Geno Smith rebounds after early boos at Jets practice
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) The boos began when Geno Smith misfired on a pass early in practice.
They got louder when the New York Jets quarterback lost the ball on a strip-sack by Calvin Pace. Then, he nearly got intercepted by Antonio Cromartie.
It was only the ninth practice of training camp - and many of the fans at MetLife Stadium still let Smith have it.
''Man, I had a big smile on my face,'' Smith said after practice Saturday night. ''If you had a camera, you should've zoomed in on me and I had a big smile on my face. You'd think we were on the road today.''
Smith was half-joking, but he has heard a lot of not-so-nice things from frustrated fans during his two-plus years in the NFL in which he has 34 interceptions and 41 total turnovers.
''I think in two years, I've developed some really tough skin,'' Smith said when asked why he was smiling. ''I know how to handle it now.''
Smith bounced back from the early struggles - and hearty boos - to throw two touchdown passes to Brandon Marshall that, of course, drew loud cheers from the more than 10,000 fans.
''I heard about the New York crowd,'' Marshall said. ''It's a great crowd, but it can also be tough. We've just have to do our job and keep them happy.''
Smith, who has two lost fumbles but no interceptions in camp, connected with Marshall on a nicely thrown 35-yard pass, and then again on a quick slant from a yard. It's clear the quarterback and wide receiver, acquired from Chicago in March, are establishing some chemistry.
''I think Geno is doing a great job of developing that with everybody on the offense,'' Marshall said. ''We need that, and as long as we can get better every single day, I think we'll have a chance.''
Coach Todd Bowles liked what he saw from Geno, especially how he shook off the early problems.
''The defense started fast and ended slow, and the offense started slow and ended fast,'' Bowles said. ''(Smith) did some good things at the end. Guys weren't open early. He's got to get rid of the ball, and he's got to learn to tuck the ball. But overall at practice today, he showed progress throughout the day.''
Ryan Fitzpatrick also had a touchdown toss, throwing a screen pass to Walter Powell, who turned it into a 65-yard score. Bilal Powell had a 39-yard touchdown run, and Nick Folk kicked three field goals, including a 56-yarder.
Bowles began the night like a normal practice, but then had the offense and defense go against each other in what turned into the equivalent of a scrimmage. That gave the fans a chance to see how the new-look offense and defense have progressed since last season's 4-12 season that resulted in the firings of coach Rex Ryan and general manager John Idzik.
''Hopefully they're a little bit more patient during the season,'' Smith said of the fans. ''I mean, it's a four-quarter game. The only thing that matters is that we win the game. You've got to understand that fans are going to be fans. You don't want to put too much emphasis on that, so I don't worry about it. I think it's more important for my teammates to see how I react to it, more than anything.''
Smith added that he believes he truly thrives now in the face of doubts and criticism.
''That's when I'm at my best,'' he said. ''I've been through a lot in two years, and going into my third year, maybe my rookie year it might've fazed me and I might've hung my head or it might have affected me negatively.
''But at this point, it just rolls right off my back.''
NOTES: Bowles said WR Chris Owusu has a concussion, which happened during practice Friday. Owusu is going through the NFL's concussion protocol. ... WR T.J. Graham (hamstring), TE Steve Maneri (hamstring) and WR Walter Powell (groin or hamstring) were banged up Saturday. RB Zac Stacy also limped off the field late in practice, but Bowles had no immediate update on him. ... DE Muhammad Wilkerson sat out again with a tweaked hamstring. WR Shaq Evans (bruised ribs), CB Keith Lewis (left hamstring) and Curtis Brown (groin) also didn't practice.
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