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Michael Vick Debut Shows Promise On Short Turnaround

The Pittsburgh Steelers did not use this third week of the preseason as their regular season dress rehearsal, as is the norm around the league. That much is clear. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger played just two drives, one of which was a three-and-out, and his day was done less than five minutes into the game.

One would think that this meant that the Steelers wanted to get an extended look at their new backup quarterback, Michael Vick, who was signed just a few days ago as a result of the season-ending injury suffered by backup Bruce Gradkowski in the previous preseason game.

That, however, proved not to be the case either, as even he saw just two drives consisting of a total of 16 plays. He led one field goal drive, and would have led a second, had the Steelers had a kicker for that second opportunity, prior to his injury.

In all, one has to take comfort in his performance on the field, particularly with respect to the minimal prep time he has had between games. The Steelers did not even have a full week to teach him the system.

Given that he had only a few days’ worth of practice in him, Vick held a pretty satisfactory grip on the offense. Of course, it certainly didn’t hurt that he effortlessly launched a deep pass to Martavis Bryant for 63 yards on his first play into the game. That was certainly the Steelers’ highlight of the game as a team.

Vick also threw to Bryant a couple of plays later, which, though incomplete, drew a pass interference penalty worth 15 yards that placed the ball on the three-yard line. Though he was unable to convert on two passes from the one-yard line, both came under duress or with an arm in his throwing lane.

On Vick’s second drive in the game, he and Bryant connected again, this time on a 36-yard pass down to the 15-yard line. It was a play that he made with his ability to move outside of the pocket, finding the receiver in a position to gain a healthy number of yards after the catch.

At the end of that drive, Vick did end up taking a sack off the blind side after his running back failed to pick up the oncoming rusher. As the rare left-handed quarterback, it came from the right, and there was little that his mobility could do to avoid that.

Without a kicker, the Steelers chose to go for it on fourth and 17 rather than attempt a field goal with a punter, but the protection quickly broke down and Vick was forced to scramble, able only to gain one yard in the process.

In spite of the fact that he has not spent time with a team all summer, Vick did look good on the field, with ample speed intact, which will be an asset should he ever be forced into a game. but all parties are hoping that that never happens.

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