THERE REALLY isn't much of a chance Michael Vick will quarterback the Eagles this week against Dallas.
You don't need a top-secret source deep within the organization to know that. You only need to listen to Vick.
"I try to work every day to get myself back in position where I can come out here and run full speed. I'm not able to do that . . . When I try to 'burst,' the knot is there," Vick said yesterday. "I think another week of rehab could put me in position where I could start gaining some confidence and doing things I normally do."
Asked yet again about the idea that he might lose his job because of injury, a la Alex Smith last year in San Francisco, Vick said: "We gotta win the next football game . . . we have three great quarterbacks."
Vick said that he will let Eagles coach Chip Kelly decide whether he starts again, when his left hamstring is healthy.
"I'm not going to focus on what could be or what should be," Vick said. "Right now, I've got to rehab."
Vick said he "can't answer" the question of whether he will be ready to play by Sunday, but really, he pretty much did. His tone was markedly different from last week's daily updates on how surprised he was about how much better he was feeling, leading up to Vick being active for the Tampa game as the third QB. The implication all along was that he was on the verge of playing.
"If I had to go in the game [now], I could just sit in the pocket," Vick said yesterday, as an "emergency guy."
Vick acknowledged yesterday that his injury is "a bad pull" and "can be reaggravated quickly. Because mine is up so high, and the way I run, I gotta take precautions. I can't overdo it, and if I [aggravate the injury], it'll be another 2 or 3 weeks."
One thought on the Vick shift toward frankness is that if you talk like you're on the verge of being OK long enough, and you still aren't able to play, people start wondering why. Though it's obviously an advantage to make an opponent prepare for two very different QBs, pretending a player is less seriously injured than he really is ultimately does the player a disservice. Vick, whose athletic courage has never been questioned, doesn't need that.
When Nick Foles spoke to reporters, just after Vick, the second-year QB again said he was ready for whatever role might be assigned him this week, but Foles practiced with the first team yesterday, and he radiated a growing ease and confidence.
"I do believe I can run this offense like coach Kelly wants us to. I feel really confident in that, because of the personnel we have around us as quarterbacks, and the coaches . . . I've progressed. I've continued to improve daily," Foles said. He completed 22 of 31 passes for 296 yards, three touchdowns and a 133.3 passer rating against the Bucs.
Asked about throwing the deep ball well Sunday, Foles said: "I always liked throwing it deep . . . I didn't change anything. I feel it and I throw it . . . I threw rocks as a kid. I was always throwing stuff, you can ask my mom. I got in trouble throwing a lot of stuff - pillows at my sisters."
Foles mentioned "a fine line between confidence and arrogance . . . sometimes you start thinking you're pretty good, you start becoming complacent. I've been there, I've done that - I did it in college. You have a great game, you throw four or five touchdowns, you feel good about it, and then the next game, you just get smacked. You're seeing stars . . . you just learn through playing this game a long time, 'Hey I gotta stay steady.' "
The entire team, plus offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, seemed to be pushing the narrative yesterday that theirs is a happy dilemma, because they have shown they can win with either QB. Ultimately, though, the sense that there isn't much difference between Vick and Foles from a results standpoint is dangerous for Vick, here on a 1-year contract at age 33.
"I think they're both very fine quarterbacks, and when you look at our three victories, they contributed equally," Shurmur said. "And they do different things well. And they can both be very, very effective and efficient in our offense."
"We caught a game last week where Nick did a nice job of completing his deep balls," Shurmur added. "He made good decisions in the run game, which is very important for us. But Mike's done the same thing. And so I think we'll sit here and try to compare the two players, but for the most part, they both can do anything they want them to do for us to be successful on offense."
There's still a really good chance the Eagles target the NFL's Holy Grail, a top-echelon, franchise quarterback, in the 2014 draft. But they say they haven't closed the door on Foles becoming that guy. Shurmur has been around a lot of young quarterbacks. He was Donovan McNabb's quarterbacks coach, Sam Bradford's offensive coordinator, Brandon Weeden's head coach.
"I think he sees the field well," Shurmur said of Foles. "He understands, he studies, he works at it. He understands what's a good play and a bad play. I think he's an accurate passer. He throws a ball that's a 'friendly ball,' that's catchable. Because he works at it, I think he will continue to improve."
Shurmur said that Vick and Foles "are professionals. This isn't the first time they've been through this type of stuff, and as a quarterback, you deal with it."