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Opportunity knocks: ‘Comfortable’ Foles vying for No. 2 job with the Eagles

Nick Foles

Nick Foles will play in his second preseason game Monday night at New England. Photo by Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

Soon after his debut with the Philadelphia Eagles in last week’s preseason opener, former Arizona Wildcats quarterback Nick Foles got on the phone to talk to his old position coach.

Frank Scelfo, who was UA’s quarterback coach for the past two seasons, had been watching Foles on TV with his coach’s eye.

“We went over this throws and his reads,” Scelfo said in a phone interview Friday afternoon. “He felt comfortable in the pocket. It looked like he belonged.”

There has been growing buzz in Philadelphia about Foles.

The third-round pick completed 6 of 10 passes for 144 yards, with touchdown throws of 70 and 44 yards, as the Eagles rallied late to beat Pittsburgh 24-23. In that game, backup quarterback Mike Kafka suffered broke a bone in his non-throwing hand, which will force him to miss at least the next two preseason games.

That means Foles will be getting an extended chance to work with the second-team offense, playing behind starter Michael Vick. Trent Edwards is the Eagles’ other quarterback.

Foles’ next opportunity to make a depth chart statement comes in a Monday night game on ESPN at the New England Patriots.

“His poise has really impressed me,” Vick said in a story on the Eagles’ official website, “his decision making obviously, and he has a big time arm. I think Nick has all the ingredients to be a great quarterback in this league. It may take some time, it may not. He has all the intangibles of what it takes.”

With the help of Scelfo’s tutelage, Foles rewrote most of the passing records at Arizona. Scelfo, who is sitting out this season from coaching — “redshirting” as he put it with a laugh — spent a few days with Foles in training camp earlier this summer.

“To me,” Scelfo said, “the big thing in the preseason I wanted to see is if he felt comfortable on the field. It was just a preseason game, but he knew what he was doing and what others were doing, and it looked like he had control of the offense.

“He feels very confident. The biggest thing they are working with him is the timing between him and his new receivers, and having the plays come to him quickly. He had been in the same system (at Arizona) for three years and he could call the play before it was called.

“He’s going to have to get to that point again where he can do that without thinking.”

Foles, in a video interview posted on the Eagles’ site, pretty much agreed with that assessment of how he can improve.

“When the ball is snapped, I’m just trying to play as fast as I can and try to let natural habits take control instead of thinking too much,” Foles said. “Because if you’re thinking too much, you can’t play fast.”

Additional reading: Backup quarterback Nick Foles looks like a natural (Philly.com)

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