PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles' quarterback controversy is over.
The debate ended Tuesday morning when coach Chip Kelly announced that Michael Vick had beaten out Nick Foles to be the team's starting quarterback for the regular season, starting with the opener at Washington on Sept. 9.
"He's our starter for the season," Kelly said before practice Tuesday at the NovaCare Complex. "It's not a one-game trial basis. We want to move forward now. This is a one-quarterback operation. This isn't going to be someone's got to look over their shoulder or we're going to alternate by series."
The battle between Vick and Foles began in the offseason minicamps and continued through training camp and the first two preseason games.
Both took turns playing with the starting offense and both performed well enough to earn the job.
"We wanted to make a thorough evaluation and let the situation play itself out," Kelly said. "Nick made the decision very difficult for us. It wasn't a situation where one guy went north and the other guy went south. Both guys are playing at a high level. But Michael's playing at a little higher level."
Vick was virtually flawless against New England and Carolina. He completed 13-of-15 passes for 199 yards with one touchdown and an interception - a Hail Mary pass at the end of the first half against the Panthers - while rushing for 20 yards on two carries.
Foles was also exceptional. He connected on 11-of-14 passes for 96 yards with no TD passes and an interception. He also displayed surprising mobility by rushing for 23 yards and a TD on three carries.
"Nick is a great quarterback and he's going to be playing in this league for a long time," Vick said. "I think the competition really brought out the best in both of us. I came in here each day knowing that I was fighting for a job and had to be at my best every day. But it doesn't stop here. I still have to prove myself each and every day. I still have to keep improving each and every day.
"I feel like if I can keep working hard and doing everything right, I have an opportunity to do great things, not only for myself but also for this football team."
If Foles was upset by the decision, he did a good job of hiding it.
After practice ended Tuesday, he was among the players lining up to sign autographs for fans who were standing at the entrance to the building. He happily posed for pictures and sported a wide smile.
"Mike and I had a great battle and we both did a great job," Foles said afterward. "I have no regrets at all. When Chip told me (that Vick would be the starter) I wasn't moping around or anything. It took me less than a tenth of a second to get over it. I saw Mike in the hallway and we hugged each other and we'll continue to support each other.
"The competitor in me always wants to be on the field playing, but I'm proud of Mike and I'll do anything I can to help him. We have a great relationship and a great friendship and nothing's going to change."
Although Vick will begin the season as the starter, there is a strong chance Foles won't be on the bench for the entire year.
Injuries have sidelined Vick for most of his NFL career, including the past three seasons with the Eagles. Rib injuries and a concussion forced him to miss 12 total games. When he was finally healthy enough to return last year, he was demoted to being Foles' backup by then-coach Andy Reid.
"In this league, you better have a couple of quarterbacks ready to go," Kelly said. "Nick has got to keep preparing like he's a starter. That's got to be his mentality. The one thing we learned from this is that we've got two guys, maybe even three (rookie Matt Barkley), that can play in this league."
Because of the Eagles' depth at quarterback - the current roster includes Vick, Foles, Barkley, Dennis Dixon and G.J. Kinne - there was speculation that Kelly may try to trade Foles and use Dixon - who played for Kelly at the University of Oregon - as the top backup and groom Barkley for the future.
Kelly squashed that possibility on Tuesday, much to the relief of Foles.
"I want to be here," Foles said. "I don't want to go anywhere else. I love this city and I love this team. I don't want to play for anybody else."
It wasn't too long ago that Vick was thought to be out the door.
After last season's 4-11 debacle, the Eagles were expected to release the 33-year-old. Instead, one of Kelly's first moves upon succeeding Reid was to convince Vick to restructure his contract into what is essentially a one-year deal for this season and allow him the opportunity to compete for the starting job.
"It's gratifying to know that I came back and had to work for everything," Vick said. "Nothing was given to me. And that's the same approach I'm going to continue to have this season. I'm going to stay humble and continue to work as hard as I can every day.
"I'm feeling something with my game and my personality that I haven't felt in a long time. I feel like if I can do everything right. The sky is the limit for me and for this football team."
EXTRA POINTS: Kelly said that Vick and the rest of the starters will play the entire first half in Saturday's third preseason game at Jacksonville and may possibly get a series or two in the third quarter.
Cornerback Curtis Marsh underwent surgery on his fractured right hand and is out indefinitely. Guard Todd Herremans (knee inflammation), tight end Emil Igwenagu (concussion) and tackle Dennis Kelly (back surgery) also did not practice Tuesday. Running back Felix Jones, linebacker Casey Matthews, safety Kenny Phillips, guard Danny Watkins were among the players who returned to practice Tuesday after sitting out Sunday's workout with injuries.
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