With Kolb back, Vick is again Eagles’ backup
PHILADELPHIA – Michael Vick is more likely to begin the game at wide receiver than quarterback this week.
Eagles coach Andy Reid said Kevin Kolb will be the starting quarterback at Jacksonville on Sunday, despite a pair of impressive performances by Vick.
Kolb has been cleared to practice after missing the second half of a season-opening loss to Green Bay and Sunday’s win over Detroit because of a concussion. So he’ll start unless he has a setback this week.
Vick still will play in Philadelphia’s version of the wildcat offense. In the first play of the season, he lined up as a receiver.
“I think it’s a beautiful situation,” Reid said Monday. “I look at it a lot differently than other people look at it. I’ve got two quarterbacks that can play at a very important position. I’m a happy guy about it. There are a lot of teams that don’t have good quarterbacks, ones that they feel like they can win with, and I feel like we can with both of those guys.”
Vick wasn’t the only quarterback involved in a reshuffling. But unlike the Eagles, the Carolina Panthers and Buffalo Bills are making changes because their starters played poorly.
Rookie Jimmy Clausen will start over Matt Moore when the Panthers (0-2) play the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, and Ryan Fitzpatrick takes over for Trent Edwards when the Bills (0-2) visit the New England Patriots.
On Sunday, Oakland’s Jason Campbell was benched in favor of Bruce Gradkowski, who led the Raiders to a 16-14 win over St. Louis, and Sunday’s starter against Arizona has not yet been announced.
Vick threw for 175 yards and one touchdown and ran for 103 in a 27-20 loss to the Packers, nearly rallying the Eagles to victory from a 17-point deficit. He had 284 yards passing and two TDs in a 35-32 win over the Lions in his first start in almost four years.
A three-time Pro Bowl pick during six seasons in Atlanta, Vick missed two seasons while serving an 18-month sentence in federal prison for his role in a dogfighting operation. He signed a two-year contract with the Eagles before last season, then played sparingly behind Donovan McNabb and Kolb.
Vick was in for a handful of plays in the first half against the Packers. After Kolb went down, he took over under center and was outstanding.
Vick completed 63.8 percent of his passes and posted consecutive games with a passer rating above 100 for only the second time in his career.
His success is the culmination of a long journey back to the NFL for a guy who once was a mega-star. Now Vick is a different person and a different player. Instead of being a run-first QB, he’s learned to become more of a pocket passer. Despite getting sacked six times by the Lions and being under constant pressure, he scrambled mostly to buy time to throw and did it well.
“I’m very proud of him,” Reid said. “It’s a true testament that if you work hard, you keep your nose clean, good things can happen. And he’s worked very hard at doing both those things and I’m proud of the way he led the football team.”
Kolb started two games in his first three seasons before he became the team’s No. 1 quarterback when McNabb was traded to Washington. Kolb struggled in the first half against Green Bay, so fans and some media are calling for Vick to start.
But Reid made it clear there’s no quarterback controversy in Philly, and Kolb is ready to prove himself.
“I know I didn’t play very well that first half. We didn’t play very well and Mike’s done a great job,” Kolb said. “I’m really proud of him, the way he came in and led us in that second half and then led us to the victory. That was a good team win yesterday.
“All I can do is deal with what’s on the field, and that’s me getting out there. I’m anxious to get back on the field Wednesday for a practice and it starts there, and then going and getting a win against Jacksonville. I think if I just stay focused on those things and just play my game, then we’ll be fine.”
Middle linebacker Stewart Bradley also sustained a concussion in the opener, and he’s been cleared to practice Wednesday. Both players briefly returned before sitting out the second half. They defended head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder and the medical staff’s decision to allow them to re-enter.
“I passed all those tests on the sideline immediately after the hit and I felt good until I got back on the field and things started moving fast and all those pre-snap thoughts have to go through your head,” Kolb said.
Bradley’s re-entry was surprising because he slowly got up after getting hit in the head, staggered a couple of steps and fell flat to the ground.
“You can’t just say that because someone was hit hard he has a concussion,” Bradley said. “There has to be a test for that kind of stuff and they have those procedures. Concussions have been a hot topic for a long time in this league, especially the last couple of years.
“Rick and his staff use the international concussion data. They’re up-to-date on all of the latest stuff. I did seven or eight different things when I came off the field to see if I was OK. I wanted to play. I felt good to play. I wanted to go back in.”