Ryan tiptoes around the issue of using Vick in change-of-pace role

AP

After Thursday’s preseason opener, Jets quarterback Mike Vick let the cat out of the bag regarding the possibility of entering games as a change-of-pace option to starter Geno Smith.  On Saturday, coach Rex Ryan addressed the possibility of using Vick as a role player in games that count.

“I remember pulling off a guy and running direct snaps,” Ryan said regarding the possibility of a change-of-pace quarterback creating disruptions.  “I remember Cleveland had [Josh] Cribbs at one time.  It’s been done and teams have been successful doing it.  You look at Miami with Ronnie Brown. I think it’s who your personnel is.  Sometimes it doesn’t have to be a disruptive thing. It could be something that’s to your advantage.”

Ryan didn’t directly address whether Vick would be used as a change-of-pace option during games, based on the transcript circulated by the team.  The questions seemed to focus more on keep Vick healthy in the preseason, especially in light of Vick’s display of the mobility that has at times gotten him injured — and the Jets’ recent history of getting quarterbacks injured in the preseason.

“If you ever think a player is at risk, you don’t do it,” Ryan said.  “It’s as simple as that, you really don’t. . . .  But it’s a physical game and there’s only one way to get better and that’s [to] actually get out there and do things.  So it’s kind of a fine line with what you do.  [I] recognize the guy’s got special talent.  There’s no question about it.  But am I aware of, ‘Hey, could he be more vulnerable?’”

The balance seems to be keeping Vick healthy enough to play quarterback and ready enough to play quarterback, if needed.

“[W]hat’s the alternative?” Ryan said.  “You don’t get him any reps at all and now when you go in a game the guy’s not sharp.  That’s why we play these games.  These aren’t just meaningless games.  I think the preseason is to get you where you’re playing at [your] very best.  When you come out opening day, you want to be humming at your very best and the only way to do that is to play. . . .  You’ve got to play them. That’s the only way they’re going to get better.”

For Ryan, the issue takes on greater importance because the Jets lost former starter Mark Sanchez for the full season in 2013 due to a shoulder injury sustained in the preseason.

“I’m probably a little more aware of it than I was before,” Ryan said regarding the issue of injured quarterbacks.  “I just thought [if you’re a] backup, you practice with the backups the whole week and you’re going against backup players, it wasn’t like Michael Strahan was out there.  So I thought it’d be all right.  But it does make you think a little bit.  Obviously, you’re going to grow through your experiences.”

The Jets would love to experience the best of both of his quarterbacks in 2014, with Geno Smith developing as a starter and Vick complementing Smith’s skill and, in turn, complicating the preparations of the defenses they’ll face.