Let the quarterback controversy begin.
Geno Smith, the New York Jets’ second-round draft pick out of West Virginia, has signed a contract just as rookies are preparing to report to training camp today in Cortland, N.Y. Smith, ESPN reports, got a four-year deal worth about $5 million.
Smith may not have declined to participate in the annual offseason workouts hosted by the incumbent, Mark Sanchez, but he thinks he has a shot at being named the starter. In fact, he thinks he has “a great shot.”
“I’m prepared,” Smith told the Charleston (W. Va.) Gazette over the weekend. “I’m just getting better daily. I’ve improved so much from the time the [Pinstripe Bowl] ended [in December] to now. I continue to improve steadily.
“I feel like I have a great shot [at the Jets' starting job]. I did a pretty good job overall of just adapting to the system and playbook and felt very comfortable with it by the end of OTAs and mandatory camp.”
Sanchez says he welcomes the competition and isn’t worried about losing his starting job, but Smith is likely to present a bigger challenge than Tim Tebow, who couldn’t unseat Sanchez.
“Going into training camp I’ve got a great opportunity and feel very good about it,” Smith said. “I’m going to go in there with the right mentality, the same mentality I had throughout my entire career, which is to work hard, to better myself and help my teammates get better and we’ll see what happens at the end of preseason.”
Jets Coach Rex Ryan, fresh from running with the bulls in Spain, says Smith, who is adapting to the West Coast system, isn’t ready yet to start.
“He came from a system that primarily was a shotgun system,” Ryan said. “His steps, drop backs [and] his mechanics that way, footwork-wise, weren’t dialed in the way they’ll have to be at this level. It’s all new to him.”