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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets are good at creating headlines. Otherwise, there isn't much that comes easily to them -- and that includes picking a starting quarterback.
No front-runner has emerged in the Mark Sanchez-Geno Smith competition, according to Rex Ryan, who indicated Wednesday he will wait until the preseason before declaring a winner.
"I don't believe we're close to that right now," Ryan said after the team's ninth OTA practice. "Obviously, we don't have to make that move right now. Until we feel 100 percent comfortable with that decision, we'll leave it to competition."
The Jets didn't expect to name a starter before training camp, but they had hoped for early separation. That apparently hasn't occurred.
"It's way too early," Ryan said. "Some days this guy looks good, some days that guy looks good."
For me to make the decision, to say the competition is over, it will have to be 100 percent clear. If it's not, we're going to keep competing until it's clear.” -- Jets coach Rex Ryan
The Jets still have one OTA practice and next week's three-day minicamp before taking their summer break. They report July 25 to Cortland, N.Y., for training camp, which once again will be dominated by quarterback news.
Except this time, there's no Tim Tebow. It'll be the embattled incumbent (Sanchez) versus the high-profile rookie (Smith), with Greg McElroy and Matt Simms filling out the quarterback depth chart.
As expected, neither Sanchez nor Smith had delivered a knockout punch. This figures to go the distance.
"For me to make the decision, to say the competition is over, it will have to be 100 percent clear," Ryan said. "If it's not, we're going to keep competing until it's clear."
Both Sanchez and Smith have been inconsistent in practice, but there are mitigating factors. The receiving corps has been beset with injuries, slowing the development of the offense under new coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, who is installing a West Coast system.
Santonio Holmes still is rehabbing from foot surgery last fall and could begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list, Ryan said. Stephen Hill, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery last December, has been limited because of swelling and fluid in his knee. Clyde Gates is battling a hamstring injury.
Jeremy Kerley missed his first practice Wednesday with a heel injury, meaning the top four receivers didn't practice. Sanchez and Smith were throwing to a group of castoffs and rookie free agents.
"It's brutal," Ryan said. "If we had to play, obviously there would be major concerns."
Sanchez acknowledged his supporting cast includes "guys nobody heard of," but he said he's trying to make the best of a situation that's out of his control. He admitted there have been communication errors.
"If it becomes a throwaway drill, that's all you can do," he said.
Despite the instability at receiver, a continuation of last season, Sanchez remains supremely confident he will withstand the challenge from Smith. He said he's receiving positive feedback from the coaching staff. The competition, he claimed, doesn't bother him.
"It's nothing new," Sanchez said. "It's nothing big or scary. I'm just being myself, doing my very best and that will be good enough."
Ryan said Sanchez, who has committed a league-high 52 turnovers over the past two seasons, is doing a better job of throwing the ball away instead of forcing passes into traffic.
Smith has impressed with his arm strength. "He can throw it with anybody," Ryan said.
But Smith still has a lot to learn about a pro-style offense. At West Virginia, in their "Air Raid" attack, he played exclusively in the shotgun.
On Wednesday, Smith and Sanchez both struggled, especially in the two-minute drill. It was sloppy, with penalties, sacks and miscommunications. Basically, it looked like an early June practice, with a team – sans experienced receivers – struggling to grasp a new playbook.
"I've got to work, and that's what I plan on doing," Smith said. "I have to come in with the right mindset and take advantage of my reps and prove to the coaches whether or not I should be the starter."