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Vick all but concedes that Smith is Jets' starting QB

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The Canadian Press
5/22/2014 2:48:00 PM
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets' open quarterback competition might already be case closed.

At least, that's what Michael Vick thinks. As far as he's concerned, it's very clearly Geno Smith's job to lose.

"I'm wishing the best for Geno," Vick said Thursday during the team's first open media session this off-season. "I'm going to help him each and every day. I'm going to help him get better. My thing is, when it's my time to go out there and play, I've got to be ready when my number's called. And nothing can come in between that."

Vick, who signed with New York in March, acknowledged this situation is different from last off-season with Philadelphia when he headed into workouts competing with Nick Foles for the starting job.

"We knew, both of us coming in, that it was open competition, and the best guy was going to win the job," he said. "Whoever performed well throughout OTAs and preseason, that's just what it was. It was pretty much cut and dried. This situation ... it's kind of unique.

"But even though it's not an open competition, we're both competing every day and we both have to perform well each and every day."

Coach Rex Ryan and general manager John Idzik have said that Vick's presence is expected to help Smith with his development from his shaky rookie season. Idzik preaches competition at every position, although Ryan has said Smith will be tough to beat out.

"It's not been made public that it's an open competition," Vick said. "Chip Kelly made it known that it was an open competition (in Philadelphia). But we're still not going to change our approach. This is the NFL. You've got to perform. You've got to be at your best each and every day."

Vick still believes he can be a starter in the NFL, and was playing well in Kelly's up-tempo offence before a hamstring injury sidelined him. Foles took over and started the rest of the season.

Vick was forced into a mentor's role, and he drew praise from Kelly and the Eagles for how he handled the situation. He could find himself in the same situation this season.

"It's still tough right now, I'll admit," Vick said. "I won't lie. Because deep down, you always want to be a starter. You always feel like you're starting. That's just the competitive nature in me. And hopefully, that opportunity will come again one day and I've just got to keep working for it."

Despite all that, both Vick and Smith will be closely watched from now through training camp. If the two perform at about the same level, Vick is fairly certain of the outcome.

"Yeah, I would assume Geno would be the starter," he said. "Geno's making great strides."

Smith isn't taking anything for granted, even if Vick already sees him as No. 1. The second-year quarterback knows he's got a long way to go after a season in which he threw 12 touchdown passes and was intercepted 21 times.

He finished with a flourish, though, helping the Jets win three of their last four games and going without a turnover in the final two.

"Mentally, I won't change," Smith said. "I'll compete as if I'm the last guy on the depth chart trying to make this team. I think that's what makes me better and that's the way I work, and I've always done that. The biggest difference is my familiarity with the offence, knowing my protections, not trying to come in and learn everything on the go.

"Having 16 games under my belt is really going to pay off for me."

Smith entered last spring in a competition with Mark Sanchez, but was thrust into the starting job when Sanchez was lost to a season-ending shoulder injury in the preseason. It was on-the-job training for Smith, who flashed at times but often looked very much like an inexperienced rookie.

He enters this year's competition as the incumbent, which often means that player starts with the lead -- something Smith refuses to consider.

"I don't put my mind in that position," he said. "I try to work as if I'm the underdog. Whether I'm named the starter or not, that's the way that I work. Like I said, that's something that helps me, having that constant edge, having that chip on my shoulder, just working extremely hard every single day to get better."

Michael Vick (Photo: Jemal Countess/Getty Images )

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(Photo: Jemal Countess/Getty Images )
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