There has been no shortage of discussion this week about the hits Eagles quarterback Michael Vick has taken and his teammates' belief that more of them should have been penalized. Not surprisingly, the Giants have emphasized all week that Vick is a running back once he gets out of the pocket and, therefore, is subject to the kind of heavy hits any running back absorbs unless he goes into a feet-first slide, signaling his intent to go down.
Given the effectiveness of the Giants' pass rush, Vick could wind up running for his life plenty Sunday at New Meadowlands Stadium, but some of the men in blue believe Vick isn't looking to run as much as he has in the past. "He's actually looking to stay in the pocket more so now," Giants linebacker Michael Boley (pictured grasping at Vick) said. "He hasn't been the runner he was before. He hasn't run unless he's had to.
"I caught part of the game [Eagles v. Dallas] the other night, and he only had four carries late in the game, which is kind of rare. I think it's him trying to be more of a pocket passer. He's taken some hits, and that can take its toll. I'm guessing he didn't want to take too many more hits outside of that pocket."
Giants safety Deon Grant said Vick has become a more mature quarterback with experience and has shown far more patience in the pocket since joining the Eagles that he had as a younger player in Atlanta.
"With this offensive scheme they run, he doesn't have to sit back and pat the ball as much," Grant said of Vick. "They have routes designed for him to get rid of the ball fast. He doesn't have to scramble a lot trying to find someone to get the ball to because he's got plenty of weapons around him. He feels comfortable back there, and [coach Andy] Reid makes sure he puts that offensive line in the right position to protect Vick."
As for whether Vick would prefer to stay in the pocket rather than expose himself to contact as much as in the past, Grant said only Vick can answer that question. But it's clear Vick's opponents respect his ability to withstand the punishment.
"Vick's got a big heart," Grant said. "He's a tough guy. I don't think he thinks about that. He stays in the pocket because he can. He's not getting hit while he's in the pocket. He has the protection to stay in the pocket."
It's the Giants' job to disrupt that comfort zone on Sunday.