Sources: Geno Smith likely to start

Updated: August 31, 2013, 3:32 AM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPN.com

The New York Jets are leaving the quarterback job open for Geno Smith, and he may get an opportunity to claim it in Week 1.

With incumbent Mark Sanchez rehabbing a bruised joint in his throwing shoulder, the Jets likely will start Smith against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sept. 8, sources said Friday.

Sanchez is listed as day-to-day, but he could miss a few weeks, sources told ESPN's Ed Werder.

Coach Rex Ryan provided no update Friday on Sanchez's condition, but he dropped a few clues as to the organization's thinking. He said it would be "an assumption" to label Sanchez the ostensible starter, adding, "until there's an announcement, the competition is ongoing."

This was billed as a "fair and open" competition, but even though Sanchez outplayed Smith in the preseason, Ryan still doesn't feel comfortable in naming a starter. He wants to leave wiggle room, knowing he probably will open the season with Smith. If the rookie plays well, Ryan can leave him in the lineup without having to break a commitment to Sanchez.

Ryan acknowledged the competition could remain open into the season.

"I guess it's a possibility," he said. "When we feel good about it, we'll make that decision. Certainly we haven't put a timetable on it as far as naming a starting quarterback. When we feel [good] about that decision as an organization, we'll make it."

As of Friday, no decision had been made with regard to Week 1. Sanchez, who hadn't resumed throwing as of Thursday night, is scheduled to be examined over the weekend. By then, Ryan and general manager John Idzik will have a better handle on the situation.

Barring a dramatic recovery by Sanchez, the Jets will go into the season with a quarterback whose NFL résumé consists of only 69 preseason snaps -- roughly the equivalent of one game. And they weren't 69 good snaps.

Smith played poorly against the New York Giants, throwing three interceptions and taking an unnecessary safety. He missed two games, the first because of a sprained ankle. On Thursday night, Smith was rested against the Philadelphia Eagles because the Jets didn't want to get him hurt, knowing he might have to start the opener.

Ryan didn't sound thrilled by the prospect of starting a second-round rookie.

"He started out like gangbusters [in training camp] and, obviously, he had the ankle injury, so that set him back," Ryan said. "[He] got the game in against the Giants. Obviously, it was a very up and down performance. He had a good week of practice. We'll see where he is from there."

Sanchez completed 67 percent of his passes and compiled a 90.0 passer rating -- he called it his best camp ever -- but he committed three turnovers, conjuring up bad memories from the past two seasons. He was injured Saturday against the Giants when Ryan, in a controversial decision, played him in the fourth quarter behind the second-team line.

Statistically, the Jets' best quarterback was Matt Simms, who beat the Eagles with a 33-for-44, 285-yard outing. Of all his quarterbacks, Ryan gushed most about Simms.

"This young man has really improved now ... oh, my goodness," he said. "Clearly, he has arm talent to play in the league. Quite honestly, I don't think I've ever seen anybody make the improvements he's made."

Simms, who may have locked up the No. 3 job, isn't a consideration to start. He has no experience with the first-team offense and played against second- and third-stringers in the preseason.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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