Foles Given Chance To Make His Move

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles.Andy Reid has had plenty of chances to say that Mike Kafka will be the Eagles’ backup quarterback as soon as he recovers from his fractured left hand.

But he hasn’t done that.

It’s clear that a major reason why is the performance of rookie Nick Foles. Foles went 18-for-28 for 217 yards, two touchdowns and an interception Monday night against the Patriots. The previous week against the Steelers, he was 6-for-10 for 144 yards and two scores.

“We didn’t cut anything back,” Reid said, when asked how much of the playbook the Eagles are using with Foles. “He had the full load of plays, and it was a good experience for him from this standpoint. …To learn to be a relief pitcher, that’s a learned experience there that you have. So to get him that experience where you’re not taking any reps with the ones… that’ll be very similar to what he faces during the season in a backup position.”

That will especially be the case if Foles starts the season as the Eagles’ No. 2 quarterback. Michael Vick is recovering from a rib injury and will likely be held out until the Week 1 opener in Cleveland. Kafka, meanwhile, is rehabbing a fractured left hand. If he doesn’t play in the preseason finale against the Jets, would Reid be comfortable having him back up Vick once the regular season starts?

“I’m going to see how these other players, how they perform,” Reid said. “I want to give those guys an opportunity to perform and then if Mike’s [Kafka] able to come back and get some work in that [fourth] game, we’ll see how he does.”

While Foles will get the start Friday night against the Browns, having to unexpectedly come in cold off the sideline last week was a valuable experience for him.

“All of us quarterbacks have headsets,” Foles said. “We listen to every play and stay in tune to what’s going on on the field and really visualizing what you’d do if you were on the field. That way, if something does happen, you’re already in tune to the game, and you don’t have to jump-start it. That’s very important.”

Foles has impressed teammates with his toughness and demeanor. On one play against the Patriots, he took a jarring blind-side hit after the whistle from defensive end Jake Bequette, who drew a personal foul penalty. Foles got up, and on the very next play, he stood in the pocket and delivered a completion to tight end Clay Harbor for 14 yards.

“I know there’s some big hits and there’s some big dudes in this league, and they’re probably eventually just going to smack me or smack whoever,” he said. “So it’s really just getting up and just continue to play and continue to move the ball. That’s really what’s on my mind.”

Foles added that he’s focused on being decisive and not over-thinking things. It helps that defenses dumb things down in the preseason, but Foles has not been sacked once in 40 dropbacks.

“Most rookies who come in, they’re shy or kind of timid,” said second-year center Jason Kelce. “He has not been afraid since Day 1. Really, as soon as he gets rep’d in there, he’s just one of the guys out there trying to make plays.

“I’m surprised with how well he’s done so far. Even when Mike [Vick] went down in the game, there was that little thing in the back of your head. Well, not only is Vick down, but also Kafka’s hurt with his broken hand so we’ve got a rookie coming in. He stepped in right away, and it felt comfortable like it was a normal game really.”

Looking around the league, experience might not be as big of a factor as previously thought. Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder all got on the field as rookies last year. Of course, all but Dalton were first-round picks.

But the trend looks like it will continue this season. Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden will all start in Week 1. And Russell Wilson, who was taken 13 spots ahead of Foles, could win the job in Seattle.

Here, the Eagles are not asking Foles to start. But they could be asking him to fill in for a quarterback who’s been unable to stay healthy past six plays in each of the first two preseason games, and who missed three games last year, while failing to finish two more.

The door is open for the rookie. Foles has about two-and-a-half weeks to make his move.

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