QB Foles ready, willing, should Eagles call on him

ROB MAADDI (AP Pro Football Writer)
The Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Nick Foles prepares each week like he's one play away from being the starter. It's no different now that he's taking first-team reps in practice.

After stepping in for an injured Michael Vick and helping lead the Philadelphia Eagles (2-3) to a 36-21 win over the New York Giants, Foles is getting ready to make his seventh career start, if needed, at Tampa Bay (0-4) on Sunday.

''It always feels good getting reps,'' Foles said. ''No matter what day it is out here, whoever I'm running with, I enjoy it, I cherish it. I always want to get better.''

Vick threw passes again on Wednesday, but didn't participate in team drills for the second straight day because of a pulled left hamstring. He was injured on a scramble late in the second quarter against the Giants.

''It's day to day,'' coach Chip Kelly said. ''We'll see how it goes.''

Foles replaced him and showed no signs of rust. He was 16 of 25 for 197 yards and two touchdowns.

If Vick can't go this week, Foles will try to lead the Eagles to his second victory over the Buccaneers. Foles, who was 1-5 as a starter last year, rallied Philadelphia to a last-second, 23-21 win in Tampa last December.

''I don't even let my mind go there,'' Foles said when asked about being a starter. ''I can't control that. All I can control is what I did today to get better. Then whatever happens on game day, when I got the opportunity to go in, I'm going to worry about that play. You block everything else out to where you really get rid of the clutter and focus on that moment. Everything else slows down, and you can see it and react instead of thinking five plays down the road or we need a touchdown.

''I think about this play, what can I do to make this play the best play ever and then move forward.''

Foles lost the competition for the starting job in training camp, but played well. His performance against the Giants was even more impressive, especially considering he doesn't practice much with the starters during the week.

Foles made perfect throws on his scoring tosses to Brent Celek and DeSean Jackson. In both cases, he anticipated where the receivers would be and threw before they landed there.

''A lot of times we're throwing the ball before the guy's even breaking, before he's in the hole,'' Foles said. ''That's where timing comes in handy. In high school, you can really wait until guys are open, college sometimes, and in the NFL, not usually. Usually, you have to throw them open. Getting the reps, you get a feel for your receivers, how they run their routes, what they're good at, so you know how to throw them open.

''It's really important. Timing's everything.''

One knock against Vick is that he waits too long to release the ball, trying to find an open receiver rather than anticipate the guy will be in position to make the catch.

''It's important that all quarterbacks are able to throw the ball with anticipation,'' offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. ''And I wouldn't say that Nick does it any better than Mike. We just saw a couple of examples. The throw to Brent Celek, he ran a very good route. The guy was in good coverage. We thought we could fool him with the concept, and then Nick made a great throw and Brent made a great catch.''

A third-round pick by former coach Andy Reid in 2012, Foles was considered the team's quarterback of the future last year. But Reid was fired after a dismal 4-12 finish, and Chip Kelly kept Vick to run his fast-paced offense. Kelly also drafted Matt Barkley in the fourth round.

Whether it's in Philadelphia or somewhere else, though, Foles has shown he has the stuff to be a full-time starter.


NOTES: Besides Vick, CB Brandon Boykin (groin) and RB Chris Polk were limited in practice. ... S Patrick Chung, who missed the last two games with a shoulder injury, was back at full capacity.


Online: AP NFL site: http://pro32.ap.org/


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