FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Geno Smith couldn't hide it this time.
His entire world has changed. And he's angry about it.
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In a matter of minutes he went from being the starting quarterback of a revamped Jets roster with playoff potential to a hospital operating table. And there's nothing he can do to make up for those lost hours on the practice field -- and, more importantly, the loss of his starting job.
"I'm extremely [angry]," Smith told Newsday in the Jets locker room Wednesday. "But I have to keep my temper down. I can't exhibit that in the locker room, I can't exhibit that on a daily basis. I just feel for my family more because they enjoy seeing me out there."
The highly publicized "sucker punch" -- delivered by then-teammate Ikemefuna Enemkpali on Aug. 11 over an unpaid $600 debt -- derailed Smith's third and most critical season. But despite his frustration, he remains surprisingly upbeat.
His face shows no signs of the violent altercation and he smiles with ease even as he discusses his tumultuous training camp. Smith left the hospital thinking, "Man, I'll never look the same again," yet four weeks later he's eager to get back.
But Smith can't even say for sure if this is still his team.
"You know what? I'm on the team. The guys look at me as a leader. Whether it's my team or not, it's Woody's team. It's coach Bowles' team. And it's a trickle-down effect," said Smith, who weighs 215 pounds, down from 223. "You want to say, OK, it's Fitz's team? But that's kind of pinning me and him against each other. We're all in this thing together. It's a collective bond, and it was that way when I was projected the starter and when I got hurt it was that way. And right now it's the same way."
Reminded that in the past he's expressed nothing but confidence in his role as the team's starter, Smith said: "Yeah, I do feel that way. But I'm in a different position now, so you've got to be realistic about things. I'm not trying to sit here and say, I'm demanding certain things. I'm just working to get healthy. And then, you've got to see the rest."
As of now, the Jets appear to have found a suitable replacement, Smith's former backup Ryan Fitzpatrick. Last week, the veteran threw for 179 yards and two touchdowns in the Jets' 31-10 win over the Browns. Fourth-round pick Bryce Petty served as the No. 2.
On Wednesday Todd Bowles said Smith won't be the No. 2 QB in Monday night's game in Indianapolis.
"If I was playing bad and got benched, that's on me. But for something like that to happen, it's like . . . " Smith said. "What can you do? You've just got to, kind of, weather the storm and move on from there."
His toughest test remains the emotional uncertainty.
"Physically, I'm good," Smith said, adding that he has one more hurdle to clear: his final X-ray, which will be in "the next week or so . . . Emotionally, it's tough. But I've been getting good support in the locker room with the guys. Brandon [Marshall] has been one of the guys who's always been in my corner and he's been picking me up every day, if he sees me down. Cause it's natural to kind of get down. You want to play, you want to be out there. But he's keeping my spirits high and coach Bowles and Chan [Gailey], they put things in perspective for me. The key thing is, I've got to get healthy."
His mother also sends him text messages with Bible verses and spiritual passages every morning, he said.
For now, all Smith can do is focus on working out and taking mental reps during games. He noted there's a "big difference" in his muscle mass now and the Jets trainers have him on a steady diet of "weight-gaining shakes."
"Sometimes when I walk past a mirror, I'm like, 'Wow, I look skinny today!' " Smith said, laughing, as he raised his right shirt sleeve to show a thinner bicep. "But back then I used to walk by and say, 'OK!' So I've got to get back to that point where I feel good when I'm standing in front of the mirror."
His role against the Colts will likely be what it was against the Browns -- a sideline spectator. But there is one thing Smith is eager to find out as the Jets prepare to head to Indy: whether he'll set off airport security alarms.
"I'll have to see," he said, laughing. "When they wand me, we'll see if it goes off when they go near my neck."