The storyline this week for the Philadelphia Eagles’ home opener
is not about their recent dominance of the New York Giants, but
whether Michael Vick will be fully healthy after suffering a
concussion last week.
After a few days of practice, Vick says he is ready to go, and
the Eagles will try to defeat the Giants for the seventh straight
Vick was forced to leave in the second half in a 35-31 loss at
Atlanta last Sunday. After missing practice Wednesday, he was
cleared Thursday morning by an independent, NFL-appointed
neurosurgeon to resume all football-related activities, practicing
that day as well as Friday.
“If he’s OK on game day,” coach Andy Reid said, “then he plays
on game day.”
Eagles trainer Rick Burkholder said Vick is not scheduled to
undergo any additional tests or medical evaluations but will likely
meet with team physician Dr. Gary Dorshimer Sunday before
“There’s no reason to think that I won’t play on Sunday,” Vick
said. “I’ve had two good days of practice. I’m optimistic I’ll be
able to go out there and very excited to play.”
Philadelphia (1-1) is enjoying its longest win streak over New
York (1-1) since a 12-game run from 1975-81.
“Every one has been different and every one is a blood bath,”
Reid said. “It has been a knockdown, drag out heavyweight fight, so
I don’t look at the body of work over numbers of games and I will
never go there and do that. That would be making a mistake.”
The Eagles scored the final 28 points in the last 7:28 of a
38-31 road victory to cap last year’s season sweep. That memorable
game ended when DeSean Jackson ran Matt Dodge’s punt back 65 yards
for a score on the final play. Dodge was cut by the Giants at the
end of the preseason.
“It took place last year,” Giants safety Antrel Rolle said.
“It’s not something that we might ever forget, but at the same
time, it’s a new year.”
Vick threw for 500 yards and three scores and rushed for 164
yards and two more touchdowns last year against New York.
“If he’s playing, we know we have to be on our toes,” Giants
defensive end Justin Tuck said. “We all know that Philadelphia is a
great football team. We’re going to have a great game regardless of
if Vick plays or not.”
Vick has a new target in Steve Smith, who signed with
Philadelphia after spending the previous four seasons with New
York. Smith led the Giants with 1,220 yards receiving two years ago
before his 2010 season was cut short by a knee injury.
That contributed to New York’s decision not to present the free
agent with an aggressive enough offer in the offseason.
“I enjoyed the coaches there,” Smith, who had two catches for 29
yards last week in his Eagles debut, said about facing his former
team. “They’re a great team, great organization. Things didn’t work
out. So I’m here now, ready to ball.”
Smith was a valuable target to Eli Manning, whose current group
of receivers is depleted. The Giants announced Wednesday that
Domenik Hixon will miss the rest of the season after tearing his
right ACL for the second straight year.
“Obviously, Hixon was a guy who rotated in,” Manning said. “We
still have Victor Cruz, who’s been here all year long. We have
(Brandon) Stokley, who’s been here a week. He’s going to have to do
more and learn more of the plays.”
Giants receiver Mario Manningham was ruled out for this game
Saturday after he sustained a concussion in Monday’s 28-16 win over
St. Louis. He had not practiced all week.
New York’s offense is under pressure to produce since an
injury-plagued defense has allowed 300-yard passing games by
Washington’s Rex Grossman and the Rams’ Sam Bradford. The Giants
lost a number of key defensive players in the preseason.
Defensive end Osi Umenyiora likely won’t make his season debut
after being out due to arthroscopic knee surgery.
Umenyiora was the target of some taunting on Twitter in the
offseason by running back LeSean McCoy, whose 217 rushing yards are
the most by an Eagle through two games since Herschel Walker had
227 in 1992.
That’s an episode that’s rather indicative of this rivalry.
“I think it is a lot of intensity,” Eagles cornerback Asante
Samuel said. “It is a lot of trash talking and a lot of guys on the
field that just hate each other. They just want to beat each
other’s head in.”