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Jets' Geno Smith striving to eliminate all turnovers

New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) throws

New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) throws a pass during practice at training camp, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015, in Florham Park, N.J. Photo Credit: AP / Frank Franklin II

Geno Smith took a little extra time in the pocket Saturday night, knowing he had the luxury of practice rules.

But as he looked for an outlet for the football, the Jets quarterback was strip-sacked by veteran outside linebacker Calvin Pace and the ball was recovered by young safety Calvin Pryor.

It was the type of play that makes Jets fans cringe -- a seemingly avoidable mistake that they've grown accustomed to seeing from the third-year quarterback. But under the bright lights of MetLife Stadium during their Green and White practice, Smith wasn't quite in game-mode mentality.

"If it was a game, I would have ran, but it's practice," Smith assured his audience. "Guys can't touch me, they can't tackle me, so you're playing in between, you don't really know what to do.

"But I would say I should have took off and ran and slid -- got 4 or 5 yards and just move on to the next play."

Smith now has two turnovers in nine practices. Perhaps more importantly, he has yet to throw an interception this training camp.

The real question: Is this a sign of things to come in 2015?

"I think it's 50-50 with that," Smith said. "I know it's only practice, but you don't want to have turnovers at all, no matter where you're at, no matter if it's sandlot football. With that, you just have to carry that over into the regular season. If something does happen where you have a turnover, because they do happen, you pick yourself back up and you go play harder the next play."

Like his fumble Saturday.

Smith said it becomes somewhat natural to hold on to the football a little longer in practice because, as the quarterback, he's supposed to go untouched. "Sometimes in practice, you get into that comfort zone," he said. "It takes preseason games and all that stuff, live action, for you to really get the live clock that you need to play with."

Smith's talent is undeniable. He has the physical gifts to be successful and he can make all the throws required. But his downfall has always been his decision-making and turnovers. (He has 41 in two seasons, including 34 interceptions.)

But thus far, he seems to be improving.

"You try and be perfect, but no one's perfect," said Smith, who, despite a rocky start, completed 10 of 13 passes for 113 yards and two touchdown passes to Brandon Marshall Saturday night. "I had two fumbles [thus far in camp]. I don't want to put too much emphasis on the negative, but those are two things I have to clean up."

Notes & quotes: Jets coach Todd Bowles is unsure if defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson will play in Thursday night's preseason opener in Detroit. Wilkerson has missed five straight practices with a tight hamstring. "They say he's getting better by the day," Bowles said Saturday. "I'll see Monday and Tuesday if he practices. We'll see how things progress with him running and we'll go from there."


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