Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith, who is about to begin a training camp competition against incumbent starter Mark Sanchez, insists it's no big deal that he turned down an invitation from Sanchez to participate in his "Jets West" passing camp last week in California.
"Me and Mark are cool; there's no hard feelings or anything," Smith said in an interview with the Ochocinco News Network, which is owned by the former NFL wide receiver Chad Ochocinco Johnson. "He's up there getting work with the guys. I'm down here getting work."
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Smith, the Jets' second-round pick in the April draft, is training in the Miami area while awaiting the start of training camp next week. He has yet to sign a contract, though, and can't participate until he does. Smith is represented by Jay-Z's newly formed Roc Nation Sports agency, which also represents Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano. The Jets' rookies report to the team's Cortland training site Monday, while the veterans report three days later.
Smith reiterated to OCNN what he told reporters at the team's minicamp last month, that he's taking the competition against Sanchez "very seriously, preparing myself to be a starter, as I've said all along."
Sanchez said last week at his annual passing camp that he is confident he'll win the starting job. And he said he did not feel snubbed by Smith missing the event. In fact, fellow Jets quarterbacks Greg McElroy and Matt Simms also did not attend the camp.
"I don't hold it against any of the guys who can't make it," Sanchez said Friday. "There are no hard feelings about anything like [that]."
Smith trained in Miami with receivers that included Antonio Brown of the Steelers, Greg Little of the Browns and former West Virginia teammates Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, both of whom were drafted by the Rams.
Smith said any controversy about him missing Sanchez's camp was created by the media.
"They got to create a hot story," he said. "They got to keep the fans interested, so they're going to put whatever they want out there."
Smith said he has found the transition to the NFL smooth so far.
"It's the same for me, nothing's changed," he said. "Still working hard, still trying to perfect my craft, still trying to be the best quarterback, trying to be the best player ever. I was always told if they're not talking about you, then you're not doing anything. Everything is all positive for me, so I'm looking forward to the future."