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Geno Smith makes presence known, if not felt

New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith practices during

New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith practices during training camp at the team's practice facility in Florham Park, N.J. on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015. Credit: Andrew Theodorakis

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - The Jets offense may have moved on without Geno Smith, but he isn't going anywhere.

For the first time since having his jaw broken in two places in a locker-room altercation, Smith was on the practice field Monday, going through the motions as if he never left.

Wearing his standard red, non-contact No. 7 jersey, Smith took part in the team stretching period before throwing drop-back passes to injured receivers Devin Smith and Shaq Evans in the rehab area. It wasn't much, but it was something, considering Smith had plates and screws inserted into his jaw only 11 days earlier.

The "sucker punch'' heard 'round the NFL -- delivered Aug. 11 by former Jet and current Bills linebacker Ikemefuna Ememkpali over a $600 debt -- derailed Smith's third season. It also forced the Jets to reshuffle their depth chart and make Ryan Fitzpatrick their starter.

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A few days after the punch, Smith posted a close-up of himself on Instagram with this caption all in caps: "I'LL BE BACK!'' On Monday, he took another step, albeit small, to that end. He stood next to offensive coordinator Chan Gailey and glanced at the notes Gailey furiously scribbled between plays.

He may be on the outside, but it's clear Smith has no intentions of fading into the background. Coach Todd Bowles, however, doesn't seem optimistic about his returning sooner than the original six- to 10-week time frame.

"It's good to see his face,'' Bowles said, clearly unaffected by Smith's presence on the field. " . . . He didn't do much, but at least he's not hurting like he was, I guess, 'cause he came out here.''

Smith, who was not made available to the media, has been cleared for only minimal physical activity. "Nothing serious,'' Bowles said. "Just light throwing, light jogging.''

After watching Fitzpatrick and fourth-rounder Bryce Petty take turns leading the offense for several minutes, Smith left with a trainer and went inside the facility.

Bowles said his recovery timeline has changed "not at all,'' but Smith is back at the facility full time and attending all meetings.

Said Fitzpatrick: "He's been in meetings, been vocal and helping out and all that. So I think he's kind of getting back into it. He's allowed to be around a little bit more now, and so I think that's helpful for him.''

General manager Mike Maccagnan said last week he expects Smith to miss "probably the first four games'' of the regular season. He also said it's conceivable, but unlikely, that he could be placed on short-term injured reserve to start the season.

That same day, the Jets signed backup Matt Flynn, who still is nursing a hamstring injury. Flynn did not play Friday night against the Falcons, and he's a long shot to face the Giants on Saturday.

Said Bowles: "If I was a betting man, I'd say no.''

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