Redskins

Eagles QB Vick out; Foles to start at Washington

Eagles QB Vick out; Foles to start at Washington

PHILADELPHIA (AP) The news wasn't surprising to Nick Foles.

Or anybody else, for that matter.

After all, the Eagles rookie quarterback had practiced with the first team all week, and the starter at his position, Michael Vick, hadn't even touched the field since he left it with a concussion six days ago.

So, when Philadelphia coach Andy Reid on Friday officially ruled Vick out of Sunday's game vs. Washington, and named Foles the starter, there weren't many out there shocked by the expected proclamation. Certainly not the third-round pick from Arizona who has been preparing for his first NFL start his whole life.

``We've had a great week of preparation, a lot of hard work, and it definitely has sunk in,'' Foles said. ``I'm ready to go.''

Eagles fans certainly hope so.

When Foles and Philadelphia take the field Sunday in a matchup of disappointed 3-6 teams, there will be plenty at stake. Any chance of getting back in the NFC East race depends on this team making a run. Reid's future - and perhaps even Foles' as a full-time starter - also depend on it.

No pressure, or anything.

``We have a great group of guys here, great coaches. I feel great. I felt great ever since I got here. I felt like it's a home. We have fun together. We have fun out there at practice together and in the locker room,'' Foles said. ``It's a great environment to play in, it's a great environment to go to work in. I feel comfortable in everything and I'm ready to go play for these guys.''

Vick, meanwhile, will be resting this weekend, and spending time in ``in dark, quiet places,'' according to head trainer Rick Burkholder, who spoke to reporters at the Eagles training facility on Friday.

``He has too many symptoms for us to even exercise him,'' Burkholder said. ``He's not even close to playing this week.''

Reid finally made the announcement official after the team's final practice of the week, confirming a decision that had been in the works since Monday. It was only because Vick had not completed the league-mandated concussion testing earlier in the week, that Reid did not officially rule him out earlier.

``That was one of his goals, obviously, to stay healthy all season. He's a very considerate guy, and he feels like he lets people down, and his teammates down,'' Reid said of Vick. ``And that's not the case, he's hurt. But he's one of the most competitive, toughest guys I've been around.''

Vick completed just six passes for 70 yards vs. Dallas before leaving. The Eagles lost, 38-23.

``The one thing that we look at is that we want to see whether his cognitive function is down. We do that through impact testing. He did take an impact test today,'' Burkholder said. ``He's below baseline, so that's another indicator that he's not ready to play.''

Foles was 22 of 32 for 219 yards with a touchdown and an interception vs. the Cowboys. Those numbers weren't enough to help the Eagles avoid their fifth straight loss, a first in Reid's 14 seasons.

``He's comfortable with what we've been running,'' Reid said of Foles. ``It's the same things we were doing in training camp. He's good with it.''

That said, Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has tightened the playbook a bit this week for Foles, a third-round draft pick out of Arizona, who became something of a fan favorite in Philadelphia during an impressive run through the preseason.

``He will see some things that he hasn't seen before, and how he reacts to those things will be key,'' Mornhinweg said Thursday. ``That would be the two biggest things right at the front of my mind that we've talked about.''

In a dreary season that has fallen well short of expectations, seeing if Foles can show enough flashes to become a franchise quarterback has put some snap back in the Eagles' year.

``Come game day, I don't know what it's going to be like because I've never experienced that but I assume there will be butterflies and nerves,'' Foles said. ``I'm going to keep working hard, keep studying the playbook, watching film, so the more you know about something the more the nerves go down. Just preparation. Keep working until game day.''

Foles, equipped with a strong arm and the ability to move around in the pocket, threw for 553 yards in the preseason, with six touchdowns and two interceptions. He finished with a quarterback rating of 110.1.

All that said, putting the season in the hands of a rookie - whether it's forced or not - could create more problems. But Reid, as he has been throughout this season of discontent, is unfazed.

``I worry about right now. What we can control. What I can control, and that's getting this football team better,'' Reid said. ``Anything that you add into that mix is a distraction and you can't afford that in the National Football League.''

Vick has been inconsistent - at best - the last two seasons. After helping to rally the Eagles from a 4-8 start last season with four consecutive victories to close the year, he has thrown for 11 touchdowns with nine interceptions this season.

``He has to get better is what he's got to do right now,'' Reid said. ``That's it. Concentrate on that right now, and that's the most important thing.''

Vick's quarterback rating at the time of the injury was just 79.2.

``Right now, he currently has symptoms. He's had symptoms all week since the game. He's had a headache, which has gotten better during the week. He's foggy. He's not very alert right now in terms of he just doesn't have that energy,'' Burkholder said. ``He's tired all the time, he's slept a lot, and he's not getting rid of that fatigue. I would consider him heavy eyed.

``When I talk to him, he's just not the Michael Vick that I know when he's healthy.''

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Josh Norman's status for the Redskins in 2019 comes down to dollars and sense

Josh Norman's status for the Redskins in 2019 comes down to dollars and sense

Josh Norman’s former defensive coordinator will not join his former pupil in Washington. What’s left to wonder is whether the cornerback stays with the Redskins for the 2019 season.

On the surface, that premise seems flawed. Why ponder releasing the team's best cornerback especially with several uncertain slots elsewhere on defense including safety? 

Follow the money. 

Norman, 31, is now three years into the five-year, $75 million contract he signed in 2016. His salary ate up huge chunks of the team’s salary cap in each of those three years. 

Norman accounts for a mere $9 million in dead cap space over the final two seasons. That includes six million in 2019, but the number reaches $14.5 million if he remains on the roster. 

For a team with $16.6 million in total salary cap space –24th in the league according to Spotrac – finding ways to free up more room becomes a primary topic this offseason.

What remains at corner should Norman exit explains why he may and likely should stay. 

Quinton Dunbar proved viable in his first season in the starting lineup, though the former wide receiver missed nine games with leg injuries and finished the year on injured reserve. 

Beyond Norman and Dunbar, Washington’s corner depth chart includes four players who enter 2019 with a combined five years of NFL experience. 

Fabian Moreau, a 2017 third-round pick, received valuable playing time in the slot. Moving him outside creates a need inside.

Greg Stroman, one of two seventh-round selections last season, played more than anticipated during his rookie season because of Dunbar’s injuries. 

Same with another rookie, undrafted free agent Danny Johnson. Both showed positive traits, but likely not enough for the coaching staff to believe they could enter the starting lineup Week 1. 

Adonis Alexander, added in last year’s supplemental draft, mostly had a redshirt rookie season. 

Maybe there’s a scenario where the Redskins believe in this unit’s upside and think they could cobble together a viable group with a basic free agent addition joining the mix. That seems like a dicey proposition at the moment.

The real concerns in the secondary exist at safety. Washington may need two new starters. The team released another talkative defensive back, D.J. Swearinger before Week 17. The other starter, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, is a free agent. 

Second-year safety Montae Nicholson went to the bench after the Redskins acquired Clinton-Dix from the Packers during the season. Nicholson’s year ended on the reserve/non-football injury list following his December arrest for assault and battery, and being drunk in public. 

Swearinger’s release added to a lengthy list of projected team needs, including inside linebacker, guard, wide receiver, edge pass rusher and likely quarterback depending on Alex Smith’s recovery. 

Cutting Norman puts cornerback on the list.

Though he has not received Pro Bowl honors since signing with Washington or performed at the high level achieved during his final season with Carolina, Norman delivered a solid 2018 campaign. He believes there’s more he can do on the field particularly rushing the quarterback in select moments. Perhaps a rumored defensive coordinator change unlocks more. 

Whether that coaching switch occurs or not, swapping Norman for salary cap space is among the considerations this off-season. On the surface, such a move causes more uncertainty for a defense already appearing needy in some key spots. 

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Bryce Harper wants Tony Romo to predict his future after AFC championship game

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Bryce Harper wants Tony Romo to predict his future after AFC championship game

Bryce Harper has been having a little fun on Twitter lately with his fans, who are still anxiously waiting to hear which MLB team the coveted free agent will sign with this season. 

And the 26-year-old slugger's jokes continued through the AFC championship game between the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night. 

The Patriots' 37-31 overtime win over the Chiefs was broadcasted on CBS, so former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was calling the game, along with Jim Nantz. Since Romo joined the broadcast booth for the 2017 season, he's repeatedly proven he can read a defense before a quarterback does and predict a play before it unfolds. 

He did it again during the AFC championship matchup, and fans watching were stunned at his accuracy. And that brings us to Harper, who chimed in with a joke about Romo's spot-on predictions.

So, does this mean Harper knows what his future team is?! Maybe he's growing as tired of the anticipation as fans (especially Nationals fans) are. 

Recently, he's been responding on Twitter to discussions about where he'll end up with shrugging and questioning emojis -- making light of the offseason's biggest mystery. 

After Romo's proven history of being able to predict the future on the NFL side with incredible accuracy, maybe he does know Harper's future too. Here's a look at some of his predictions from the Patriots-Chiefs game, as well as from his first couple seasons in the booth.

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