With Michael Vick still experiencing serious effects from the concussion he sustained last week, the Eagles quarterback has been ruled out of Sunday’s divisional matchup with the Washington Redskins.
That opens the door for Philly’s third-round draft pick Nick Foles to make his first career start and become the sixth rookie to start a game this season. In that class, Foles joins Andrew Luck (Colts), Ryan Tannehill (Dolphins), Robert Griffin III (Redskins), Brandon Weeden (Browns) and Russell Wilson (Seahawks).
Though Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who also suffered a concussion last week, will sit out this week, it’s sounding like Vick’s symptoms are more acute.
“He’s foggy, he’s not very alert right now in terms of he just doesn’t have that energy,” Eagles trainer Rick Burkholder told the Philadelphia Inquirer. ”He’s tired all the time. He’s slept a lot and he’s not getting rid of the fatigue. I would consider him heavy-eyed.”
Meanwhile, Cutler will not start in Monday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers as the Bears confirmed on Friday that they will go with backup Jason Campbell.
“(Campbell)’s the next guy up and he’s more than capable,” Bears receiver Brandon Marshall told reporters in Chicago. “I think that’s the reason why he’s here. We’re fortunate to have a starting quarterback as our backup.”
COMMISH WANTS SHORTENED PRE-SEASON
As far as fan entertainment value is concerned, pre-season anything is as low as it gets. It sounds like NFL commissioner Roger Goodell agrees.
In a question and answer session following the commish’s appearance at the Harvard School of Public Health this week, Goodell said he’d like to see pre-season schedules be cut in half from four to two.
“I don’t believe the veterans need four pre-season games anymore,” Goodell said. “The primary purpose of a preseason for a team is to evaluate and develop players and then they select their teams.
“Our athletes stay in shape all year now. It’s a different game. So I believe we can get to two games. That’s one of the genesis of the 18 and two or potentially the 16 and two. Both of those are alternatives that we have to look at.
“Do I think we’ll move towards a shorter preseason? Yes, from a health and safety standpoint but also from the standpoint of fan reaction.”
The “18 and two” option Goodell mentioned refers to the possibility of adding two more regular-season games, an option he’s mentioned often.
STEELERS ON THE RUN?
How do you make up for the loss of your star quarterback before the biggest divisional matchup of the season?
Pound the football.
That’s what the Pittsburgh Steelers appear ready to do in the absence of Big Ben Roethlisbger who is out with shoulder and rib injuries and will miss Sunday night’s date with their hated AFC North rival Baltimore Ravens.
After a full week of practice, the Steelers’ No. 1 running back, Rashard Mendenhall, looks ready to return after missing the past four games with an Achilles injury.
“He looks like he’s back to his old form,” fellow running back Isaac Redman told reporters in Pittsburgh. “He’s making all the cuts, it looks like he has his burst. So he looks good.”
Mendenhall, who piled up 1,200 rushing yards last season, will be joined in the Steelers backfield with Redman and Jonathan Dwyer who have successfully split the duties while the lead man was out.
“We’ll just keep rolling throughout the game and try to keep a fresh running back at all times,” Redman said. “We’re going to try to pound them.”
HARBAUGH BACK IN FOLD
San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh will be back on the sidelines Monday night, but will his No. 1 quarterback be calling the shots?
Harbaugh was back at ‘Niners practice on Friday a day after having a minor procedure on Thursday to deal with an irregular heartbeat.
“I’ve had it before and now they have a procedure, a cardiovert,” Harbaugh told reporters in San Francisco. “Gets the heart rate back to normal so it’s great they have that technology to get it done. I’m glad to be back.
“The (irregular heartbeat) is something I’ve had for a while, probably close to all my life.”
As for quarterback Alex Smith, who was KO’d in last week’s tie against the St. Louis Rams, Harbaugh hasn’t ruled out his return in time for Monday night.
“It seems like things are progressing,” Harbaugh said. “The same thing we’ve always said is ‘it’s in the doctor’s hands and they’ll evaluate him as the week goes. There seems to be some progress.”
That said, Harbaugh acknowledged that backup Colin Kaepernick has been getting more reps in practice than usual.