If Kevin Kolb is traded, can Mike Kafka be the Eagles' backup quarterback?
Kakfa certainly thinks so. More important, Eagles coach Andy Reid recently said he believed Kafka could back up Michael Vick.
“I always have confidence in myself. But if coach says that it’s great," Kafka said today following informal workouts in Marlton, N.J. with roughly a dozen Eagles. "I'm willing and waiting to take that next step to be that guy.”
The Eagles, of course, can't trade Kolb at this time. The NFL lockout has league business in a standstill and Kolb stranded in Granbury, Tex., his future unknown. While he does own a home in South Jersey, Kolb has understandably not flown back for informal workouts that began last week.
The general consensus from many NFL observers is that Kolb will be traded once the lockout is lifted. If that is so then the Eagles have a position to fill. They could grab one of the few veteran arms available on the open market -- Marc Bulger could make sense -- or they could simply promote from within.
“If Kevin’s not back then, I think, the backup role is a role that Mike Kafka embraces," said Vick, who has helped organize workouts along with tight end Brent Celek. "I think he’s ready for it. I think he’s prepared himself well and I think that will all translate on the field when it’s all said and done. The thing him and I have a tendency to do – like Kevin and I did – is just talk through situations, talk through certain things.”
Vick and Kafka have handled all the throwing when the Eagles have tossed the football around. Today the group, mostly Power Train devotees, did running and strength training.
“We don’t throw every day," Vick said. "During the week, during regular off-season workouts we only throw twice a week. So we try to stick to the same script, stick to the same regiment and get out of the gym.”
This off-season was to be an especially important one for Kafka. Drafted in the fourth round last April, he hadn't thrown nearly as much as he did once he joined the Eagles. Mostly rookie quarterbacks face a period of adjustment in their first season.
“That second season is important to really solidify you mentally, physically and make sure you’re firing on all cyclinders," Kafka said.
The 23-year-old also needs to build up his arm strength. Some have questioned whether he has the velocity to succeed in the NFL. The Eagles, who are still very high on Kafka, insist that he was simply going through the same dead arm period that all rookie quarterbacks must endure.
To quantify Kafka's worth, a source said last month that the Eagles had received trade offers for the quarterback before the work stoppage. When the lockout was briefly lifted during the draft Kafka was one of the few players to go to the NovaCare Complex to see Eagles coaches. He could use a little of Reid, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and new quarterbacks coach Doug Pederson right about now.
Even though he didn't throw a single pass last season, Kafka said he learned a lot just being on the sidelines as the emergency third quarterback.
“It’s actually a good thing because you get to see a lot from the sidelines that not a lot of people see," he said. "When the guys are walking off the field you see their faces. Whereas when you’re the starter you’re walking off with them and you only feel the ebb and flow of the game.”
Because today's workout did not involve throwing several linemen joined the Eagles group that included, aside from Vick and Kakfa, offensive linemen Todd Herremans, Jamaal Jackson and Austin Howard, defensive linemen Juqua Parker and Trevor Laws, tight end Brent Celek, wide receiver Riley Cooper, safety Quintin Mikell and long snapper Jon Dorenbos.
Wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant, who have been to the previous practices, did not attend. The sessions have been casual and without injury.
"We don’t worry about injuries," Vick said. "When you focus on guys getting hurt and getting injured then that’s when something happens. At the same time we’re very meticulous about what we’re doing.”