Ken Sugiura of the AJC wrote:Flowery Branch --- The official word out of the Falcons complex Wednesday was that it is possible quarterback Michael Vick will play against New Orleans on Sunday.
But team actions speak louder than words.
Vick, who injured his left (throwing) shoulder Saturday in a victory over Carolina, did not practice Wednesday and is not expected to practice today. Rookie backup Matt Schaub practiced with the first-team offense Wednesday and is expected to do so again today.
All told, it appears highly unlikely that Vick will play in a game that, in terms of the playoffs, is meaningless. The Falcons have clinched the NFC South title and are locked into the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs and a first-round bye.
"I told [Schaub] just to be himself," wide receiver Peerless Price said. "He knows he can play. He's been running this offense for a while. He can do it."
Vick called the pain in his injured shoulder very similar to what he felt two years ago, when he sat out the Falcons' fifth game of the season with a similar injury.
"I'm still taking the same type of precautions and getting treatment and just trying to make sure that if things do turn around, I'll be ready," Vick said.
"We'd like to get [Vick] out there throwing some on Friday and then we'll see where he is," coach Jim Mora said.
Should Vick miss his first start of the season, the Falcons will get an extensive look at Schaub, drafted in the third round from Virginia.
After leading the NFL in passing yards in four exhibition games, Schaub has played only 20 snaps this season, all but one of them in mop-up duty. Sunday would be his first career start.
His main duty thus far has been running the offensive scout team in practice. He has impressed offensive coordinator Greg Knapp with his mental acuity and grasp of the offense, a variation of which Schaub played in for two seasons at Virginia.
Schaub: "Right now, my job is to be ready at any time if the coaches ask me to play and Mike's not able to go."
On the practice field and in meetings, Knapp often quizzes Schaub, Vick and veteran backup Ty Detmer on game plan details --- the formation a play is to be run out of, the development of a play, cues to look for prior to the snap, etc.
"He's been very sharp with it," Knapp said. "He comes prepared. We have oral exams the night before games, and he's always got the right answers."
His command hasn't escaped opponents' notice.
"I think he runs the offense extremely well," Saints coach Jim Haslett said. "I don't know him personally, but he just looks on film like he has a great feel for the game."
Haslett added that before the draft his team rated Schaub higher than some players who were selected in the first round.
Price said that Schaub's practice session Wednesday "went great. . . . Accurate, sitting in there [in the pocket], making throws downfield, putting the ball in spots."
It was the most extensive work Schaub has had with the starting lineup since the preseason, when he won over the team with his performance and confidence. Schaub completed 62.8 percent of his passes, six for touchdowns. Teammates note that Schaub, 23, is unusually poised and mature for a rookie.
"When he has his first baby, he'll be like, 'Oh, that's cool,' " receiver Jimmy Farris said.
Schaub would face a Saints team desperate to stay in the playoff hunt. No one seems overly concerned.
"He's just handling it like he handles everything," said Farris, "which is positive, upbeat and just to look at it for what it is."
I really want to see what Schaub can do and I also believe its a good thing that the Falcons are resting Vick for the playoffs. Sure, he's questionable, but if not for the fact that our destiny is already resolved (#2 seed), Vick would play this week. If we were fighting for a Wild Card spot or the #2 seed, Vick would play.
Vick still may play, but I suspect he won't work for much more than a quarter.
I really want to see what Schaub can do. Although I don't think I will be able to watch this week's game.