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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Michael Vick watched practice from the sideline, still sore from taking a beating in his first game back after breaking his ribs last month.
Vick participated in a walkthrough Wednesday morning, but was a spectator in the afternoon when the Philadelphia Eagles began preparations for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets.
Before practice, coach Andy Reid said he’s confident Vick would start against the Jets (8-5). The Eagles are still clinging to playoff hopes despite a 5-8 record. They’ll need Vick to be sharp this week against one of the toughest defenses in the NFL.
“He was a little tender from the game (but) not as bad as before,” Reid said. “He was throwing the ball out there.”
Vick was sacked four times and took several hard hits in a 26-10 victory at Miami. He missed the three previous games after breaking two lower ribs in a loss to Arizona on Nov. 13.
Vick showed plenty of rust against the Dolphins. He completed just 15 of 30 passes and threw another interception. But he still made enough plays to help lead Philadelphia to a win that temporarily kept them alive in the NFC East race.
A Pro Bowl starter last year, Vick has struggled this season. He’s ranked 22nd with a 78.9 passer rating, and his 12 interceptions double his total from last season and are one shy of his career worst.
“Well you have to give credit to the defense, particularly on the tipped balls,” Reid said. “In some situations, yeah (he’s forcing the ball) to get things going. He will tell you that he’s trying to make things happen, but he’s made a lot of good throws, too.”
Despite Vick’s mediocre stats, Jets coach Rex Ryan, like other coaches and defensive coordinators around the league, are wary of Vick’s unique skills.
“He can throw a battle ship through a strawberry,” Ryan said. “There is only one Michael Vick in this league, a dynamic playmaker, can make all the throws, strong arm and the way he can move is second to nobody.”
Vick won’t have an easy time against New York. The Jets have the sixth-ranked defense and are sixth against the pass. Their secondary features two-time All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis.
On the other side, the Eagles have three heralded cornerbacks that have failed to live up to expectations in their first season together. Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie haven’t been the shutdown trio most anticipated.
“He is a tremendous corner, the best corner in football. It’s not even close,” Ryan said of Revis. “Nnamdi is an outstanding corner. Samuel is an outstanding corner. They have a lot of talented guys over there, but there’s only one Darrelle Revis.”
Revis likely will match up against DeSean Jackson. The two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver caught just his third TD pass of the season last week. Jackson is always a deep threat, though, having scored 21 TDs of at least 30 yards in his four-year career.
Ryan wouldn’t commit to putting Revis on Jackson.
“Whoever we decide to put him on, it’ll be a long day for that individual,” Ryan said.
Philadelphia’s receivers are quite aware of Revis’ talents.
“His ability to be patient is his biggest asset,” wideout Jason Avant said of Revis. “Usually when you have guys that are fast and quick, most DBs are frantic and they can’t get in a stance. He’s really calm and knows he’s the best, so he sits there and waits for you to declare your move. He’ll sit right there in front of you.”
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