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Matt Barkley in new, but familiar role

8/25/2014

PHILADELPHIA -- Matt Barkley is getting a one-week reminder of what it’s like to be the No. 1 quarterback.

For all of his high school and college years, Barkley was the starting QB. Last year, his rookie season with the Eagles, was the first time he was exposed to the diminished practice reps and weekend solitude of a No. 3 quarterback.

For Thursday night’s preseason finale, Barkley is preparing as the starter while Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez have already begun preparing for the regular-season opener against Jacksonville.

“It’s a little different because our ones are getting their looks at the Jaguars,” Barkley said. “It’s kind of a split practice. But the fact that you know you’re going into the game, starting, and getting reps with the guys you’re playing with -- it does kind of feel like it was in the past. Different in ways, the same in some ways.”

The Eagles drafted Barkley out of USC in the fourth round of the 2013 draft. He spent the early part of his tenure here rehabbing from a shoulder injury suffered during the season. He also had a front-row seat for the competition between Foles and Michael Vick for the starting quarterback job.

Twice last season, injuries forced Barkley to finish games started by Vick and Foles. Barkley completed 61.2 percent of his passes (30 for 49), but threw four interceptions and no touchdowns.

When the offseason rolled around, Vick left for the New York Jets, and the Eagles signed Sanchez, the former Jets starter. He was supposed to come in and compete with Barkley for the No. 2 spot behind Foles, but there wasn’t much of a competition. Sanchez has had a very good preseason and locked down the No. 2 spot early on.

For Barkley, then, this game is his last chance to make an impression for a while.

“This is a really good opportunity for Matt,” Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. “He’s able to know days in advance that he’s starting, so he’s out here preparing to play the Jets just like it’s a regular-season game. That’s good for him, and we’ll be able to evaluate him in a really good way for a preseason game.”

Sanchez is under contract for only this season, so Barkley is still playing for his NFL future.

“He needs to play a good, efficient game at quarterback,” Shurmur said.

Barkley understands the stakes.

“I don’t have an agenda,” he said. “I want to be consistent, like I try to do every week. I’m going into this game just because I’m starting and getting more reps. I just want to be consistent. I think I’ve made big strides [since last season]. My knowledge of the offense has grown.”