As Warwick High graduate Michael Vick walked off the field after his first day of training camp with the Atlanta Falcons, teammate Doug Johnson dropped off some shoulder pads.
"A little gift for you to take," Johnson admonished.
"Oh, it's starting already," Vick said, rolling his eyes.
He may be the $62 million man and the savior of the franchise, but Vick is still a rookie. That means he has to carry a veteran's pads after practice, in addition to his own.
"I'm trying to keep myself humble," Vick said after Thursday's two-hour workout. "It's very important that I show people I'm no different than anyone else."
Of course, Vick is much different. Several hundred people showed up on a cloudy day at Furman University to watch his Falcons debut. The only jersey on sale at a concession stand above the practice field was No. 7 -- Vick's number.
Coach Dan Reeves is so eager to see what Vick can do that he's already bumped his prized rookie to No. 2 on the depth chart, behind veteran Chris Chandler. That's a significant development considering the Falcons also have Eric Zeier and Johnson, who both have started NFL games.
"We've got to get Michael ready as quick as we can," Reeves said. "The only way we're going to get him ready is to get him involved."
The coach also is looking into keeping three quarterbacks active for regular-season games, rather than designating a third QB just for emergency duty. Such a move would cost the Falcons use of a potentially valuable special teams player on an already tight 45-man roster.
"I'm checking with the league to make sure it's OK," Reeves said. "I've never done that before."
Vick looked a little shaky in his first practice, understandable for a 21-year-old quarterback who played only 22 games at Virginia Tech before entering the NFL draft. He overthrew passes, double-pumped while trying to pick up open receivers and let the play clock run out a couple of times before getting off the snap.
"I was a little rusty," Vick said. "But I'll get better and better every day. If I make a mistake one day, I shouldn't make the same mistake the next day.
The rookie didn't get a chance to show off his speed and elusiveness. First, he must learn Reeves' playbook, which is well-known for its convoluted terminology.
"He had good command in the huddle for a young guy," Reeves said. "He's working very hard at it. We're doing everything we possibly can to expose him to as much as we possibly can."
The coach did stamp out any speculation he plans to use Vick at other positions to get him on the field more often.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times