Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy Back in Practice for Birds
By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report
After getting their first win since the end of September, the mood in the Eagles locker room on Tuesday was obviously a lot more upbeat than it’s been in a long time as the team prepares for Thursday night’s nationally-televised matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals at Lincoln Financial Field.
For one thing, the Eagles are excited about the possibility of derailing the playoff plans of the 7-6 Bengals who are trying to make a late-season push for the postseason. They are tied for second with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North. Cincinnati is coming off a heartbreaking, last-second loss 20-19 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
“It will be real big because winning is our No. 1 thing,” rookie defensive lineman Fletcher Cox. “They’ve got playoff potential and our thing is to go out there and fight and win the game on Thursday.”
Bengals defensive tackle Geno Adkins said he thinks the Eagles are better than their 4-9 record and that getting a win on the road will not be easy.
“I just look at it as No. 1, they’ve got pride,” Adkins said in a conference call with the Philadelphia media on Tuesday. “They may be 4-9, they’re going to play and two, I think they’re going to use it as a motivation to spoil our chances for making the playoffs.”
If there was one thing about Sunday’s last-second 23-21 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that gives this team some confidence coming into Thursday’s game was the manner in which they won it.
It was looking like another Eagles defensive meltdown after the Bucs took a 21 -10 lead with 7:21 left to play. The Birds, thanks to the passing of Nick Foles, scored on their last two possessions of the game including a game-winning one-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin as time expired.
After being gashed early in some games and late in others during the Eagles eight-game losing streak, the much-maligned Birds defense came through when it mattered most in the win over Tampa Bay. They stopped the Bucs offense on two straight possessions in the game’s final seven minutes.
“Hopefully, we can progress on what we did last week,” said middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans. “It’s been a long time since we had a win and we were to close now and played too well up until that point to let it slip. Whatever we had to do, bear down and make this play to get off the field to give our offense a chance.”
The Eagles not only saw it as an end to a horrific losing streak, but as a glimpse of what could the future could be like for the Birds who are trying to use these final games of the regular season to build a foundation for the next year.
“One thing that we have to do is to continue to play hard throughout the remainder of this season,” Maclin said. “We’re going to go out there and approach these games as if it’s our last, go out there and play hard and for these guys to get some more games under their belts.
For Nick (Foles) to keep progressing as a quarterback, these last three games are going to be key. Hopefully, we can get this thing going in the right direction.”
Foles said while he enjoyed celebrating the victory on the plane ride back from Tampa, he had to set his sights on getting ready to be even better against the Bengals.
“We can improve on that (win over Tampa), there was a lot of stuff in the film that we could have done better,” Foles said. “I missed some throws. There’s things to improve on even in wins. We just have to keep moving and keep playing together as a team. Don’t change anything keep moving forward. Trust the offense and trust the reads.”
NOTES—Back up quarterback Michael Vick and starting running back LeSean McCoy practiced with the team for the first time since both players sustained concussions. Both players participated in practice on a limited basis with the scout team.
Wide receiver Jason Avant said Vick looked good throwing the football to him and that the veteran quarterback was eager to get back out there for practice.
“He’s itching to get back out there,” Avant said. “He looked good. It’s still the same, spirals. He was one of the most spiral-throwing quarterbacks you’ll ever meet.”
Foles, who took Vick’s starting job last week, said there was no awkwardness between the two and that former Va. Tech star has been nothing but helpful to him in his preparation.
“I will always support Mike and I know that he’ll always support me no matter what,” Foles said. “Our relationship will always be the same.”