PHILADLEPHIA - Eagles coach Andy Reid still hopes that quarterback Michael Vick will be able to recover from his concussion in time to play against Washington on Sunday.
Reid refused to rule him out Wednesday, even though Vick remained home and has yet to even begin taking the tests required by the NFL to receive medical clearance to play.
"I'm taking him right through the protocol that you normally do," Reid said. "It's important that you do that and that's how we're doing it. His headache has subsided quite a little bit. He's feeling a little bit better in that area. We're taking it day by day and making sure we evaluate him. The main thing for him now is to just rest."
Vick sustained what Reid termed a "pretty significant" concussion in the second quarter of last Sunday's 38-23 loss against the Cowboys. He left the game after getting hit by Dallas linebacker Ernie Sims, but he also had taken a hit three plays earlier when he dived forward for a 4-yard gain, and again when Cowboys nose tackle Jay Ratliff landed on him during another scramble.
Vick also sustained a concussion last season against Atlanta but did not miss any games.
Vick's status for Sunday's game against the Redskins will depend upon his ability to pass a variety of cognitive and physical exams this week. He first has to have a CT scan of his brain. Eagles head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder and his staff will measure Vick's ability to retain and recall information while also conducting a series of cardio, strength and balance exercises. Finally, Vick must be cleared by an indepedent neurologist in accordance with the NFL concussion policy adopted three years ago.
Vick was not at the NovaCare Complex on Wednesday, but wide receiver Jeremy Maclin said he had spoken to him Tuesday.
"He seemed OK," Maclin said. "I certainly don't know if he'll be ready to play this week. We talked about a lot of personal stuff, but he was fine. He wasn't in 'la-la land' or anything like that."
Vick is considered a longshot, however, meaning that rookie Nick Foles likely will make his first career start against the Redskins.
Foles, who made his NFL debut in relief of Vick against the Cowboys, will become the first Eagles rookie quarterback to start a regular-season game since Donovan McNabb in 1999.
"I'm ready. I'm excited to just play again," Foles said after practice. "Like I said before, all of my prayers are with Mike. I want Mike to be healthy. Mike's the leader of this team. He's the quarterback. I'm going to do my job right now until he gets healthy. It's my job to go out there and do everything I can for this team and help in any way possible.
"The key for me is to play fast and don't be afraid to make mistakes. If I make a mistake, I have to keep firing it. I know that's a big thing when you're a quarterback. You're going to make mistakes, but you have to keep firing the ball no matter what. You can't let the last play beat you."
He made a few mistakes against the Cowboys.
After Vick was forced out of the game, Foles completed 22-of-32 passes for 219 yards. The third-round draft pick from the University of Arizona threw his first career touchdown pass in the second quarter, finding Maclin in the end zone for a 44-yard score. But there were also a pair of costly fourth-quarter turnovers that led to the Eagles' fifth straight defeat.
He threw an interception that cornerback Brandon Carr returned 47 yards for a touchdown. Then he lost a fumble in the end zone that defensive tackle Jason Hatcher recovered for another TD.
Still, his teammates came away impressed with the poise and leadership Foles displayed, given his lack of experience. He didn't take a single snap in the first eight games and never got any practice time with the first-team offense.
"What was so surprising is that he was very calm and took charge in the huddle," tight end Brent Celek said Wednesday. "He has all the physical tools, plus he's very calm. He plays within the offense and doesn't get rattled. If Mike can't go, I'm excited for Nick."
The Eagles desperately hope that he'll play well Sunday, if Vick misses the game as expected.
They are mired in the longest losing streak of Reid's 14-year tenure. At 3-6, they need to win at least six of their final seven games to entertain any thought of making the playoffs.
"We have to look at this as a new beginning," Maclin said. "We've got seven games to get us where we want to go. Our backs are against the wall. This is a must-win game for us. We have got to win this game, and we have confidence that Nick can help us win it.
"You have to feel confident no matter who is under center. You've got to believe that he's the guy who's going to lead us to victory. You have to think like that in this league."
Contact David Weinberg: