It had to happen eventually.
On Tuesday during a light walk-through practice at the Novacare Complex, Matt Barkley saw time with the first-team offense during a 15-minute install period towards the end of practice.
“He’s going to be the starting quarterback against the Washington Redskins, (on opening night)” head coach Chip Kelly joked when asked what can be read into the fact that the fourth-round draft choice was practicing with the first-team. “It’s a walk-through period; it’s all about getting reps at this point; you can read into it what you want.”
For the record, Barkley didn’t throw a pass or hand the ball off during Tuesday’s practice. Kelly and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur were merely installing offensive plays and lining players up at their positions most of the afternoon.
Primarily the Philadelphia Eagles‘ quarterback battle has been waging on between Michael Vick and Nick Foles since the team first took the field during spring OTAs. However, Barkley took a handful of snaps with the first-team during Monday’s practice and on Tuesday Kelly inserted the USC product in with the top offensive unit during the team’s walk-through.
It’s food for thought entering the team’s second-preseason game against the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field.
Barkley entered last Friday’s preseason opener against the New England Patriots midway through the second-quarter and performed admirably in his first NFL action. By game’s end, Barkley wound up 11-of-22 for 103 yards and a touchdown.
Kelly insinuated that he’d like to see Barkley get into Thursday night’s game sometime late in the second quarter but ultimately envisions giving more than a handful of snaps to Dennis Dixon and G.J. Kinne this game.
While the starting quarterback job appears to still be for the taking between Vick and Foles, it is increasingly odd to see Kelly continuing to play Kinne, Dixon and Barkley during preseason games and taking away evaluation time from the team’s top two signal callers.
It is completely possible that Barkley’s time with the first-team on Tuesday means absolutely nothing.
However, it also is entirely plausible that at some point this season Kelly will be forced, or more than likely intends to play Barkley to evaluate whether or not he can be this team’s franchise quarterback in the not so distant future.
As seems to be the case with just about every position battle on this wide open depth chart, this situation certainly is worth keeping an eye on.
Matt Lombardo is also a sports radio host on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia. Join the conversation and follow him on Twitter.