PHILADELPHIA — If Eagles running back LeSean McCoy plays during the regular season like he did in Thursday’s preseason game against Carolina, it might not matter who coach Chip Kelly picks to be his starting quarterback.
McCoy, who missed last week’s preseason game against New England with a sore knee, delivered an outstanding performance in the first half against the Panthers at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles defeated the Panthers 14-9 to even their preseason record at 1-1.
The 2011 Pro Bowler rushed for 47 yards and a touchdown on eight carries, caught three passes for 16 yards and provided excellent blocking against the blitz during three possessions.
His best play came during the Eagles’ first touchdown drive.
He took a handoff from quarterback Nick Foles, then executed a change-of-direction, full-speed fake during a 21-yard jaunt that brought Panthers cornerback Drayton Florence to his knees and Eagles fans to their feet.
"I was beginning to think (the fans) forgot about me," McCoy said. "I've noticed that people in the fantasy leagues have been knocking me down (the draft board)."
Most of the attention, however, was directed toward the quarterbacks. True to his word, Kelly chose Foles to start against the Panthers. He played two series in the first quarter, then Michael Vick relieved him and also played two series.
Vick proved to be just as good as a backup as he was as a starter. Vick appeared to widen his lead in their duel to be the starting quarterback when the Eagles open the regular season at Washington on Sept. 9.
He completed his first nine passes and finished 9-for-10 for 105 yards and also rushed for 20 yards on two carries while leading a touchdown drive in the second quarter.
His only blemish in an otherwise nearly flawless performance came when he threw his first interception of the preseason on a Hail-Mary pass to end the first half.
"Right now, I feel like I can do it all, but I can't get too overconfident," Vick said. "I have to keep working hard. I feel like this team can go places, and I can do it with them."
But Foles also played well. For the second straight game, he bounced back from early adversity with an impressive effort.
Foles threw an ill-advised pass at the end of the Eagles' first series that was intercepted in the end zone, but he rallied to score on a 7-yard touchdown run.
"Mike's a great quarterback and he's made me a better quarterback," Foles said. "We have a great relationship. But it's a competition and I have to keep pushing and working hard."
Foles played the entire first quarter and completed 6-of-8 passes for 53 yards and also rushed for 13 yards on two carries.
"They're doing a good job of making it difficult for us to make a decision and that's a good situation," Kelly said. "We have two guys that can play football in the NFL. Some teams are worried because they don't have any."
The other QBs: 1. Rookie Matt Barkley played all of the third quarter and part of the fourth. He completed 8-of-14 passes for 72 yards. He got off to an encouraging start, but was hurt by penalties and at least two dropped passes.
2. Dennis Dixon took over midway through the fourth quarter and completed 3-of-3 passes for 20 yards and added 16 yards rushing on two carries in just one series.
3. G.J Kinne relieved Dixon with 3 minutes, 39 seconds left in the game. He did not attempt a pass and rushed for 9 yards on one carry while running out the clock.
The new guys: 1. Cornerback Cary Williams made his preseason debut and promptly got into a scuffle with Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith in the first quarter.
2. Allen Barbre made his second straight start at left tackle in place of injured Jason Peters (strained hamstring).
3. Rookie tight end Zach Ertz had two receptions for 36 yards.
The good things: 1. Running back LeSean McCoy was terrific. He rushed for 47 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.
2. The first-team defense did not allow a touchdown. Carolina scored on two field goals in the first half.
3. The starting offensive line played well.
The bad things: 1. The Eagles announced before the game that linebacker Phillip Hunt underwent surgery to repair a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament.
2. The Eagles committed three turnovers.
3. Place-kicker Alex Henery missed a 44-yard field goal in the third quarter.
The other team: Panthers quarterback Cam Newton completed 8-of-17 passes for 112 yards.
While you were channel surfing: McCoy showed his talent by juking Panthers cornerback Drayton Florence to his knees during a 21-yard run in the first quarter.
While you were sleeping: Brandon Boykin had a 41-yard kickoff return in the third quarter.
Only in the preseason: The Eagles' starters sat out the second half.
Bumps and bruises: Tight end Emil Igwenagu sat out the second half with a concussion. Cornerback Curtis Marsh suffered a right hand injury in the third quarter and did not return. Running back Felix Jones was taken in for X-rays on his ribs at the end of the third quarter.
Next: The Eagles are off Friday, then will hold their fourth open workout of training camp at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Admission and parking are free.
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