Geno Smith has had plenty of reasons to crack under the pressure in his first 12 months as a Jet. After sliding all the way out of the first round of last year’s draft, he battled through a maddeningly inconsistent rookie campaign that saw some encouraging highs followed by turnover-filled lows — only to watch as the team went out and signed Michael Vick to come in and turn the quarterback job into an open competition. But despite his iffy reputation coming out of college, Smith has remained positive, and he seems unshaken by everything around him.
“You just have to keep working hard,” Smith said Thursday. “You’re going to have some off days. As offensive players, we try to be perfectionists but we understand that we have a long way to go. Everything is going to get better with time. As long as we work at it and stay grounded, I think things will get better.”
For one thing, though Rex Ryan refuses to commit to him as the Jets' guy moving forward, Smith has been getting the bulk of the first team reps so far in camp — which he says is vital to his growth.
“As many reps as you can get will help out and I’m a living testament to that,” Smith said. “I can just see the growth in myself and in the guys around me due to that, due to us just continuing to work hard during the offseason, during the OTA’s and minicamps. Guys have been running around day in and day out, but we’re not letting that get in the way of us getting in good work and trying to get better.”
Things haven’t been as positive for rookie tight end Jace Amaro, who the Jets snagged with their second round pick hoping that he’d emerge as one of Smith’s favorite targets. Amaro has struggled in his adjustment from Texas Tech’s run and shoot — where he seldom lined up as an in-line player — to New York’s pro-style sets, but he still has the confidence of his quarterback.
“For the most part Jace has done a phenomenal job,” Smith said. “We expect him to produce and I personally think he’s going to have a good year. But at times guys struggle. We all do. You can see the way that he’s practicing. He’s practicing hard. He wants to go out there. He wants to catch every ball. When bad things happen, I just continue to pick the guy up and encourage him.”