All signs pointing to Geno Smith starting for Jets

    2013-09-02 17:37

Incorporates FBN--Jets-Quinn. With AP Photos.
AP Sports Writer

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) - Geno Smith is ready to go.

Rex Ryan and the New York Jets are waiting to announce a starting quarterback for their season opener, but all signs are pointing to Smith being under center against Tampa Bay.

``If my chance is Sunday, I'm going to go out there with the intent to lead my team to victory and that's just the way it is,'' Smith said Monday.

``I'm always going to play like that, be aggressive. I'm never going to hesitate, never going to shy away from anything and just go out there and play ball.''

Sounds like the confidence of an NFL starting quarterback.

Mark Sanchez, who appeared in good shape to win the job in preseason, did not practice while recovering from a right shoulder injury that could keep him sidelined a few weeks.

Neither Sanchez nor Ryan would acknowledge whether the quarterback was even able to throw at any point during practice.

Sanchez insists his shoulder is ``getting better every day,'' and hopes to be ready ``soon.''

Still, the Jets signed veteran Brady Quinn on Monday as insurance in case Sanchez is sidelined for a while. Ryan, though, dismissed the notion that Sanchez could be headed for season-ending injured reserve.

``That's certainly not what we're looking at right now,'' Ryan said.

But it seems a longshot for him to be able to play against the Buccaneers. That means Smith would get the call - even if many who watched him this summer think perhaps he's still a bit raw.

``Physically, I think I've always been ready,'' Smith said. ``I think I have some things that, which is the reason why they drafted me here, to bring some of that stuff to the table.

``But I think mentally I've grown a lot. My grasp of the offense is to the point where I know I can get out there and execute and be out there and leading this offense and leading this team.

``At this point, I'm ready for it.''

The Jets certainly hope so. The last time everyone saw Smith on the field was during a disappointing performance against the Giants in Week 3 of the preseason when the rookie threw three interceptions and took a safety when he stepped out of the back of the end zone.

Most of that came against the Giants' starting defense, and his struggles that night were an indication that he might not be ready to start in the NFL.

``Well, it's easy to move past a game like that,'' Smith said. ``As a quarterback, you've got to have a short memory. You can't let what happens in the past affect you in the future. I took it as a learning experience, another stepping stone in my career, and was able to move on from it pretty easily.''

Smith's sprained right ankle is coming along, to the point he said it's getting close to 100 percent, although still needs treatment. He has noticed an improvement in his throwing as the ankle has healed.

``It's night and day,'' he said. ``Leading up to the injury, I was spinning the ball pretty good and then I got injured. You can never really tell how much it affects you until you don't have it anymore.''

Meanwhile, Sanchez spent the 30-minute window of practice the media were allowed to watch on a stationary bike. He also changed his clothes away from his locker, so it's uncertain how much mobility he has in his right arm.

``I'm not going to get into the rehab process,'' Sanchez said. ``Just know that it's getting better every day.''

Sanchez appeared a bit frustrated, his answers short at times, especially in regards to the injury, which he shed no light on.

He wouldn't speculate whether he could be out for a month, repeating that he's ``day to day,'' and insisted he's not worried about potentially losing his starting job - or even his roster spot.

``There's a lot of factors that go into all those type of things,'' Ryan said, ``but if Mark's healthy, then, yes, I would say he would be part of this football team.''

But Sanchez was on track to be much more after a solid preseason in which he outperformed Smith in the last few weeks of a tightly contested competition.

Then, with many assuming Sanchez had wrapped up the job, Ryan sent him out in garbage time and the quarterback was hurt, sending the situation into uncertainty.

``You never want to be injured, especially when things are going well, things are heading in the right direction,'' Sanchez said. ``It's just too bad that had to happen.''

The signing of Quinn gives the Jets an experienced veteran behind Smith, with Matt Simms the No. 3 quarterback - if Sanchez can't go. Quinn, a first-round draft pick of Cleveland in 2007, was cut by Seattle on Saturday.

``It's a great opportunity,'' Quinn said. ``The Jets are a historic organization. I think just to be able to work with a guy like (QBs coach) David Lee and coach (Marty) Mornhinweg, is a great opportunity for me.''

NOTES: Ryan acknowledged that LB Quinton Coples, out indefinitely with an ankle injury, won't play in the season opener. ... Ryan said WR Santonio Holmes, trying to recover from a serious foot injury suffered in Week 4 last season, ``did some things'' in practice. He might have a shot at playing vs. Tampa Bay. ... CB Dee Milliner, the team's top draft pick, was back on the field after missing a chunk of the preseason with a calf injury. ``I'm back doing everything 100 percent,'' he said, ``so I feel good.''


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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