After the New York Jets announced that embattled veteran signal-caller Mark Sanchez will start the second preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Geno Smith came to the defense of Gang Green's incumbent starter.
"Hopefully they don't," said Smith of Jets' fans booing Sanchez. "I don't think he deserves that. I think our fans should come out and always support the guys on the team, but I wouldn't have a reaction to it other than to continue to support him and be his teammate."
Despite a fierce quarterback battle during training camp, Sanchez and Smith have maintained a good rapport both on and off the gridiron. Regardless of which gunslinger gets the nod from Rex Ryan on opening day, Smith contends that his relationship with Sanchez will remain unaffected.
"Of course, you have to," said Smith of supporting Sanchez. "You don't want to allow the competition to affect you as a teammate. You have to be able to be a professional and do your job."
Smith has been hobbled by an ankle injury he suffered during the Jets' preseason opener and is coming off what Rex Ryan characterized as a ‘brutal' practice on Wednesday. The rookie quarterback is determined to fight through the setback because he knows he'll need every minute of practice time to improve and ultimately win over the coaching staff.
"As you've seen, I've been out here practicing," explained Smith. "I haven't missed a rep. I haven't missed a drill. I haven't sat out one bit. I'm just continuing to get treatment and get better."
While Smith has been diligent about practice time, there's a possibility that he could miss Saturday's second preseason game to give him more time to fully recover. Ryan told reporters this week that he doesn't plan on naming the regular season starter until after the Jets play the New York Giants in their third preseason contest. The former West Virginia standout has been visibly hampered by the injury, but won't admit it's been a contributing factor to his declining performance the past few days.
"If I'm out there, no," said Smith on whether the ankle could hinder him Saturday night. "I can't make any excuses, I won't make any. If I'm out there on Saturday night, I'm going to give it my all and just go out there and not think about it."