Even to the discerning eye, it was difficult to see much difference between the Philadelphia Eagles first practice of mandatory minicamp and the workouts during voluntary OTAs that took place over the past month. The music was blaring, the tempo was upbeat and Nick Foles took more reps than Michael Vick under center throughout the course of a sunny South Philadelphia afternoon.
By practice’s end, Foles saw 39 total practice reps against a defense while Vick took 35 total snaps on Tuesday. This has developed into a trend as the Eagles quarterback competition heats up during the last offseason session before Training Camp kicks off on July 22nd.
Still, though, despite the continued nearly equal distribution of repetitions at quarterback, Chip Kelly reminds fans and observers of this team alike to check the calendar.
“We’re not going to make any rash decisions on any position or anything like that,” Kelly explained. “We haven’t even put the pads on yet. When you put the big boy pads on and get out there hitting, there are a lot of times where a guy can come out of nowhere and surprise you.”
On Tuesday, it was Foles who stole the show on the practice field with a 55-yard bomb down the sidelines that was hauled in by a diving Jeremy Maclin who was draped in coverage by Cary Williams.
“I just have the same mentality I have had all along,” Foles explained. “Every day, you want to go out there and compete like you are the starting quarterback, regardless. Look, we’re in the National Football League and it’s such an exciting thing just to be out there competing. ”
The second-year Arizona product looked sharp out there and appears to be getting more confident with each passing practice. Tuesday, it seemed there was an even larger emphasis placed on read option type plays and the 6’6″ quarterback didn’t seem to miss a beat.
Meanwhile, Vick looked much more decisive than he had in previous practices.
“I feel good about where we’re at and what we’re doing,” Vick said after practice. “We’re really learning a lot in terms of the offense right now and I like where we are as a team”
The 33-year old unfurled what appeared to be an effortless, flick of the wrist, type of throw midway through Tuesday’s session to Arrelious Benn. However, Vick still forced several throws into double coverage and finished one of his 11 on 11 ‘team’ sessions just 2-5 with two sacks.
It does not appear that Kelly is anywhere close to naming a starting quarterback anytime soon. However, it was telling on Tuesday that Dennis Dixon even garnered some repetitions with the first-team, and Matt Barkley for the first time this spring faced some legitimate trouble with his arm strength.
“None of us have had any thoughts of hey, we’ve got to get a guy named by a certain point in time,” Kelly said last week at the Novacare Complex. “It will play itself out. It will play itself out over the course of time when we’ve had an opportunity to make a thorough evaluation. It is a big decision. When you make a big decision, you have to take your time and let it play itself out on the field.”
There is no question that athletically Vick has all of the weapons to succeed, especially when forced to adapt and tuck the ball under on the run, which he did on Tuesday. But, the veteran who has not won a playoff game since 2004 still appears to be facing demons in terms of reading and reacting to downfield coverages even in practice.
Foles may just be better suited overall in terms of reading and reacting, but he still must improve throwing while on the run, which whoever starts under center for Kelly will be asked to do frequently.
It was another day and another opportunity at One Novacare Way to glimpse into the mind of Kelly. But at this point, there’s little doubt that even the first-year head coach is anywhere close to tabbing his opening day starting quarterback.
Matt Lombardo is also an on-air personality on 97.5 FM The Fanatic in Philadelphia. Join the conversation and follow Matt on Twitter.