Thursday, August 27, 2009
The Vick debut: What are we looking for?
By Dan Graziano
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
In what may be the most anticipated preseason game in Eagles history, quarterback Michael Vick will make his debut with the club Thursday against the Jaguars.
AP Photo/Matt Slocum
Michael Vick makes his debut with the Eagles Thursday night.
The Eagles have much to accomplish in what will basically be a dress rehearsal for the regular season, but Vick's first game action since Dec. 31, 2006, will be front and center. The Beast blog will depart for Philly this morning and we're prepared to cover everything that happens inside and outside Lincoln Financial Field. Here are five things I'll be looking for during Michael Vick night at the Linc:
1. Will he get booed when he enters the game?
My gut tells me that about 70 percent of the fans at the Linc will be quite supportive of Vick. Most Americans love a good redemption story, and despite what you might have read over the years, Eagles fans have a soft spot for players trying to salvage their career. You'll definitely hear some boos, but I think those folks will be drowned out by the cheering.
2. When will Vick see the field?
This is where coach Andy Reid could get a little tricky. He sort of has everyone believing that Vick will make an appearance in the third quarter, but I would not be surprised if we see him in the first half. Reid probably wants Vick lining up behind a fresh offensive line, and the starters might be worn down by the third quarter. The more I think about, it makes sense that Vick will join the offense early in the second quarter. And Donovan McNabb might also be on the field. I remember DeSean Jackson running the Wildcat last season with McNabb lining up at wide receiver. That scenario could definitely happen.
3. Will Vick look familiar to us?
I think we assumed that Vick would lose some of his physical prowess while spending two years in prison. And to a certain extent, he probably has lost some of his pure speed and explosion. But at age 29, he's still going to be the most athletic quarterback in the league. I really believe that -- especially after watching Bobby Carpenter bring down Vince Young in the open field. I'm predicting that Vick will have one carry of at least 15 yards. He'll sprint around the left side behind Jason Peters.
4. How will his arm look?
Vick reportedly had location problems his first couple days in practice. He still had a live arm, but he was having trouble hitting players in stride. In recent days, I'm told he's straightened things out. It's part of the process of getting his mechanics back in order. He'll never be a terribly accurate passer, but he's capable of rolling out and letting Jackson run under a ball. I think he could be high on a couple of throws because of all the adrenaline, but you'll definitely see a live arm.
5. How will he handle the spectacle of this evening?
The Eagles have insulated Vick from the media in the 10 days since his introductory news conference. There will be no place to hide in the Linc on Thursday. I think Vick's teammates will offer a great deal of support, and the hometown fans won't be too tough on him. Vick already has a pretty good idea of the interest he's created. I don't think he'll be overwhelmed by the extra media at the game. He's probably excited to have the opportunity to actually answer some football questions. There may be some creative signs in the stands, but he won't get caught up in that. Stepping on that field tonight should be a huge moment for Vick. In some ways, it represents a new beginning. He can never erase his reprehensible past, but he does have an opportunity to salvage what's left of his football career. That process begins in earnest tonight at 7 p.m. ET. Join us for all the action.