PHILADELPHIA - Eagles quarterback Michael Vick doesn't know how to slide.
Nor does he want to learn.
Despite having suffered a number of sprains, bruises, tears and fractures during his NFL career, he has no plans to curtail his aggressive playing style, even if it means increasing the risk of another injury.
Football is a contact sport.
"At the end of the day, I'm not just a quarterback," Vick said. "I'm a football player and I do whatever it takes to win."
He demonstrated that dedication during the Eagles' 33-27 victory at Washington on Monday night, when he served as a lead blocker for running back LeSean McCoy on three or four plays.
In each instance, he handed the ball to McCoy and then sprinted ahead of him and threw himself at Redskins defenders.
While he didn't exactly flatten anyone, he managed to provide just enough daylight for McCoy to gain a few yards.
"It was Monday night, so I figured, I'd show off a little bit," Vick said with a laugh. "The rest of our games (including Sunday's home opener against San Diego) are at 1 o'clock. They might not be (nationally) televised, so I was just trying to give the people what they wanted to see.
"Seriously, I try not to do it. But because of the way we run the read-option, sometimes the ball gets cut back and I'm standing there (in front of a defensive player). I'm not gonna just let my teammate get hit by a guy. But maybe I'll just get in the way next time and try to wall him off."
That would be just fine with his teammates and coaches.
McCoy appreciated Vick's effort because it helped him rush for 184 yards on a career-high 31 carries against the Redskins. But he would rather leave the blocking to the offensive line, tight ends and wide receivers.
"When I saw him out in front of me, I was just hoping he didn't take any big hits," McCoy said. "Me getting tackled for a loss is better than him taking a hit. We need him."
Head coach Chip Kelly and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur both spoke to Vick this week about the need to protect himself whenever possible. They both reminded him that he is much more valuable to the team on the field instead of the trainer's room.
But they also couldn't help but respect him for his willingness to do whatever was necessary to help the Eagles open the season with a victory.
"One of the things I admire about Mike is something that we've all seen," Shurmur said. "He's extremely tough, he's very competitive and when the game is going on, he reacts to things like you'd want a football player to react. Now, I don't want him lead-blocking on sweeps, and so we told him, 'Don't do that.' So we assume he won't."
Some of Vick's teammates were conflicted by his actions.
While they were concerned that he might hurt himself, his tenacity also served as yet another example of why he is considered the unquestioned leader of the team.
"It shows us that he's absolutely willing to do anything to help us win," Eagles guard Evan Mathis said. "He's a competitor and that's what competitors do. Mike's a team player and a natural leader."
He's also prone to injury. The 33-year-old hasn't played a full season since he became the Eagles' starting quarterback early in the 2010 season. Broken ribs sent him to the sideline for six total games in 2010 and 2011. Last season, he missed five games after sustaining a concussion.
A strenuous conditioning program and improved diet enabled him to add four pounds of muscle to his 6-foot frame prior to this season. He is also wearing a flak jacket again this season to protect his ribs.
The best protection, however, would be to let others do the blocking.
"You can get hurt at any point in the game," Vick said. "Some guys have their worst injuries - torn ACLs and things like that - just staying in the pocket. But I understand that if I put my body in jeopardy, at risk, then I'm putting this football team at risk and I feel like I'm being selfish to my teammates. It's just something that I have to gauge."
Extra points: Eagles defensive end Fletcher Cox had no comment regarding a Yahoo Sports report that implicated him as one of five former Southeastern Conference players who accepted improper benefits. The report alleges Cox received a free airplane ticket from Alabama to Florida valued at over $1,200 from former Alabama player Luther Davis.
Eagles cornerback Bradley Fletcher (concussion) did not practice Thursday. He still must pass the NFL's concussion tests before he can be cleared to practice and/or play again.
Contact David Weinberg:
at Eagles (1-0)
When: 1 p.m. Sunday
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Line: Eagles by 7 points