- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Jets' ballyhooed quarterback competition commences next Monday, with the start of OTA practices. Rookie Geno Smith, preparing to battle Mark Sanchez and David Garrard, offered some kind words Monday to the man whose job he may take. Smith called Sanchez a "pretty good quarterback," praising him for the way he's handled adversity.
"He's a professional, he's done it for several years and he has handled himself well, in my opinion," said Smith, a guest on "The Michael Kay Show" on ESPN New York 98.7 FM. "Everything he's done, the ups and the downs, I think the overall perception of him might be kind of swayed, depending on the games he has played. But I think he's a pretty good quarterback. I look forward to competing with him and being around him."
Smith, who knows a thing or two about handling criticism, said he has talked to Sanchez. He called him a competitor, but he also indicated he's looking forward to learning from the fifth-year pro. It should be a fascinating competition. Clearly, Smith is the preferred candidate, as the organization would like to move on from Sanchez, but it's premature to hand him the starting job based on a rookie minicamp. He still hasn't faced an NFL defense.
Demonstrating some media savvy, Smith declined to say if he wants to start or if he expects to start. He did say he's happy to be with the Jets, the team that put an end to his infamous, draft-day slide into the second round.
"I ended up in the place I ultimately should've been in," Smith said. "The Jets were the team that wanted to select me. It only took one team to fall in love with me, and that's what happened. I'm in a great position."
Smith fell out of love, quickly, with his agents, firing them shortly after the draft. He doesn't know why that became such a big story.
"Firing my agents, is that the worst thing in the world?" he asked. "I don't think so, but at the position of quarterback, you're scrutinized and everything gets over-analyzed."
Smith said he felt it was "a necessity" to fire them, insisting his fall to the second round wasn't the reason. He also added a new twist to the story about him initially wanting to leave the draft after not being selected the first night. Smith, who admitted he had been watching the draft his entire life, said he never knew that players were welcome to attend on the second day. He didn't mention that at the time.