- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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CORTLAND, N.Y. -- Four practices, no interceptions. Not a bad start for a rookie quarterback.
Based on the early stage of training camp, Geno Smith will give incumbent Mark Sanchez a serious run for the starting job. Smith makes rookie mistakes -- he tends to hold the ball too long when his No. 1 option is covered -- but he brings the "wow" factor to the position. Quite simply, he can make throws that Sanchez can't make. He also has the athleticism to escape pressure. If he keeps it up, he'll give Rex Ryan (and everybody else involved in the QB decision) a lot to think about.
"I'm surprised by how well he's picking up the offense, him coming from a shotgun-formation offense (at West Virginia)," CB Antonio Cromartie said Monday. "With him being under center now, and being able to get from under the center and do the things he does, it shows he's a different kid."
Unofficially, Smith is 16-for-32 in four days of team drills. He has yet to throw an interception in team drills or 7-on-7 drills. But as we noted, he has taken an unusually high number of "sacks" -- six. That shows he can be tentative in the pocket, hardly unusual for a rookie.
"I think the big thing for him now is, he took a couple of sacks today -- he has to get rid of the ball," Ryan said. "You don't want to be taking sacks. You don't want to throw a pick, but obviously you have to get rid of it. That's something he can improve in his game. But I've been impressed that he hasn't thrown a pick."
As for Sanchez, he threw his first interception in team drills on Monday. (He also has an INT in 7-on-7.) It was an ugly throw, a pass in the flat that was picked off by LB Josh Mauga. After four practices, Sanchez is 24-for-39, with four sacks. He spent the last two practices with the second team after playing with the starters in the first two practices.
Bottom line: The Jets know what they have in Sanchez. The purpose of the camp is to find out about Smith. So far, the decision-makers (that's plural, by the way) are intrigued.