- The Washington Times - Monday, August 17, 2009

From combined dispatches

Donovan McNabb took a knee on the grass and was joined to his right by Michael Vick.

Vick removed his helmet on a humid Sunday afternoon, smiling and laughing as Mc Nabb cracked jokes to the delight of his Philadelphia Eagles teammates. At one point, Mc Nabb threw himself on the ground in what was likely part of the punch line to a story that had Vick - somber and contrite two days earlier - grinning in the sun.

If animal activists want Vick treated as a social pariah, they won’t get any assistance inside the Eagles’ locker room. Vick is simply one of the boys with the Eagles - practicing plays, sprinting in the heat and absorbing the hits of some good-natured ribbing.

After completing some short passes, cornerback Asante Samuel yelled out, “That’s not the same quarterback from the commercial!” Vick’s time as a former pitchman for a sports drink included a commercial where he tossed footballs from the field over the stadium. He attempted no passes that deep - or had the help of digital wizardry - in his second practice since signing Thursday for $1.6 million with a team option for a second year at $5.2 million.

Vick earned some admirers when he connected with wide receiver Brandon Gibson for 25 yards on a tough sideline route.

Vick went 1-for-2 on a goal-line drill as practice closed. One pass into the corner was broken up by cornerback Dimitri Patterson. Vick’s next pass attempt was tipped by Patterson before it was caught for a touchdown.

“He flicks the ball a little like a big kid playing amongst little kids,” wide receiver Jason Avant said.

Vick, who did not speak to reporters, did have some extra work. Wearing a white long-sleeve shirt under his red No. 7 jersey, Vick spent 20 more minutes on the field after the 110-minute practice ended, throwing passes to Eagles offensive quality coach Doug Pederson.

McNabb again threw his support behind Vick on his blog Sunday night. McNabb said he explained his position to Reid in mid-July why Vick and the Eagles would be a strong match. They discussed Vick again one more time in training camp.

“I know what Michael was accused and convicted of, and I don’t like it at all,” McNabb wrote. “I have had dogs all my life and consider myself a dog-lover. I am in no way excusing Michael for what happened, but he was punished for his crime. He served his time and, at least I believe, has learned from it. I believe Michael is a changed person and that he deserves a chance at putting his life back together.”

In an interview with “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday night, Vick said he cried in prison because of the guilt he felt about being involved in dogfighting and that he was disgusted with himself for allowing it to happen.

The day he walked into prison he said he realized “the magnitude of the decisions that I made.”

“And, you know, it’s no way of, you know, explaining, you know, the hurt and the guilt that I felt,” he said. “And that was the reason I cried so many nights. And that put it all into perspective.”

JETS: Rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez, coming off an impressive NFL debut, will start New York’s preseason game at Baltimore next week.

TEXANS: Rex Grossman is expected to miss about a month with a hamstring injury, and Houston is looking to sign another quarterback to fill in until he’s healthy.

Grossman, the Texans’ third quarterback and the former Bears starter, was injured in Saturday’s win over the Chiefs, and coach Gary Kubiak said he doesn’t feel comfortable finishing the preseason with only Matt Schaub and backup Dan Orlovsky.

SAINTS: Kicker Garrett Hartley said he expects to serve a four-game suspension when the regular season begins because he tested positive for a stimulant.

Hartley said he obtained the Adderall prescription pills from a former college friend and used it to help him stay awake while driving from Dallas to New Orleans for an offseason workout.

In other Saints news, quarterback Drew Brees left training camp to attend his mother’s funeral. Saints head coach Sean Payton said Brees is expected to rejoin the team Wednesday in Houston, where joint practices are scheduled with the Texans later this week.

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