PHILADELPHIA (CBSNewYork/AP) — Michael Vick is coming back to Philadelphia wearing a different shade of green and a new uniform number.
The four-time Pro Bowl quarterback is expected to start for the New York Jets (2-1) against the Eagles (1-2) in Thursday night’s preseason finale. He probably won’t see much action before giving way to Matt Simms. Jets starter Geno Smith and most of the No. 1s for both teams aren’t playing.
Vick resurrected his career in Philadelphia after missing two seasons because of his imprisonment on dogfighting charges. He began his five-year stint with the Eagles as a third-string quarterback behind Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb in 2009 and finished as the backup to Nick Foles.
In between, Vick had the best all-around season of his career in 2010 when he was The Associated Press Comeback Player of the Year, the NFC Pro Bowl starter and led the Eagles to an NFC East title.
“I had a great run there with a lot of great memories and accomplished some things that can never be taken away from me,” Vick said. “I’m ecstatic about that, thankful and very grateful.”
Vick should receive a loud ovation from Eagles fans. Though he arrived to protests and boos, he quickly won over the city with excellent performances on the field and model behavior off it. Vick was active in the community and was a team leader, mentoring young players and serving as a liaison to the coaching staff.
“The chemistry that I had with the organization was uncanny,” he said. “The relationships that I developed with the people in the front office were awesome. All my teammates, I had a great deal of appreciation for and I think I could say that’s vice versa. We had a great time. We won a lot of games. We lost some games. Through all the good and the bad, we always stayed tight and I think that’s what was most important.”
Vick battled injuries in Philadelphia and eventually lost his starting job last year to Foles, who had one of the best statistical seasons of any quarterback in league history. When he left for New York, owner Jeffrey Lurie issued a statement praising him for his time in Philadelphia. It’s not often an owner says anything when a free agent backup leaves town. But Vick was no ordinary player.
Vick’s appearance will be the highlight of a game that will feature mostly third-string players, guys fighting for roster spots and some hoping to save their NFL careers.
Matt Barkley will start at quarterback for the Eagles while Foles and backup Mark Sanchez watch safely from the sideline. Sanchez, who led the Jets to AFC titles games his first two seasons in the league, had an outstanding preseason after trading places with Vick.
“We need to see Matt play a lot,” Eagles coach Chip Kelly said. “I think we feel comfortable in what Mark Sanchez has done in the first three games. We want to see Matt play for an extended period of time.”
Both coaching staffs face tough decisions before Saturday’s roster deadline. The Eagles have strong competition at running back, wide receiver and linebacker. They’re also unsettled at kicker. Incumbent Alex Henery is battling new acquisition Cody Parkey for that job.
The Jets will be looking carefully at their cornerbacks following Dimitri Patterson’s suspension. Patterson is expected to return Monday, but Dee Milliner is still recovering from a high ankle sprain.
It could be a last chance for wide receiver Stephen Hill to stick with the Jets. Injuries and inconsistency have made him a second-round disappointment.
“A lot of jobs still up and opportunities for guys to show what they got one last time,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said.
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