THERE ARE no diamonds on Nick Foles' neck, to borrow a phrase from a rapper we used to know.
"It's great coming in here in the offseason, being the starting quarterback," Foles allowed yesterday on a rainy afternoon at NovaCare, in his first extended remarks to reporters since the Eagles' quarterback was named offensive MVP of the Pro Bowl, 3 months ago. "But we have great quarterbacks here. We've all been working together to push the guys or work on things together, get the new players acclimated to what we do here."
Does Foles feel more pressure, in the wake of having thrown 27 touchdown passes against only two interceptions last season? What's it like, dealing with endorsement opportunities and sudden fame, for a relatively unheralded 2012 third-round pick?
"I just feel like me," Foles said. "I feel like I [felt] last year when I was playing. I feel like I just need to keep getting better. I've always felt, there's never a time to relax when you play this game, because there's always something to work on . . . Mindset and everything hasn't changed. I still am the same guy y'all talked to when I arrived here my rookie year. Like you said, with all that, there's opportunities that arise, but you also have to learn to say no to different things . . . my most important thing's my faith and my family . . . that's what I worry about the most. If things are taking time away from my family, I gotta say no . . . and obviously, I've got to be the best football player I can be to provide for them."
Foles, 25, did some promotional appearances in New York during Super Bowl week, then went home to Austin, Texas. He married longtime girlfriend Tori Moore, a former Arizona classmate and volleyball player, who worked for Nike in Oregon but has relocated to Philadelphia.
"She's an athlete, as well, so she knows how it goes," Foles said. "She pushes me to make me better, which is great."
Foles fielded several questions about the impact on the offense of losing explosive wideout and diamond-encrusted rapper DeSean Jackson, who was released last month, then signed by the Redskins.
"We'll have guys step up," Foles said. He said that Jackson "landed on his feet," and that they spoke just before the receiver's release. "We have 'Mac' [Jeremy Maclin] back, which is exciting. We'll see what happens in the draft coming up. We also have guys coming in that, they've got to step up and make plays," such as Arrelious Benn, coming back from ACL surgery, as is Maclin. "We'll see what happens. DeSean's a great receiver, he's very talented. He's unique in how he's so fast, he can get open, things like that. He's a hard guy to replace, but we'll have someone step in and do a great job in their own way."
Foles will play this season for about $615,000. After 2014, he will be eligible for a restructuring that could see him make 20 or 30 times as much money. That's one of the factors the Eagles cite when they explain why they have at least $20 million in unused cap space right now. Foles said striking it rich isn't something he thinks about. (For one thing, his father, Larry, is independently wealthy. The quarterback seems to not be motivated by money.)
"If that's what changed my mindset, I'd be in trouble. If that's what changed my heart, I'd be in trouble," Foles said. "If it was a dollar figure [that motivated him], I don't think I could do that. I know who I am. I enjoy playing this game, whatever my contract is, or not. I don't even know how much I make this next year, I just love playing this game with my teammates. And obviously, now is the point when we do make a living doing it. But at the same time, if I'm focused on the money part of it, how am I going to be the best player, and how am I going to show my teammates my heart, when I go do what I do?"
Foles said he isn't following the Colin Kaepernick contract saga, doesn't watch ESPN, prefers crime shows. (San Francisco's quarterback is approaching the final season of his rookie deal.)
"I don't ever want to worry about it," Foles said. "I want to help this team win, in any way possible. At the end of the day, it'll take care of itself."
Foles said he knows defenses will approach him differently this season, with so much more film to study. He will have to refine his game, make decisions more quickly.
"I have to study my tendencies - what do I do on different plays? Am I always doing the same footwork right here? Do I always look in the same direction? I need to study that, because they're going to be ready for it this year. I know that," Foles said.
"In college, after my sophomore year, I went out there and [opponents] had totally switched things around. There's always that adjustment, because the guys we play against are pretty darned good."
Foles said that with more experience, he will "get to routes" faster.
"If you look at Peyton Manning, he gets to the route fast, because he's done it for a long time," Foles said. "Those are the guys - him, Tom [Brady], Drew [Brees] - those are the guys I look at, because they're very good at getting the ball out fast. As I learn this offense, that's one of the things I do want to work on."
It seems unlikely the Eagles, with only six picks in next week's bountiful draft, will spend one on a quarterback, but it isn't impossible, given that Chip Kelly did not draft Foles, and Foles has started only 16 NFL games. Foles said that such speculation will always be part of the quarterbacking equation, and that it doesn't matter.
"There's always going to be things like that said. Whoever we draft, they're part of the Philadelphia Eagles. I'll welcome 'em in. If it's a quarterback - if we drafted all quarterbacks in the draft, 10 of 'em, I'd welcome 'em to the team. That's just who I am," Foles said. "I'm going to continue to work. At the end of the day, the quarterback's got to be the best quarterback to give the team success . . . If I'm not that guy, someone else will take it."