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Michael Vick can use Sunday's start as a proving ground

Michael Vick of the Jets throws a pass

Michael Vick of the Jets throws a pass in the second half against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Twice this season, Michael Vick has been called upon to clean up damage done, in large part, by Geno Smith. It came as no surprise that Rex Ryan would name Vick to start this weekend in Kansas City.

But Vick's first start of 2014 will be about more than just helping the Jets (1-7) end a seven-game losing streak.

Sunday will be an audition for the 34-year-old, who hasn't started a regular-season game in more than a year. Not only will he have the chance to prove he should remain the starter for the rest of the season, but his performance also could go a long way toward securing a job somewhere else next year.

"It is very important," Vick said Monday. His last start was Oct. 27, 2013, when a hamstring injury forced him to leave during the second quarter of the Eagles' 15-7 loss to the Giants.

"I think any time you step on the field in professional sports, you are always auditioning, whether it is for the next week or the next season. You have to take it all seriously."

Vick may not be the long-term answer for the Jets. Nor is the 12-year veteran a guaranteed fix for their wayward season. But he's fast, he can sling it and teammates believe he gives their offense a spark.

So does Rex Ryan.

"I felt the energy on the sideline," Ryan said Monday, referring to his decision to insert Vick against the Bills after Smith threw three interceptions in a six-snap span. "And I think given an opportunity that he really hasn't been given, which is really run with the first team all week. We will see how it plays out."

Barring injury -- or a meltdown -- Vick will have four quarters against the Chiefs to prove he's still got it. But he cautioned against putting too much emphasis on this one outing.

"I can't approach the game saying, 'OK . . . I am approaching it to show other teams that I can still play at a high level,' because you get mind-boggled. You get caught up in trying to do too much," said the four-time Pro Bowl selection, who has completed 26 of 56 passes for 200 yards and an interception.

"I think what I need to do is just play sound football, understand my position. I don't have to go out there and do everything. And just pray that I play well. I am preparing myself so I can give myself the best opportunity to play well and see what comes out of it."

Until now, he had taken only scout-team reps in practice. But starting Wednesday, Vick will work only with the starters. He hopes to play better than he did in his two relief appearances.

"That's the plan," he said. "Take practice seriously, work on some things that I know I need to work on, especially with my ballhandling and movement within the pocket. Things that I haven't been doing over the last year against a starting football team.

"I did it in preseason a little bit, but it was short-lived. Now, just having a chance to work into some playing time, and playing last week, has given me an opportunity to get a feel for the game again, and hopefully I will continue to keep getting better. I do expect a lot out of myself and I expect to play well."

New York Sports