Eagles say health is only factor keeping Michael Vick off field
Zach Berman, Inquirer Staff Writer
Posted: Saturday, December 1, 2012, 2:00 AM
Conflicting reports swirl around Michael Vick regarding his recovery from a concussion, but the Eagles say the quarterback has plateaued on the fourth phase of his five-step recovery.
Vick will miss his third straight game in Sunday's contest against the Dallas Cowboys.
Eagles trainer Rick Burkholder denied a WIP radio report that Vick has regressed. Burkholder and coach Andy Reid also disputed an ESPN report that said Vick believes the team is using the concussion as a reason to play rookie Nick Foles. Reid continued to insist that Vick is the team's top quarterback until the coach says otherwise.
"There's no conspiracy here," Burkholder said. "As the gatekeeper of these guys, he's not going to play until he gets past baseline, gets through the five phases."
In a statement, Vick thanked fans for their good wishes, voiced appreciation for the support from the Eagles, and said he feels "strong and healthy."
"As a professional athlete, I want to play in every game, but the NFL has a specific protocol to protect players," Vick said. "My focus is to complete this process successfully so I can rejoin my team on the field."
The trouble has been with the ImPACT test, which measures Vick's cognitive function. Players take a 25-to-30-minute computerized test during the summer that includes matching designs and recognizing colors. A player must reach the level from the summer to pass.
After three failed tests in which Vick had the same reaction time, the Eagles' training staff explored the source of Vick's troubles. Staff members discovered it had to do with Vick's eye movement and visual tracking and how that affects the quarterback's balance centers. Vick has experienced concussion symptoms during the fourth phase, the team said. The Eagles have worked on rehabbing those areas with Vick; they say they anticipate better results when he takes the test again on Monday.
The tests are graded independently at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Burkholder said the Eagles are not "slow playing" Vick and are following the necessary protocol.
Once Vick passes the test, he can meet with an independent neurologist to be cleared to play. He is otherwise maintaining his conditioning, including running at an 80 percent heart rate, the Eagles said. He also attends the team's walk-throughs and was on the sideline during Monday's game.
"Unfortunately for Michael, he's just at that one stage where we can't get him over the top," Burkholder said. "We've gone back and looked at the rehab, and we're doing the rehab with him, and we'll get him there. It's not something that can't be corrected."
Burkholder said he has nothing to do with decisions that are made once Vick is cleared to play. He meets with Reid every day, provides a report, and answers questions about Vick's readiness.
Reid insisted that there is no factor involved in the decision-making progress other than Vick's health, despite the ESPN report. Reid said he spoke to Vick, and the quarterback understands the team's stance.
Foles, who has started in Vick's place, said he and Vick are on "great terms" and that Vick appears no different than usual. Vick has not met with reporters since he suffered the concussion on Nov. 11.
The Eagles will have a decision to make about the starting quarterback once Vick is cleared to play. But Reid was firm on Friday, as he has been before, that Vick is his starter.
"I make the decision, and I told you that," Reid said. "Until I tell you different, trust it."
Contact Zach Berman at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @ZBerm.
Zach Berman Inquirer Staff Writer
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Posted 01 December 2012 - 06:51 AM