The latest wrinkle in the Michael Vick experiment eliminated the gimmicks. Vick was back under center and yelling the signals like any other quarterback.
For the first time in 33 months, Vick took a few snaps and even showed a flash of his old dazzling style on Sunday. Vick put the finishing touches on the Philadelphia Eagles' 33-14 win over Tampa Bay, playing the final two series and shaking off a hard hit to his ribs.
“I'm just ready whenever my number gets called,'' Vick said.
He heard it called late in the fourth quarter.
Vick had been used in variations of the wildcat since he was reinstated. But he got his chance to show what he's learned in place of Donovan McNabb with the
Eagles ahead 31-14 late in the fourth quarter.
Out of the shotgun formation, Vick completed a 1-yard pass to DeSean Jackson on his first play. After an incomplete pass, the next play broke down. When Vick failed to find any open receivers, he took off like he did when he was a Pro Bowl quarterback in Atlanta, and scrambled 11 yards for a first down.
He took a shot in the ribs on that play, sat out the next one, and returned for a handoff on second down.
Vick said he felt fine and X-rays were negative.
The dash and the hit made Vick feel like one of the rest of the guys for the first time since his comeback.
“It was just play ball, be natural with it,'' Vick said. ``I let my instincts take over. It was good for me. Being under center is more natural. That's what I like to do, that's what I enjoy. In due time, I'll get my opportunities.”
Except for blowouts, Vick likely won't get many more shots at running the offense in Philadelphia. McNabb isn't going anywhere unless he's hurt and Kevin Kolb stepped in the last two games and threw for over 300 yards in two straight starts.
So it's going to be direct snaps or lining up at wide receiver or decoy plays for the rest of the season. Vick, who served 18 months in federal prison for running a dogfighting ring, was on the field at quarterback and wide receiver for six plays that totaled 7 yards before coming in at the end. He finished 1 of 3 for 1 yard and ran twice before kneeling two times.
“It was fun to be out there playing with the first-string guys,” Vick said. “You know those guys are going to do their job and they're well prepared. I was a bit more excited today than I was in the preseason. Not to say that playing with the threes wasn't ideal, it was just different.”
McNabb's return meant the Eagles relied less on wildcat formations. They had run 17 plays for 86 yards in the gimmick offense entering Sunday.
“We used it as much as we wanted to use it according to what they were doing (defensively) and what we felt we could get done,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said.