When Michael Vick decided to restructure his deal and stay with the Eagles in February, he was not promised the starting job. His feeling on Tuesday, when coach Chip Kelly named him the starter, was more gratitude than relief.
“I had to come back and work for everything,” Vick said. “It wasn’t given to me.”
But the key for Vick -- and he admits this -- is maintaining the mentality that he's competing for a starting job. He was at his best in 2010 and this preseason when he played with that reality, free of the hubris of being an entrenched starter.
“There’s a lot of comparisons you can make,” Vick said. “You’re at your best when the best is required. Sometimes, it’s hard to get it out of yourself. Sometimes, you need to be motivated, you need to be pushed.”
Now that he's the starter, he needs to figure out how to keep it. He said he will because he knows "I can be in this very same position again.”
Vick called Tuesday "Day 1" and refused to put more weight on the day than it deserved. But he's clearly indebted to Kelly, whom Vick said last week restored Vick's love for the game. It comes after a season in which Vick sustained injuries, missed six starts, and saw Andy Reid get fired after a 4-12 season.
“I felt a sense of guilt for a lot of things that took place," Vick said. "And I guess I allowed my emotions to get the most out of me at times the past couple years.”
His decision to return to Philadelphia had much to do with Kelly and the system that Kelly planned on running. Kelly said there were no preconceived notions of Vick, and Vick believes he proved that he can be "consistent," that he's picked up the system, and that he's the leader of the team.
It's worth noting the players on the team who look up to him. DeSean Jackson calls Vick a "big brother." LeSean McCoy repeatedly said "it's Mike Vick!", still looking at Vick like the star that Vick was when McCoy was a teenager.
“Since day one, I honestly thought he’d fit this offense the best,” Jackson said. “He’s able to go out there, still use his feet, and still throw the ball 80 yards downfield.”
Vick also went out of his way to praise Nick Foles, calling him a "great quarterback." Foles continues to rave about the relationship the two developed in what could otherwise be an awkward scenario.
“He will be in this league for a long time," Vick said. "You can bet on it.”
But Foles was outplayed by Vick -- even Kelly said that Vick's ahead. Foles kept in character on Tuesday, emphasizing his support of Vick and saying he quickly got over the decision and started preparing for practice. He said he does not want to be traded.
"No, it doesn't," Foles said, when asked if this changes the way he views his future in Philadelphia. "I'm going to keep working hard. Y'all know me. I'm one day at a time, trying to get everything I can out of each day. I'm going to continue to do that."
Foles said Kelly told him that he played well and that he never knows what will happen.
"I respect everything that the coaches did; I respect the decision," Foles said. "They're really doing this the right way. My mindset has not changed."
Contact Zach Berman at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @ZBerm.