April 06, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) Geno Smith is making a pitch for a much-improved third NFL season.

The New York Jets quarterback trained with former major league pitcher Tom House in California recently, looking to put the struggles of his first two years behind him.

Smith, expected to compete with Ryan Fitzpatrick for the starting quarterback job, worked with House along with Jets wide receivers Quincy Enunwa and Shaq Evans. House, widely regarded as an innovative pitching coach, has also tutored several NFL quarterbacks over the years, including Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Carson Palmer, Andy Dalton, Alex Smith and Tim Tebow.

''I heard about his name a few times when I was coming out of college and I always thought about working with him, but just never really had an opportunity,'' Smith said during a conference call after the Jets' first voluntary workout Monday. ''This past offseason, I had the opportunity to work with him and was very pleased in the work that we were able to do and the progress I made.''

While Smith didn't go into specifics about the workouts with House, he said there was no overhaul to his mechanics.

''It wasn't a thing where I needed to change things,'' Smith said. ''It was basically just going out there to work out and get better, and that's what we accomplished.''

Smith has thrown 25 touchdowns in his first two seasons, but has also tossed 34 interceptions with a dismal career quarterback rating of 71.5. Because of that inconsistency, the quarterback position remains an uncertainty for the Jets - despite Smith throwing for 358 yards and three touchdowns with a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3 in the season-ending win at Miami.

''There's a ton of potential there,'' center Nick Mangold said of Smith.

New coach Todd Bowles recently said the team would like to add another player to the quarterback mix for new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey's system that includes Smith, Fitzpatrick and Matt Simms. New York could focus on another quarterback in free agency, or opt to draft one, namely Oregon's Marcus Mariota, with the No. 6 pick.

''Well, whoever we draft is going to obviously be someone who's going to help out this team,'' Smith said.

For now, Smith is expected to take the bulk of snaps with the starters since Fitzpatrick won't be fully cleared for practice until training camp after breaking his leg in a game with Houston last season. Smith said the coaches haven't spoken definitively about his role, and he danced around a question as to whether the next few months are vital for him and his future with the franchise.

''Every offseason has been important for me,'' he said. ''I take it upon myself to work hard and try to improve myself every way I possibly can. This offseason was no different than any other. I worked extremely hard and did my best to get better.''

Part of that was working out in Florida a few weeks ago with recently acquired wide receiver Brandon Marshall.

''We really just talked over things and ran through routes,'' Smith said, ''and started to develop a chemistry and a bond with one another.''

Smith said he and Gailey have spoken briefly about the basics of his offense, including running the huddle, his cadence and a few routes. The quarterback also acknowledged that Fitzpatrick has a greater familiarity with Gailey's offense from their days together in Buffalo, but added that the veteran has already been willing to help him pick up the system.

''As of right now, I'm just focusing on getting better every single day, and relishing every single opportunity that I have,'' Smith said. ''Today's only Day 1, Phase 1.''

NOTES: Mangold on Bowles: ''We got to see him up in front of the team this morning, and he's got great passion.'' ... Mangold on Rex Ryan moving from the Jets to the AFC East-rival Buffalo Bills: ''Obviously, I'm happy for Rex and I'm excited for him and hope that he does well - but not that well.'' ... WR Jeremy Kerley said Gailey's offense can be ''explosive'' and ''different,'' and added, ''different can be good.''

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