Damaris Johnson was wide open, so uncovered that the Eagles receiver felt like he was playing touch football back home in Norco, La.
But Johnson still needed his quarterback to buy time in the pocket, something Nick Foles did to perfection. The rookie was flushed right, yet he kept his eyes downfield, then threw a dart. If Johnson felt like he was in Louisiana, Foles was in Texas, throwing rocks on the lake with his dad.
“I’ve thrown a football since I was born,” Foles said. “I’ve always loved throwing rocks, skipping rocks on the water. When I was a kid my dad used to challenge me to see if I could throw it over the creeks and the lakes, just like any kid.”
Foles, the team’s third-round draft pick, turned heads in Thursday’s preseason opener. He turned some more back at Lehigh this past weekend in red-zone drills. He possesses a rifle for an arm, along with the “aww shucks” personality of the kid next door. Eagles fans are so excited that they’ve started a Twitter hash tag of “BowlsforFoles.”
“Oh man, you know, I just take it one day at a time,” Foles said. “I feel like I made progress … it’s one game, I got a lot of work to do.”
His coaches aren’t ready to crown him as Mike Vick’s successor. They aren’t ready to name him the backup, either, even after incumbent Mike Kafka went down with a broken hand. He’s out for at least three weeks.
“We’ll see. If he continues to develop at a high rate, that will be the key for him,” said offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. “It’s a matter of reps, reps, and more reps, and from the details of how he goes about in terms of performing.”
Foles chucked two touchdown passes Thursday, including 70- and 44-yard bombs. With Kafka out, he has risen to No. 2 on the depth chart.
“He’s great, especially for a rookie,” center Jason Kelce said. “He does a good job of taking control when he’s out there, which is what you want from a quarterback. You want someone who is a leader and the field general, too.”
Before Kafka was injured, coach Andy Reid admitted that the backup job was very much an open competition.
“Whoever is playing the best is going to play,” Reid said. “We keep it nice and simple that way.”
It’s only one preseason game, but it’s a fight for the Birds’ No. 2 QB spot. A quick look at the stats so far:
Mike Kafka went 5-of-9 for 31 yards and one pick (23.1 QB rating). The interception was a terrible read on a screen pass, which 315-pounder Al Woods ate up.
Nick Foles went 6-of-10 for 144 yards and two scores (143.8). His 70-yard TD was a “big-time play,” per Reid.
Trent Edwards went 12-of-20 for 106 yards and a TD (90.8). He looked crisp on the game-winning drive.
The Foles Files
Nick Foles, QB
Selected 3rd round (88th overall)
Passing the physical …
Prototypical QB, measuring 6-foot-6, 243 lbs. — with an NFL-ready cannon for an arm
Big man on campus …
Started at Michigan State before transferring to Arizona in 2008. Left as all-time leader in passing yards (10,011), TDs (67), attempts (1,369), completions (933)
QB from birth …
Claims he was born with a football in his hand. In the Eagles’ media guide, Foles says there is a baby picture of him holding a football. Said Foles, “It’s actually pretty funny because in that picture I’m using the same grip on the ball as I do now.”
Texas roots …
Grew up in Austin, Texas idolizing John Elway and (gulp) Cowboys QB Troy Aikman