WITH MICHAEL Vick still unable to practice, Nick Foles will get another chance to prove he is the Eagles' future Monday night against the Panthers.
Eagles coach Andy Reid said Wednesday he expects rookie quarterback Foles "to take another step forward and learn from the mistakes he made . . . You'd think he'd have a better outing."
Asked how much more comfortable he expects to be this time, Foles said, "I hope a lot. There's a lot to learn from that game."
Foles, who threw two early interceptions in his first start, the Washington loss last Sunday, said he particularly expects to be able to take better care of the ball.
"I play quarterback for a reason, and I love having the ball in my hands," he said. "It's my job to make good decisions, and I didn't make the best decisions."
Foles completed 21 of 46 passes for 204 yards against the Redskins, but could not complete a touchdown drive.
Reid said Vick, who watched practice Wednesday before taking Thanksgiving off with the rest of the team, is close to being able to exercise again, which is not the same thing as practicing or playing. When he is able to exercise, Vick will undergo baseline neurological testing again. He did not test normal Monday.
Brown likely to start
Bryce Brown probably will start for the Eagles on Monday night against Carolina, something that did not seem even remotely possible when he declared for the NFL draft last winter.
Brown might have been the top recruit in the country out of Wichita East High in 2008, but after originally committing to Miami, he signed with Tennessee, then left after his freshman year, when coach Lane Kiffin departed, sat out a year, started over at Kansas State, suffered an ankle injury and left that program - where his brother Arthur is a standout senior linebacker this year - after playing in one game. He was drafted purely on potential. In training camp, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg remarked on how unusual it was to have a running back with so little college experience.
But Brown's raw talent was obvious, and he set about learning the things many guys already know by the draft time.
"I've had a tough road," said Brown, 21, who said he last started a game in high school. His freshman year at Tennessee, he backed up Montario Hardesty. "It's not like a lot of people's situations . . . I'm really thankful for the opportunity, and I'm excited. I can't wait to go."
Brown said he had never pass-blocked before he attended his first minicamp in the spring.
"It's still a struggle," he said. "The more I do, the better I'll get."
"It looks like he's more comfortable in the offense every week," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "He's doing a nice job of pass protection; that wasn't his thing when he first came here. Better recognition of the blitzes. And he's a patient runner. When he goes, he goes hard. Big body. Physical player."
Brown, 6-foot, 220, said a year ago when he left the Kansas State program he wasn't sure where his life was headed. "I had no idea. God gave me another opportunity, and now I'm here."
Brown returned kicks in the Eagles' 31-6 Sunday loss at Washington, a new experience, he said. He averaged 22 yards on three returns. Brown said he asked if he could continue, but he won't be on kick duty this week, since he's starting at running back.
Brown said the main thing he has learned is "there's no room to moan and pout. You've just got to keep moving forward, give it all you've got."
Wideout Jeremy Maclin said of Brown: "That's one of the guys you can actually see development of, over the course of the season. He's a phenomenal pass protector."
Left guard Evan Mathis said Brown "comes to work every day with a good attitude. He practices very hard. He listens, and just does his job."
Mathis said Brown might not be as much of a longshot as his college career would suggest. Four years ago, anybody who kept up with recruiting knew who Bryce Brown was. The fact that he didn't get much game experience before heading to the NFL didn't diminish his ability.
"He set his sights on [the NFL] a long time ago. This was something he expected to do, so he's not surprised he's out there on Sundays, getting carries," Mathis said.
Also getting an opportunity is second-round rookie defensive end Vinny Curry, who has been told he will be active for the first time this season.
"You just want to play your part, being a young guy," Curry said of his long wait, after being selected 59th overall last spring. "Patience is key."
Curry has been coming out for practice early, doing extra work.
"I can see myself getting better," he said. "[Tight end Brent] Celek said it to me the other day: 'Every week, you're getting better and better.' That's a compliment, coming from him."
No changing of guard
Jake Scott will start at right guard again this week. Andy Reid gave a bit of a rambling answer on that; it seems Danny Watkins' ankle injury still inhibits lateral movement, but it also seems Watkins has regressed this season, and Scott, a 9-year veteran, actually recognized and handled twists and stunts in his Eagles debut against the Redskins, something the Birds haven't seen much of from their interior line this season.
"On the high-ankle things, you have the tweaks and all that. [Scott] is healthy, he understands the offense, he did a nice job after he got over the two penalties early there [vs. Washington]. He played good football. He's got a lot of experience," Reid said.
"Just being one more week in the system, familiar with the terminology, it's that much easier," said Scott, 31, a former Colt and Titan who hadn't played or practiced in 2012 before the Eagles called him the day after the Dallas game. "I feel pretty good; I'm a little sore, but we get an extra day of rest this week" with the Carolina game scheduled for Monday night.
Scott said that even though he has played for Howard Mudd before, it wasn't in this offense, so there has been a learning curve.
"I've been with four offensive coordinators now," he said. "There's little nuances to everything, but plays don't change that much."
It's a mystery why the Eagles, desperate for offensive line help at least since Jason Kelce went down in the second game, didn't reach out for Scott sooner.
"That's out of my control; that can't be changed," said Scott, who might be able to parlay this opportunity into a longer-term job, here or somewhere else. "We'll deal with Carolina this week and go forward from there."
Running back Chris Polk (toe) will not play, making Bryce Brown and Dion Lewis the only healthy backs, if LeSean McCoy (concussion) remains out. Guess fullback Stanley Havili could slide over in an emergency . . . Wideout Jason Avant (hamstring) again seems unlikely to play.