GREENVILLE, S.C. — The Atlanta Falcons are pushing Michael Vick up the depth chart.
The No. 1 pick in the NFL draft began his first training camp Thursday with the surprising news that he's already listed as the Falcons' backup quarterback.
Chris Chandler remains the starter, but Vick worked with the second team ahead of Eric Zeier and Doug Johnson.
"We've got to get Michael ready as quick as we can," coach Dan Reeves said. "The only way we're going to get him ready is to get him involved."
Zeier, the former Georgia quarterback who has started 12 games in a six-year career, was expected to come in as the backup to Chandler. Even Vick didn't realize that he's listed as No. 2. "No, we haven't talked about it," he said. "As far as I know, things are still the same."
Vick did get a taste of being an NFL rookie. He had to carry a teammate's pads besides his own after practice. He knows he'll be called on to belt out a tune at one of the team dinners. "I know a few songs," he said. "Maybe I'll try 'We Are The World."'
Several hundred people showed up on a cloudy day at Furman University to watch his Falcons debut. In a testament to his popularity, the only jersey on sale at a concession stand above the practice field was No. 7 — Vick's number.
"I'm trying to keep myself humble," he said after the two-hour workout. "It's very important that I show people I'm no different than anyone else."
Of course, he is different. Reeves already is looking into the possibility of keeping three quarterbacks active for regular-season games, rather than designating a third QB just for emergency purposes.
That way, Vick would be available for spot duty and the Falcons also would have a more experienced player such as Zeier available. Such a move would cost the Falcons use of a potentially valuable special teams player on an already tight 45-man roster.
Vick looked a little shaky in his first practice, understandable for a 21-year-old quarterback who played only 22 games at Virginia Tech before entering the NFL draft. He overthrew passes, double-pumped while trying to pick up open receivers and let the play clock run out a couple of times before getting off the snap.
The 35-year-old Chandler, who guided Atlanta to the Super Bowl just three years ago, is clearly the No. 1 quarterback despite coming off a subpar season. Playing behind a dismal offensive line, he was briefly demoted to the third team as the Falcons struggled to 4-12, last in the NFC West.