- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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FLORHAM PARK, N. J. -- David Garrard isn't here for the money.
The veteran quarterback is with the Jets in pursuit of being a starting quarterback once again.
"I'm healthy now and I'm going to be going after it. I'm not here collecting paychecks," Garrard said Thursday afternoon. "That's not what I'm about. I'm definitely healthy and I definitely want to get out there. I want to be the guy but I can't talk about it. I gotta get on the field and do it."
After missing the past two seasons with injuries, Garrard will be part of the Jets' five-man competition at quarterback. The 35-year-old last started a game on Dec. 26, 2010 with Jacksonville.
"As long as I'm healthy and able to continue to work with the team and don't have setbacks with my knee or my back or anything like that, then I know that I have the ability to," Garrard said of being a starter. "But I can't talk about it, I still gotta go out on the field and do it. I've been trying to be the number one guy for the last two years and it's one thing after the other that hasn't allowed that."
While Garrard has the most experience of any quarterback on the roster, it's closing on three years since he last started a game.
After being released by Jacksonville prior to the start of the 2011 season, he underwent back surgery and missed the year. Last season, after signing with Miami, he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and was released. Garrard said Thursday he feels great.
As the Jets quarterback battle unfolds, Garrard hopes that the deciding factor is who performs best, not what he called "politics." He did add that the sheer size of this quarterback competition, as well as it occurring in New York, has made it different than most.
"I'm going to give it my all and if I still have a locker at the end of the day then that's great. I know that as long as I leave everything on field, that should be enough," Garrard said. "Not saying that should be enough for me to be the starter but it should be enough internally to move on with this team going forward. I can't control politics. All I can control is what I do here in this locker room, meeting room and when I get on the field."
Garrard's path to making the roster became even more challenging last weekend as the Jets drafted quarterback Geno Smith in the second round. The Jets will carry two or three quarterbacks on the roster, and with Smith all but assured a spot, Garrard will likely have to beat out one of last year's starters, Mark Sanchez and Greg McElroy, to make the team.
The quarterback said he assumed the Jets would be bringing in another young quarterback, but that addition hasn't made him reassess the situation. Garrard did add he'd like to pass on some knowledge to Smith.
"I'm very fortunate and very happy to be here at this time. My thing is showing what I can do, I don't care about anybody else, I gotta show what I can do," Garrard said. "What I can do, I know, has been pretty good in the past. So hopefully I can be back at that same level and still healthy. If they like it, they like it. If they don't, they don't."