Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid and quarterback Michael Vick both said Friday there is no conspiracy regarding Vick's inability to get back on the football field.
Reid denied a report earlier in the day by ESPN's Ed Werder that intimated Vick was starting to believe he was being kept out of the lineup because of "politics" instead of his slow recovery from a concussion suffered against Dallas on Nov. 11.
In the report, Werder revealed that Vick was so sure he was going to play in Sunday night's rematch against the Cowboys that he had consulted with Unequal Techn6ologies, the company that designed his protective vest, about obtaining a padded skull cap he could wear under his helmet.
"There is nothing to that," Reid said Friday, alluding to the report that Vick was unhappy, in quotes provided by the team. "That's not the way Michael feels and that's not the way we feel. I've talked to Michael and Michael is good. I don't know where things get started, but Michael is fine (with his status). He understands that everything is in the best interest of him right now and making sure that he's ready to go.
"(Vick is) the ultimate competitor. There's absolutely no doubt that he wants to play and do those things. You have to go through the protocol. There's no way around that."
Vick has been ruled out for Sunday night. Rookie Nick Foles will make his third straight start.
Vick, who has been unavailable to the media since getting hurt, also denied the ESPN report through a statement released by the team Friday afternoon.
"I want to thank my fans for the thousands of well wishes," he said in the statement. "I also appreciate the support of the entire Eagles organization. I feel strong and healthy. As a professional athlete, I want to play in every game but the NFL has a specific protocol to protect players. My focus is to complete this process successfully, so I can rejoin my team on the field."
Vick failed the team's ImPACT test, the league-mandated concussion examination, again Friday. Eagles head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder said Vick remains in Phase 4 of the league’s five-step recovery process because he is struggling with visual tracking and balance.
"Michael has hit a plateau in his rehab," Burkholder said Friday in quotes provided by the team "There's no conspiracy here. We do not grade the ImPACT test. I send that paper from the computer off to (concussion experts) in Pittsburgh. They come back and say he has not passed his baseline. That has nothing to do with us. He has to pass that before we can entertain letting him play again. That is an NFL rule."
At 3-8, the Eagles have virtually no chance of making the playoffs. Their status raised the possibility that Reid, general manager Howie Roseman and perhaps owner Jeffrey Lurie wanted to give Foles some extended playing time to determine if he would be ready to lead the team in 2013.
But Reid, who is expected to be fired after the season, disputed that theory. Vick will take another ImPACT test on Monday and if he passes, he will be the starting quarterback next week in Tampa Bay.
"Michael is the quarterback of this team," Reid said. "That is how I approach it. Until I tell you different, that's how I feel. Mike knows that and that's the important thing."
Foles, a third-round draft pick from the University of Arizona, has not played well during his audition. He has completed 59-of-99 passes (59.6 percent) for 542 yards with one touchdown, three interceptions and a lost fumble. He has yet to throw a TD pass as a starter. His 65.5 efficiency rating would be near the bottom of the NFL if he had enough pass attempts to qualify.
However, Vick was also playing poorly before he got hurt. He completed 185-of-316 passes (58.5 percent) this season for 2,165 yards with 11 TD passes against nine interceptions and five lost fumbles. He's 27th with a 79.2 efficiency rating.
Other injuries, news
Running back LeSean McCoy has progressed to Phase 2 in his recovery from a concussion but is still a ways away from playing again. Rookie Bryce Brown, who rushed for 178 yards and two touchdowns with two fumbles in his first start last week, will replace McCoy against the Cowboys.
Center Dallas Reynolds (sprained ankle) practiced Friday but is listed as questionable on the injury report. If he can't play, left guard Evan Mathis would start at center and Danny Watkins would take over at left guard. Rookie defensive tackle Fletcher Cox was not at practice Friday. He flew home to Mississippi to attend the funeral of a family member. He also is listed as questionable but is expected to join the team in Dallas.
The Eagles promoted wide receiver Marvin McNutt from the practice squad to the active roster. They still have one more roster spot available.
Offensive line coach Howard Mudd told the Philadelphia Daily News on Friday that he will be retire at the end of the season regardless of what happens with Reid and the rest of the coaching staff.
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