TAMPA — The Bucs defense is preparing for Michael Vick or Nick Foles starting at quarterback for the Eagles on Sunday. But on a personal level, a few players hope for a long-awaited chance to face Vick.
"I respect him to the utmost," LB Dekoda Watson said this week. "I'm not even going to be low-key. I'm just going to be honest. He's one of my favorite players in the league. It's kind of like a bittersweet-type thing. It's a business, so I'm going to go out and try to win regardless."
Vick left last week's win against the Giants with a hamstring injury, and Foles threw two touchdowns in relief. Thursday, Eagles coach Chip Kelly said he might wait until Sunday — as late as 12:59 — before deciding on a starter for the 1 p.m. game.
DT Gerald McCoy said he was excited about going up against Vick last season only to see him injured four weeks earlier. His replacement, Foles, threw for 381 yards and a touchdown as time expired to beat the Bucs 23-21.
"I hope Mike Vick hears this: He's done this to me the past two years," McCoy said Wednesday. "He gets hurt … before I finally get to play against a guy I've been wanting to play against since I was a kid.
"So, Vick, if you hear this, I don't like you. Not because I don't like you, but because you get hurt … before I finally get to play against you. You're a great competitor, and I would love to compete against you. But since you don't want to play, I'll talk about Nick Foles."
The perception is facing Foles means the Bucs won't have to worry about Vick's scrambling ability. But McCoy said Foles was a problem last season, rushing for 27 yards and a touchdown.
"He is an underrated passer, underrated athlete," McCoy said. "He beat us a lot last year with his legs; his scrambling ability. And I think people underestimate his athletic ability because he plays next to a Mike Vick. But that guy's good."
Watson said he has seen Vick make quick returns from injuries in the past, so he's not going to believe he's out until he sees it Sunday.
"I'm not going to put a thing past Vick. I'm not going to sit here and listen to any of that stuff people are saying as far as him getting hurt," he said. "Lord knows he could have a broken hand and come out there the next day ready to go."
THIS AND THAT: WR Mike Williams was again limited in practice Thursday with a hamstring injury. S Dashon Goldson was upgraded to "full participation" after being limited with a foot injury earlier in the week. … The Bucs released QB Josh Freeman a week ago but still haven't found a suitable replacement for the 53rd spot on their active roster. … TE Tom Crabtree continues to show he's in position to make his Bucs debut, practicing well after missing the first four games with a high ankle sprain.
Greg Auman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @gregauman.