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For a week, McNutt went back to playing quarterback

reuben frank csnphilly

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 10:15 AM

Frank

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For a week, McNutt went back to playing quarterback

November 18, 2012, 7:31 am

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Back in the fall of 2007, Marvin McNutt was a freshman quarterback at Iowa and Nick Foles was a freshman quarterback at Michigan State.

The two former Big 10 QBs took different routes to become Philadelphia Eagles, but this week, both were quarterbacks at practice and both were in new roles.

Foles, who transferred to Arizona after red-shirting in 2007 at Michigan State, worked for the first time with the starting offense and will make his first NFL start Sunday when the Eagles face the Redskins at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. He’s starting in place of injured Michael Vick.

And McNutt, who converted from quarterback to wide receiver after the 2008 season at Iowa, spent the week wearing a red No. 10 jersey and running the scout team as Redskins rookie QB Robert Griffin III.

“It was pretty cool to get back to being a quarterback for a little bit,” said McNutt, a rookie sixth-round pick who’s spent the year on the Eagles’ practice squad.

The scout team’s job is essentially serving as the Redskins during the week. Normally, backup quarterback Trent Edwards would be the scout team quarterback, but McNutt’s frame – 6-3, 215 pounds – pretty closely resembles Griffin’s 6-2, 220 pounds. And his athleticism, while maybe not quite on RG3’s level, at least gives him the opportunity to do a lot of the things in practice that Griffin does. Which means throw the ball all over the place and take off running a lot.

“Marvin’s a great athlete,” Foles said. “I was impressed with him. He gave the defense a great look all week. I was really looking forward to seeing him play quarterback, and I’ll tell you what, he really throws the ball well. You could tell he knows what he’s doing and that he’s played a lot of quarterback in his life.”

McNutt actually is friends with Griffin. The two trained together before the scouting combine at Athletes Performance Institute in Phoenix, so McNutt had plenty of chances to study Griffin’s moves before mimicking him this past week.

“I didn’t have to learn too much, because we card [the plays], so I pretty much just look at the card and run the play,” he said. “I hope I did a pretty good job and gave them a pretty good look.”

Head coach Andy Reid said he was impressed with McNutt’s ability to simulate Griffin at practice Wednesday through Friday.

“He really did a good job,” Reid said. “He was recruited as a quarterback and knows all the stuff. He gave the defense a great look.”

Of course, McNutt didn’t come here to pretend to play quarterback. He’s here to play wide receiver, and Reid said he’s made tremendous progress since a disappointing preseason.

“He really has,” Reid said. “He’s been making some unbelievable catches the last few weeks, those catches that really make you take notice.”

McNutt said life on the practice squad is frustrating, since you’re with the team all week but home watching on TV on Sundays.

But he’s encouraged by his progress and promised that next time we write about him, we’re writing about him as a wideout, not a quarterback.

“I do feel like I’m getting better,” McNutt said. “I think I’m learning to use my speed instead of just going out there and playing slow. The more you learn the offense, the more comfortable you’re going to be and the more your athleticism is going to show.”

Until that opportunity comes, he’ll take his opportunities to help the team wherever he can.

“A lot of people would love to do what you’re doing, so you really just have to help your team out in any way possible every week,” he said. “Coach put me in a spot and I just tried to do the best job that I could.”

E-mail Reuben Frank at rfrank@comcastsportsnet.com.