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Eagles move closer toward starting the Foles era

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Nick Foles practiced with the first team this week and stuck around for extra film work.

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He's ready to make his first career NFL start for the Philadelphia Eagles.

All he needs now is to officially and publicly be named the starter. The Eagles again practiced another day without injured quarterback Michael Vick. The veteran has sat out since suffering a severe concussion in last week's loss to Dallas, turning playcalling duties over to Foles, a third-round draft pick.

Foles relieved Vick against the Cowboys and is ready to start Sunday against the Washington Redskins. Because Vick had not completed his concussion testing, he has not officially been ruled out of Sunday's game. That could come Friday when coach Andy Reid talks to the media after practice.

Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg sounded like a coach who knew he'd be tightening the playbook for the rookie.

``He will see some things that he hasn't seen before, and how he reacts to those things will be key,'' Mornhinweg said Thursday. ``That would be the two biggest things right at the front of my mind that we've talked about.''

The Eagles and Redskins are both 3-6 and badly need a win to even begin thinking about a .500 season. Foles was 22 of 32 for 219 yards with a touchdown and an interception in relief of Vick. Those numbers weren't enough to help the Eagles avoid their fifth straight loss, a first in coach Reid's 14 seasons.

In a dreary season that has fallen well short of expectations, seeing if Foles can show enough flashes to become a franchise quarterback has put some snap back in the Eagles' year.

``There's quite a bit of excitement, I think, in this situation because of a couple of things,'' Mornhinweg said. ``Number one, the situation we're in. Can we get it done and make a run here? Secondly, with a rookie quarterback there is certainly some excitement there.''

Mornhinweg said Foles, who played at Arizona, would be a good fit in the Eagles offense and was glad they drafted him.

``He's big, has a big arm,'' Mornhinweg said. ``I thought he carried Arizona as best as he could. They really had problems personnel-wise and injury-wise. He's tough, both physically and mentally.''

Fans rooted for Foles, who had an outstanding preseason, to replace Vick for weeks. He was impressive in the preseason and his receivers have been enthusiastic over his arm strength. He could put that deep ball back in play against a Redskins pass defense ranked among the worst in the NFL.

Mornhinweg, a former head coach with the Detroit Lions and a veteran of the NFL sidelines since 1995, was also wowed by Foles' maturity and the quick way he earned respect in the locker room.

``I will say this, Nick Foles has excellent command,'' Mornhinweg said. ``It appears that he is an excellent leader.''

Yes, there are always difficulties that go along with starting a rookie QB. The Redskins are experiencing their own growing pains with the often dynamic rookie Robert Griffin III. Foles isn't expected to carry a franchise like Griffin is doing in D.C. quite yet.

But he has seven games left to prove he's the right guy going forward for the Eagles, even at the expense of Vick.

``Every rookie quarterback that has started since I've been coaching, and I've been doing this a little while,'' Mornhinweg said, ``I've had confidence in that he could go in and get certain things done that we needed done.''

Foles is the next in line.

---

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