CORTLAND, N.Y. - Michael Vick may not be a starter this season, but Jets fans could end up seeing the speedy quarterback on the field quite a bit.
Rex Ryan didn't rule out the possibility of using the veteran backup in Wildcat-type formations or zone-read packages if the incumbent Geno Smith retains his starting job.
The Jets, who set out to upgrade their offense this offseason, view Vick as a playmaker because of his rare combination of athleticism, elusiveness and passing ability. Even at 34, Vick is still dangerous, teammate Calvin Pace said.
Asked what he thinks about the team potentially using Vick as a change-of-pace quarterback, the outside linebacker smiled.
"It's good, it's Mike Vick," Pace said. "Anytime you see that name on the back of the jersey, as a defensive player you are aware of what he could do with his legs, also with his arm. It puts pressure on the defense.
"It's the same thing with guys like RGIII [Robert Griffin III], any of the mobile guys. Defensively, they scare us more than a guy who is going to sit back in the pocket, because you know where he is going to be. A guy who is running around, he puts a change of [pace] element in the game that you can't really prepare for.
"That's not the guy you can really defend, you can't put somebody on him one-on-one the whole game. He just adds the element to you that he can take a broken play and take it 80 [yards]."
After Thursday's 13-10 preseason win over the Colts, wide receiver David Nelson openly supported the idea of Vick having a specific set of designed plays per game.
But Vick's injury history may be cause for concern. He hasn't played a full season since 2006 when he was with the Falcons. Ryan acknowledged Vick could "be more vulnerable" to injury, but the coach also said playmakers can't be relegated to the sideline. "I recognize the guy's got special talent," Ryan said.
The Jets' odd obsession with Wildcat-like plays reached absurd heights following the signing of Tim Tebow in 2012. Despite Jets owner Woody Johnson proclaiming "you can never have too much Tebow," the Tebow experiment crashed and burned. The former Florida star threw just eight passes (six completions for 32 yards), rushed for 102 yards on 32 carries and scored no touchdowns.
But unlike with Tebow, no one is questioning whether Vick can be productive.
And while Ryan admitted he'll be more cautious with his quarterbacks given Mark Sanchez's season-ending shoulder injury during last year's preseason, the Jets coach is determined to get his best players on the field.Asked specifically about playing Vick during the regular season, Ryan said: "You're trying to win the game. And if you think that's the best thing for your team, then absolutely you'll consider it."
McDougle must shape up
Ryan has been "impressed" so far with Dexter McDougle, but the coach needs to see the third-rounder do one more thing: lose some weight. "I think he needs to get in NFL shape," Ryan said. "Once he does that, the kid will have a heck of a chance." The cornerback missed almost his entire senior season at Maryland because of a shoulder injury.
Nick Mangold was absent because of the birth of his daughter . . . Chris Ivory (ribs) was held out of practice, but Ryan said "he's going to be fine." Eric Decker (quad) also sat out, along with Dimitri Patterson (leg), Jeremy Reeves (unspecified injury), Shaq Evans (shoulder), Marcus Zusevics (knee), Brent Qvale (concussion) and Antwan Barnes (PUP).