PHILADELPHIA - Eagles quarterbacks Michael Vick and Nick Foles will be reversing their roles in tonight's preseason game against Carolina at Lincoln Financial Field.
Coach Chip Kelly confirmed earlier this week that Foles will start against the Panthers after relieving Vick in last week's 31-22 loss to New England last Friday.
"I don't worry (about competing with Vick). I'm just trying to block it out and focus on my play when I'm on the field," Foles said earlier this week. "I'm with my teammates. We're having a great time pushing each other. We're working hard. We just need to keep that atmosphere going."
Vick will come off the bench and will also play with the first-team offense.
"I have to deal with the situation I'm dealt," Vick said. "(Coming off the bench) is not a bad thing at all. I'm just coming to play and I'm coming to have fun. I'm trying to lead the team regardless of who I'm out there with. I have to show I have confidence in them and I do."
Kelly has yet to reveal his plans, but he is expected to name a starting quarterback for the regular-season opener at Washington on Sept 9 sometime before the third preseason game at Jacksonville on Aug. 24.
Teams traditionally rest all of their starters in their final preseason contest in order to give borderline players one last shot at impressing the coaches before the final roster cuts are made. As a result, the starters usually play into the third quarter in the third game. Vick or Foles would presumably need that extended playing time to strengthen their rapport with the rest of the offense.
"You just have to go out there and play and not worry about what your placement is going to be after this game," Vick said. "If you worry about that stuff, then things won't flow for you. You have to let it come naturally. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen. It's all in God's hands."
Vick enjoyed a terrific performance against the Patriots, completing 4 of 5 passes for 94 yards while throwing a 47-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver DeSean Jackson on the first series. That effort came on the heals of a series of impressive practices over a two-week span in which he appeared to get more comfortable with Kelly's offense.
Foles lost a fumble on his first possession against the Pats, but rebounded to lead the Eagles to a touchdown on his next series. He completed 5 of 6 passes for 43 yards and also ran for a 10-yard gain.
"I think the most important thing when you face (adversity) is you just have to come back on the next drive and have a short memory," Foles said. "The first series didn't work out, but I was ready for the next series.
The tempo of the offense was noticeably quicker when Foles was in the lineup. The Eagles went to a no-huddle, fast-paced attack when Foles replaced Vick.
"We just knew that there were certain things that we wanted to work on during that game," Kelly said earlier this week. "There are times we're going to have to play fast and times when we're going to have to play slow. We wanted to get a feel for that."
The Eagles could place more emphasis on the running game against the Panthers since LeSean McCoy will be playing. McCoy, who is considered one of the top backs in the NFL, sat out against the Patriots with a sore knee. Bryce Brown, Chris Polk, Felix Jones and rookie free agent Matthew Tucker will also get some carries.
The offensive line will be intact except at left tackle. Six-time Pro Bowler Jason Peters will not play in order to rest his strained hamstring. Allen Barbre is expected to start there. Backup guard Danny Watkins will also be out after being diagnosed with a concussion earlier this week.
While the offense is hoping to duplicate its success, the defense has a lot of improving to do.
The Eagles' 3-4 alignment was terrible against the Patriots, allowing four touchdowns and 442 net yards. Poor tackling - a weakness that hurt the Eagles last season - was partly to blame.
Kelly and defensive coordinator Billy Davis had the players working on tackling during practice this week, though they still didn't tackle to the ground.
"I was hoping we would be further along at this point," Davis said earlier this week. "That game tells you everything you need to know about where we are and we've got a lot of work to do."
Cornerback Cary Williams, who missed the Pats game with a strained hamstring, will start against the Panthers. The rest of the first-team defense is expected to remain the same, but backups such as defensive end Vinny Curry, rookie nose tackles Bennie Logan and Damion Square, and safety Earl Wolff may get some snaps with the starters.
If they want to become a defense that is respected and even feared, they have to start playing at a much higher level.
"We'll be a lot better in the second (preseason) game," linebacker Connor Barwin said earlier this week. "No excuses, we have to play better and especially tackle better. One way we can improve is by swarming to the ball. It's a lot easier to make a tackle when there are four guys at the ball instead of one."