PHILADELPHIA -- To watch him put his head down and block a linebacker Monday night was to see the conundrum that is Michael Vick.
He knows that the Eagles need him to remain healthy, that he has played 16 games in a season just once in his career. And yet …
“I try not to do it,” Vick said after practicing Wednesday. “Just the way we run the read-option, sometimes the ball gets cut back. I’m standing there. I’m not going to let my teammate get hit by a guy. Maybe I’ll just try to get in the way next time, try to wall him off.”
The coaches told Vick they don’t want the starting quarterback impersonating Jerry Kramer. And yet, they still have to admire the impulse behind it.
“We don’t want him lead blocking on sweeps,” offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. “I talked to him during the game and after the game. The one thing I admire about Mike is something that we’ve all seen. He’s extremely tough, he’s very competitive and when the game is going on, he reacts to things like you want a football player to react.”
Vick came up limping after a 36-yard run in the fourth quarter. He said it was a groin injury that hurt “for the moment,” but felt fine Wednesday.
“It was good to be hit,” Vick said. “I really didn’t get tackled too much in the preseason. It prepared me for the weeks going forward.”
There are 15 more game weeks ahead of him. To get the most out of Kelly’s warp-speed offense, Vick knows he has to stay healthy. He also knows that his game puts him at constant risk of injury.
“You can get hurt at any point in a game,” Vick said. “Injuries happen in this game. There’s no way to prevent it. Every player is at risk on every play. I understand that if I put my body at risk, I’m putting this football team at risk. I feel like I’m being selfish to my teammates. It’s something, we’re not going to change it at this point.”
And yet …
“It might happen again,” Vick said of the blocking. “I’m a football player at the end of the day. I’m not just a quarterback, I’m a football player. Whatever it takes to win.”
So there’s the conundrum. Head coach Chip Kelly has already thrown in the towel on convincing Vick to learn to slide at the end of runs. He and Shurmur hope he’ll stop throwing blocks. But ultimately, it is football.
“I just know that the way I play the game, I play it for fun,” Vick said. “This is how I’ve been doing it since I was a kid. I leave that up to the fans to judge. My mom told me she was proud of me, the way I play. I think that’s a good thing.”
Hard to argue with that.