CHARLESTON, W.Va. — New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith is eager to work with Michael Vick, even if it means a hotly contested competition for the starting job.
”Awesome, man. Vick’s my guy,” Smith said during a fan signing event Saturday in West Virginia. ”We needed to find a guy that was legitimately a guy that could come in and play. I think that’s what we did.
Vick signed a one-year deal with the Jets on Friday, the same day New York released former starter Mark Sanchez. The Jets hope Vick, who spent the last five seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, will be able to push Smith during training camp.
Vick is ”going to be a guy I can work with, have a really good working relationship with and also compete with,” Smith said at the Charleston Civic Center.
Smith was unfazed by Vick’s comments Friday night on a conference call with New York-area reporters that he wouldn’t necessarily be content standing on the sideline all season.
”That’s every quarterback,” Smith said. ”I understand where Mike’s coming from. No one wants to sit the bench. I don’t know a player that does.”
Smith threw for 12 touchdowns and 21 interceptions in his rookie season while starting all 16 games after Sanchez injured his right shoulder in the preseason. He drew praise from coach Rex Ryan for a strong finish in which the Jets won three of their last four to finish 8-8, but Smith expects to have ”an open competition” with Vick for the starting job – just like it will be for every position on the team.
”It’s just good to have a guy to compete with like Mike,” Smith said. ”We’re going to compete. We’re not going to say, `Hey, you’re the starter.’ And we’ll leave it at that. We want to get better.
”I love it. It’s really making everyone work harder and keep you right on your toes because you don’t have a moment to be satisfied or just say `I’ve arrived.’ You’ve got to continue to work at it.”
Smith respects the opinion of Vick, who first reached out to him during Smith’s senior season at West Virginia in 2012. Smith, a second-round pick, recalled that the NFL draft process and how to handle expectations were among the topics they discussed.
”Some of the things I asked him was, `How did you deal with being THE guy?”’ Smith said. ”I was in that situation last year. As soon as I walked into the locker room, I was expected to produce. And as we all know in the league, it’s hard to do that. If you’re not on a team that’s already set up to win, you’re going to have your struggles.
”It was more about me just having an understanding of the position that I’m in and just continuing to grow.”