CORTLAND, N.Y. - Rex Ryan shook his head, unable to sugarcoat the truth about Geno Smith's second-to-last day at SUNY Cortland.
"Oh, it was brutal,'' the Jets coach said. "That was Geno's worst day.''
Smith threw three interceptions in team drills and also had a deflected pass picked off by safety Rontez Miles in 7-on-7s Wednesday.
"Obviously, the ankle's part of it, but way too many picks,'' Ryan said, referring to Smith's noticeably sprained right ankle. "Did not look comfortable today. He has to come back from it and he will come back from it. And we've seen it. Guys have bad days. But this was a really bad day for Geno.''
Smith took the bulk of the first-team reps against the scout team and completed 10 of 21. Meanwhile, Mark Sanchez was 7-for-11 with no interceptions and two touchdown passes to Braylon Edwards.
"Was I disappointed he had the day like he had today? Absolutely,'' Ryan said of Smith. "These days happen, but you don't expect them to happen.''
Smith insisted his ankle hadn't hindered him this week in practice, but Ryan left open the possibility that he won't play in Saturday's preseason home opener against Jacksonville because of the injury.
"I think that's a big issue,'' said Ryan, adding that Smith's ankle "isn't close to 100 percent right now.''
Smith said he's "been getting progressively better'' each day. He painted a far different picture of his progress, telling reporters his ankle has limited him "not one bit.
"As you've seen, I've been out here practicing, I haven't missed a rep, I haven't missed a drill, I haven't sat out one bit," said the rookie, who went 6-for-7 for 47 yards in the preseason opener Friday night at Detroit.
Smith, however, was far less expansive -- and a little snippy -- when questioned about the reasons for his interceptions Wednesday.
"I don't know,'' he said. "You've got to watch the tape, man. I'm pretty sure ya'll got it. Just go ahead and watch it.''
Asked whether he wants to start against Jacksonville, he said: "No comment. Next question.''
But if Smith is given a chance to play with the first-team offense, he said his ankle won't be an issue.
"Not one bit. Can't make any excuses, I won't make any,'' he said. "And if I'm out there Saturday night, I'm going to give it my all. Will just go out there and not think about it.''
Although Ryan labeled Smith's assessment of his ankle "bravado,'' the coach said, "The fact is, he's not using it as an excuse. That's a good thing.
"He's not able to move like he normally does, he's not able to drive the ball the way he normally does with his velocity. That doesn't say that he can't get out there. He's competing; he's been out there every day. But I would say he's not 100 percent.''
Smith's sprained ankle hasn't only been a personal setback, though. It's also helped to cloud the quarterback competition for the coaching staff. "There definitely needs to be more evidence,'' Ryan said. "We've got to see more out of both guys.''
So is time running out for the rookie?
"I don't believe so,'' Ryan said. "I think there's competition still at a lot of spots and there's still some time. Will it become more of a sense of urgency after this game, I would say so.''
But real quarterback competitions take time, he insisted.
"I don't know how many are really decided after one preseason game,'' Ryan said. "So I don't think it's a surprise that there's not clarity at a number of positions.''