Nick Foles expects to quarterback the Eagles for a half or so Thursday night at Cleveland, which is kind of remarkable, given the way Foles left last week’s preseason game against the Patriots.
Foles came away from an Adrian Clayborn strip-sack wincing and holding his passing arm. He left the game immediately, a series earlier than planned. Though Foles said afterward he didn’t think he was seriously injured, the Eagles announced a “shoulder strain,” and said Foles would undergo an MRI exam the next day. He’d just come back, after missing the preseason opener with muscle spasms in his neck-trapezius area.
Very rarely does something like this happen to an NFL quarterback without the QB being sidelined for at least a week or two. But when the Eagles returned to practice Sunday, there was Foles, with his helmet.
“I’m very fortunate with my shoulder,” Foles said Tuesday. “When it happened, my shoulder got sorta jarred, shoulder socket, so there was definitely soreness the next couple of days.”
Foles indicated he reacted with alarm because the hit resembled the one that led to shoulder surgery when he was a high school QB in Austin, Texas.
“It was a similar hit in 2007, a little bit more aggressive, my senior year of high school, that caused my shoulder to sublux [partially dislocate]. I ultimately had it repaired, but I think with that, you feel something, and it scares you at first, your arm gets jarred,” Foles said.
“But once [the shoulder was examined] on the sideline, the strength was great. That’s why I told you after the game I wasn’t too worried. … Ultimately, the shoulder’s great. It’s felt great all week, I haven’t missed a day of practice and I’m throwing the ball well.”
We still don’t know whether Foles or Carson Wentz will start the Sept. 6 season opener against Atlanta, though Wentz seemed to take a significant step in that direction when he returned to 11-on-11 work this week. If Foles is preparing to start against the Falcons, he wants to log some effective work this Thursday, unlike his 3-for-9, 44-yard performance at New England.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson is looking for that as well, some series in which Foles more closely resembles February’s Super Bowl MVP.
“Just consistency,” Pederson said when asked what he would like to see Foles do better. “You guys saw a couple throws early in the game were not Nick Foles-type throws, as far as accuracy goes. So, just making those routine-type plays and overall execution. Would love to see a touchdown drive or two, obviously, or points out of the first unit,” something the starters haven’t managed in two preseason games.
Pederson said the group that will start Thursday night got more work together this week and should be less error-prone. Foles said getting to play together for at least a half should help.
“Getting into rhythm does take time,” he said. “Sometimes it’s tough when you only have a few series, but that’s sorta how it is. … Just having a half, being out there, moving the ball, running our offense, I think will be great for us.”
Foles said there was no underlying mechanical issue with his high-and-wide passing last week – it was mostly just excitement.
“I just sorta missed. … I watched the film. Let ‘em go a little high. I was excited to be back out there,” he said. “I think people forget that there’s an emotional aspect to this game. I was excited to be out there; I knew it would take me a little bit to calm down, just because the last time I’d played was the Super Bowl. And that’s not an excuse. … I knew after I threw my first throw that — I threw it out of bounds, I was like, ‘All right, just get the feel for the game, calm back down.’ Because any athlete will tell you, that’s how it is.”
Foles said he doesn’t allow himself to dwell on the uncertainty of who will be named the opening-game starter. Of course, the decision could affect much more than the opening game. Once Wentz is back, he’s back. If he stays healthy, he’s the quarterback. It’s possible Foles will get more snaps Thursday than he will again this year.
“Whenever the team decides,” he said when asked when he would like to know if he’s starting. “I’m going to go out there every single day and give it everything I have. … I’m just getting ready to face the Browns, and that’s what I really focus on, focus on the moment, focus on now. I got to experience being a backup the last several years, where I never really knew when I’d play, so I have experience with it. Whenever needed, I’ll be ready.”