NEW YORK - Michael Vick got the green light for full reinstatement in the NFL on Thursday when commissioner Roger Goodell said the disgraced quarterback could play later this month instead of waiting until October.
Vick, recently signed by the Philadelphia Eagles, will now be able to play in the Sept. 27 game at home against the Kansas City Chiefs. It would be his first regular-season game since he was sent to prison for his role in operating a dogfighting ring. The former Atlanta Falcons star was released from federal custody July 20 after serving 18 months of a 23-month sentence.
Originally, Goodell said he would consider Vick for reinstatement no later than the sixth week of the season - Oct. 18.
'I think he's making real progress,' Goodell said at a news conference. 'I think he has a better feel for the challenges ahead of him.
'He understands he has very little margin for error, that people are watching him.'
Goodell met with Vick earlier Thursday at the Eagles' hotel near Newark International Airport. Philadelphia played the Jets in an exhibition game at the Meadowlands at night, in which Vick was in and out of the lineup in the opening half, and was booed each time he ran onto the field.
He lined up at quarterback and wide receiver at times, and scored his first NFL touchdown since 2006 to give the Eagles a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter. Vick lined up at quarterback, faked a handoff and ran up the middle from 2 yards 25 seconds into the quarter.
He also was intercepted in the first half, then opened the second half at quarterback for Philadelphia.
'He met with Michael this morning and I think he came out of it feeling very confident that Michael's doing the right things and is on the right track,' Eagles president Joe Banner said before the game.
'I think Michael wants to play as soon as he can. On the other hand, I think he thinks this was fair.'
A three-time Pro Bowl pick during six seasons with the Falcons, Vick was a surprise signing by the Eagles on Aug. 13. He received a one-year deal for $1.6 million with a team option for a second year at $5.2 million.
Vick started practicing with the Eagles on Aug. 15, but did not travel with the team to its second preseason game a week later in Indianapolis because he could not play.
He played six snaps in Philadelphia's home game against Jacksonville last week, lining up at quarterback and receiver.