NFL

Jets QB Smith getting majority of first team practice snaps

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The Canadian Press
6/18/2014 6:01:24 PM
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets' quarterback situation is no mystery.

And, if it was, everyone has gotten enough clues by now to solve it.

While no one who has a say in the decision-making process has come right out and said it, it has become very clear that Geno Smith is the starting quarterback and Michael Vick is the backup. Today, tomorrow and next month.

And it's offensive co-ordinator Marty Mornhinweg's task to make it all work.

"Here's my job, this is my responsibility and my duty, really: I've got to continue to progress the young quarterback that's got 16 games under his belt," Mornhinweg said Wednesday. "That has to happen."

That's why, despite Vick's extensive experience and familiarity with Mornhinweg's offence, Smith is getting the bulk of the work with the starting offence in minicamp and will continue to do so in training camp in late July.

"Things can change, as you know," Mornhinweg said. "They'll start out very similarly. Geno has gotten, and he'll get about, let's say 70-75 per cent of the reps with the 1's. Geno, I'll get him a couple reps there with the second group as well."

It's not a major revelation, especially after Mornhinweg recently acknowledged that the snaps wouldn't be equal between the two quarterbacks -- confirming Vick's assertion that it wasn't necessarily an "open competition." The two will continue to compete, of course, with Smith getting the chance to end any debate with a solid showing this summer.

From what Mornhinweg has seen, he believes that could end up being the case.

"Last year about this time ... things were spinning on him a little bit, which was certainly anticipated," Mornhinweg said. "We started our off-season, he's got the bull by the horns (and) he's driving it. Quite different that way.

"Very confident, very sure of himself with each play."

Last season, Smith threw 12 touchdown passes and 21 interceptions after being thrust into the starting job when Mark Sanchez was lost for the season with a shoulder injury. Cutting down on the turnovers has been the major focus since December. Quarterbacks coach David Lee has worked closely with Smith, who is getting rid of the ball a lot faster than he was at any point a year ago.

"He's thrown a couple of interceptions since OTAs and hadn't thrown any in minicamp," Lee said. "Of course, it's not 82,000 (fans) out there and nine million people watching on television. And that's really where you've got to evaluate a quarterback is in those games.

"That's when you really know how much better he's gotten when you get to the ballgames."

But if Smith struggles or is injured, Mornhinweg is counting on Vick -- who thrived under him during their four seasons together in Philadelphia -- to be able to step in seamlessly and lead the offence.

"We just have to get Michael Vick playing at the high level that he played at in the past within this system," Mornhinweg said. "So, he needs some reps."

Both Smith and Vick are getting used to a revamped wide receiver corps, which has Eric Decker, Jeremy Kerley and a host of others trying to earn roster spots. That might be where the real competition is with the Jets -- not with the guys throwing the football, but the guys catching it.

"We are extremely deep at that spot," Mornhinweg said. "So we've got more than a handful of guys that can play at a high level."

David Nelson and Jacoby Ford are two veterans vying for spots, while youngsters Greg Salas, Clyde Gates, Michael Campbell and Saalim Hakim and draft picks Jalen Saunders, Shaq Evans and Quincy Enunwa are also in the mix.

"We've got four to five guys total that I know can play at a real high level, that will catch the ball consistently, will separate consistently," Mornhinweg said. "We have three to four guys who can really run. I mean fast, fast. ... Then we have another handful of guys, many of them young players that have shown some things where, this is going to be a heck of a competition here for some roster spots and some playing time and being able to help our football team."

Coach Rex Ryan is also intrigued by a promising group of tight ends, including Jeff Cumberland, second-round pick Jace Amaro and the developing Zach Sudfeld.

"I could see Marty being real creative with this group," Ryan said.

Running back Chris Johnson is expected to be ready to go when training camp opens after recovering from off-season knee surgery. Chris Ivory rolled an ankle Wednesday, but Ryan said it was nothing serious. If healthy, Johnson and Ivory could form one of the league's most lethal backfield duos.

"We need to get Chris Johnson on the field," Mornhinweg said. "He needs some reps, certainly, but it is going to be exciting. At least I'm excited."

Geno Smith (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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