Archive | September, 2013

Eagles Can’t Get Out of their Own Way in Loss to Kansas City

20 Sep

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Michael Vick threw two interceptions in the Eagles loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Photo by Webster Riiddick.

Michael Vick threw two interceptions in the Eagles loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Photo by Webster Riiddick.

PHILADELPHIA—If there was ever a time for the Eagles to start working out the kinks in their uptempo offense, the 10-day break until their next game against the Denver Broncos might be a good time as any.

In their 26-16 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Eagles (1-2) looked like a team that had played three games in 11 days. The offense was sluggish, woefully inconsistent and could never find any rhythm mainly because of their self-inflicted wounds.

As brilliant as Michael Vick has been in the first two weeks, he was wretchedly out of sync this week.  He was 13-of-30 for 201 yards with one touchdown and two horrific interceptions-one of which was returned for a touchdown- and a fumble. He was sacked four times.

“We had the turnover, then we got a score and then we come back with good field position and have another turnover,” said Eagles quarterback Michael Vick.  “We’re moving the ball and then we have another turnover. It’s hard to get into rhythm and the next thing you know it’s halftime.”

In Vick’s defense, Eagles receivers had a difficult time getting open and that forced him to hold onto the ball a little longer than usual. Birds head coach Chip Kelly said his team did a poor job of executing and winning their one-on-one matchups.

“We gave up too much pressure tonight,” Kelly said. “A lot of times they’re rushing just four and they’re getting to the quarterback quickly.  You know, we’re not even getting to the top of our drop and we’re getting too much on them. We can’t put Mike in a lot bad situations.”

With the exception of running back LeSean McCoy, the entire offense couldn’t seem to get out of the way of themselves with a combination of turnovers and penalties.  For the game, the Eagles rolled up 421 of total offense, but committed four turnovers.

“It’s about execution and that’s what this game is all about, we have to come back and not put ourselves in these situations,” Kelly said. “You can’t turn the ball over like that and expect to win. We can move the football up and down the field. We’ve proven that.

“But if we’re going to put the ball on the ground as we did in the first half and throw interceptions that’s not going to win games for us.”

McCoy had another big game on the ground for the Eagles, gaining 158 yards on 20 carries. He said if the Eagles offense can stay away from making mistakes, they are unstoppable.

“I really don’t think there is a defense out there that can physically beat us,” McCoy said. “It’s a matter of us as an offense going out there and playing well. If we do not play well, it shows. I do not think it’s a matter of the defense stopping us.”

Meanwhile, the Eagles much-maligned defense played well for the most part and kept the Chiefs offense out of sync. But the killer situation in the game came late in the fourth quarter.

In that fourth quarter, the Eagles cut the Kansas City lead to seven on a 41-yard a touchdown run by McCoy.  On their next possession, the Chiefs went on a 15-play, 76-yard drive that consumed eight-minutes and 15 seconds of the clock. The Chiefs march finished with a 38-yard field goal by Ryan Succup.

The big play on that drive was on third down from the Kansas City five-yard line. Just when it looked like the defense was going to hold the Chiefs to a three-and-out,  Alex Smith found Donnie Avery for a 15-yard gain to keep the drive going.

“We’ve got to get off the field on those big third down plays and get the ball back in the hands of the offense as fast as you can, especially in situations like that,” said Eagles strong safety Nate Allen.

 

 

 

 

 

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McNabb Admits ‘Not Black Enough’ Comments Bothered Him During His Days in Philly

19 Sep

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Donovan McNabb will be inducted into the Eagles Hall of Honor Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field. Photo by Chris Murray

Donovan McNabb will be inducted into the Eagles Hall of Honor Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—For all of the slings and arrows that Donovan McNabb endured during his tumultuous 11-year tenure in Philadelphia, the one thing that seemed to stick in his crawl the most was the idea that he wasn’t “Black enough.”

Back in 2005, J. Whyatt Mondesire, president of the Philadelphia NAACP and publisher of the Philadelphia Sunday SUN suggested that McNabb was playing the race card by moving away from being a running quarterback and turning into a drop-back passer.

Other local celebrities including boxer Bernard Hopkins also jumped on the “Are you Black enough?” bandwagon, questioning not only McNabb’s Blackness, but also his street cred and his toughness.

While he is the quarterback with the most wins in Eagles history, and went to five NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl, the lack of support from some verbal elements of Philadelphia’s African American community took some of the shine from those achievements, McNabb admitted.

“It was hilarious to me that you would be criticized not only by the masses, but by your own people. That right there is still funny to this day,” McNabb said to a group of reporters at Lincoln Financial Field on Wednesday. “That pissed me off more because of the struggles that [Blacks have] been through trying to play the position. To have a guy come out and say I’m not running because I’m trying to prove a point or you know, I’m not Black enough…. Well, I guess we have a lot more quarterbacks who aren’t Black enough.”

McNabb, who now works as a commentator on Fox Sports News, was in town to be inducted into the Eagles’ Ring Of Honor. The ceremony will take place tonight during the Eagles/Kansas City Chiefs game.

There are currently nine African Americans taking signals from center in the National Football League, which is the most in league history. Like former Eagles great Randall Cunningham and Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon, McNabb, and his era of signal callers including Daunte Culpepper, Byron Leftwich, David Garrard and Aaron Brooks, made things a little easier for players like Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, Colin Kapernick and E.J. Manuel to shine in a league that sometimes still has problems knowing how to best utilize their skills.

“What you’re seeing with nine African-American quarterbacks that are playing the quarterback position that people are truly looking into having a strong-armed, athletic, intelligent guy at the position who can not only make plays with their arm, but with their legs.”

But while the athleticism of this new breed of African American signal caller gets a lot of the attention, it’s often at the expense of acknowledging their intelligence, McNabb said. The West Coast offense comes from a playbook that could rival any encyclopedia. You have to be more than just a strong arm to master it, he said.

“Stop looking at the outer shell and focus on who the kid really is,” McNabb said. “What’s the difference between an RGIII, a Russell Wilson, a Colin Kaepernick or an Andrew Luck? Is it skin color or is one smarter than the other? I think if you look at the overall big picture of it all, they’re quarterbacks if they’re Black or White. They’re ask to do what quarterbacks are asked to do—protect the football, read the defense, dissect it and be able to get the ball to the open man and win football games.”

McNabb left his mark on the current Eagles squad by convincing former coach Andy Reid to bring current Eagles quarterback Michael Vick in 2009 after Vick was released from jail after serving time for his part in a dog fighting ring. Reid, who will be leading the Kansas City Chiefs into the Linc tonight, eventually followed his signal caller’s advice and gave the former Virginia Tech star a chance for resurgence.

Connecting Vick with the Eagles was about trying to help a friend, said McNabb, who has known Vick since he was a high school student and had tried to recruit him for his alma mater Syracuse.

“Mike and I had that tie together where I felt like bringing a brother in,” McNabb said. “Bringing a friend in to get back on his feet and continue to fulfill a dream.”

McNabb said he’s proud of Vick’s success, especially during these first two weeks of this season.

“I think he’s progressed and matured,” McNabb said. “I think the steps that he’s made is because Chip Kelly challenged him. The team saw the work ethic that he put forth. I think it showed on the football field. What you’re seeing is a guy who is a lot older than the guys on the football field and in the locker room, but he’s willing to do what it takes to win.”

Because Philadelphia was tough on him at times, one might think that McNabb would tell his friend Vick to rent, not buy, while he’s playing for the Eagles.

But as he looks back at his career as an Eagle, and the honor he’ll be receiving tonight, there are no hard feelings, McNabb said.

“I just dismiss it,” he said. “My Mom always told me that if somebody brings your name up, that means they’re thinking about you. It doesn’t affect me. It didn’t affect me when I played. I enjoyed playing here in Philadelphia. To see some of the fans that say they miss when I was playing and still wish that I was out there….”

“There are some people out there that truly respect what I’ve done…”

Lack of Defense and Missed Opportunities Doom Birds in Last Second Loss to San Diego

15 Sep

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

San Diego Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers lit the Eagles up for 419 yards and three touchdown passes. Photo by Webster Riddick.

San Diego Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers lit the Eagles up for 419 yards and three touchdown passes. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—The San Diego Chargers have come up with their own way of stopping the Eagles fast-paced, no-huddle offense—Beat up on the Birds defense and keep the offense on the field.

For the second straight week, the Eagles offense put up 30 points, but the defense gave up more than 30 points, coughing up the last three late in the fourth quarter. Nick Novak’s 46-yard field goal with seven seconds left gave the Chargers a 33-30 victory over the Eagles in the home-opener at Lincoln Financial Field.

If you’re a fan of tough, hard-nosed defense, you weren’t going to find it anywhere in this game, especially with the Eagles defense.  The Chargers offense compiled 539 yards against a defense that couldn’t really stop anybody.

“Couldn’t get them off the field,” said Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. “We have to do a better job generating the pass rush.  …We better make sure we can correct it. We’re going to come out against a team (against Kansas City on Thursday) that likes to throw the football and we have to be ready.”

Eagles linebacker Conner Barwin (left), safety Patrick Chung center and cornerback Brandon Boykin (right) got very little rest in Sunday's loss to San Diego. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Eagles linebacker Conner Barwin (left), safety Patrick Chung center and cornerback Brandon Boykin (right) got very little rest in Sunday’s loss to San Diego. Photo by Webster Riddick.

San Diego was 10-of-15 on third down conversions, ran more plays (79-59) than the Eagles and won the time of possession battle by nearly a 2-1 margin (40:19 to 19:43). Phillip Rivers lit the Eagles defense up by throwing for 419 yards and three touchdowns while completing 36-of-47 passes.

“That is our fault. We have to get ourselves off the field,” said Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis. “That is the thing about defensive football, you get yourself off the field and then you get rest.  We were not making the plays on third down.

“In the first half, we weren’t making plays on first down. We have to collectively fix that and play better. It has to get better.”

The Chargers were on the field so much that they didn’t punt on fourth down until late in the third quarter. The game might have gotten away from the Eagles, if it wasn’t for a pair of red zone fumbles forced by the Eagles defense in the second quarter.

“We were fortunate to get those turnovers,” said Birds middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans. “Guys came up with some big plays; they were crucial times in the game—Trent Cole causing one and Brandon Boykin cause one was huge for us because they were going in and possibly score on a kicked field goal, so that of turned around and gave our offense a little more momentum.”

But the Birds defense didn’t lose the game on its own.  The Eagles offense, which rolled 511 yards, missed its share of scoring opportunities with dropped passes, a crucial missed field goal by Alex Henery on the Eagles last possession of the first half, overthrown passes and untimely penalties. There were drives that should have ended with touchdowns.

“I think we can convert a little better,” said Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, who had 167 total yards. “I think sometimes we get those phases in the game no matter if it’s early or late, where we move the ball and don’t get any point. Once we get past that we’ll be fine.”

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick had another big game for the Birds. He completed 24-of-37 passes for 428 yards and two touchdowns.  Probably could have had an even bigger game if not for a dropped pass by Jackson and a couple of overthrows to Jackson and a penalty that negated another touchdown.

One of the biggest penalties in the game occurred after the Eagles had taken 27-23 on a seven-yard touchdown by Michael Vick in the fourth quarter.  After the touchdown, wide receiver DeSean Jackson was flagged by officials for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after shoving a Chargers defender.

“I kind of lost my emotions a little bit,” said Jackson, who nine passes for 193 yards and one touchdown. “I need to do a better job of keeping my composure, but we still had an opportunity to go out there and come back and score.”

The 15-yard penalty forced the Eagles to kickoff the ball from midfield. Making matters worse, the Eagles couldn’t recover a Chargers fumble that was eventually recovered by San Diego at the Philadelphia 39.

Seven plays later, Rivers hit wide receiver Eddie Royal with the go-ahead touchdown to give San Diego a 30-27 lead. The Eagles would tie the game at 30-30 on a 32-yard field goal by Henery with a 1:51 left.

The Chargers moved 51 yards in seven plays to Novak’s winning field goal.

Concern Over Vick’s Reckless Style Overshadows His True Toughness

12 Sep

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Michael Vick's hard-charging style has often landed him on the injury list. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Michael Vick’s hard-charging style has often landed him on the injury list. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADLEPHIA—No coach, owner or fan wants to see their franchise quarterback out with an injury for any amount of time.

Nor do they want their quarterbacks in situations where they could get hurt-whether it’s behind the pocket or when they’re out on the run. Most coaches cringe when they see their quarterback blocking or tackling somebody after an interception.

In an NFL where quarterbacks are seen as over-protected divas, you have the curious case of Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, whose reckless style has often landed him on the injured reserve list to the point where he hasn’t a full 16-game season since 2006.

Last month, the 33-year-old Vick said he would not change his style, which includes not sliding to avoid hard hits when he gets out of the pocket to run.

That prompted NFL Network analyst and former Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin to ask the question, “how stupid can you be?” People like former NFL general manager Charley Casserly have said Vick won’t last the season. Considering Vick’s history with injuries, it is a legitimate concern.

“I think you can get hurt at any point of the game,” Vick said after practice on Wednesday. “Some guys have their worst injuries just staying in the pocket—torn ACLs and things like that. Injuries are what happens in this game. There’s no way to prevent it. Every player is at risk on every play.”

As much as I would like to see Vick protect himself by sliding when he runs and throwing the ball away if it’s not there to avoid hard hits in the pocket, I have to admit that I admire his heart and his tough-guy approach to the game.

In Monday night’s game against the Washington Redskins, Vick threw two touchdown passes and ran for another. He had 54 yards on nine carries including a 36-yard run in which he didn’t slide.

In the second quarter of the game, Vick threw a good block on a Redskins defender during a run by LeSean McCoy. While fans and more than a few of us in the media cringed at the site of him throwing his body into a bigger defender, Vick’s teammates admired his toughness.

“We might tell him afterwards, you don’t need to do that you could easily hurt yourself there, but that just shows what kind of a guy Mike is and he’s all in,” said Eagles right guard Todd Herremans. “He’s going to do everything he can even hurl his body into a defender if he thinks it’s going to get us some positive yardage.”

Over the years of watching football, I’ve seen guys like Brett Favre block for receivers even after he’s thrown the ball to him. When he was playing with the Minnesota Vikings back in 2009 against the San Francisco 49ers, he threw a pass down field, followed the play and threw a block on a defensive back.

In my own personal football film collection, I have footage of legendary Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas throwing a block against Hall of Fame middle linebacker Sam Huff, one of the fiercest hitters of his era.

Whenever I see quarterbacks do those kind of things, the first thing I will hear announcer and analysts say is what a tough guy, what a complete player that quarterback and what a competitor is and so on.

“People love to see it because they’re seeing the quarterback trying to work hard, trying to spur his team to victory,” said Eagles rookie quarterback and former University of Southern California star Matt Barkley.  “We understand that Mike’s a gamer. He’s going to give it his all. It’s cool to see that out of your quarterback.”

Eagles left tackle Jason Peters said as much as he can respect Vick’s willingness to go all out for his teammates, he would not prefer to see his quarterback block under any circumstance.

“I told Mike don’t do that again, let me do it,” Peters said. “We don’t need him out there blocking. If it’s a key block and it triggers a touchdown, hooray! But we don’t him out there blocking, we need him all 16 games.”

I agree with Peters, but at the same time I don’t want my quarterback playing with the fear of getting hurt because inevitably you will get injured.

As much as I don’t want to see Vick get hurt, I don’t want to see him lose that intensity and passion because that will more often than naught help his team win games than lose them.

Eagles Uptempo Offense Wears Down Washington

10 Sep

LESEAN McCOY COMES UP BIG FOR BIRDS 

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

LeSean McCoy ran roughshod through a worn out Redskins defense for 184 yards on 31 carries and one touchdown.

LeSean McCoy ran roughshod through a worn out Redskins defense for 184 yards on 31 carries and one touchdown.

LANDOVER, Md.—If folks were concerned about whether Chip Kelly’s hurry-up would actually translate at the NFL level, Monday Night’s game against the Washington Redskins was an emphatic yes.

For Kelly, it wasn’t as lightning fast as it was at Oregon, but it was effective nonetheless.

The Eagles no-huddle, read-option offense kept the Redskins defense tired and off- balance while keeping the Washington offense off the field. The Birds offense rolled up 443 yards of total offense and came away with a 33-27 win in front of a packed house at FedEx Field.

“I think our guys played with great energy, but we made some mistakes—coaches included,” Kelly said. “I think the way they approached the game and the energy they played with was great.”

Running back LeSean McCoy was the beneficiary of Kelly’s uptempo attack. He gained 184 yards on 31 carries and a touchdown. As a team, the Eagles rushed for 263 yards.

“LeSean is going to have a great year,” Vick said. “I just feel like this is going to be on one of the biggest years of his career.  As long as he’s apart of this Eagles team and Chip Kelly’s here, he’s going to do some dynamic thing.”

A rejuvenated Michael Vick came up huge, completing 15-of-25 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns. Vick gained 54 yards rushing on nine carries with one touchdown. He had one big run 36 yards to help take some time off the clock.

“I thought he did a nice job and that run he had in the fourth quarter was huge for us,” Kelly said. “We were in a little bit of a lull, but he made a big play for us and got us out of that.”

Until late in the third quarter, the Eagles defense kept a rusty Robert Griffin III and the Redskins in check. They forced three turnovers-two interceptions and a fumble. The Eagles sacked Griffin three times.

One of the big stars tonight for the Eagles was much-maligned cornerback Cary Williams. Known for his fiery temper, Williams channeled the anger into a sack, two tackles, an interception and two passes defended including one on fourth down late in the fourth quarter that ended a Redskins drive.

“I feel like every time I step out on the field, regardless of what happened in the past, I try to come out with something to prove. I want to go out and put my best foot forward, Williams said.

Oddly enough, the game started with an Eagles shortcoming from last season-a turnover in the red zone. On their first possession of the game, the Eagles drove from their own 20 to the Washington four-yard line. But on first and goal, Vick’s pass was batted down by Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan.

The officials ruled the pass a lateral and the ball was picked up by cornerback DeAngelo Hall for a 75-yard return for a touchdown.  The Eagles challenged the fumble but it was upheld by replay.

After the fumble, the Eagles scored 33 unanswered points.  They got a 48-yard field goal on the next possession from Alex Henery. And then took the lead for good on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Vick to DeSean Jackson. The play was setup by an interception of a Robert Griffin III pass by Brandon Boykin.

“Mike did a great job of holding the ball and seeing it open up and he threw it to a spot where just myself could make the catch,” Jackson said.

On the Redskins next possession, running back Albert Morris mishandled a pitch out from Griffin and was tagged for a safety by Trent Cole. That gave the Eagles a 12-7 lead.

Midway through the second quarter, the Eagles, using their fast-paced, no-huddle offense, moved 62 yards and five plays to a 28-yard touchdown from Vick to tight end Brent Celek.

On their next possession, the Eagles drove through a visibly tired Washington defense 44 yards and nine plays to Vick’s three-yard run for a touchdown to give the Eagles a 26-7 lead at the break.

The Birds went into the locker room at halftime having run 53 plays– more than the Pittsburgh Steelers had for an entire game and dominated the time of possession.  The Eagles offense rolled up 322 yards of total offense including 115 yards by McCoy against a tired Redskins defense.

“They were tiring out falling on the ground, getting cramps, they were running guys in and out,” said left tackle Jason Peters. “Hands on their hips. They were tired. We were definitely in better shape.”

The Eagles defense opened the second half with a Williams’ interception of Griffin.  After a loss by Vick on first down, McCoy ran through the Redskins defense for a 34- yard run to give the Eagles a seemingly insurmountable 33-7 lead in the third quarter.

Griffin rallied the Redskins to score 20 unanswered points including a 24-yard touchdown pass from Griffin to Leonard Hankerson with 1:15 left in the game. After a slow start, Griffin passed for 329 on 30-of-49 passing with two touchdown passes and two interceptions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eagles Players Say Cooper-Williams Scuffle Was Just Football, Not Racial

5 Sep

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

PHILADELPHIA—In a video that will probably get more viral than the upcoming Floyd Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez fight next week, controversial Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper got into a fight with teammate and volatile cornerback Cary Williams.

The video, which was shot by Comcast Sportsnet Philly, shows Cooper going after Williams after both players hit the ground during a passing drill on a ball thrown by quarterback Michael Vick.

Cooper attempted to grab Williams around the neck. Williams threw a couple of overhand slaps to Cooper’s helmet.  Teammates restrained both players. Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin pulled Cooper away while Eagles assistant coach Todd Lyght separated Williams.

But as Cooper was being pulled away, Williams broke away from the coaches and stalked after Cooper and could be faintly heard on the video saying, “I ain’t the N-word you f—k with.”

That was apparently a reference to a video in which Cooper using the N-word at a Kenny Chesney concert after a dispute with an African-American security guard.

Also in the video, Vick looked like he was trying to calm Williams down.  Then Vick was spirited away after Williams appeared to have shoved him.

Inside the locker room, the players said the situation came down to two guys competing for the ball and nothing to do with anything beyond what happens in football.

Of course, it does beg question, have the Eagles Black players really gotten over Cooper’s comments at the Kenny Chesney concert?

“It’s just something that happens,” said Boykin. “People are out there competing and practicing hard everyday. It’s just competition.  They’re moving on from it.”

“The ball was in the air and they both kind of came down on each other. …it was over quick, we broke it up and forgot about it and we practiced. They guarded each other six or seven times and nothing happened.”

Cooper himself played down the incident and chalked it up to two guys fighting for the football.  When he asked if Williams said something vicious to him, Cooper jokingly said, “Y’all ready for Washington.”

When asked if things were normal with his teammates since returning from his leave of absence in aftermath of him using the N-word, Cooper said everything was okay with his teammates both African-American and white.

“Everything is completely 100 percent normal, talking to everybody, everybody talking to me,” Cooper told reporters after practice Thursday. “We’re all real close. Everybody, Cary included. He’s my boy. We’re both in the NFL. We are super competitive. We both want the ball. In one-on-one’s, he wants to have a pick, I want to have a reception. That’s just what it is.”

Since the controversy regarding the video came to light, Cooper said no other player from any team around the league during the preseason has brought it up during the heat of competition in a game or during practice.

Williams, who played with the Baltimore Ravens last season, does have a history of trash-talking with opposing wide receivers regardless of race.  When the Ravens played the Eagles last season, Williams was fined by the league for a fight with DeSean Jackson, who was also fined.

Ironically, Jackson was seen on tape talking with Williams after the fight. He said that he told Williams that they have to focus on Monday night’s game against Washington.

“We got a game and in the end that’s all I care about,” Jackson said. “We got a game to win Monday and that’s it.”

Throughout the preseason and in training camp with the Eagles, Williams has been getting into fights with any receiver who lines up against him.

When reporters gathered around Williams locker after practice, he refused to talk to reporters about the altercation with Cooper.

Wide receiver Jason Avant dismissed the incident as the something that goes as a normal part of what goes on at a football practice. He said the real problem was that it was caught on camera.

“That’s what happens on a football field, we just can’t let you guys see it,” Avant said with a smile.

RGIII Ready to Roll Against the Eagles in Season Opener

4 Sep

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report/Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Robert Griffin III will start against the Eagles in the 2013 season-opener at Fed Ex Field in Landover, Md.

Robert Griffin III will start against the Eagles in the 2013 season-opener at Fed Ex Field in Landover, Md.

PHILADELPHIA- After not playing a down of football for the last nine months because of a knee injury in the NFC Wildcard game against the Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III said he’s not worried about any rust or hurting his newly healed right knee.

Despite not playing in the preseason, Griffin said he’s going to play Monday Night’s season-opener against the Eagles as if he hadn’t missed any time at all.

“It’s not something that I have to worry about. I’ve prepared myself. I trust my preparation. I trust my coaches. I trust my teammates out there to make plays for me and that’s what we’re going to do,” Griffin said during a conference call with the Philadelphia media.

Griffin is coming off a stellar rookie season in which he threw 20 touchdown passes against five interceptions while completing 65 percent of his passes.  The 2011 Heisman Trophy winner also passed for 3,200 yards and had a passer rating of 102.4.  Griffin also rushed for 815 yards while leading Washington to seven straight wins to secure a berth in the playoffs.

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick said he liked the way Griffin ran the Redskins read option offense on a consistent basis last season.

“I do respect the way is the way he did it last year and putting his team in a position to excel and be successful week in and week out,” Vick said. “It’s a dimension that’s been added and he’s taken it to another level.”

After having reconstructive surgery in his right knee, Griffin said he doesn’t expect to feel any ill effects from the injury nor will he even think about it.

“You always have to play like you were never gone,” Griffin said. “It’s not anything that I’m going to focus on. I will make sure that we get our game plan down and get ready to play this tough Eagles team.”

Meanwhile, Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan said that he would not put him out there as the starter if he didn’t feel like he was going to be 100 percent.

“He’s been going full speed in game-time situations (in practice), so I feel very good about where he’s at right now,” Shanahan said. “There’s no way you would start a quarterback unless he’s ready to go, especially coming off an injury. If you didn’t feel like he was full speed ready to go, you would put him in that situation.”

With defenses this season looking to putting an emphasis on hitting quarterbacks that run the read option, Griffin said he’s going to be more judicious about protecting himself when he does get out of the pocket and run.

“It’s not something that you want to harp on, but it has been something I’ve heard for the past eight months about sliding and getting out of bounds, but that’s something that I’m going to do,” Griffin said. “It’s a part of playing football. You live and you learn. The thing for me now is to make sure that I play every down and play every game because my teammates need me.”

Against the Eagles last season at Fed Ex Field in a 31-6 blowout, Griffin had a record day, completing 14-of-15 passes for 200 yards and four touchdowns. He had a passer rating of 158. 3. He also gained 84 yards rushing on 12 carries.

Eagles cornerback Cary Williams said Griffin’s mobility and arm strength makes it difficult for cornerbacks covering receivers downfield because there’s a short window of time that defensive backs have to cover wide receivers.

“To a degree, you have to cover longer, depending if you can get the guy down in a quick amount of time,” Williams said “(Griffin) is very elusive, he has very good speed and quickness. He makes it difficult for defenders to cover guys for a long period of time.

“I think any guy in this league can cover a guy for eight or nine.  You expect guys upfront to do their job, they’re getting paid, and you expect those things to happen. I trust our guys upfront.”

Williams, who started at cornerback for the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl last season, definitely knows how hard it is to cover receivers that have a mobile quarterback going up against San Francisco signal caller Colin Kaepernick.

Going up against the Eagles, Griffin will be going up against one of his child heroes in Vick. He said Vick’s success as a duel-threat quarterback paved the way for players like him, Kaepernick and Russell Wilson.

“Vick was definitely that guy, it was hard not to watch him,” Griffin said. “He was a lot of fun to watch out there playing doing a lot of good things. Not just running the ball, but also throwing the ball and he’s paved away for a lot of quarterbacks like myself. “