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Geno Smith excited to be competing with Michael Vick for starting QB job

Geno Smith watches the scoreboard during the final

Geno Smith watches the scoreboard during the final minute of a loss to the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. (Dec. 15, 2013) Credit: Getty

For the second straight season, Geno Smith will be involved in an offseason quarterback competition. And he can't wait to get started.

The Jets' incumbent quarterback isn't the least bit worried about his position on the depth chart. Instead, he's looking forward to working alongside Michael Vick on the field and in the classroom.

"Awesome, man. Vick's my guy," Smith told The Associated Press at a fan event in West Virginia Saturday -- a day after the Jets signed Vick and released Mark Sanchez. "We needed to find a guy that was legitimately a guy that could come in and play. I think that's what we did. Mission accomplished."

Some have questioned whether the Vick signing will impede the development of Smith, 23. But he said he's anxious to learn from -- and compete with -- a veteran he knows fairly well.

Smith, whom the Jets selected 39th overall in the second round of the 2013 draft, entered training camp in a battle with Sanchez. The competition was called off in Week 3 of the preseason after Sanchez injured his throwing shoulder during garbage time against the Giants. Smith assumed the starting role from that point on.

The former West Virginia star endured a rocky rookie season, throwing 12 touchdown passes and 21 interceptions while leading the Jets to an 8-8 finish.

The front office hasn't committed to Smith as the starter in 2014, and Vick has made it clear that he still wants to be a starting quarterback, not a full-time clipboard-holder.

"I wouldn't say I would necessarily be OK with sitting on the bench all year. But I know what I signed up for," Vick said on a conference call Friday. "I know what I came to New York to do. First and foremost, I came to compete and be a helping hand for Geno, and he has a long way to go. We both talked. We both agreed we're going to push one another and make each other better. So whatever happens happens. And I know what I signed up for. At the end of the day, I'll be content with it."

Smith wasn't the least bit taken aback by Vick's response.

"That's every quarterback," Smith said of Vick, 33. "[It's] an open competition. I understand where Mike's coming from. No one wants to sit the bench. I don't know a player that does. It's just good to have a guy to compete with like Mike. We're going to compete. We're not going to say, 'Hey, you're the starter.' And we'll leave it at that. We want to get better."

And high-level competition is what the Jets are aiming for this offseason. "[Vick's] here in a role where he's going to compete and push Geno Smith to become the very best that he can be," said offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, who coached Vick in Philadelphia. "Michael will be able to go in and play at a high level and a winning level if called upon."

Florham Park was a revolving door of backup quarterbacks last year with Greg McElroy (who was cut in training camp), Matt Simms, Brady Quinn and David Garrard. Smith was benched three times last season -- each time in favor of Simms. But the organization never considered Simms or Garrard serious long-term options during the regular season.

With the arrival of Vick, the Jets now have a viable option to take the reins if Smith struggles in the preseason. And Smith is excited about that.

"I love it," said Smith, who first met Vick during his senior season with West Virginia in 2012. "It's really making everyone work harder and keep you right on your toes because you don't have a moment to be satisfied or just say 'I've arrived.' You've got to continue to work at it."

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