All that stuff about timing and footwork and conditioning remains to be assessed, but Michael Vick had no trouble effortlessly connecting with receivers Saturday, in his first NFL practice since spending 18 months in federal prison.
Wearing a white longsleeve workout shirt under his red No. 7 practice jersey, Vick completed his first pass of the practice, a short toss over the middle to Danny Amendola, with no defenders on the field. Later he authored back-to-back 50-yard TD strikes to Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson, during 1-on-1 drills against defensive backs, on a day when Brian Westbrook returned to practice on a limited basis, and Victor Abiamiri and Trevor Laws were participants for the first time since training camp began.
Cornerback Sheldon Brown suffered a rib injury of unspecified seriousness late in practice, Brown falling on the ball in the end zone after picking off a Donovan McNabb pass intended for Kevin Curtis.
Vick stayed briefly after practice, throwing perfect end zone strikes to Maclin and Jason Avant. He also threw to ex-Temple QB Adam DiMichele and talked things over with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and quarterbacks coach James Urban.
Asked how it went, Vick said, "Great," as he jogged off the NovaCare field. An Eagles spokesman said Vick would not take questions Saturday. In the locker room, Vick emerged from a treatment room, saw a few dozen reporters gathered around his cubicle, and observed, "This is weird," before going back into the treatment room. The cubicle contained the same gray-and-pale-yellow pinstriped suit and yellow shirt he wore to Friday's press conference, or one that was identical.
DiMichele does not figure to be around much longer, especially with Kevin Kolb about to rejoin the crowded QB cadre, but practicing alongside McNabb and Vick was a pretty good treat, he said.
"If you're me, what more can you ask for?" he said. "It was exciting."
DiMichele said he stepped in as a receiver for Vick when "I saw coach Mornhinweg catching. I know he can catch it, but I figured I'd step in and catch some for him. Mike just wanted to work on some things, his footwork and some timing routes.
"I thought he looked good. I was actually surprised. In the past, you've seen him just flick his wrist and the ball just shoots out, and that's kind of how it was today. He made some throws in the 1-on-1s, it was like he wasn't even gone for 2 years ... Looked smooth."
We interrupt the Michael Vickathon for this important announcement: Brian Westbrook will be a limited practice participant today, Eagles coach Andy Reid said, and presumably will do more tomorrow, when he and the team are scheduled for a full-pads workout.
Westbrook, who underwent an ankle cleanout in June, has been working out apart from the team since training camp began.
Reid said Vick will do everything the other quarterbacks do in practice, that he is not limited, though the coach cautioned again that Vick will need time to get back in football shape. He hasn't played since New Year's Eve, 2006, when Vick and the Falcons dropped the regular-season finale at the Linc.
ESPN.com reported Saturday that Vick will be paid his $1.625 million 2009 salary unless the Eagles release him before the season opener. Any possible regular-season suspension will not affect Vick's salary. In 2010, ESPN>com said, Vick is due a $1.5 million roster bonus March 5. In addition, his base salary in 2010 is $3.75 million, $1 million guaranteed. He can make an extra $2.75 million in incentives.
Vick has been assigned a locker stall just down from where the other quarterbacks, the kicker and the punter dress, on the left side of the long, narrow NovaCare locker room. The first group of left-hand stalls, which starts with McNabb's, ends at a doorway to the treatment and shower rooms. Vick's is the first cubicle after the doorway, separated from the space of longsnapper Jon Dorenbos by a support pillar. As a few dozen reporters from all over the country crowded around Vick's new digs, Dorenbos wasn't sure the pillar offered enough of a buffer.
"This is going to be a circus," Dorenbos said, arraying folding chairs as a protective barrier.
*Reid said the Eagles added to their "wildcat" package at Lehigh, independent of any thoughts of signing Vick.
*Reid said reaction from the team has been "so upbeat and positive with it," that the addition has added "almost a little bit of energy."
*Reid reiterated that Kevin Kolb is the No. 2 quarterback, but he couldn't explain how that would work in a regular-season game, when only two QBs normally are fully active. Let's say the Birds wanted to use Vick in the "wildcat" down at the goalline in the first quarter. If he were the third QB, and entered the game, the other two couldn't play again. Reid would have to fully activate all three QBs, meaning he'd have to deactivate a special teams player. Or he could just make Kolb No. 3. In which case, Kolb wouldn't be the No. 2 quarterback, after all.
*Reid said he wasn't worried about reactions in other cities, that when the Eagles go to play in a hostile stadium, "they're all protesters of the Eagles."
*He said Vick needs to lose 2 pounds, which Reid didn't think was bad, after 18 months in federal prison and two years overall in the justice system.
*Not practicing today are RT Shawn Andrews (back), TE Brent Celek (shoulder/AC joint), DE Trent Cole (same), and LG Todd Herremans (foot). Reid said Kolb did some work "on his drops" Saturday, but his knee was still tender.
*Reid said TE Cornelius Ingram underwent a successful ACL repair, performed by Dr. James Andrews in Alabama.
Click here for our earlier post on reaction to the Vick signing from around the NFC East.