There is a popular quarterback on the sidelines for the Philadelphia Eagles, but his name is something other than Michael Vick. Rookie Nick Foles has made some waves after an outstanding performance in the preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Foles slung the ball like the best of them in their Thursday matchup, going 6-of-10 passing for 144 yards and two touchdowns. His play displayed veteran poise from a rookie quarterback taken in the third round of the 2012 NFL draft. Of course, it was only the preseason and Foles will not allow his early success to get the better of him.
“One thing I learned in college from games like that is you gotta improve on it,” Foles said. “I’m not satisfied. There’s a lot of stuff I have to work on and improve on.”
The team learned that backup quarterback Mike Kafka fractured his non-throwing hand in Thursday’s 24-23 victory and will be very limited in practice over the next three weeks. Kafka was unavailable for comment Saturday morning.
As a result, Foles will be seeing duty as the No. 2 quarterback behind Vick.
“He’s playing through it and he’s a tough guy,” Foles said. “He’s working through it and hopefully day-by-day it gets better.”
Kafka is able to practice, but cannot partake in drills that require him to take snaps. Despite his injury, he appeared focused and looked good passing the football on Saturday.
Kafka’s injury does present a huge opportunity for the rookie from the University of Arizona, however, and the murmurs have already begun about Foles unseating Kafka of the backup role permanently. Foles made it clear he would prefer that not happen by way of an injury that sidelined Kafka, citing the third-year passer from Northwestern as a great quarterback to learn from.
Foles completed 387 of 560 passes during his senior year at Arizona with 4,334 yards and 28 touchdowns. The 6’6” quarterback with a rocket arm—not to be confused with Peyton Manning—was knocked for one thing entering the draft: his consistency as an accurate passer on the deep ball. But the rookie has made strides in training camp to improve day-by-day.
Foles’ spectacular touchdown strikes to Damaris Johnson and Mardy Gilyard on Thursday certainly show improvement. Head coach Andy Reid was pleased with his rookie’s performance.
“He’s progressing. He did some nice things,” Reid said. “I mentioned about keeping your eyes down the field on the one long ball down the field to [Damaris] Johnson where he had to move and then make the throw. That just came very natural to him.”
The Eagles’ backup quarterback role tends to be much more valuable than on other teams. Vick is a magnet for big hits because of his ability as a scrambler, which has even elicited the advice of President Barack Obama telling him to slide rather than fight for the extra yardage and suffer damaging consequences. He missed three games with injury last season and had a scare in the preseason opener against the Steelers when he banged his throwing hand off of offensive lineman Jason Kelce’s helmet.
The Eagles, their fans and Foles are not hoping for such a detriment this season, but if No. 7 is unable to play at some point this season, the backup quarterback will need to be able to step in and lead the offense. Foles believes he can be that guy if such an opportunity arises.
“I believe that yes, if I had to go in, I could,” Foles said. “That’s my job here. If I’m in that position, I gotta be ready.
“You can’t get complacent. You always have to be ready to play.”