PHILADELPHIA – Michael Vick or Nick Foles? Might as well flip a coin.
Vick will start for the Philadelphia Eagles in their preseason opener against New England on Friday night only because it’s his turn to go first in the quarterback rotation. Foles also will take snaps with the starters and the second-year pro will start the second preseason game.
“It was Mike’s day in the rotation, that was the easiest way for us to do it and then we’ll make sure the rotation works out that Nick will get the start next week,” Coach Chip Kelly said Thursday. “The two of those guys, we feel like we’ve got it balanced out. We met with those guys this morning. They were great with it, so that’s kind of our plan going in.”
Both Vick and Foles are expected to get between 12 and 20 snaps vs. the Patriots. The two quarterbacks have been competing for the No. 1 job since Kelly’s arrival in Philadelphia.
“It doesn’t mean anything,” Vick said about the start. “The only thing I want to do is go out there and have fun, play the game, play with a purpose, enjoy every snap, try to make the most out of it as long as I’m out there and just try to be consistent like I have throughout camp, and have fun playing the game.”
Rookie Matt Barkley will come in after Vick and Foles in the second quarter and play through the third. Dennis Dixon and G.J. Kinne will play the fourth.
The Eagles and Patriots concluded three days of joint practices before facing each other on the field at Lincoln Financial Field.
“I’ve said it all along, it’s very difficult to evaluate somebody in just helmets and shorts,” Kelly said. “That’s not how the game is played, so obviously I think our practices from an intensity level, we’re ramping up a little here just because the Patriots are here.
“On both sides I thought it was great work for us. For guys that are competing right now, the preseason has to be the same way. If that’s not your approach as a player, you’re going to get passed on by.”
While Kelly uses the preseason games to evaluate who will be his starting quarterback, the Patriots are in an enviable position. They have two-time NFL and Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady. Third-year pro Ryan Mallet is the backup followed by Tim Tebow.
Patriots Coach Bill Belichick hasn’t told Tebow if he’ll play against the Eagles, though it’s likely he will take some snaps.
“I’m getting better every single day, more comfortable with the offense and better timing with everybody around me, better understanding of what the coaches want me to do,” Tebow said.
Mallet certainly will see plenty of action.
“I can’t wait,” Mallett said. “I feel like I’ve improved a lot overall. I feel confident and ready to go.”
It will be the first chance for rookie wide receiver Aaron Dobson to catch passes from Brady. The Patriots have a new group for Brady after their top five receiving leaders from last season are no longer with the team or injured.
“Definitely jitters a little bit just because it’s something new,” Dobson said. “I’m ready for it. I’m excited to play.”
Running back LeGarrette Blount also will make his Patriots debut. Blount, who ran for 1,007 yards as a rookie for Tampa Bay in 2010, is coming off a disappointing season and was traded to New England for a seventh-round draft pick. He’ll be playing against his former coach at Oregon in Kelly.
“He’s a real good coach and a real good guy,” Blount said. “I loved his offense at Oregon and if it’s going to be anything like that, they’ll be pretty productive.”
All eyes will be on Kelly’s offense to see how up-tempo style translates in the NFL.
Kelly had tremendous success at Oregon, and everyone has been wondering since he replaced Andy Reid how he’ll do in the NFL.
Though Kelly won’t show too much in the preseason, it will be a small sampling at least.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Kelly said. “I think the way our camp worked out for itself, our players came in with great attitudes and that part was exciting. Then you get an opportunity to now bring a new team in. I think that kind of changed how we were doing things. Now we’re getting into the preseason portion of it. We don’t talk about it’s just the preseason. It’s on the line every time you go on the field.
“So we’re all excited about our opportunity to play tomorrow night.”