Philadelphia Eagles: Vick not nearly down for the count after concussion
Michael Vick is without symptoms three days after suffering a concussion.
If only the Eagles could say the same thing about their linebacking corps three days after none of them sustained any head injuries.
On a day when the Eagles unveiled the latest array in an endless loop of linebacker personnel shifts, they also clung firmly to the hope that Vick will be able to take the field Sunday afternoon for their home opener against the New York Giants.
Vick was knocked out of last Sunday's 35-31 loss to the Atlanta Falcons when his head banged off the shoulder pads of teammate Todd Herremans as he was being taken down after releasing a pass.
Vick still has neck and jaw soreness, but no more concussion symptoms, according to trainer Rick Burkholder, who nevertheless held Vick out of Wednesday afternoon's practice after allowing him to participate in the morning walk-through.
Though Vick's fast recovery would seem to put him on pace for a rare (but not unprecedented) return to the field just one week after sustaining a concussion, Burkholder wasn't ready to make that proclamation yet. In fact, he wasn't even ready to send him off to an independent neurologist — the final step NFL teams must take to get clearance, based on recent rigid guidelines established by the league.
"Just know this: that everybody in the league has to go through this process," Burkholder said. "It's part of the new concussion protocols and everything we're all dealing with. There's guys that get to certain points and then have a setback, and there's people who sail through it, so you can't predict. We're not trying to hide anything, we can't predict, it's not fair.
"Symptoms-wise, he's OK. I'd like to do just a little bit better and challenge him a little bit more exercise-wise before I send him [to the neurologist]. That's why I haven't sent him yet."
If Vick, who was unavailable for comment Wednesday, can't return in time for the Giants, it's unclear whether the team would turn to Mike Kafka, who finished up Sunday night, or backup Vince Young, who's been inactive the first two weeks with a hamstring injury.
Young was able to fully participate in practice for the first time on Wednesday since suffering that injury in the final preseason game. But coach Andy Reid said he wasn't sure how ready Young would be to leap back in this weekend.
"We've just got to see how he goes through this week and where he's at physically," Reid said. "I'm not going to put either of those two in jeopardy if they're not physically there, I would never do that."
One thing is for sure: the confidence Reid has in both reserve quarterbacks extends to the locker room.
"Throughout the preseason, all three quarterbacks instilled confidence in us," said left guard Evan Mathis, who spent most of his time in the preseason working with the backups, until getting promoted to starter right at the end of camp. "There's not a lot of teams in the league that have as much talent or are three-deep at the quarterback position like us. I have all the confidence in the world in [Young and Kafka].
"At Pitsburgh, going up and down the field with Kafka, he commanded the huddle, controlled the tempo of the game and just hit his receivers on every throw."
Unfortunately, the Eagles are not yet able to say the same thing about any of their starting linebackers, who played at times on Sunday as if they were in a daze — when they weren't getting overpowered in the run game.
That's why the coaches decided to rotate all three to new spots. Rookie Casey Matthews was shifted from the middle to the weak side, Moise Fokou went from the weak side to the strong side and Jamar Chaney moved from the strong side to the middle, a spot he played brilliantly after stepping in for injured former starter Stewart Bradley last season.
"I like the change," Chaney said. "I'm down for everything that [defensive coordinator] Juan [Castillo] and Coach Reid are doing."
Chaney did admit to being surprised by the moves but said everyone was taking them in stride.
"Out at practice today, [Matthews said] he's already starting to like the new position," Chaney said. "With the WILL, he doesn't have to worry about making the calls or anything like that. And he did a good job with that. Out of all the rookie linebackers in the league, he probably had the most pressure and responsibility on him, so I think he did a pretty good job."
Also held out of practice Wednesday were defensive ends Juqua Parker (ankle) and Darryl Tapp (pectoral tear).
"It's getting better," said Tapp, who sat out Sunday night's loss. "We'll see how it goes. Just keep pushing."
Reid is not particularly worried about how the rotation might set up if Tapp and Parker are unable to go, because defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins can play outside too.
Jenkins was fined $15,000 for a helmet-to-helmet hit he put on Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan while sacking him on Sunday night. No penalty was called, but the illegal hit was clear on replays.