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Eagles QB Vick out; Foles to start Sunday

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The news wasn't surprising to Nick Foles.

Or anybody else, for that matter.

After all, the Eagles rookie quarterback had practiced with the first team all week, and the starter at his position, Michael Vick, hadn't even touched the field since he left it with a concussion six days ago.

So, when Philadelphia coach Andy Reid on Friday officially ruled Vick out of Sunday's game vs. Washington, and named Foles the starter, there weren't many out there shocked by the expected proclamation. Certainly not the third-round pick from Arizona who has been preparing for his first NFL start his whole life.

``We've had a great week of preparation, a lot of hard work, and it definitely has sunk in,'' Foles said. ``I'm ready to go.''

Eagles fans certainly hope so.

When Foles and Philadelphia take the field Sunday in a matchup of disappointed 3-6 teams, there will be plenty at stake. Any chance of getting back in the NFC East race depends on this team making a run. Reid's future - and perhaps even Foles' as a full-time starter - also depend on it.

No pressure, or anything.

``We have a great group of guys here, great coaches. I feel great. I felt great ever since I got here. I felt like it's a home. We have fun together. We have fun out there at practice together and in the locker room,'' Foles said. ``It's a great environment to play in, it's a great environment to go to work in. I feel comfortable in everything and I'm ready to go play for these guys.''

Vick, meanwhile, will be resting this weekend, and spending time in ``in dark, quiet places,'' according to head trainer Rick Burkholder, who spoke to reporters at the Eagles training facility on Friday.

``He has too many symptoms for us to even exercise him,'' Burkholder said. ``He's not even close to playing this week.''

Reid finally made the announcement official after the team's final practice of the week, confirming a decision that had been in the works since Monday. It was only because Vick had not completed the league-mandated concussion testing earlier in the week, that Reid did not officially rule him out earlier.

``That was one of his goals, obviously, to stay healthy all season. He's a very considerate guy, and he feels like he lets people down, and his teammates down,'' Reid said of Vick. ``And that's not the case, he's hurt. But he's one of the most competitive, toughest guys I've been around.''

Vick completed just six passes for 70 yards vs. Dallas before leaving. The Eagles lost, 38-23.

``The one thing that we look at is that we want to see whether his cognitive function is down. We do that through impact testing. He did take an impact test today,'' Burkholder said. ``He's below baseline, so that's another indicator that he's not ready to play.''

Foles was 22 of 32 for 219 yards with a touchdown and an interception vs. the Cowboys. Those numbers weren't enough to help the Eagles avoid their fifth straight loss, a first in Reid's 14 seasons.

``He's comfortable with what we've been running,'' Reid said of Foles. ``It's the same things we were doing in training camp. He's good with it.''

That said, Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has tightened the playbook a bit this week for Foles, a third-round draft pick out of Arizona, who became something of a fan favorite in Philadelphia during an impressive run through the preseason.

``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.''

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.

``Come game day, I don't know what it's going to be like because I've never experienced that but I assume there will be butterflies and nerves,'' Foles said. ``I'm going to keep working hard, keep studying the playbook, watching film, so the more you know about something the more the nerves go down. Just preparation. Keep working until game day.''

Foles, equipped with a strong arm and the ability to move around in the pocket, threw for 553 yards in the preseason, with six touchdowns and two interceptions. He finished with a quarterback rating of 110.1.

All that said, putting the season in the hands of a rookie - whether it's forced or not - could create more problems. But Reid, as he has been throughout this season of discontent, is unfazed.

``I worry about right now. What we can control. What I can control, and that's getting this football team better,'' Reid said. ``Anything that you add into that mix is a distraction and you can't afford that in the National Football League.''

Vick has been inconsistent - at best - the last two seasons. After helping to rally the Eagles from a 4-8 start last season with four consecutive victories to close the year, he has thrown for 11 touchdowns with nine interceptions this season.

``He has to get better is what he's got to do right now,'' Reid said. ``That's it. Concentrate on that right now, and that's the most important thing.''

Vick's quarterback rating at the time of the injury was just 79.2.

``Right now, he currently has symptoms. He's had symptoms all week since the game. He's had a headache, which has gotten better during the week. He's foggy. He's not very alert right now in terms of he just doesn't have that energy,'' Burkholder said. ``He's tired all the time, he's slept a lot, and he's not getting rid of that fatigue. I would consider him heavy eyed.

``When I talk to him, he's just not the Michael Vick that I know when he's healthy.''


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The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2016
The Associated Press
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