Redskins Coaches Are Old Acquaintances of Eagles Quarterback Nick Foles

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Redskins Coaches Are Old Acquaintances of Eagles Quarterback Nick Foles
Mike Shanahan coached Arizona quarterback Nick Foles at last year's Senior Bowl. (AP)

With Michael Vick's health in serious doubt, rookie quarterback Nick Foles took first-team reps with the Philadelphia Eagles offense Wednesday.

The news was expected, but it seems increasingly clear that the Washington Redskins will face the former University of Arizona standout Sunday at Fed Ex Field. 

According to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, a source told him that the 23-year-old rookie will be the Eagles starter in place of Vick, who suffered a concussion last week.

So, if it becomes official, how will the Redskins prepare for Philly and a first-year signal-caller on short notice?

Familiarity breeds contempt for division rivals, so Washington will be aggressive against an Eagles team that ranks eighth in the league in total offense. But Foles is no stranger to the Redskins coaching staff because he played for them last January at the Senior Bowl.

"He’s big," said Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, via NBC Washington writer Ryan Wilson. But height is just one trait Shanahan likes about last year's Pac-10 passing leader in yards per game.

"[Foles is] 6-5, very strong, [with] arm strength. He’s been in a shotgun formation. He looks like he reads defenses very easily and can make all the throws."

Shanahan's analysis sounds pretty impressive for a quarterback who's on the verge of his first NFL start. But Foles' first opportunity to play in the pros was far from convincing.

When Vick got knocked out of last week's game against Dallas, Foles stepped in for the good, the bad and the ugly.

Donovan McNabb made his first NFL start against the Redskins in Game 10 of the 1999 season. The Eagles won, 35-28. (NFL.com)

The good was 22 completions on 32 passes for 219 yards and a touchdown pass. The bad was a fumble and interception. And the ugly was a pair of touchdown returns by the Cowboys off of both turnovers. 

Washington will certainly take a page out of Dallas' game plan, but Shanahan is already familiar with the rookie's inconsistency.

At the Senior Bowl, Foles outplayed every other quarterback on the South team with an 11-of-15 performance for 156 yards and touchdown. 

But according to Anthony Gamino of TusconCitizen.com, Foles got "lukewarm" reviews during the Senior Bowl practice week.

“For a big (243-pound) athlete, he doesn’t move his feet that well, said NFLDraftScout.com's Rob Rang, via Gamino's column. "[He] can be sluggish. In today’s NFL, they’re asking quarterbacks to move so much more. So that is definitely a concern.”

Gamino also quoted ESPN's Todd McShay and Mel Kiper, who questioned Foles' accuracy and his tendency to check down on pass plays. 

"Foles [was] a player to watch, said McShay, after the week's second practice. "But he failed to blow scouts and front-office types away."

Kiper was kinder, but also critical, in an interview he did with The Miami Herald.

“[Nick] has solid mechanics and throws on the move effectively," Kiper pointed out. "You can’t argue with the arm strength and size. He’s [just] not as accurate as you’d like.”  

So, there you have it. Draft gurus see a lot of intangibles in Foles, but he's a project that needs time and repetitions to sharpen his skills.

Eagles coach Andy Reid apparently agrees because he wasn't prepared to bench Vick prior to his concussion despite Philly's string of five consecutive losses.  

Nevertheless, the kid will be ready if he's called upon.

As the 88th overall pick in the third round of April's draft, Foles has nowhere near the talent or popularity of fellow rookie Robert Griffin III. But on Sunday, he may get the chance to hone his craft on Griffin's home turf. 

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