By Don Banks
August 14, 2009

Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we digest the newsiest Thursday night of NFL preseason football in memory....

• In terms of his desire to join a stable and well-structured organization from which to re-launch his NFL career, Michael Vick couldn't have chosen much better than casting his lot with the Andy Reid-led Eagles. That part of it I get, and it makes all the sense in the world for him to see the league's second-most tenured head coach as a safe and secure bet.

But at some point, once we're past all the theory behind the move, it's going to come down to the reality that Vick wants to eventually re-launch his starting quarterback career, and that's where things are likely to get messy in Philadelphia.

Listening to Reid's post-game news conference last night, he understandably didn't care to -- or wasn't prepared to -- go into the specifics of how Vick will fit into the offensive picture in Philly. "We'll figure out some way to use him'' was the gist of what Reid said, and what quarterback Donovan McNabb later echoed.

Okay, there's time enough for that, and Reid really doesn't know what he has in Vick just yet. But if Vick is now an option at quarterback in Philadelphia -- as opposed to say just an option (or running) quarterback -- then he's going to be a tempting option each and every time McNabb struggles. Maybe that's exactly the point for Reid, but I promise you it won't be all hiccups and giggles in Philly the first time McNabb sits due to ineffectiveness and Vick takes over the offense.

Is everyone forgetting the "end of an era'' headlines and hand-ringing that accompanied Reid yanking a struggling McNabb from that game in Baltimore last November? Having Vick, rather than the untested Kevin Kolb, as the Eagles' insurance policy at quarterback will inspire a constant state of speculation about McNabb's grasp of his starting job, and Vick's readiness to ascend the depth chart. Count on it.

Few NFL head coaches are better equipped temperamentally to plow through distractions and screen out the non-stop chatter of fans and the media than the stoic Reid. He has proven that he'll do what he thinks is best for his football team, when he believes it's time to do it. But McNabb is somewhat of a different story. He can get sensitive at times, and let things get to him when he feels slighted or disrespected.

As much as I'm willing to admit he might prove us wrong, and enjoy doing it, I'm having a hard time seeing how McNabb will be better off for having Vick on the Eagles. And by extension, will the Eagles necessarily be better off if McNabb isn't in his happy place as the face of the franchise? There's at least some potential for the kind of trouble that inspired the belief that when a team says it has two good quarterback options, sometimes it winds up not having one. As we all know, a lack of definition at the game's most crucial position can at times be fatal to a team's chances.

For now, how things work out in the end game is an unknowable in Philadelphia. In the short term, Vick and the Eagles deserve a honeymoon period, and it has already begun. But the prospects of a long-term marriage that has both McNabb and Vick successfully co-existing with the Eagles seems overly optimistic. At quarterback in the NFL, there can only be one No. 1.

• It's never too early to push the panic button in Washington, and I promise you somebody's mashing it as we speak in light of that debacle of a Redskins preseason opening 23-0 loss at Baltimore Thursday night. Not only did Washington's defense give up 500 yards of offense to the Ravens, with 399 of them coming in the passing game, the Redskins offense was just as ineffective.

Washington failed to reach the 50 on nine of its 12 possessions, and went 1 of 11 on third downs, with just 196 yards of total offense. That showing is going to do nothing to relieve the pressure on Redskins starting quarterback Jason Campbell, whose two drives produced only punts. If the Eagles hadn't beaten them to the punch, Dan Snyder and Vinny Cerrato might have been speed-dialing Vick's agent today after watching that stinker.

Not that Joel Segal would have taken the call. He also represents Campbell, so for him, having Vick in Washington would have been like robbing Peter to pay Paul.

• I'd say new Ravens defensive coordinator Greg Mattison might just be up to the task of replacing the departed Rex Ryan. A shutout in his first game as an NFL coordinator is setting the bar pretty high, but I have a feeling it won't be Baltimore's last defensive highlight of the season. The Ravens look loaded.

• You don't want to assign too much meaning to Oakland's 31-10 thrashing of the visiting Cowboys, but it held more significance for the downtrodden Raiders than it did Dallas. Oakland got a brief but solid performance out of starting quarterback JaMarcus Russell, and he remains the key to the Raiders reaching respectability this season. Russell, playing two series, looked smooth in completing six of nine passes for 50 yards, with an 18-yard scramble added in. He didn't face the Cowboys' top cornerbacks, but any kind of success is valuable for Russell's confidence level at this point.

Another highlight for Oakland was the 45-yard run ripped off by second-year running back Darren McFadden in the first quarter. The Raiders first-round pick in 2008 looked completely over his rookie season health issues, and gained 63 yards on four carries, with a nine-yard reception as well.

• Watching the Patriots-Eagles highlights roll in last night, I couldn't quite place where I had heard about New England rookie Julian Edelman, who returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown and led the Pats with five catches for 37 yards. Then it hit me. The former Kent State quarterback turned NFL receiver/return man was one of the sleepers I profiled in a pre-draft feature that I called my "Wes Welker Watch List,'' in honor of the undrafted Patriots receiving star.

As it turns out, Edelman didn't go undrafted. The Patriots themselves picked him in the seventh round, and now he's playing alongside Welker. And from the looks of it against the Eagles, the rookie's even doing a pretty fair imitation of his more accomplished teammate. He has Welker-like 4.46 speed, and that same great short-burst quickness.

• Between Tyler Palko throwing for Arizona's only touchdown in a 20-10 Cardinals loss at Pittsburgh, and Baltimore's Joe Flacco helping the Ravens dismantle the Redskins defense, all in all it was a pretty good night for onetime University of Pittsburgh quarterbacks in the NFL.

If you've forgotten, Palko, who is now Arizona's fourth-string quarterback, is the guy who beat out Flacco for the starting job at Pitt, prompting Flacco to transfer to Delaware.

• Though it was big news earlier in the day, by the time Thursday night was done, I kept thinking that Donte' Stallworth picked the right day to get suspended for the year by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. After the Vick signing and Tom Brady's return, the Stallworth headline was a mere blip on the radar screen.

• The day before I visited Titans camp this week, Tennessee had quarterback Vince Young run eight plays from the option in practice. Titans head coach Jeff Fisher told me that wasn't the first time they've tried that with Young, and that it's a legitimate part of Young's game.

"We've done it before with him, and it's part of our package,'' Fisher. "He's good at it. He's got a good feel for it, a good sense for it. Especially when he's riding LenDale (White), with C.J. (Chris Johnson) out wide.''

Is Young in the option this year's version of the Wildcat formation novelty offense? Wouldn't that be fun?

• Speaking of White, who looks so much better now that he has shed 30 pounds in Tennessee and is capable of making a corner again, somebody made an excellent point to me this week: What if White winds up having the better NFL career than his ex-USC backfield mate, Reggie Bush? Can anyone say definitively at this point that we're not headed there?

• For what it's worth, of the training camps I visited that have ongoing quarterback competitions, here are my early reads on who will open the season at starter: Minnesota, Sage Rosenfels; Detroit, Daunte Culpepper; and Cleveland, Brady Quinn. Of those, going with Quinn over Derek Anderson strike me as the closest call, and perhaps not the right call.

• How bad were the Redskins Thursday night? They couldn't even get the name of one of their own players right. If you saw the highlights, you know what I mean. Ladell Betts, who has been in Washington since 2002, played in a jersey with "Bettis'' stitched across his name plate. At least, Betts and the NFL's most well-known Bettis, Jerome, aka "The Bus,'' both played running back.

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