CORTLAND – Braylon Edwards has long been a Mark Sanchez supporter.
But the Jets receiver knows his good buddy will have to be at the top of his game this summer if he expects to beat out rookie Geno Smith.
Edwards, who spent much of 2012 in Seattle, sees a striking similarities between Smith's mental makeup and that of Pro Bowl-quarterback Russell Wilson – who, as a rookie, led the Seahawks to the NFC divisional title game last season.
“Geno and Russell are probably the best I’ve seen in terms of that approach and that attitude,” said Edwards. “I still have to see more out of Geno because I’ve only been with him 48 hours, but Russell last year, you saw how far he got. He was just a maniac breaking down film, asking questions, doing things on the practice field.
“He was just a beast at that and that’s where I see the potential in Geno; how he comes to the huddle; when he gets trivia, he fires it back at (offensive coordinator) Marty (Mornhinweg) as well. I see potential for him to have a lot of success in this league. It’s going to be a battle. It’s one that Mark can’t make mistakes. Things have to be legit for him to be the starter opening day. He has a legit guy knocking on the back door.”
Both Mornhingweg and Rex Ryan have said Smith has looked like anything but a rookie this offseason, but the former West Virginia standout knows the competition is far from over.
“(If I don’t win the job) It just means I have more work to do than maybe I thought,” Smith said when he arrived in Cortland Thursday afternoon. “I’m going to continue to work at it, continue to stay diligent and keep my mind in the right place. I know eventually down the line, there will be another shot for me to win the starting job if I don’t come out of this camp with it.
“I don’t look at it as a failure,” he later said. “I try and keep everything in a positive perspective. If I don’t, it’s something to learn from. I can look at the tape and figure out ways to get better, see lots of room for improvement and when the opportunity comes again, be ready for it.”
Sanchez, however, wouldn’t even entertain the thought of not being named the starter.
“I don’t even think like that,” the fifth-year QB said. “I don’t think about not winning the job. That’s just the way I am, I’m pretty optimistic.”
It remains to be seen which guy will get the nod. But regardless of the outcome of this year’s QB battle, Edwards has little doubt about Smith’s maturity level and football acumen.
“From what I saw of Geno, I saw a guy that came here to start,” said the veteran wideout. “He didn’t have the greatest practice, but you can just tell in his attitude he’s not here, happy to be in the NFL, happy to be backing up Mark Sanchez. He’s here to start. He has that attitude. You can tell a leadership quality about him that’s in there. Obviously, he’s waiting to be more proficient before it comes out. It’s in there and it’s pretty exciting.
“Mark, this is his chance to prove everybody wrong. A lot of people have written him off, said a lot of nasty things about him. But one thing I’ve admired about Mark is he’s always been professional and mature in a situation. He knows it’s tough and it’s definitely not going to be a problem.
"….We just have to get together on the same page with receivers, tight ends and running backs and Mark and get in the right spots at the right time and then we can start humping and help him out.”