Though Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick is unlikely to play against the Panthers Monday night due to the lingering effects of a concussion, the Panthers are preparing to face Vick or rookie Nick Foles.
Vick suffered a concussion Nov. 11 against Dallas and has not returned to practice. He watched practice from the sideline this week, Coach Andy Reid said, the first time Vick has done that since his injury.
The likelihood is Foles will play but the Panthers are working to be ready for both, which means preparing for different styles. Also, Vick is left-handed and Foles is right-handed.
“That’s the hard part,” head coach Ron Rivera said. “They seem to run the same combinations of routes, so that much doesn’t matter. What does matter is one is left-handed and the other is right-handed, so which way do they bootleg and roll?
“They bootleg to our right with him, they roll to our left with him, they dash this way. That’s the hardest thing we have to figure out.”
Carolina defensive ends Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson have 15.5 sacks between them, tied for the most among defensive ends in the league. With Foles more of a classic pocket passer and Vick blessed with dynamic running ability, their styles are different.
“A quarterback’s a quarterback,” Hardy said. “Mike Vick might run into me. Foles ain’t going nowhere. I think I’m faster than Vick either way. So I’m good.
“You saw me at gunner, dude. I got juice. Either way, I think Vick will run into some sacks and Foles will sit back there and take it. They’re both quarterbacks.”
Johnson said the Panthers plan to be aggressive either way.
“They’re two different quarterbacks. Vick’s a more mobile quarterback. He can take off anytime he wants to. Foles isn’t as mobile as Vick. But he makes good decisions,” Johnson said.
“We’re just going to try to prepare for both of them. If Vick’s playing, we’re going to try to contain him. And if Foles is playing, we’re going to try to make him make bad decisions. But we’re going to try to get after both of them, it doesn’t matter which one’s back there.”
HOLIDAY PLANS: The Panthers adjusted their practice schedule Thursday because of the Thanksgiving holiday and because they play on Monday night rather than Sunday.
They worked out for less than two hours Thursday morning before Rivera gave everyone the afternoon and evening off. Rivera liked what the Panthers accomplished Thursday morning, praising his team for its focus.
“We got a little jump on third down and blitz period so that was really a neat deal. The guys did a nice job,” Rivera said.
“I told them we were going to cut the reps and cut the meeting time to get you guys in and out and be very efficient. The funny thing is they did more than they realized.”
INJURY UPDATE: Special teams player Colin Jones was cleared to return to practice after passing all the tests in the concussion protocol.
Several veterans – offensive tackle Jordan Gross, linebacker Thomas Davis and defensive linemen Dwan Edwards and Ron Edwards – were given the practice off. Receiver Steve Smith (finger), center Geoff Hangartner (knee), defensive end Antwan Applewhite (hamstring) and linebacker Jordan Senn (ankle) were held out of practice. Rivera said Applewhite is the only player whose availability he is concerned about for Monday night.