LAST SUMMER, Matt Barkley was more than a little disappointed that he wasn't given a legitimate opportunity to compete for the Eagles' starting quarterback job with Mike Vick and Nick Foles.
Despite not getting claimed until the fourth round of the draft, Barkley arrived in Philadelphia with that USC swagger, fully believing he had the right stuff to be the team's Day 1 starter.
This summer, there wasn't even a race to run for the starting job. Foles locked that up indefinitely last season when he threw 27 touchdown passes and just two interceptions and put up the third highest passer rating (119.2) in league history.
But with Vick signing with the Jets, Barkley figured he'd at least walk off with the consolation prize - the backup job behind Foles.
That doesn't look like it's going to happen either, though. With one preseason game down and three to play, the Eagles' No. 2 job is Mark Sanchez's to lose. And frankly, he would have to stink up the joint pretty badly the next 3 weeks to lose it.
"We were very excited when we had a chance to get him," Chip Kelly said yesterday, 2 days after Sanchez completed seven of 10 passes for 79 yards and engineered two touchdown drives in the Eagles' 34-28 loss to the Bears.
"He's played 68 games in this league. He took his team [the Jets] to two AFC Championship Games. So he has a lot of experience," Kelly added
"The one thing you're starting to see is he's healthy. If anybody has any questions about his arm rehabbing after that throw he made right at the end of the first half, he threw the ball 68 yards in the air. He's back and he's excited about playing football."
Sanchez played the second quarter Friday, and Barkley played the third. Barkley did throw a 14-yard touchdown pass to running back David Fluellen, but also completed just seven of 16 passes and threw an interception right after the Eagles recovered a Chicago fumble.
"I was OK with the other night," Barkley said after the Eagles' final public practice yesterday at Franklin Field. "On paper, the way it looked, [there were] too many incompletions for my liking. But some of those were throwaways. Some of those were just different circumstances that I feel like I didn't make a whole lot of bad decisions, which I was happy about.
"I felt like I had good timing and got the ball out when I needed to. I had a nice [touchdown] drive. It was great to be in there with the second [team] o-line and receivers and play with them."
Barkley likely will open the season as the Eagles' No. 3 quarterback behind Foles and Sanchez. But even that's not a certainty.
Don't look now, but the Eagles' fourth quarterback, G.J. Kinne, may be gaining on Barkley. He played pretty well against the Bears, albeit against third- and fourth-stringers. He didn't engineer any scoring drives, but did complete eight of 10 passes for 88 yards. He had the Eagles on the Chicago 19-yard-line when time ran out.
Kinne spent the last 9 weeks of the 2013 season on the Eagles' practice squad. As the fourth quarterback, he has been getting very little work in seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 drills in practice. But if he continues to play well in the preseason games, who knows?
"It all depends on what goes on the rest of camp," Kelly said when asked whether Kinne had a legitimate chance to make the roster. "And the other thing you don't know is injuries.
"Both of those quarterbacks [Barkley and Kinne] did the same thing [against the Bears]. Matt goes in and has a 12-play drive over 90 yards and we go down and score a touchdown. We were throwing the ball on time.
"But then he makes some mistakes. We come out after our special teams creates a positive play recovering a fumble. We're on the 37-yard line, and then we go out the first play and throw a pick."
That pretty much typified Barkley in his two October appearances last year against the Cowboys and Giants. With Vick out with a hamstring injury, he replaced Foles, who had suffered a concussion against the Cowboys. Made some nice throws, but also threw three interceptions.
A week later against the Giants, with Foles still out, Barkley replaced Vick when Vick reinjured his hamstring. Completed 17 of 26 passes, but had a killer fumble at the Giants' 2-yard line, and another interception. He finished the season with four picks in 49 pass attempts. Foles had two in 317 attempts.
"It's about understanding and taking what the defense gives you," Kelly said. "You can't get greedy. You don't have to make it happen. Let's move on and play the next snap. We're in positive territory.
"Part of it with both of those guys [is] they both made some plays that you're excited about. But they also both made some plays that, I don't know if they're forcing it and trying to impress everybody. But they've got to learn that they have to let the offense come to them."
Kinne knows the odds are against him. He's just trying to get better each day and see what happens.
"I want to be here, whether that's the 53 [man roster] or practice squad or whatever," he said. "But I think if I keep on performing well, somebody might scoop me up if they did go that route [release him and sign him to the practice squad].
"I try to just take it snap by snap. But you can't help but look at the big picture sometimes, too. It'll frustrate you at times. But I'm just so blessed to be out there."
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