From Comcast SportsNetPHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Michael Vick will take his next snap in the season opener for the Philadelphia Eagles. Who replaces him if he gets hurt again remains a question.Vick is back at practice after leaving last Monday's game with injured ribs. He didn't play in Friday's game at Cleveland, but returned to the field Sunday night for Philadelphia's annual practice party at Lincoln Financial Field."I think he's real close to 100 percent," offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said Monday. "I thought he threw the ball last night just beautifully; threw it strong and aggressively. So, I think he's ready to rock and roll. That's my point on that. I think he's ready to go."Vick has taken just 12 snaps in two preseason games and isn't expected to play against the New York Jets in the preseason finale Thursday. The Eagles visit Cleveland in Week 1 on Sept. 9."I think in that ballgame that he got hurt, I think he would have played in the game if it was a regular season game," Mornhinweg said. "I don't know that for sure, but that was just my thought at the time."The more important thought in the coordinator's mind right now revolves around the backup quarterbacks. Philadelphia has Mike Kafka, Trent Edwards and Nick Foles in the fold right now.Foles, a rookie third-round pick from Arizona, has been impressive in the first three games. He threw two touchdown passes in the first quarter and led the Eagles to a 27-10 victory over the Browns last Friday. Foles finished the victory 12 of 19 for 146 yards with one interception. He's 36 of 57 passes for 507 yards, with six TDs and two interceptions so far.Kafka, the incumbent backup, hasn't played the last two games because of a hand injury. It would seem that Foles has moved up the depth chart, but Mornhinweg wasn't ready to say it."That choice has not been made," Mornhinweg said. "We've got several different things to evaluate there. I certainly have great confidence in all of our quarterbacks to do all of the jobs that we would ask them to do: backup and the number three. (Quarterbacks coach) Doug Pederson has done just an outstanding job with all four of the quarterbacks."Kafka, a third-year pro, might even be in danger of losing his roster spot. Edwards has also been outstanding in the preseason. The 28-year-old veteran is 32 of 48 for 292 yards with two TDs and no interceptions. Edwards was 14-18 as a starter for Buffalo between 2007-10. He was released by Oakland last year and sat out the season."Well, we haven't come to that decision. We've got some days of practice and the last preseason game to evaluate that and discuss it," Mornhinweg said. "We've got four quarterbacks here (who) really can play at a high level. Those are good things. Those are good things that you have to come to a decision on at some point here and it's coming up pretty quick."The Eagles (No. 8 in the AP Pro32), who closed the regular season on a four-game winning streak last year, are 3-0 this preseason and have scored 78 points along the way.
If I told you the Caps would lose Braden Holtby, Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie on the current road trip and win at least two of their four games, you would probably take that.
Well, on Monday, Washington has a chance to grab three out of four wins on their road trip in a stretch that feels like it could be a turning point on a sluggish start to the season.
At 9-7-3, there’s no question the Caps were hoping for a better start to the season considering all the players they had coming back. Having said that, given all the challenges they have faced to start the season (Tom Wilson’s suspension, all the injuries), first year head coach Todd Reirden has done a decent job to get the team to this point.
Now a quarter of the way in, however, it’s time to pick things up and make a run.
Here are a few observations from the past week:
- What a difference Wilson makes. The Caps look like a completely different team with him in the lineup. When he first started playing on the top line last season, he looked a bit out of place, but that’s definitely no longer the case. He adds so much more than just physicality. He is a good skater, wins board battles and has the offensive and defensive ability to make that top line defensively balanced while still being so dangerous offensively. Not only does he look tremendous on the top line, but the Caps also really struggle to fill his spot in the lineup when he’s out. If you still think he’s nothing more than a goon, you’re just not paying attention to all the positives he brings to the lineup.
- The Caps have found a backup goalie. I have gone back and forth on Pheonix Copley, but there’s no denying how well he has played when the team needed him the most. He looked great in the preseason, shaky to start, but he has gotten better with each game. With Holtby’s injury, Copley was forced to start three road games in four days and he provided solid, strong goaltending. In seven appearances this season, Copley has a 2.65 GAA, .908 save percentage and, most importantly, a record of 4-2-1. He is not nearly as smooth a goalie as Holtby, but he has great size which he uses to his advantage specifically down low. He has also looked great on breakaways and odd-man rushes. The question of backup goaltending now looks officially settled.
- This isn’t the first time we’ve seen John Carlson with Dmitry Orlov as a pair. They played a few games together at the start of last season and they looked horrible together. Putting Orlov with Matt Niskanen and Carlson with Michal Kempny provides much more balanced pairings, but it just wasn’t working this season. Interestingly enough, all four players have looked better the last few games since switching it up. Perhaps the pairs had gotten stale and they just needed time apart, but for now the switch is working.
- Madison Bowey may be the most improved player on the roster this season and is playing with a lot more confidence on both ends of the ice. That first NHL goal is coming.
How improved the Caps look with Wilson back plus how the team banded together in the wake of so many significant injuries gave them a boost this week.
MORE CAPITALS NEWS:
- Grateful coach: Reirden says promotion dream come true despite challenges
- A Wasted Challenge? Reirden saved the game, knowing he'd lose
- Strong enough: How'd the shorthanded Caps win in Colorado?
- No repercussions: Morrissey avoids suspension for Oshie body slam
As the Wizards have shown this year, and really since the beginning of last season, there is one particular type of NBA team that gives them trouble. It's the team that plays collectively, with toughness and an edge on defense.
The Wizards allow their opponents to set the tone and the aggressive ones that punch them first usually don't get a punch back.
So far this season, blue-collar teams like the Grizzlies, Clippers and Nets have given the Wizards fits. In those losses, Washington was just trying to keep up, hopelessly reacting on too many plays just a half-or-full-step slower than they needed to.
Though the Blazers are a high-scoring team led by big-name stars, they possess the qualities that expose the Wizards when they are in their most listless form. On Sunday, Portland came out with want-to on defense and a commitment to moving the ball to find open shooters on offense.
That simple combination was too much for the Wizards, who let the game slip away early, trailing by as many as 20 points in the first quarter alone.
It was hard to watch for everyone on the Washington side; for fans, the coaches and also the players who are losing patience as they grasp for answers to what will fix their persistent woes.
The prevailing message from head coach Scott Brooks' postgame press conference and from the locker room was that they are actively searching for a solution, but that they have no clear sense what that solution is.
"It's embarrassing,” Brooks said, citing effort and energy like he often has this season. “Just trying to figure that out. It's on me."
"I'm not sure. We have to figure something out," forward Markieff Morris said.
"Honestly, I really don't have an answer," forward Jeff Green said, genuinely perplexed.
As the Wizards wilt at 5-11 and in last place, the general consensus from those on the court and the bench seems to be that no major changes need to be made. Brooks suggested he needs to find "five guys on the court that are playing for their team." But he says that all the time and has ever since he took the job before the 2016-17 season.
It doesn't mean wholesale changes are coming.
Guard Bradley Beal pleaded the fifth when asked if trades or firings need to be made.
"I have no idea. All I can do is my job and just like everybody else, and just come in and try to get better every day. At the end of the day, that's Ted [Leonsis'] job, Ernie [Grunfeld's] job to make those decisions," he said.
Morris and guard John Wall each expressed confidence in the players already on the roster.
“I don't think so," Wall said of potentially breaking up the core. "We can still figure it out."
"It's not time for a fire sale," Morris told NBC Sports Washington.
The best insight into what is plaguing the Wizards came from backup guard Austin Rivers. Though he can't put a finger on it, either, he sees some bad signs.
"Our team is like loaded with talent and we're losing game after game. You just start to question it," he said.
"Guys are like tentative now when they're on the floor. You can see it. You guys can watch it and see it. It doesn't even take a basketball expert to watch... When you lose, guys start getting unsure. We're running and our spacing is terrible. It's just a snowball effect."
Rivers, like Green, went out of his way to say Brooks wasn't the root of it, that it's on the players. He also highlighted his backcourt partner Tomas Satoransky as someone who was exempt from their issues.
"Sato is definitely not the problem. Sato doesn't do anything wrong," Rivers said.
Satoransky was one of the few Wizards players who came out of Sunday's defeat with reasons to hold their chin up walking into the locker room afterwards. He had 10 points, seven assists and was +22 in the box score.
Like Satoransky, Kelly Oubre Jr. played well. He had 19 points, four rebounds, four assists and three blocks. He was +14. Others like Thomas Bryant and Troy Brown Jr., two youngsters who only played when the game was out of hand, provided a spark of energy off the bench and helped cut the Blazers lead down to single digits late in the game after Portland led by as many as 29.
Brooks has been wary of major lineup adjustments since he arrived in Washington, but it's never been quite this bad. At 5-11, this start is even worse than two years ago, his first season on the job, when they rallied to win 49 games.
If their losing continues, Brooks will have to do something drastic at some point. Maybe that is moving Oubre into the starting lineup and taking Morris out to help guide the second unit. Morris could thrive as a small-ball center, while Oubre could help set a tone defensively with the starters.
Oubre is their most energetic and active defender. Perhaps that would rub off on Wall, Beal and Otto Porter Jr.
It's clear the Wizards need to change something and the rotation is the logical first place to start. Rivers, for one, wonders if things will get better if they simply stick to the current plan.
"You're just like 'stay with it and it will turn around.' But when? You're digging yourself a farther and farther hole," he said.
MORE WIZARDS NEWS:
- Striking contrast: Culture is king for Blazers while Wiz search for fixes
- Five observations: Wizards' 119-109 loss to Blazers
- Big man out: Howard leaves game with lower muscle injury