More than ever, Vick prioritizing ball security
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Everywhere we went, Michael Vick carried a football around early in the week. To breakfast, to meetings, to lunch, to film study.
Didn’t fumble once.
“Just to get a feel for the pigskin,” he said. “Not to put too much emphasis on it but to continuously remind myself that I need to take care of the football.”
Their job was to knock the ball out.
“They tried every time,” Vick said. “The stakes got pretty high, and I had to put it down.”
Vick has fumbled more than anybody in the NFL since he became the Eagles’ full-time starting quarterback in 2010, but he’s never taken such an extreme measure before.
Then again, the problem hasn’t been this bad before.
“Everyone thought it was funny, but I didn’t,” Vick said. “That’s how much I care about this team, and that’s how much I care about our success and winning on Sundays. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that I take care of my responsibilities.”
Vick has fumbled eight times in five games, losing five of them. Nobody else in the NFL has fumbled more than five times (Matt Cassel, Robert Griffin, Cam Newton), and Vick is on pace to break the NFL single-season fumble record of 23, shared by Kerry Collins and Daunte Culpepper.
His fumble at the 1-yard line in Pittsburgh likely cost the Eagles a win.
“I don’t think it’ll be a concern once the game starts,” he said. “The thing you don’t want to do is to go out and worry about things that can happen.
“You want to go out there and make it happen -- just being in the moment and taking care of the football and doing the right things for my team is what’s important. That’s what I’m going to try and do.”
Vick said the key for him is finding the right balance between being aggressive and doing all the things that make him such a dangerous player and also not taking undue risks.
“It’s kind of hard, but at the same time, you want to play naturally and let everything flow,” he said.
“I always talk about being in the moment and being able to do the right things when you’re out there playing. It’s very important. You have to stay conscious and keep it in the back of your mind as far as what you have to do when you’re holding the football.
“I do it in the passing game because I can see downfield, so I’ve been able to take care of that, but sometimes running with the football you have guys coming from everywhere. We get paid to protect the football.”
Vick said he’s made ball security more of a priority this week than ever. Although his 84 fumbles since he entered the NFL in 2001 are third-most during that span (behind Culpepper’s 90 and Kurt Warner’s 89), his fumbling has never reached crisis level like this.
With two lost fumbles against Arizona and two more in Pittsburgh, this is the first time since 2004 he’s lost four fumbles in a three-game span.
“I’ve taken tips from some of the running backs who carry the football,” he said. “I love football so much, and with all the football I’ve watched -- this entire week I’ve watched guys carry the football -- and everybody has it high and tight. Even quarterbacks that I’ve watched.
“It’s something that I definitely need to do. There’s a comfort level that I’ve been able to develop when holding the football.”
The Eagles, 3-2, face the 1-3 Lions at 1 p.m. Sunday. No question that whenever Vick has the ball in his hands, just about everybody in the Linc will be holding their breath.
Will he hang on? Or will he fumble again.
“I went back and looked at all of the film with the turnovers that I had and what I could have been able to do to correct it, and they are ... things to do to prevent it,” he said. “They are all things that could be corrected and it’s all self-inflicted. I just have to trust in what we’re doing.”E-mail Reuben Frank at email@example.com