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What we learned from Thursday's preseason action

Michael Vick is right. The New York Jets' quarterback competition is rigged.

Everything we've seen and heard out of Florham Park tells us the Jets want Geno Smith coming out of camp with the starting job. Vick's only real chance this summer would be to light up the preseason and maybe -- just maybe -- force Rex Ryan's hand.

Vick didn't quite do that on Thursday against the Indianapolis Colts, but he definitely kept the pressure on Smith. He looked comfortable operating in Marty Mornhinweg's offense, made a big play with his legs and led the Jets to their only touchdown. His 15-yard scramble on third-and-9 kept the scoring drive alive and provided a jolt of electricity to the sparse crowd at MetLife Stadium.

Vick wasn't moving like a 12-year veteran. After the game, he told NFL Media's Kimberly Jones he was done talking about his age. Why? "Because I don't feel 34."

Smith got the first two possessions of the game, leading the offense to three points. He didn't have any turnovers and had first-down completions to both Eric Decker and Jeff Cumberland. Smith added a pretty 11-yard scramble on a read-option, an underrated facet of his game.

At the end of the day, Smith remains the clear-cut favorite to be the Week 1 starter. But Vick played well and got the offense in the end zone. He remains a tempting alternative for the Jets.

Here's what else we learned in the six preseason games played on Thursday.

  1. The Colts continue to have issues on their offensive line. Starting center Khaled Holmes suffered an ankle injury early in the first quarter and did not return. Rookie tackle Ulrick John also went out with a leg injury. Indy is already missing guard Donald Thomas, who suffered a season-ending quad injury last week.
  1. Chris Ivory exited in the second quarter with a rib injury and did not return. Ryan said after the game that Ivory will be fine, but his durability remains in question. Neither Ivory or Chris Johnson had much success against the Colts, though Johnson found the end zone from 1-yard out.
  1. An inauspicious start for Jets cornerback Dimitri Patterson, who was picked on in coverage and flagged for a holding penalty. In his lowest moment, Patterson was beaten by Da'Rick Rogers for a 45-yard gain down the sideline. Dee Milliner played well, but you have to wonder if general manager John Idzik is already having second thoughts about how he played the free-agent market at corner.

-- Dan Hanzus

  1. The Broncos lost Montee Ball to an emergency appendectomy this week. On Thursday, C.J. Anderson was taken out of action by a concussion. On the bright side, undrafted rookie Juwan Thompson built on his strong start to training camp with a nice performance, rushing for 59 yards on just six carries.
  1. DeMarcus Ware offered an immediate glimpse of his special abilities, disrupting Seattle's opening rushing attempt for no gain, then sacking Russell Wilson two plays later. A healthy and motivated Ware is trouble for the AFC.
  1. This might have been a matchup of the NFL's two best teams, but this was not a well-played affair. The teams combined for 25 penalties for 226 yards. Think Pete Carroll and John Fox will have something to say about that?
  1. Terrelle Pryor threw a late interception in the end zone that sealed Seattle's fate, but he had an overall positive day that should help him stick on the 53-man roster. You expect to see Pryor make plays with his legs -- which he did -- but the quarterback also looked comfortable in the pocket, completing several throws into tight spaces.

-- Dan Hanzus

  1. Philip Rivers picked up right where he left off. We saw the Chargers quarterback wisely adjust calls pre-snap, go through his progressions and fire the ball through windows. Danny Woodhead remains a big part of the passing game and multiple targets for Ladarius Green have us feeling good about our Making the Leap candidate.
  1. Dallas sat DeMarco Murray, giving Joseph Randle a chance to go to work. The second-year back lashed San Diego for 50 yards off 13 carries. The real story here is a promising Cowboys line that controlled the trenches and kept defenders out of the backfield.
  1. Brandon Weeden still stares down his throws, but Tony Romo's backup was far from a disaster in his Cowboys debut. After an ugly red-zone interception was wiped out by a Chargers holding penalty, Weeden fought back to cap an 11-play, 80-yard drive with a beautiful touchdown pass to tight end James Hanna.
  1. The Cowboys defense hit the scene as promised: Gassed, adrift and struggling to cover wide-open spaces. Rivers zapped Dallas early with an up-tempo offense and San Diego's deep cast of runners took it from there.
  1. Someone to watch: Undrafted Chargers back Branden Oliver out of Buffalo. He's enjoyed a strong camp and used his speed to pile up 64 yards and a touchdown on just seven carries in his first NFL appearance.

-- Marc Sessler

  1. We can confirm that Ray Rice does have more burst than last year. He split first-team snaps with Bernard Pierce, who received the goal-line love on the opening drive. Joe Flacco was impressive in his debut with Gary Kubiak's offense.
  1. Second tight end Owen Daniels looked disturbingly like the 2013 version of Dallas Clark, with little run-after-catch elusiveness. It will be interesting to see if he loses time to H-back Kyle Juszczyk, who is more involved in the offense this year.
  1. With Frank Gore sitting, rookie Carlos Hyde started in the 49ers backfield and ran well behind excellent blocking. Jewel Hampton saw time with the first-team offense as Hyde's sidekick.
  1. Blaine Gabbert appears to be impervious to Jim Harbaugh's golden quarterback touch. He was in full-blown Jaguars meltdown mode in five first-half series.
  1. The 49ers got big plays from 2013 second-round pass rusher Tank Carradine, inside linebacker Michael Wilhoite and nose tackle Quinton Dial. All three will be charged with bigger roles this season with NaVorro Bowman, Aldon Smith and Glenn Dorsey expected to miss extensive action.

-- Chris Wesseling

  1. Operation Showcase Ryan Mallettgot off to a slow start for a third straight year. Mallett was not comfortable in the pocket, and not accurate during a 5-of-12 performance. The Patriots didn't score while he was in the game.
  1. Rookie Jimmy Garappolo, meanwhile, looked decisive while completing 9-of-13 passes for 157 yards and a second-half score. He threw a few pretty deep balls. It wouldn't be a shock if he passed Mallett on the depth chart this month.
  1. The Redskins ran through New England all night, especially rookie Lache Seastrunk, who looked explosive in the second half. RGIII wasn't in the game long enough to draw any conclusions.
  1. Colt McCoy lives! His 8-for-9, 102-yard effort should help earn a roster spot.

-- Gregg Rosenthal

  1. Maybe Andy Dalton's contract will magically improve his deep ball. He connected on a 53-yard bomb to A.J. Green in his only series.
  1. Eric Fisher, last year's No. 1 overall pick, made his first NFL start at left tackle. He was promptly overwhelmed by Bengals pass rusher Robert Geathers for a strip sack of Alex Smith.
  1. Buzzy Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce backed up all that hype with a lightning fast 69-yard catch and run touchdown. He does not run like a 260-pound man.
  1. Bengals backup quarterback Jason Campbell packed a lot of action into two quarters: Two touchdowns, two interceptions returned for touchdowns, and an apparent arm injury that knocked him out of the game.
  1. Hello, De'Anthony Thomas. Maybe you are big enough for the NFL:

-- Gregg Rosenthal

The latest Around The League Podcast debates which offense will be the NFL's most prolific and dives into the quarterback battles in Cleveland and Minnesota.

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