FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Although he's several weeks away from being cleared to play after suffering a broken jaw in a locker-room incident, quarterback Geno Smith has rejoined his teammates on a limited basis at practice. But coach Todd Bowles and quarterback coach Kevin Patullo both expressed confidence in veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick's ability to lead the Jets all season.
"I'm comfortable with him starting, and he's showing great progress the last two weeks he's been playing," Bowles said when asked if Fitzpatrick could start all 16 regular-season games.
Patullo said Fitzpatrick's knowledge of the offense from playing under offensive coordinator Chan Gailey previously in Buffalo, helps everyone as does his ability to read opposing defenses. "The receivers can rely on him," Patullo said. "We're all on the same page. He's helped Bryce [rookie Petty] tremendously, and he's helped Geno. He knows what's going on."
Since rejoining the team, Patullo said Smith has begun throwing in drills, and is getting the mental reps he needs. The Jets might miss Smith's superior arm strength, but Patullo suggested execution is most important.
"Geno can throw the ball; we all know that," Patullo said. "To be honest, as long as we're on time and we're making the right reads and we get it out, it's really not a problem."
Richardson's last stand
Defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson participated in his final practice yesterday before beginning his four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. He's eligible to play Thursday night against the Eagles, but Bowles said there is no point. "He played a lot the last game," Bowles said. "He can't do anything but get hurt." Bowles said veteran DL Muhammad Wilkerson also will not play to avoid risk of injury.
Colon will start
Veteran Willie Colon has retained his starting job at RG. "He was the hungriest; he played tougher; he played more physical than the rest of them," Bowles said of Colon. "So, he's going to start."
WR Jeremy Kerley (concussion) practiced Tuesday but wore a red noncontact jersey . . . The Jets reached the 75-man roster limit by placing TE Jace Amaro (shoulder) and DE Kevin Dickerson (hamstring) on injured reserve and by waiving CB Dashaun Phillips (ribs) with an injury designation.