Geno Smith downplays matchup vs. fellow rookie EJ Manuel
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Geno Smith watched as the Bills selected quarterback EJ Manuel with the 16th overall pick in April. Then Smith watched the rest of the first round go by without being picked himself.
With the Jets hosting the Bills on Sunday, that would seem to be a little extra motivation for Smith, who finally went to the Jets with the seventh pick in the second round (39th overall).
But Smith said Wednesday that the battle of rookie quarterbacks is not about the rookie quarterbacks. At least not to him.
"I think that mindset would be selfish,'' Smith said. "It's about this team. It's about all of us going out there and getting a win for each other. I'm not going out there worrying about what happened at the draft because that's come and gone and those feelings are far behind me. I'm just focusing on leading this offense, leading this team and then going out there on Sunday and playing well.''
Smith is probably right that winning and losing won't come down to just the quarterbacks. But the attention the game receives will be because of the quarterbacks and what happened on draft day. And as long as Smith and Manuel remain starters in the same division, comparisons will be chewed over.
"Whether [that's] fair or not, I don't know,'' Smith said. "To be compared to EJ, I'll take it. EJ's a great guy. He's accomplished a bunch in his career and I think the world of him. He's also my good friend, so it's good to compete against a guy like that. But when it comes down to Sunday, there are no friends on the field. We're out there competing for our teams and that's all there really is to it.''
Smith said that when Manuel was picked by the Bills, "I stood up, I congratulated him and that was it. Like I said, I was happy for him. I was happy for every single guy that got drafted. I'm past that now. I hate to talk about it because I'm focusing on what we have here, which is a great opportunity, a good team and we've got a tough matchup coming up on Sunday. We've been preparing for it and we'll be ready.''
The No. 1 thing coach Rex Ryan and at least one of Smith's receivers would like him to focus on for Sunday is not holding on to the ball too long in the pocket. As Smith said, "You never want to sit back there and pat it and baby-sit the ball.''
Santonio Holmes, who admitted he's still not 100 percent, said: "When you watch some of the veteran quarterbacks in this league, the faster you get the ball out of your hands, it makes it better for the receivers and the playmakers to make plays and catch the defense off balance. So I think that would definitely be an advantage for us if he can grasp that concept and we'll start making more plays.''
Manuel, like Smith, was injured in the preseason before winning the starting quarterback job. He said he and Smith met when they were in high school and remain friends.
"I think we're both rooting for each other,'' Manuel said. "Obviously, this weekend we're competing against each other.''