PHILADELPHIA - If Eagles quarterback Michael Vick doesn't win the starting job in training camp and the preseason, it won't be from a lack of preparation.
The 33-year-old showed up for training camp at the NovaCare Complex in possibly the best shape of his career in hopes of beating out Nick Foles and Matt Barkley for the right to be in new coach Chip Kelly's lineup when the teams opens the season at Washington on Sept. 9.
His muscles strained against his white long-sleeved T-shirt after Tuesday's one-hour workout with rookies and selected veterans. He also has evidently maintained his breathtaking speed, considering he easily won a 40-yard dash against Eagles running back LeSean McCoy earlier this summer.
He's hoping the conditioning will help him avoid the injuries that have plagued him throughout his career. Vick has not played a full, 16-game regular season since joining the Eagles in 2009. He sat out seven combined games in 2010 and 2011 due to broken ribs and sustained a concussion last season that caused him to miss six games.
"I've been doing curls and bench presses to get my body in the best shape possible to withstand the hits," Vick said Tuesday. "I love the game of football, but you have to stay on the field in order to play it."
Before he can stay on the field, however, he has to get on the field.
Kelly maintained again Tuesday that the quarterback competition will be up for grabs throughout training camp and the preseason. Vick will be fighting it out with Nick Foles, rookie Matt Barkley and possibly Dennis Dixon for the starting job.
"The depth chart is written in sand," Kelly said Tuesday. "It's an open competition and somebody is going to rise to the top."
Vick has a decided edge on his competition in terms of athletic ability, accomplishments and experience. He has started 108 regular-season and playoff games during 11 seasons with Atlanta (2001-06) and the Eagles (2009-present). He is also the most versatile of the group, having thrown for 20,274 yards and run for 5,551.
But while he seems to be the best fit for Kelly's offense, the coach has continually praised Foles and Barkley. Upon arriving for training camp on Monday, they also expressed confidence in their own ability to get the job done if given the chance.
And they will get plenty of chances. Instead of naming a starting quarterback before camp, Kelly decided to postpone that decision until he sees all three in action during the preseason.
"Everybody has a chance," Kelly said Tuesday. "Your resume is what you put on tape and if one guy continues to make plays and the other guy doesn't, the guy who makes the plays will win the job.".
Wide receiver DeSean Jackson indicated earlier this summer via ESPN that he believed Vick would emerge as the winner, but Vick quickly downplayed that suggestion on Tuesday.
How he performs in training camp will carry far more weight than Jackson's endorsement.
"None of the talk is going to determine who the quarterback is going to be," Vick said. "I think our teammates will support whoever wins the job. For myself, I just have to continue to keep leading, keep playing and stay consistent. Consistency is the most important thing in this offense."
He liked the idea of playing in Kelly's wide-open attack enough that he chose to restructure his contract with the Eagles into a one-year deal that could be worth as much as $10 million rather than get released and pursue an opportunity elsewhere.
Like the other quarterbacks, he expressed his confidence in his ability to win the job, but also indicated he accept a backup role if necessary.
"I came back to play here because of coach Kelly," Vick said. "I think it's the best opportunity for me and I'm going to continue to work as hard as I can to be the best quarterback I can be. I just want to help this team win football games by any means possible. I'm very confident in myself. I believe in me and I know what I can do."
EXTRA POINTS: Rookie free agents Matthew Tucker (running back) and Brad Wing (punter) did not practice Tuesday. They were placed on the non-football injury list after failing the team's conditioning test on Monday afternoon.
Kelly explained the test consists of a series of sprints with rest periods in between. The length of the runs and the recovery time depend on the position. They will get a chance to retake the test on Thursday when the rest of the team reports to the NovaCare Complex.
"If you can't pass our conditioning test, how are you going to make it through one of our practices?" Kelly said. "It's the minimum standard. It's not like we're trying to qualify for the Olympics."
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