there's a reason why he's here. He had a great preseason, and I think he handled himself pretty well [Sunday] night. There were still some issues from the first time playing. If he gets a full week to prepare and be ready, I think he'll have a great game."
Left guard Evan Mathis was asked to tell fans something about Foles, who completed 22 of 32 passes for 219 yards, a touchdown and an interception in relief of Vick Sunday.
"He picked up the offense pretty fast. He's a very smart kid. He has incredible physical talent, very good natural ability," Mathis said. "The guys in the locker room trust him."
Rodgers-Cromartie, Kelly and Mathis spoke not long after Eagles coach Andy Reid acknowledged that Vick suffered "a pretty significant concussion." Reid declined to make it official that Foles will quarterback the team this week, but he said the Eagles will of course adhere to the NFL's concussion protocol, which would include Vick being cleared by an independent neurologist by the weekend.
"I'll just tell you, though, that it's a pretty good one," Reid said of Vick. "So, we'll go through the protocol."
Reid said Vick was resting Monday, the day after his head was bounced off the Lincoln Financial Field surface on back-to-back plays during the Birds' loss to the Cowboys. "I think we'll know [Vick's status for Sunday] here in the next couple of days. I think we'll have a pretty good idea," Reid said. "The thing I'm telling you now is, I think it's a pretty significant concussion there."
Reid was asked what the game tape told him about Foles' debut.
"I'll tell you he did a nice job of keeping his eyes down the field when he was under pressure. He had a couple of nice plays there," Reid said. "There were a couple of plays there that he'd like to have back, but I thought he did a pretty good job with that. I thought he got the ball out on time. He handled pressure well when it was in his face and he didn't move."
Frank Scelfo, Foles' quarterbacks coach at Arizona, said Foles getting his first NFL start for a team on a five-game losing streak is "a difficult situation," but one Foles embraces. "He will be very prepared, every week," said Scelfo, who talked to Foles about the Dallas game, which he said left Foles "a little disappointed."
"He learns from his mistakes," Scelfo said. "He'll make mistakes, he's a rookie, but you won't see him have the same problems over and over."
Reid was asked a couple of times what will happen if Foles plays well in Vick's absence. He didn't provide clarity.
"Listen, these are all projections. I'm just telling you Michael is hurting right now, Nick is going to step in and be the quarterback until that point comes, and we'll take it all from there," Reid said.
Foles' anticipated start enlivens a matchup of 3-6 teams that would otherwise not be terribly intriguing. Team chairman Jeffrey Lurie has said he needs to see significant improvement on last season's 8-8 record to keep Reid past this year. At the podium Monday, Reid answered questions in relatively good humor, said all the right things about still being able to salvage the season. But there didn't seem to be a lot of passion behind his words. "I love what I do," Reid said, when asked about that.
There was no lack of fire, Rodgers-Cromartie said, when Reid spoke with the team afterward.
"[Reid] comes in still fired up and still the same guy. To us, he still believes," DRC said.
Rodgers-Cromartie said the same is true for the team, which Reid acknowledged was "sporadic" in tackling against Dallas.
"I can say the energy's still there," Rodgers said. "The guys are still not too much down . . . still believin'. "
The Eagles signed free-agent offensive lineman Jake Scott Monday and released Julian Vandervelde. Scott, 31, 6-5, 292, has started 121 games with the Colts and the Titans. He won a Super Bowl XLI ring as a starting guard with Howard Mudd and the Colts. Apparently, the Eagles plan to play him at guard, which might pave the way to move rookie Dennis Kelly to tackle. That already seemed possible, with Danny Watkins (ankle) expected to return to practice this week.
"I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it," said Kelly, who said he hasn't been told anything about moving back to tackle, his original position.
Andy Reid said Jeremy Maclin suffered a low-back strain when he was flipped early in Sunday's game and was "pretty sore" . . . Asked why he still has faith in special-teams coordinator Bobby April, after Sunday's Dallas punt return touchdown and what Reid acknowledged was "up-and-down" special-teams play this year, Reid said: "I think Bobby's a good football coach. We've got to do a better job; he's got to do a better job, the players have to do a better job and then we'll bust some of these and get some big plays."