Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick will take the field Sunday in the first regular season game against Cleveland donning improved, custom-fitted Kevlar body armor, the same material worn by military personnel in combat. The CEO of the company that makes the EXO Skeleton Vick will wear has reportedly guaranteed the Eagles’ number one weapon will emerge from his field battles unscathed.
That verbal warranty has everyone wondering: Can this fabric perform the job of Philadelphia’s 1500-pound offensive line?
Given the history of rib injuries Vick has sustained, including his most recent preseason contusion suffered in the Patriots game, the Eagles are taking extra measures to ensure a crack in the offensive wall doesn’t result in cracked ribs. So Vick will command the team wrapped in a layer of synthetic fiber material behind an offensive line working to keep the mobile quarterback from testing the warranty on his football flak jacket.
With Jason Peters, arguably one of the best NFL linemen, missing in action on the Eagles offense for the season with a twice-injured Achilles’ tendon, the returning players have a substantial gap to fill. Four of the five linemen — interior guards Evan Mathis and Danny Watkins, right tackle Todd Herremans and center Jason Kelce — return as a starting unit with experience in getting the job done. During training camp drills and preseason play, previous back-up King Dunlap won the starting left tackle position, a place he must continue to prove he belongs.
As students under the tutelage of offensive line coach Howard Mudd, the band of five needs to use its formidable size and strength to set up effective blocks and screens, all with top agility and speed, no small task but a necessary one to complete if Vick is to remain healthy and capable of launching those victorious plays.
Vick’s carved, superhero-styled padding may protect his ribs and core in a vital way, but teammates and fans alike hope the armor testing ends in the laboratory. The five massive players who stand as a united shield between Vick and opponents intend to keep him from field-testing the goods.