Eagles Wake-Up Call: Barkley Doesn’t Want Season To ‘Slip Away’

Matt BarkleyThe question posed to Matt Barkley was straightforward: When’s the last time you went into a football season and weren’t the starting quarterback?

Barkley paused for about four seconds, thought about it briefly and then answered.

“I can’t think of a time,” he said.

“It’s different, but I think since the announcement came out about Mike [Vick], I kind of realized that’s what it is, so you take it in stride and you learn to deal with it. It’s not like a ground-breaking deal. It’s not that drastic. You want to see the field, you want to play, but it’s just another opportunity to learn. I’ve said that before. Just try to grow from it.”

A four-year starter in high school and again at USC, Barkley is in unfamiliar territory. He will fade into the background this year as the third-string QB behind Vick and Nick Foles. In all likelihood, the only way he’ll play meaningful snaps as a rookie is if the two guys ahead of him get injured.

Obviously, that’s not an ideal situation. So Barkley’s focus has shifted to making sure his first year is not a waste just because he won’t be playing on Sundays.

“Not letting the season just slip away because I’m not playing, that’s what I don’t want,” he said. “Making sure that I grow and progress to where next offseason I feel like I’m steps ahead of where I was. I definitely don’t want this to be steps back. So just take every day like it’s your job to lose, even if it’s not. That’s how I look at it.”

Added Chip Kelly: “I think [QBs coach] Billy Lazor has done a pretty good job there. His career of developing quarterbacks, and that’s a big thing, what is your gameplan when your guys are not playing? Because that’s the one position where you’re not going to play, barring an injury, you’re not going to play multiple guys.

“We’ve talked about it and what his plan is for Matt and for Nick [Foles] if we kept going and Mike [Vick] stays healthy. You’ve got a couple of guys that you’ve got to really make sure that they are on top of their game. And it’s hard, because they don’t get those reps and it’s not like you can throw them in a scrimmage situation. …You are always planning for your next opponent. There’s a plan in place from how much we are throwing, what days we are throwing on with those guys to continue to develop them.”

One of the main knocks on Barkley coming out of USC was his arm strength. He dealt with a shoulder injury as a senior, but thinks he has improved and can make all the throws.

“I think my arm strength has gotten better since the injury,” Barkley said. “I think it took a lot longer to heal than I thought it would. I feel strong where I am right now. I don’t know if I’ve had a chance to really showcase that, but that’s not up to me. So I’ll do as much as I can to keep getting that arm stronger. I think over time, even over the course of your career, you should still be trying to get that stronger.”

His rookie season in the NFL is probably different than what Barkley was anticipating at this time last year. But he’ll look to progress in the classroom, the weight room and on the practice field before potentially getting a shot down the road.

WHAT YOU MISSED

The Eagles waived Phillip Hunt to get their roster down to 75.

Three leftovers from Kelly, including the Eagles’ head coach confirming that he has final say on the 53-man roster.

T-Mac explores what the Eagles are going to do about injured offensive tackle Dennis Kelly.

Our latest No-22 breakdown looks at how Connor Barwin is finding success in a variety of roles.

Tim checks in on Clay Harbor and life on the bubble.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Mike Jones of the Washington Post has the latest on Robert Griffin III, who will be checked out by Dr. James Andrews on Thursday:

Griffin has taken all of the first-team reps in the past two weeks of practice, and teammates believe that he will open the season as their starter. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said Griffin “looks 100 percent to me,” and Mike Shanahan said Griffin has made great strides since training camp began.

“I can see a big improvement from the start when he came out here the first day to where he is now,” Mike Shanahan said. “You can see he is in football shape and there hasn’t been a setback so everything has been very positive.”

Richard Rys of The Philly Post likes LeSean McCoy’s fantasy prospects:

Did you see that 21-yard run against the Panthers? The one where he shook a guy so hard that he fell down twice? Then juked a gang of three more defenders? Preseason, playoffs, a dirt field across from your momma’s house — doesn’t matter where it happened. The man has highlight potential every time he touches the ball. McCoy’s days as the most underrated back in the league appear to be over; one Yahoo fantasy expert ranks him number three overall, behind only Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster. He’s the real fantasy prize of this Eagles team. Go all in.

COMING UP

We’ll take a closer look at the roster and examine Kelly’s role in dealing with the defense.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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