The Philadelphia Eagles are the rare pro sports team that allows its athletic trainer to speak to the media, which is nice because it removes some of the guesswork for those of us trying to figure out what's really going on with injuries. It does not, however, take away all of the guesswork, and the "news" on Michael Vick and his concussion today is inconclusive. My guess is that it will continue to be so for quite a while.
Eagles trainer Rick Burkholder on Monday made it sound as if Vick's concussion wasn't all that bad, seemed to leave open the possibility that Vick would play Sunday against the New York Giants and said not to expect any further updates Tuesday. Part of the reason for the slow-play on this is that Vick has to undergo a variety of tests, per NFL rules, to determine whether he'll be allowed to play in the Eagles' next game. But we'd be fools not to think that another part of the reason has to do with strategy.
Much to the chagrin of Eagles fans and fantasy football players everywhere, the Eagles won't rule out Vick until they absolutely have to. That could mean his status remains up in the air until 90 minutes before game time Sunday, when the inactives are announced. The Eagles' game Sunday is at home, so it's not as if they have to decide whether to put him on a plane Saturday and take him with them. They can take as long as they want to take with this decision, and you can be certain they will. They don't want to give the Giants any clues they don't have to give them, and while sometimes it seems silly for teams to play that kind of strategic game, in this case it's not silly at all.
Part of the advantage Vick gives the Eagles, week-t0-week, is that he's very difficult to practice for. No team on the Eagles' schedule has a player who can simulate, in their pregame practices, Vick's speed and athleticism at the quarterback position. Practicing to face the Eagles with Vick as quarterback is an entirely different project than is practicing to face anyone else -- including Vince Young or Mike Kafka -- and it changes everything about the week leading up to a game.
So, if you're the Eagles, do you want to come out in the middle of this week, tell the world Vick's not playing, and allow the Giants to prepare with the knowledge that they don't have to face him? Or would you rather leave it up in the air and force the Giants to spend time, stress and energy working on a game plan for Vick, just in case? Obviously, you want to make the week of pregame practice as difficult as possible for your opponent, and for that reason the Eagles aren't going to say anything about this until they absolutely have to.
Concussions are serious business, of course, and for that reason the Eagles need to put Vick through all of the tests and make 100 percent sure he's healthy enough to play. They also could stand to figure out a way to keep him from getting hit so much once he does come back. But as of now, even if they know Vick isn't going to be able to play, they aren't going to say it. They want to keep the Giants wondering, and that's a smart thing to do.