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Rex Ryan makes Geno Smith starter for first preseason game

Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) looks on during

Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) looks on during training camp in Cortland, N.Y., Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. Credit: Hans Pennink

CORTLAND, N.Y. - Rex Ryan announced that Geno Smith will start the Jets' first preseason game against the Colts Thursday night at MetLife Stadium.

Smith has yet to light it up in training camp, but he has the obvious edge over Michael Vick despite what the team says publicly. Smith, who went 7-for-14 for 84 yards in Saturday's Green and White scrimmage, has taken almost all of the first-team reps.

"Geno will start," Ryan said. "I've been happy with the way he's looked, his command of things, so he will start the game on Thursday. I'll get with Marty [Mornhinweg, the offensive coordinator] and we'll discuss exactly what the play time will be and things like that."

Smith struggled last season, but Ryan said the tail end of the quarterback's rookie campaign proved Smith "can be more than competitive with guys. He had the second-highest quarterback rating the last month of the season. That's a real positive thing."

Rex rethinks last season

Ryan always has vehemently defended his decision to play former Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez behind a backup offensive line late in the preseason game against the Giants last season. But on Monday, Ryan admitted he would have done things differently.

"If I can go back and change things, of course I would," Ryan said when asked if he would consider using Smith behind a backup offensive line, given that Sanchez suffered a season-ending shoulder injury.

Ryan added that he didn't think either Sanchez or Smith had earned the starting job at that point "and that's why Mark was in there."

Jet streams

Ryan said the Jets haven't considered using Vick as a change-of-pace quarterback but noted "he clearly has the element about him. There's no doubt it was on display in that Green and White scrimmage."

Asked if playing two quarterbacks makes things complicated, Ryan couldn't resist making a Tim Tebow joke: "It never worked out great the last time, did it? But we'll see. You never say never to things."

Brandon Hardin (foot) was waived with an injury settlement . . . Bilal Powell, Johnny Patrick (hamstrings), Ellis Lankster (back), Shaq Evans (shoulder) and Markus Zusevics did not practice. Brent Qvale suffered a head injury in practice and Jeremy Reeves (hamstring), Dexter McDougle (groin), Dimitri Patterson (calf/ankle), Alex Green (chest) and Zach Thompson (shoulder) were limited . . . Eric Decker (hamstring/foot) is "fighting through a couple things," according to Ryan, but he said Decker's injuries aren't serious.

Rex's son injured

Ryan's son, Clemson receiver Seth Ryan, broke his collarbone at practice Monday. The school said Ryan was making a diving coach in the end zone when he got hurt. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said the 5-11, 160-pound Ryan was playing well but will be out for a while with the injury. Swinney said he expects Ryan -- a redshirt freshman who sat out last season -- to be a good player for the Tigers down the road. -- AP

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