Michael Vick got hurt Monday night when he took a stiff shot to the ribs that he never saw coming.
For Vick, that’s two preseason games, two early exits due to injury and seven total passes. X-rays came back negative, but it’s entirely possible the Eagles will keep him out of action until the Sept. 9 season opener in Cleveland.
The NFL Preseason. Nothing more than a necessary evil.
It’s especially evil — and strange — this week. The Browns and Eagles play in Cleveland Friday in what’s traditionally the preseason game in which the starters play the most. In this case, neither team will be really interested in showing the other much.
After another Vick injury — cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie also got hurt Monday night — the Eagles figure to play things especially carefully over the next two games. In some ways, they have to. An Aug. 20 preseason game means both the Eagles and Patriots have their final three preseason games in a 10-day span. That’s difficult.
That’s exactly what the Browns did in 2008, when they were the national “buzz” team and had five regular-season games on national TV. They played a Monday night preseason game in New York against the Giants, got blown out, got a bunch of starters hurt and never really recovered.
Monday night, Bill Belichick and the Patriots planned accordingly. Among the guys who didn’t suit up against the Eagles were Tom Brady, Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and several defensive starters. With two struggling offensive tackles in the lineup, Monday night’s game was a perfect time for Brady to watch from the sidelines.
Except he didn’t even do that; the ESPN announcers working Patriots-Eagles said Brady was watching at home.
That’s the preseason, and that’s exactly what the preseason means. Next to nothing. And even less to teams expecting to play meaningful games into the winter.
The Eagles will care this week about getting more meaningful reps for rookie quarterback Nick Foles. He looks like he knows what he’s doing, and even if Vick comes back the Eagles need to keep another guy ready. They won’t care about the result.
A week after the Packers yanked their starters after two series against the Browns, they go to Cincinnati. They’d like to see a better effort, certainly, but won’t force the issue. Greg Jennings is still out. Other starters battling injury will rest, too. Cedric Benson making his Packers debut in Paul Brown Stadium is a nice story, but it’s basically the only one. The Bengals just want to stay healthy after seeing Carlos Dunlap, Rey Maualuga and Jermaine Gresham, among others, go down in the first two preseason games. The Packers just want to get to Week One.
There are nine days, two games and a whole bunch of interesting personnel decisions left for 32 NFL teams this preseason. Only those decisions really matter, and the big ones won’t come until the final cut on Sept. 1. Until then, we wait. And just hope that injuries can be kept to a minimum.