PHILADELPHIA - Eagles coach Chip Kelly finally ended the suspense.
He announced Thursday that Michael Vick will be the starter in today's preseason opener against New England at Lincoln Financial Field, but will be alternating with Nick Foles in the first quarter.
The order will be reversed for next week's preseason game against Carolina, with Foles starting and Vick also getting snaps with the starters.
Rookie Matt Barkley will play the second and third quarters against the Pats, followed by Dennis Dixon and G.J. Kinne.
"I don't read anything into (being the starter today)," Vick said Thursday. "I'm starting this week and Nick is starting next week. I just take it for what it's worth and keep working.
"I've never been in this position before. I mean, I've been in competitions before, but never this severe. I'm just taking it in stride, man. I can't control the future, I can't predict the future. I can just control what I can control. I can't do it all. I can't do everything. But the one thing I'm gonna do is have fun."
Vick and Foles have been battling for the starting job since the offseason minicamps began in May. Kelly has been careful not to favor one over the other. If Vick was the first quarterback on the field with the starters one day, Foles would be first the next day.
That rotation is expected to continue for at least another three weeks. Kelly appears in no hurry to settle the debate until he sees them in action for two or three preseason games. There is even a chance that Barkley could surpass them with an impressive preseason performance.
"I've said all along that it's very difficult to evaluate somebody when they're wearing helmets and shorts," Kelly said. "The guys are going to compete now. At the end of the day, it's all going to balance itself out."
Vick smiled when informed that he would get the nod today, but also acknowledged that the duel is far from settled.
The 33-year-old has been the best quarterback since training camp began, but still has to show he can execute Kelly's offense in game situations.
Foles, 24, has also had a good camp. Although he lacks Vick's versatility, he has demonstrated the ability to make quick decisions, find open receivers and deliver accurate passes.
"I've played this game so much that you really don't look into it," Foles said. "When you look into little things like that, it causes your mind to go elsewhere. I know what I've done in practice. I know what I need to work on, I know what I've done well and I'm going to keep pushing it.
"Whatever they choose, I'm going to be all for it, because this is the Philadelphia Eagles, not 'Who's the quarterback?' "
Both Vick and Foles will be operating behind a makeshift offensive line tonight.
Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, who missed all of last season with a ruptured Achilles' tendon, will not play against the Patriots because of a strained hamstring. And his top backup, Dennis Kelly, revealed Thursday morning that he will miss the entire preseason after undergoing surgery earlier in the week to repair a herniated disc in his lower back.
Kelly, who started 10 games last season, hopes to be back in time for the regular season. The Eagles open at Washington on Monday, Sept. 9.
"It's been bothering me since last season," Kelly said in the driveway of the NovaCare Complex. "I thought it would get better with rest, but it didn't, so I thought it would be better to have the surgery now."
With Peters, Kelly and tackle Ed Wang (sprained knee) all sidelined, free-agent pickup Allen Barbre will start at left tackle against the Patriots. Lane Johnson, the Eagles' first-round draft pick, will line up at right tackle.
Barbre, 6-feet-4 and 310 pounds, was out of the NFL last season after stints with Green Bay (2007-09), Miami (2010) and Seattle (2010-11).
"I'm thankful for the opportunity to go out there and prove myself," Barbre said Thursday. "Unfortunately, guys get hurt in this league and when your number's called, you have to be ready to step up and help the team as best you can."
Extra points: In addition to Peters, Kelly and Wang, defensive tackle Antonio Dixon (strained hamstring) and cornerback Cary Williams (strained hamstring) are not expected to play today. Third-year cornerback Curtis Marsh will replace Williams with the first-team defense.
Wide receivers Damaris Johnson (strained hamstring) and rookie Russell Shepard did not practice Thursday, but may play against the Patriots. The Eagles are short-handed at that position without Jeremy Maclin and Arrelious Benn, who both suffered torn anterior cruciate ligaments and will miss the entire season.
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