What Role Will Vick Play?

Adding a player the kind of baggage Michael Vick is carrying, is no small task. The surprise signing by the Eagles last Thursday has many wondering what Philadelphia plans on doing with the former Falcon QB. His role is still being defined, but it is sure to cause concern for defensive coordinators around the league.

Now that the Eagles have signed Michael Vick, the question is how they will use him.

While head coach Andy Reid acknowledged that there are a lot of interesting things you can do with a versatile player like Vick, he said the team's main focus at the moment is getting their newest player into football shape.

"We're going to gradually bring him along and (offensive coordinator) Marty (Mornhinweg will do some drills with him after practice and we'll ease him back into throwing the ball and then working the legs at the same time, conditioning-wise," Reid said.

Reid almost certainly will use Vick in Wildcat formations. The Eagles ran the Wildcat about a dozen times last season, with wide receiver DeSean Jackson taking the direct snap from center. Jackson threw the ball just once out of the formation, and that pass was intercepted. With Vick as the Wildcat, they'd have someone who can run and throw.

Interestingly, the Eagles bulked up their Wildcat package in training camp. "The package has grown a little bit," Reid said. "Can Michael eventually do that? Sure he can do that. Are there other things we can do (with Vick)? Yeah, he can do other things. We'll see how all this works out.

"First, he's got to get back into the swing. But at the same time, I can't tell you that things wouldn't be added to a package here and there."

Reid, who is as good an offensive play-designer as there is in the league, probably will try to get the ball into Vick's hands in a variety of different ways. He'll almost certainly line him up as a wide receiver and use him on end-around plays, where, like in the Wildcat, he'd have the option of running and throwing.

They also can get the ball to him quickly on hitches and bubble screens.

"There are some things you can do with (the Wildcat)," Reid said. "Then again, I kind of like our offense and what we do with the offense we have now. But I think it's a good wrinkle, and there are some other things you can do too with Michael and Donovan (McNabb) and DeSean.

"We have some guys that can run pretty fast and run the ball pretty good. So you add all those things up and you can have some fun."

Vick played in the West Coast offense for two years in Atlanta when Jim Mora was the head coach and Greg Knapp the offensive coordinator. That should make it easier to acclimate himself with Reid's offense.

Concluded Reid, "It's just a matter of recall taking place and he knows the fundamentals and the snap counts and the fundamental philosophy behind the offense. And actually, he already knows quite a few of the plays. So that cuts the learning process down a bit."

Signing Vick Wasn't A Given

The decision to approve the signing of quarterback Michael Vick wasn't an easy one for Eagles owner Jeff Lurie.

He knew the public uproar it would cause if his team brought in Vick, who spent 18 months in a federal prison for running a dogfighting ring and killing and torturing dogs. Did Lurie, a respected member of the Philadelphia community, need that? Did he really, really need that?

But after hours of discussions with head coach Andy Reid, former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy and Vick himself, Lurie finally gave the green light to a move that likely will define the Eagles' season in one way or another.

"Sometimes in life you have to make extremely difficult and soul-searching decisions where there is no right answer," Lurie said. "This was one of them.

"I was asked to approve something, approve Michael coming to the Eagles after he had committed something that so many of us, and myself very much included, regard as horrific behavior. When you are asked to approve something that you find so completely despicable and anathema, it takes a lot of soul-searching."

Ultimately, Lurie gave the green light to signing of Vick. Yes, partly because Vick may be able to help the Eagles win a Super Bowl. But also because he thinks Vick can become "an agent of change."

"The question I eventually had to ask was, 'Going forward, is Michael going to be a negative force in society the way he's been? Is he going to be responsible for (more) pain, suffering, disappointment, disloyalty and criminal behavior? Or is he going to have an opportunity and be able to be committed enough to take the bull by the horns and become a force for good?'"

This is a move the Eagles almost certainly wouldn't have made 2-3 years ago. Reid was pretty much inflexible when it came to bringing in people who weren't "character" players. But his experiences with his two sons, Britt and Garrett, both of whom have done jail time, have changed him into a man who sees the benefit of second chances. He convinced Lurie to give Vick a second chance.

"This isn't a slam dunk," said Lurie. "He's going to have to be absolutely committed to be proactive. If we don't have an extremely proactive player here off the field, then this is a terrible decision."

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