PHILADELPHIA – Michael Vick has looked sharp zipping uncontested passes to open receivers and racing past defenders who aren’t allowed to touch him in practice.
Now he’ll see what it’s like to face 11 guys going after him again.
Vick will make his Eagles debut in a preseason game in Philadelphia on Thursday night. The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback hasn’t played in an NFL game since Dec. 31, 2006, with the Atlanta Falcons – against the Eagles on the same field.
“I can only go off what I’ve seen in practice and it looks like he’s moving around pretty good,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said. “Realistically, it’s been two years. We’ll see how it works out. We’ll give him a couple shots in there and see what he can do.”
Vick was released from federal custody July 20 after serving 18 months of a 23-month sentence for his role in running a dogfighting operation. He signed a one-year, $1.6 million contract with the Eagles, who hold a $5.2 million option for a second season.
Vick is due to appear at a bankruptcy court hearing in Newport News, Va., on Thursday morning and will fly back to Philadelphia for the game against the Jaguars.
“He’ll be here for the game,” Reid said.
Reid isn’t saying how much Vick will play. Donovan McNabb and the rest of the starters are slated to go three quarters, and Reid said Vick won’t play in the fourth quarter. Backup Kevin Kolb, who missed the first two preseason games with a knee injury, will play the final quarter.
That means Vick could spell McNabb and be on the field with the first-team offense. It’s also likely he could be used in a variation of the wildcat formation. Reid said he’s not concerned about showing off such packages in a preseason game.
“I’m just going to take it play by play and see how he adjusts to game speed,” Reid said. “If I think that’s a problem, I’ll probably discontinue the reps. If I feel he’s adjusting OK, I’ll continue to give him an opportunity here and there.”
Vick is eligible to play the final two preseason games, but not in the regular season. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he would consider Vick for full reinstatement by no later than Week 6 (Oct. 18-19).
“He wants to get in. He’s set this as a goal, as did we,” Reid said. “You see him out there conditioning after practice. He’s conditioning before practice. He’s excited to get out there. I’m sure he’ll have a couple butterflies with it being a couple years since he’s been in, but he’s excited to get back doing what he does.”
Reid is pleased with the way Vick has handled himself off the field, too.
“I think he’s doing a good job. He’s working at it,” Reid said. “I think he’s heading in the right direction. I think it’s good that he’s able to be around the team. We have some guys that can be a good influence for him and kind of take him under their wing.”
While most of the attention will be on Vick, star running back Brian Westbrook also is set to see his first action of the preseason. Westbrook had surgery to remove scar tissue and bone fragments from his right ankle in June. He also had his left knee cleaned out shortly after the Eagles lost to Arizona in the NFC championship game last January.
The Eagles will be missing four starters: Cornerback Sheldon Brown (ribs), fullback Leonard Weaver (knee), right tackle Shawn Andrews (back) and left guard Todd Herremans (foot).