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Vick takes a beating, struggles through loss

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PHILADELPHIA (AP)

Grass stains turned Michael Vick's white jersey into a different shade of Eagles green, underscoring the latest beating he received in a game.

Vick was hit 21 times by the Arizona Cardinals in Philadelphia's 27-6 loss on Sunday. He got sacked five times and lost two more fumbles, including one that was returned 93 yards for a touchdown.

The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback isn't going to escape without injury if he keeps taking shots at this rate. That's just one of the problems the Eagles (2-1) must address quickly following a convincing loss to the Cardinals (3-0) that exposed several deficiencies.

''He's getting hit way too much,'' coach Andy Reid said Monday. ''That's what I can tell you. At this point, it's way too much, so that part's got to end. We've got to limit that.''

Vick has been sacked nine times in three games to go along with being tackled several times on scrambles and absorbing numerous legal hits right after he releases the ball. There's a combination of reasons why he's being knocked around more than usual.

First, the offensive line has been downright shaky. Losing All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters and center Jason Kelce to injury depleted the starting unit. King Dunlap, who replaced Peters, didn't play against the Cardinals because of a hamstring injury. Demetress Bell struggled in his first start for Philadelphia. So did new center Dallas Reynolds.

''We've got to do a better job with protection and I've got to make sure I put the guys in the right position to start with and make sure that we get the right routes and the ball out on time and all those things,'' Reid said.

The blocking issues don't stop with the offensive line. The Eagles continue to have trouble with blitz recognition and that led to a 14-point swing on the final play of the first half.

On third down from the Cardinals 1, Vick was sacked by safety Kerry Rhodes. James Sanders picked up the fumble and ran it back for a 24-0 lead. Vick read the play at the line and saw Rhodes blitzing, but he thought running back LeSean McCoy would pick him up. McCoy blocked a different pass rusher, allowing Rhodes a clear lane to take down Vick. Hard.

''I knew he was coming,'' Vick said. ''I was just hoping that the back would pick him up, but I still tried to make a play. That's my responsibility. I have to get that taken care of in the protection schemes, especially with a new center, and just have to play better.''

Sometimes the blame lies solely on Vick for holding the ball too long instead of just getting rid of it and avoiding a hit. He was dropped for an 11-yard loss on one sack, ruining one drive after the Eagles were near midfield.

''Everybody's got a little piece of this,'' Reid said. ''To say that there's not a play here or there that he might hold the ball too long, I can't tell you no on that, and he'd be the first to tell you. That's not the case every time he throws or gets hit. That's not the case.''

Vick led the Eagles to a pair of one-point victories in the first two games, guiding them on long, go-ahead TD drives in the final minutes to beat Cleveland and Baltimore. But Vick's overall numbers are poor and his nine turnovers - six interceptions and three fumbles - are more than any other team has totaled. Vick has completed 55.2 percent of his passes and has a 66.3 quarterback rating.

Asked if he would consider benching Vick for rookie Nick Foles, Reid didn't give his starter a strong endorsement.

''Right now we're with Michael and that's what we're doing. We'll evaluate as we go,'' he said.

Perhaps Foles will make an appearance against the New York Giants (2-1) if Vick falters again next Sunday night. Foles, however, will not be taking reps with the starters in practice.

Notes: WR Jeremy Maclin is expected back this week after missing one game with a hip contusion. ... Long snapper Jon Dorenbos has a high-ankle sprain, and it's uncertain whether he'll play vs. the Giants. ... Reid said Bell would remain the starter if Dunlap can't play.

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Tagged: Eagles, Cardinals, Michael Vick, Jason Peters, Kerry Rhodes, King Dunlap, Nick Foles

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