MATT BARKLEY is here to play.
The Eagles' fourth-round rookie quarterback made that clear yesterday afternoon when he met with reporters following the first workout of rookie camp, which continues through the weekend. The full squad assembles Monday, the first time reporters can watch the team under new coach Chip Kelly.
Barkley said Michael Vick and Nick Foles are "outstanding men," who "have both done great things," but "you come in knowing that you have a job. They're trying to take that job as well. It's competition. That's what competing is all about."
Asked to revisit the disappointing drama of sliding in the draft, Barkley said, "The fact is that I'm here, and I have a shot to play on the field this year."
Barkley arrived in Philadelphia Thursday for the first time and said he has not met Vick, but knows Foles slightly from their days as Pac-12 competitors.
"You come in as a teammate to them, not as a fan," Barkley said. "You come in as someone who is ready to compete against them, at the same time . . . It's going to be good competition for all of us, competing against each other, just making each other better."
One would think Barkley would have little chance of starting as a rookie, especially given that Vick is making $10 million this season, but one doesn't know a darned thing about what Kelly is likely to do. The coach has been promoting an "even competition" between Vick and Foles. Who's to say Barkley won't get his turn?
Teammates seem to expect Vick to emerge, as was reflected in wideout Jeremy Maclin's comments Thursday.
"Barkley, his college achievements are off the wall. He obviously has good guys to learn from," Maclin said. "I'm pretty sure he's going to have to embrace that and go through some ups and downs, being a rookie quarterback. As far as competition, if there is a competition or there isn't, I'm not going to get caught up in that. I'm going to do my job."
Barkley got his first taste of the Eagles' new offense yesterday.
"I love it. It's a new challenge," said Barkley, who was a 4-year starter in high school and as USC. "It's a unique terminology; it's like learning a new language in a short time period."
Barkley said he disliked playing against Kelly's Oregon teams, because he always thought he was coming on the field after a Ducks score, not after a punt or a turnover.
"As an opponent, you're always on your heels . . . there's a lot of pressure. Now that I'm on this end, I think it's a better situation. Hopefully, we can put that pressure on other teams," Barkley said.
"You have to act quickly. You have to be a sharp decision-maker. I think that's what coach is looking for at the quarterback position," Barkley said, when asked about the offense. "You'll see some similar things" to Oregon's offense. "It's coach Kelly . . . We have other ideas and schemes fused in. It's going to be exciting."
Asked whether he fits the offense - Barkley is perceived as a fast thinker, but not a particularly fast or elusive runner - Barkley said: "I'll make it fit. It doesn't matter [what type of offense], I'm going to find a way to help this team out."
Barkley, a national media figure since early in his high school days, seemed pretty comfortable in front of the cameras. Asked whether there was a "silver lining" to being a fourth-round pick - the implication presumably being that he landed in a good spot - Barkley said: "You mean like the movie? Once you're here, there's always a silver lining. I don't know what that might look like; I'm taking it one day at a time. There could be. Who knows?"
Barkley said he is fully recovered from last season's shoulder separation and has no practice restrictions.