CORTLAND, N.Y. - Geno Smith lumbered with every step.
Hunched ever so slightly, the rookie quarterback looked far from 100 percent Sunday as he plodded through Jets practice two days after suffering a right ankle injury in Friday night's preseason game in Detroit.
But despite limping throughout the team's two-hour practice, Smith proved his arm still is on point. He was intercepted by Antonio Cromartie in the back of the end zone, but he went 7-for-10 with four touchdowns, mostly in goal-line drills, and a sack.
"Obviously, the ankle isn't full strength right now," said Smith, who took first-team reps Sunday. "But I felt pretty good out there. It's just something that you've got to work past, you've got to get through."
Smith, who is battling Mark Sanchez for the starting job, rolled his right ankle while trying to scramble to his left early in the third quarter Friday against the Lions. But despite Smith's awkward gait, Rex Ryan said he never considered keeping him out of practice.
"That's not my job. My job is to coach," Ryan said. "And when [the training staff says] the young man's cleared to participate, then that's exactly what's going to happen."
When it was noted that resting Smith could eliminate the risk of a setback, Ryan said: "Again, he was cleared to practice and we'll see. What it looks like tomorrow may be different than today. I'm not sure. But again, I lean on the trainers."
Smith, however, wasn't about to sit out because of what he called a "little ankle injury." Instead of having to convince the training staff to let him practice, he said, "It was basically go out there and do as much as you can. As long as I'm out there, I'm going to give it 100 percent."
For Smith, stepping on the field was about more than trying to gain an edge in the quarterback competition. "I felt it was important just to practice," he said, adding that "nothing showed up" on his MRI and X-ray and that it was better "to push through" this type of injury.
"You can't miss a day of practice," he said. "I pride myself on being out there at all times . . . [My teammates] are constantly putting their bodies on the line, so a little injury, such as an ankle, shouldn't keep me out of practice."
It remains to be seen which quarterback will start Saturday against the Jaguars. Ryan said he and the coaching staff have yet to discuss their plan, but it sounds as if the plan all along has been to start Smith.
"Obviously, there could be some factors that may change the original thought," Ryan said. "We'll see as we get closer, there may not be. It could be anything, it could be medical, it could be whatever, but we'll see."
Sanchez was 10-for-13 for 125 yards and a touchdown against the Lions, and Smith, who worked primarily with the second-team offense, went 6-for-7 for 47 yards and no touchdowns.
Asked if the Jets could name their opening-day starter before Saturday's game, Ryan said: "I don't see that."