PHILADELPHIA — Eagles rookie quarterback Nick Foles will get his first chance to start against a team for a second time Sunday.
He made his first career NFL start against Washington on Nov. 18. Foles did not play well, throwing interceptions on the Eagles’ first two possessions and completing just 21-of-46 passes in a 31-6 loss to the Redskins at FedEx Field.
He’s expecting to turn in a much better performance in the Eagles’ final home game of the season at Lincoln Financial Field.
“I feel like I’ve improved as a player,” Foles said earlier this week. “I’ve definitely gotten more comfortable playing the game, and that’s important. The big thing with football is you’ve got to be comfortable, you’ve got to be on time (with passes), and I think that’s improved a lot. There’s still a lot more room for improvement.”
Foles, a 22-year-old third-round draft pick, has been inconsistent during his audition to be the team’s quarterback of the future. In the four games since that loss to the Redskins, he completed 86-of-139 passes (62 percent) for 933 yards with four touchdown passes against just one interception.
He had his best game at Tampa Bay on Dec. 9, throwing for 381 yards and two touchdowns, and running for another TD. Most importantly, he emerged as a leader who can be counted on in the clutch. His last-second TD pass to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin clinched a 23-21 win over the Buccaneers.
But he regressed four days later against Cincinnati. He connected on 16-of-33 passes (48 percent) for 182 yards and threw a costly interception in a 34-13 loss.
“Nick’s got an opportunity here to develop and I know that he’s got an opportunity to be very good,” offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said this week. “With my experiences, and I’ve coached a lot of great ones, the difference between really good and great is up to that individual player. And it’s almost unknown until you get them in league games over a period of time.”
Mornhinweg said there was no set time limit, however. By the end of the season, Foles will have started eight games since replacing Michael Vick. There is a chance the Eagles may still have concerns as to whether he is their franchise quarterback.
During the offseason, general manager Howie Roseman and the head coach — either Andy Reid or more likely someone else — will need to decide if they want to go forward with Foles, try to bring back Vick at a reduced salary or pursue someone else either through free agency or the draft.
“Quarterbacks progress at different rates,” Mornhinweg said. “Some have a seamless transition and some might take a couple of years. There’s been others that have taken more than that to develop into one of the top quarterbacks.
“I’m excited about Nick. He’s got some excellent qualities. He’s built the right way. There are several things he needs to work on, like any young quarterback, and we’ll see how he continues to progress.”
Foles is among eight rookie quarterbacks who have started at least one game this season, including the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins. Foles and Cousins were teammates for a year at Michigan State before Foles transferred to Arizona. Their draft class also includes Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck, Seattle’s Russell Wilson, Miami’s Ryan Tannehill, Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden and Arizona’s Ryan Lindley.
Griffin, Luck and Wilson are enjoying outstanding seasons.
“I really don’t worry about (comparing himself to the other rookies),” Foles said. “Those guys are all talented players and good people, so it’s exciting to see that they’ve done well. But I just worry about myself and what I can do to get better and help my teammates.
“You look at their stats, but you don’t look at it like, ‘Oh, he threw for that, so I need to do this.’ You’re not going to do that. You’re just going to worry about yourself, worry about winning the game. And those guys are doing the same thing. They’re trying to get better themselves. They’re not comparing themselves to anyone else.”
Extra points: The Eagles are going to be short at fullback on Sunday. Starter Stanley Havili (strained hamstring) was declared out on Friday and rookie Chris Polk (sprained toe) was listed as doubtful. Rookie free agent Emil Igwenagu, who spent most of the season on the practice squad, will be the fullback.
New tight end Evan Moore, who joined the team Thursday, will be the backup behind starter Brent Celek.
Defensive end Darryl Tapp and his wife, Tiffany, donated $5,000 worth of gifts to the Boys & Girls Club of Camden County on Friday. The Eagles’ linebacker donated and presented gifts to needy children at Ferguson Elementary School in Philadelphia through the Children’s Crisis Treatment Center.
Former running back Brian Westbrook will serve as honorary captain Sunday and will be honored at halftime.
Contact David Weinberg: