WITH DONOVAN McNabb back yesterday after missing two games with a broken rib, it was Wildcat-lite for the Eagles' offense. Michael Vick was on the field for only nine Wildcat plays, netting 29 yards - and many of them featured Vick as a decoy wide receiver.
Only later did we see the latest bit of Vick's development: He was allowed to play a fourth-quarter series in the Eagles' 33-14 win over Tampa Bay as a regular, old quarterback.
In that series, he completed his first (and only) pass of the season, a 1-yard nothing of a play to DeSean Jackson. But he also had one let-Mike-be-Mike play that was reminiscent of what was, an 11-yard scramble that ended up with Vick getting kneed in the ribs. He missed the next play while he collected his breath, with Kevin Kolb taking that snap. Vick said X-rays on the rib after the game were negative.
"Everything broke down," Vick said, remembering back to the play. "We got a little rush from the left. So I just tried to move a little bit and just let it be natural - still try to look downfield and see what was downfield as far as my reads and my progressions. It wasn't there so I just decided, just play ball and be natural with it and let my instincts take over. And that was good for me."
It was the first time Vick played an entire series at quarterback since his two exhibition-game appearances. It was the first time, also, that he has played a series with the starters.
"It was fun to be out there playing with the first-string guys," he said. "That's always fun. You know those guys are going to do their job and they're well-prepared. I was a bit more excited going out today than I was in the preseason - not to say that playing with the threes wasn't my deal, but it was just different. It was great."
Andy Reid said he was just giving Vick a look, that Kolb had gotten his reps in his two starts while McNabb was injured, that, "I think he's at the point where he could utilize some snaps there."
The whole thing is still clearly in the evolutionary stages. Vick has looked unremarkable and the production out of the Wildcat has been sporadic. Asked if the plan going in was to use less Wildcat in this game - about half as many plays as against Kansas City in Week 3 - Reid said, "We used it as much as we wanted to use it according to what they were doing [defensively] and what we felt we could get done."
As to overall production, Reid said: "It doesn't jump off on me like it was phenomenal today . . . It wasn't blowing up my blouse out there."
Whatever that means.
"It's just going to vary from week to week, depending on the flow of the game, and that's something I totally understand," Vick said. "The important thing is for the offense to get into a flow, get into a rhythm - for those guys to build up with me, and we're comfortable, for whenever I get an opportunity to go out there."