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By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – One of the questions about Michael Vick going into the Eagles’ 2012 season was whether or not Michael Vick would stay healthy. He didn’t.
As for 2013?
“We’ll see. Train hard,” Vick said to 94WIP’s Michael Barkann and Ike Reese on Thursday. Vick was brought back to compete for the starting quarterback position to the surprise of many in Philadelphia.
“We’ll see. I don’t know what else to you? I can’t give you no explanation for that. It’s probably one of the toughest questions you’ve asked me since we’ve been talking. I don’t know. I think just to train—train hard and pray to God. That’s gonna be my motto. Hopefully I can sustain 16 games. If I’m out there—go out there and put forth your best effort and see what happens. That’s it,” Vick said.
“We also have to realize, and I think you guys need to take into account that I was hit 170 times last year before I even went down. That’s the most I ever been hit before I even got hurt. So, I kept getting up. My body was trained and conditioned to go the distance last year, it was just the fact that I got a head injury and that kind of took me out. That was kind of an out of the blue concussion. It just happened. Other than that, I got hit a lot and I got up, and I’m going to do the same thing this year. I’ll get hit a lot, I’ll get up. That’s what it’s all about. I mean, you just gotta train, you gotta prepare yourself, you gotta condition yourself, and the good thing is I know how to do that.”
When Chip Kelly spoke about Vick’s return to the Eagles, he made it clear that both Vick and Nick Foles will compete for the starting position. Vick doesn’t seem to have a problem with not coming in as the starter.
“Open competition? I welcome it and I think every other person on that roster, ever single one of my teammates should be in an open competition, not just me,” Vick said. “It’s competition week in and week out, every Sunday. I’m always competing with 31 other quarterbacks around the league, not just the opposition on Sunday’s. That’s what brings out the best in you. That’s what the league is about. I marvel at the competition, I enjoy it.”
The 2012 Eagles season began with a shakeup, in the passing of Andy Reid’s son, and never stopped shaking. The situation surrounding the team affected Vick.
“You can’t play football for forever. I know these last couple years have to be my best and I have to be my very best, and I have to work as hard as I can off the field, to maximize my opportunities on the field,” he said. “Last year was sort of a similar situation, but I couldn’t focus from the beginning of the year because there was so much talk about me being benched, and there was talk about me not being here next year. The comfort level wasn’t there, and I never been through that before. Now, I know what’s ahead of me—I can focus. I’m playing for a lot, most importantly for this organization, because that’s what means the most to me. Everything else is secondary, winning is primary.”
Chip Kelly’s read-option offense will require Vick to use his athletic ability, and probably mean getting hit – again. It will also mean Vick has to make reads at the line of scrimmage, and be particularly adept at holding on to the ball. He thinks he’s up for it.
“I mean, despite the turnovers here and there, you have to look at the fact that last year our personnel was very different,” Vick said. “We had a lot of guys hurt and all in all I did the best I could and I won’t look back. I’ve worked on some things, like how to protect the football. The interceptions, they came, but a lot of those were tipped balls if you go back and watch the film, but I’m not making any excuses. Being a football analyst, I think, if you understand what football is all about you understand why things happen. It’s a new offense, it’s going to be different, it’s going to be fresh, and that’s what I’m looking forward too. I can’t play to prove everybody right.”
After playing what many thought would be Vick’s final game with the Eagles, he called out his teammates for not giving full effort. Now, back with the team, Vick doesn’t see his comments as an issue moving forward.
“I talked to maybe 15, 16 guys from the team. They’ve called, or we’ve texted. Everybody is excited, he said. “I wasn’t worried about how they were gonna feel. They knew why I said what I said, and I know why I said what I said. The first thing I said was including myself, because I took responsibility for a lot of things that happened, as well, whether I should or I shouldn’t. That’s just how I feel as the leader of our football team. They knew exactly why I was saying what I was saying, whether it was pertaining to them or somebody else. You know, it was a dismal season and I know there could have been more output from a lot of players on our team. It was upsetting. It was disheartening to see guys not putting forth the effort and it wasn’t everybody on the roster. Maybe it was selected few guys, and they knew who they were, but in talking to everybody that I have genuine love for and have relationships, they’re excited about me coming back. They’re excited about having another shot to go out and make 2013 different, from what we did last year.”