NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — The storyline this week for the Giants’ trip to Philadelphia is not about their recent woes against the Eagles, but whether Michael Vick will be starting.
Vick’s status is unclear Sunday for the Eagles as the Giants will try to avoid a seventh straight loss to their NFC East rivals.
The quarterback was forced to leave in the second half after he suffered a concussion in a 35-31 loss at Atlanta last Sunday.
During the portion of Thursday’s practice open to the media, Vick was seen throwing passes to assistant coaches, jogging around with teammates and participating in all the drills that the other quarterbacks, Mike Kafka and Vince Young, participated in.
The Eagles announced after practice that Vick was a full participant with no restrictions.
“He looked good, he looked fine,” said wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who had a career-high 171 receiving yards against the Falcons. “In control of the huddle, in control of what was going on, in control of the offense. He’s in good shape.”
Vick’s participation showed that he’s been cleared by the NFL-appointed independent neurologist, required under the league’s 2009 concussion policy for a player to “return to football activities.”
Although coach Andy Reid would not confirm whether Vick will play, Giants coach Tom Coughlin knows what to expect.
“I expect Michael Vick will play and if he can play, I am sure he will,” Coughlin said.
Mike Kafka, a 2010 fourth-round pick out of Northwestern, completed 7 of 9 passes for 72 yards against the Falcons, but couldn’t lead a scoring drive in the fourth quarter while Philadelphia blew a 10-point lead. He’s the backup since Vince Young will probably remain out with a hamstring injury.
Philadelphia (1-1) is enjoying its longest win streak over New York (1-1) since a 12-game run from 1975-81.
“Every one has been different and every one is a blood bath,” Reid said. “It has been a knockdown, drag out heavyweight fight, so I don’t look at the body of work over numbers of games and I will never go there and do that. That would be making a mistake.”
The Eagles scored the final 28 points in the last 7:28 of a 38-31 road victory to cap last year’s season sweep. That memorable game ended when DeSean Jackson ran Matt Dodge’s punt back 65 yards for a score on the final play. Dodge was cut by the Giants at the end of the preseason.
“It took place last year,” Giants safety Antrel Rolle said. “It’s not something that we might ever forget, but at the same time, it’s a new year.”
Vick threw for 500 yards and three scores and rushed for 164 yards and two more touchdowns last year against New York.
“If he’s playing, we know we have to be on our toes,” Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said. “We all know that Philadelphia is a great football team. We’re going to have a great game regardless of if Vick plays or not.”
Vick has a new target in Steve Smith, who signed with Philadelphia after spending the previous four seasons with New York. Smith led the Giants with 1,220 yards receiving two years ago before his 2010 season was cut short by a knee injury.
That contributed to New York’s decision not to present the free agent with an aggressive enough offer in the offseason.
“I enjoyed the coaches there,” Smith, who had two catches for 29 yards last week in his Eagles debut, said about facing his former team. “They’re a great team, great organization. Things didn’t work out. So I’m here now, ready to ball.”
Smith was a valuable target to Eli Manning, whose current group of receivers is depleted. The Giants announced Wednesday that Domenik Hixon will miss the rest of the season after tearing his right ACL for the second straight year.
“Obviously, Hixon was a guy who rotated in,” Manning said. “We still have Victor Cruz, who’s been here all year long. We have (Brandon) Stokley, who’s been here a week. He’s going to have to do more and learn more of the plays.”
Giants receiver Mario Manningham’s status has yet to be determined after he sustained a concussion in Monday’s 28-16 win over St. Louis.
New York’s offense is under pressure to produce since an injury-plagued defense has allowed 300-yard passing games by Washington’s Rex Grossman and the Rams’ Sam Bradford. The Giants lost a number of key defensive players in the preseason.
Defensive end Osi Umenyiora may make his season debut after being out due to arthroscopic knee surgery. The Giants sacked Vick six times last year, with none by Umenyiora.
“We certainly hope Osi will be ready to go,” Coughlin said.
Umenyiora was the target of some taunting on Twitter in the offseason by running back LeSean McCoy, whose 217 rushing yards are the most by an Eagle through two games since Herschel Walker had 227 in 1992.
That’s an episode that’s rather indicative of this rivalry.
“I think it is a lot of intensity,” Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel said. “It is a lot of trash talking and a lot of guys on the field that just hate each other. They just want to beat each other’s head in.”
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