PHILADELPHIA -- The latest wrinkle in the Michael Vick experiment eliminated the gimmicks. Vick was back under center and yelling the signals like any other quarterback.
Vick took a few snaps Sunday and even showed a flash of his old dazzling style. He put the finishing touches on the Philadelphia Eagles' 33-14 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, playing the final two series and shaking off a hard hit to his ribs.
"I'm just ready whenever my number gets called," Vick said.
He heard it called late in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles had used Vick in variations of the Wildcat offense after he was reinstated by the NFL. But Sunday, he had his chance to show what he has learned in a normal offense after replacing starting quarterback Donovan McNabb with the Eagles ahead 31-14 late in the fourth quarter.
Out of the shotgun formation, Vick completed a 1-yard pass to DeSean Jackson on his first play. After an incomplete pass, the next play broke down. When Vick failed to find any open receivers, he took off like he did when he was a Pro Bowl quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons from 2001 to 2006 and scrambled 11 yards for a first down.
Vick took a shot in the ribs on that play, sat out the next one and returned for a handoff on second down. After the game, Vick said he felt fine and that X-rays were negative.
The dash and the hit made Vick feel like one of the rest of the guys for the first time since his comeback.
"It was just play ball, be natural with it," Vick said. "I let my instincts take over. It was good for me. Being under center is more natural. That's what I like to do, that's what I enjoy. In due time, I'll get my opportunities."
Vick likely won't have many more shots at running the offense in Philadelphia, except for in blowouts. McNabb isn't going anywhere unless he's hurt, and No. 2 quarterback Kevin Kolb stepped in the last two games and threw for over 300 yards in two consecutive starts.
So it will be direct snaps or lining up at wide receiver or decoy plays for Vick the rest of the season. Vick, who served 18 months in federal prison for running a dogfighting ring, was on the field at quarterback and wide receiver for six plays that totaled 7 yards before coming in at the end. He finished 1-of-3 passing for 1 yard and ran the ball twice before kneeling two times.
"It was fun to be out there playing with the first-string guys," Vick said. "You know those guys are going to do their job and they're well prepared. I was a bit more excited today than I was in the preseason. Not to say that playing with the threes wasn't ideal, it was just different."
McNabb's return meant the Eagles relied less on Wildcat formations. They had run 17 plays for 86 yards in the offense entering Sunday's game.
"We used it as much as we wanted to use it according to what they were doing (defensively) and what we felt we could get done," Eagles coach Andy Reid said.