More than Vick on Eagles' minds

This Eagles preseason game should be an exception to the mundane rule.

Two weeks after a controversial buzz permeated Lincoln Financial Field as word leaked that the Eagles had signed Michael Vick, the same fans who reacted in a variety of ways that night will get an opportunity to officially welcome the quarterback to Philadelphia tonight.

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Quarterback Michael Vick's first game since he was released from prison, and the fans' reaction, will attract national attention at the Linc.

Reaction to Vick's debut figures to be fascinating theater, as should the manner in which coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg incorporate their new toy into the scheme. Reid was cryptic about his plans for Vick on Tuesday.

"I'm excited for him," center Jamaal Jackson said. "Hopefully, he gets a chance to get out there and show people that he has still got it."

Jackson said he was also hoping to have a rearview glimpse of Vick at some point during the game, against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"I'll stop what I'm doing and watch," Jackson said. "If he's running down the field, I'll try to run with him and meet him in the end zone."

Although Vick's first game since he was released from prison - after having served 18 months for his role in a dogfighting operation - will attract the national attention, there are more important things the Eagles' coaching staff will monitor during the game.

Offensively, the Eagles will likely get their first preseason glimpse at running back Brian Westbrook, a welcome sight for everyone involved with the team, including rookie running back LeSean McCoy.

"We all know Brian is the guy," said McCoy, who has taken the majority of snaps with the first-team offense through training camp and the first two exhibition games. "I know I'm just here to help him out in whatever way I can."

The Eagles will also have more of their starting offensive line in place than at any other point in the preseason, as left tackle Jason Peters returns from a thigh injury and right guard Stacy Andrews makes his first appearance.

Still missing among the projected starters will be left guard Todd Herremans and right tackle Shawn Andrews.

"It will be good to get those guys out there just to get their timing down," Jackson said. "That's important. This is a dress rehearsal for us and I'm hoping we go out there and do well.

"This is the game where the starters take most of the reps . . . and it's a good tune-up game. We have to come out and have positive plays and cut down on the penalties."

This is also an important night for the Eagles' first-team defense, which allowed four touchdowns on seven possessions in preseason games against New England and Indianapolis. It should help that the defense won't be going against Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, arguably the two best quarterbacks in the NFL.

"You want to see the ones come out and start fast," defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said.

The Eagles will have every starter in place except cornerback Sheldon Brown. Also missing will be defensive lineman Darren Howard and linebacker Omar Gaither, who have major roles in the nickel scheme.

Safety Quintin Demps said this would be the first preseason game for which the Eagles installed a game plan for an opponent.

"That's the biggest thing," Demps said. "We are going into this one with a game plan. These last few games, we might have had a little plan, but it wasn't a real game plan.

"I feel like this is a real opportunity for the defense to progress because it's about to get real here in a couple weeks. It's time to come on with it."

 


Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at 215-854-2577 or bbrookover@phillynews.com.