It’s Geno Smith’s turn to try to prove he should be the New York Jets’ quarterback this season.
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The rookie second-round draft pick will start over Mark Sanchez in the Jets’ preseason game against the Giants on Saturday night.
The announcement by coach Rex Ryan on Thursday was expected since the rookie has worked with the first-team offense all week during practice. Smith, in a tightly contested competition with Sanchez, did not play in the Jets’ last preseason game last Saturday night against Jacksonville because of a sprained ankle.
”We’ll see how far we take him into this game this week,” Ryan said. ”Mark will play also. I think (Smith) has looked good and seems like the ankle is obviously a lot better than it was this past week. I’m excited to see him play.”
Most NFL teams normally play their starters into the third quarter of the third preseason game, but the Jets wanted to see how Smith’s ankle responded this week before deciding on a starter against the Giants. Because Sanchez played three quarters against the Jaguars, the Jets want a better look at Smith in game action.
Smith has played just two quarters in the preseason after getting hurt while rolling out on a play in the third quarter at Detroit nearly two weeks ago. He was cleared for practice early last week, but struggled on the sore ankle – capped by what Ryan called a ”brutal” performance in which Smith was intercepted four times.
He bounced back this week with an outstanding week of practice as his ankle also healed.
”I’m proud of Geno last week pushing through it,” offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. ”This week, it was still biting him just a little bit, but he was significantly better.”
Ryan said the team is still ”not comfortable” enough to select a starter for the regular-season opener against Tampa Bay.
Quarterbacks coach David Lee added that a strong performance by Smith perhaps still might not be enough for the Jets to select a starter for the season.
”We’ve got to keep going, keep letting them compete,” Lee said. ”Let’s go to the Philly game.”
Mornhinweg said the decision will be made when one of the quarterbacks elevates himself above the other, and if that doesn’t happen, the team would then go on instincts.
”I think I know exactly where Mark’s at,” Mornhinweg said. ”There’s no question I think we can do some very good things with Mark. I don’t quite know where Geno’s at yet, even though we might think we know.”