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SAM FARMER'S WEEK 13 NFL STORY LINES

Michael Vick's return to Atlanta: Good news?

The former Falcons star, now the Eagles' backup quarterback, will play in Atlanta for the first time since serving 18 months in prison for his role in a dogfighting ring. He expects a positive recepti

December 02, 2009|By Sam Farmer | On The NFL
  • Eagles quarterback Michael Vick tries to avoid the tackle of Chicago's Alex Brown during the first quarter of Sunday's game.
Eagles quarterback Michael Vick tries to avoid the tackle of Chicago's… (David Maialetti / Philadelphia…)

It's billed as the city too busy to hate, so it will be interesting to see whether Atlanta has any love for former Falcons quarterback Michael Vick.

Once the city's biggest star, Vick spent 18 months behind bars for his role in a dogfighting ring, before being signed by the Eagles, who visit the Georgia Dome on Sunday.

"I'm sure there will be some emotions there," Eagles Coach Andy Reid said. "Some experiences that he goes back through and thinks about. I know he has a lot of close friends in Atlanta on the team and the front-office people and so on. . . . But he's worked through some emotional situations and done pretty good with them. I think he'll be fine as it goes on."

Vick is little more than a bit player with the Eagles. Although he has thrown for only six yards, he has rushed for 65 and nearly scored his first touchdown since 2006 on Sunday, running four yards to the Washington one.

It remains to be seen how the Eagles will use him against the Falcons, if at all. But Vick expects a welcome reception from his old fans.

"I'm going to get a great reaction from the crowd," he told reporters, smiling. "It's going to be a standing ovation. It's still my city."

Take 2

On Thursday, when the New York Jets play Buffalo in Toronto, quarterback Mark Sanchez will face the team that intercepted five of his passes in a Jets overtime loss last month. That was his worst game so far, and it prompted Coach Rex Ryan to consider benching him.

The rematch conditions aren't ideal for the former USC star, and not just because the Jets are playing on the road. Sanchez suffered a tweaked knee on Sunday against Carolina. He told reporters he feels fine, but his coach indicated it can't be entirely shrugged off.

"I know he's sore, so we'll see how it goes," Ryan said, according to the New York Daily News. "It's a short week . . . but he finished the game. I thought he was still moving around pretty good, so hopefully he'll be 100% when we play."

Quarterback option

Things were going much better for Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme lately, seeing as he had only one interception in the four games prior to Sunday's matchup with the Jets. But against New York, Delhomme was picked off four times, bringing his season interception total to 18.

Although the Panthers had steadfastly stuck by him, they now have another reason to send him to the sidelines: He suffered a finger injury and might not even be able to play. So chances are the job will go to backup Matt Moore for Sunday's game against Tampa Bay.

Who knows, maybe the Delhomme-to-Moore switch will do for the Panthers what the Kerry Collins-to-Vince Young swap did for Tennessee.

Giant challenge

The 6-5 New York Giants were consensus favorites to win the NFC East but now are two games behind Dallas (and one behind Philadelphia), and need to beat the visiting Cowboys on Sunday for any hope of salvaging their season.

After a 5-0 start, the Giants -- who have made the playoffs four consecutive years -- have lost five of six.

"This is pretty much their season," Cowboys cornerback Mike Jenkins told the Dallas Morning News. "If we beat them right now, we don't have to worry about them later."

Air raid

The Detroit Lions have the NFL's last-ranked pass defense, surrendering an average of 281.4 yards per game.

Cincinnati's Chad Ochocinco hopes to bump that average even higher. Apparently, the Bengals receiver was a tad miffed in the wake of Sunday's 16-7 victory over Cleveland, during which he caught only three passes for 38 yards.

The Bengals didn't throw much in the game -- Carson Palmer passed for only 110 yards, whereas the offense gained 210 on the ground -- and Ochocinco vows to rectify that against the Lions.

"Things are going to have to change," the outspoken receiver told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "The roles need to be reversed. I'm speaking on behalf of myself and the receiving corps. We would like to throw the ball 50 times. I just want to relay that message."

Message, well, received.

sam.farmer@latimes.com

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