Geno Smith's work ethic, ability to grasp playbook create positive impression
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CORTLAND, N.Y. -- As he and his teammates darted for cover from the deluge, there was a part of Geno Smith that wanted to stay out there and get soaked. - Sunday's morning session was suspended for several hours because of torrential rain and the threat of lightning. But even with sunny afternoon skies serving as the backdrop for the Jets' first padded practice of training camp, Smith lamented his missed opportunity in inclement weather.
"I kind of wanted to practice in the rain a little bit," said the rookie quarterback, who practiced with the starters for the first time in camp. "You kind of got that obstacle out there and see how good you really are when things are at its worst. And with the downpour, it would've been good to get some practice in."
Smith's eagerness to be tested is evident not only on the field but in the way he looks forward to the frequent pop quizzes given by quarterbacks coach David Lee. At any time, on any given day, Lee seeks out his quarterbacks for an impromptu quizzing.
Sometimes they're administered orally, sometimes they're in written form. And Smith likes to be kept on his toes.
"He's completely random with it," he said of Lee. " . . . But the good thing about the test is that it prepares us for what we do out on the field. So if we do get something wrong, we go back, study and we come back on the field and we know it. And that's something that I like. It's the only way for [Lee] to know you really know it. And I've been doing well. There's always times where you can do better, but I think I've done well."
Smith was solid Sunday and even showcased his arm strength by connecting with receiver Stephen Hill on a 50-yard pass.
Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg recalled Smith looking "smooth as silk" while under center during his West Virginia pro day -- a clear departure from his typical shotgun stance in college. Though Smith admitted he's not "perfect" when playing under center, he ultimately believes he's the complete package.
He said he's "pretty comfortable" with designed runs, too -- though he dislikes being put in a box. "Like I said all along, I've got to prepare myself to do whatever it takes to help this team," said Smith, who will alternate first-team reps with Mark Sanchez every third practice, according to Mornhinweg. "And if I have to run, pass, whatever it is, I'm going to be up for it and I'm going to be prepared.
"I've always been the same quarterback. I hate the label that people try to put on quarterbacks. I think I do what it takes to win games -- whether it's run or pass."
That comfort level stems from his preparation and attention to detail, traits that have caught Mornhinweg's eye. The coordinator again lauded Smith's smarts, calling the rookie a "highly talented" and "bright" young man with an "outstanding'' recall for information.
"We were just talking there about how quickly he's progressed within the system," said Mornhinweg, though he added Smith must continue to show improvement.
Said Smith: "I can tell you one thing: Marty's telling the truth. I study it. I work hard at it."
For a rookie hellbent on perfection, though, there's still much more to learn and only half the reps to go around. But the competition is anything but stressful, he said.
"It's what I love to do, man," he said with a smile. "This is my job. I accept competition, I welcome it and I embrace it."