Nick Foles commanded the first-team offense at the start of Philadelphia Eagles' training camp Thursday, taking snaps from center Jason Kelce and throwing downfield to Zach Ertz just like he did in Minnesota in February.
Afterward, he took to the podium as a huge media throng (more than 90 media members were at practice, outnumbering the players) crowded into the tent to hear about what life has been like since becoming a champion and being named Super Bowl MVP, and how he's going to handle what lies ahead.
In this light, he is the star. A small turn of the prism, though, casts him as the understudy. Carson Wentz worked right alongside him Thursday. Wentz participated in team drills for the first time since his injury and looked comfortable doing it. He continues to make strides in his rehab and will likely take the reins back before long.
When will that be? Week 1? Later? Will Foles be a significant on-field contributor? Will he fade back into the shadows?
With only six weeks until the 2018 season arrives, Foles remains in a nebulous role. And he's good with it.
"No one knows my label. It’s sort of been that way for a long time, and I've said it before, I don't really care," he said. "I know that I love my teammates, I love this city, I love playing for these coaches, and whatever they need of me, I'm going to give them everything I've got. That's how I play the game. You don't need to come out and say, 'Hey, you're the starter,' 'You're the backup,' whatever, you're going to get me. That's it. It's not going to affect me. If that affects me, I've probably got some issues I've got to deal with."
The many twists and turns of his NFL career have helped prepare him. To recap: He threw 27 touchdowns to two interceptions in Chip Kelly's first year as head coach in Philly back in 2013, then was traded to the Rams 15 months later after a bumpy descent. His year in St. Louis was so rough that he nearly retired from the game, but stuck with it and spent a season as a backup under his old coach, Andy Reid, in Kansas City before returning to Philly, where he went from afterthought to drought-ending icon in a blink.
The offseason was dedicated in part to a media blitz to promote his book, "Believe It," which debuted on the New York Times best-seller list. Grown men got tattoos of his face permanently etched across their backs. Most recently, he stood on stage in front of a national audience after winning an ESPY for best championship performance.
"It's been a crazy career," he said. "If any of y'all know my career path, it doesn't make sense. But I'm here right now."
Foles has found comfort in the return to football, calling the familiar feel of meetings and on-field sessions "almost therapeutic." His strong, faith-based relationship with Wentz has helped him avoid many of the pitfalls that could accompany this unprecedented situation, as has the perspective that comes with a most-unique ride through the league.
“I think I just lean on what I've gone through in my life, playing the game and just focusing on the moment, focusing on now," he said. "There's going to be a lot of distractions. There's always going to be a lot of distractions in the NFL -- that's just how it is, it's on the biggest stage -- but really focusing on what I have to do now to help my team win, help me be at my best physically when I'm out there on the field and mentally, because that will ultimately help my team no matter what role I'm playing. I always focus on that and it just alleviates everything around me and makes everything a lot more simple."