NFL Team Report - Philadelphia Eagles - INSIDE SLANT
Michael Vick will start for the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday against the New York Giants -- unless he doesn't.
Vick who missed the last two games because a hamstring injury, was a full practice participant for the second straight day Wednesday and took most of the first-team reps, which would seem to indicate that he will start this weekend
But coach Chip Kelly still isn't ready to etch that in stone. He said Vick still hasn't really tried to run hard, and he's not ready to say for sure that Vick will start.
Part of that is an attempt to keep the Giants guessing, even though Vick's backup, Nick Foles, is out because of a concussion, and rookie Matt Barkley threw three interceptions last week after replacing Foles.
But a bigger part is that Vick still hasn't completely recovered from his hamstring injury, and Kelly wants to make sure the 33-year-old quarterback isn't at risk of aggravating it further by playing.
"We're going to wait and see how he progresses and how he goes," Kelly said. "A lot of that comes from the feedback from Mike in terms of where he is.
"I know he's progressed. But to put a number on it, I'm not going to put a number on it."
It's unlikely that Foles, who completed only 11-of-29 passes in last week's loss to the Cowboys before he was injured, will be cleared in time play Sunday.
So the only option the Eagles have if Vick doesn't go is Barkley.
They signed former University of Tulsa quarterback G.J. Kinne to their practice squad earlier this week. Kinne was with the Eagles during spring OTAs and training camp before being released.
If Vick and Foles both can't play, Barkley would start and Kinne would be signed off the practice squad and back him up.
Foles' atrocious performance against the Cowboys pretty much eliminated his chances of taking the starting job from Vick. He played about as poorly as you can possibly play, missing wide-open receivers and averaged only 2.76 yards per pas before being injured when he was sacked by Cowboys defensive linemen George Selvie and Jarius Wynn.
"Yeah, I think he was off a little bit," Kelly said. "His feet weren't set on a couple of those throws, and in all instances, we have to do a little better job.
"There were times when guys were open that we didn't get the ball on him. There were other times when we didn't get off of coverage. And there were a couple of times that we gave up too much leakage pressure and he wasn't able to set his feet."
SERIES HISTORY: 158th regular-season meeting. Giants lead series, 81-74-2. The two teams played three weeks ago at the Meadowlands. The Eagles intercepted three of Eli Manning's passes in the fourth quarter on the way to a 46-21 victory.
NFL Team Report - Philadelphia Eagles - NOTES, QUOTES
--The Eagles defense is showing dramatic improvement. After giving up an average of 34.5 points per game in the first four games, Philadelphia held opponents to 19.3 in the last three. Last week, the Eagles held the Cowboys, who had been averaging 30 points per game, to 17. Their opponent passer rating the last three games is 69.1. It was 107.2 after the first four games.
"All of it is a growth that is happening," defensive coordinator Bill Davis said. "Knowing what the strengths and weaknesses of the individual players are now that we have almost half a season under our belt. So that's growing.
"More importantly, we as a staff see the players understanding the concepts of the coverage, the techniques within the coverage, and how they work with the concept. All of that is growing.
"We just got done doing the tape evaluation of the (Dallas) game, with the coaches and players together. The biggest thing we came away with is we've got to make sure that individually we're getting better on the little things, then collectively the defense gets better. Effort to the ball has to be there. Tackling has to be there.
"Our turnovers (12 takeaways, including eight interceptions) are in a good place. We've got to continue to take the ball away. Our third down was a little better (against Dallas, 31 percent). We've had some struggles with that. So that's improving. The red zone (62.5 percent, 28th in the league) has to get better. The points per game are at 24 right now. That's not good enough. We've got to get that lower and play really good enough defense to win the game. And last week we did."
--NFL rushing leader LeSean McCoy, managed only 55 yards on 18 carries in last week's 17-3 loss to the Cowboys. McCoy blamed himself for the poor performance, but C Jason Kelce said the blame belonged with the line. "Whenever Shady doesn't have a good game, it's kind of a little bit different than a lot of backs," Kelce said. "A lot of backs, when they struggle, they blame the offensive line. Shady puts it on his shoulders. He always puts as much as he can on his back in terms of his output."
BY THE NUMBERS: 9 -- The number of WR Riley Cooper's 10 receptions over the last two weeks that picked up first downs.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Jason Kelce takes everything to heart. He demands perfection from himself. I think if Kelce graded out at 99 percent, he'd still be pissed off. That's just the type of guy he is. That's why he's awesome to have on this team." -- Eagles coach Chip Kelly, on C Jason Kelce.
NFL Team Report - Philadelphia Eagles - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--QB Michael Vick, who missed the last two games with a hamstring injury, took the first-team snaps in practice Wednesday for the second straight day and is expected to start Sunday against the Giants if he doesn't suffer a setback this week.
--RB LeSean McCoy averaged 6.0 yards per carry in the Eagles' first four games, but just 3.4 in the last three.
--WR Riley Cooper is starting to become an offensive factor. He's been targeted 13 times in the last two games and has 10 catches, nine for first downs.
--KR/PR Damaris Johnson hasn't done much this season, but he's facing a Giants punt coverage unit Sunday that has given up three touchdowns.
--LB Emmanuel Acho was signed earlier this week to replace Jake Knott, who is out because of a hamstring injury. Acho is a very good special teams player and probably will be activated for Sunday's game against the Giants.
--QB Nick Foles, who is recovering from a concussion sustained in Sunday's loss to the Cowboys, didn't practice Wednesday and isn't likely to be available for this week's game against the Giants.
--S Patrick Chung, who has missed three of the last four games because of a shoulder injury, was a limited practice participant Wednesday. His status for Sunday still is uncertain.
--RB Chris Polk, who has missed the last two games because of a shoulder injury, practiced fully Wednesday and is expected to play this week. He is the Eagles' No. 3 running back.
--CB Bradley Fletcher didn't practice Wednesday because of a knee injury. He is day-to-day, but the Eagles expect him to be able to play this week.
--LB Jake Knott didn't practice Wednesday. He sustained a hamstring injury in Sunday's loss to the Cowboys. His injury is serious enough that the Eagles signed a temporary roster replacement for him, Emmanuel Acho.
GAME PLAN: The Eagles blitzed Eli Manning a lot in their Week 5 victory over the Giants. He completed only 8-of-24 passes and two of his three fourth-quarter interceptions came on plays when the Eagles blitzed. They almost certainly will send extra rushers after him this week and try to force a few more turnovers.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Eagles C Jason Kelce vs. Giants DT Shaun Rogers -- Rogers and the Giants' other defensive tackes gave Kelce problems in the first meeting, when LeSean McCoy was held to 46 yards on 20 carries. But Kelce doesn't usually make the same mistakes twice.
--Eagles CB Brandon Boykin vs. Giants WR Victor Cruz -- Boykin did a solid job on Cruz in Week 5, helping hold him to five catches for 48 yards.
--Eagles WR DeSean Jackson vs. Giants CB Trumaine McBride -- Jackson got the best of McBride in the first meeting, catching seven passes for 132 yards and a touchdown.