Shortly after the Buffalo Bills announced rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel would be under center to start the season, the New York Jets announced their rookie second-round pick would also start the season opener.
After an ugly quarterback competition, Geno Smith was named New York's starter. Many have speculated since the NFL draft that the Jets wanted Smith to beat out incumbent Mark Sanchez for the starting spot, but Smith underwhelmed during his limited preseason action.
The initial plan, according to reports, was for Smith to start the second preseason game. But he hurt his ankle and missed that game. Jets coach Rex Ryan described Smith's play during one practice as "brutal."
Smith was back for the third preseason game, and his performance that night was also brutal. He threw three interceptions and ran out of the back of the end zone for a safety. But the game was noteworthy for another reason. Ryan put Sanchez into the game in the fourth quarter, and the veteran quarterback injured his throwing shoulder. The move has been widely criticized, and there are reports that Sanchez's injury is worse than the team initially let on. He could miss "several weeks." But Sanchez's injury assured that Smith would be the starter to open the season. Last season's crop of rookie quarterbacks, led by Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson, made an impact. Expectations are lower for Manuel and Smith, but both will have an opportunity to contribute.