FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Todd Bowles tried to set the record straight on the state of the Jets' quarterbacks.
A week after his offensive coordinator, Chan Gailey, declared Geno Smith the outright starter two months before training camp, Bowles backtracked somewhat on Wednesday.
"I view it as open competition with Geno being the starter. It's his [job] to lose," the Jets coach told reporters after the team's fifth session of organized activities.
Still, the competition will be skewed in Smith's favor. According to Bowles, Smith will continue to work with the first-team offense, while Ryan Fitzpatrick practices with the second team. Backup Matt Simms will stick with the third-team offense and fourth-rounder Bryce Petty and free-agent signee Jake Heaps will gets reps wherever they can.
"Chan's very matter of fact, and in Chan's mind, with Fitzpatrick being hurt and with Bryce just coming in, there was no competition," Bowles said. "But come camp time, there will be competition at the spot."
Not only did Gailey say last week that "it wasn't a thought" to have a camp competition, but he also tabbed Smith the Week 1 starter, barring injury.
Bowles, however, said production will determine whether Smith stays atop the depth chart.
"If he's playing well, he's the starter. If he's not playing well and somebody's playing better -- as is [the case with] any other position -- somebody else is going to play," said Bowles, who stressed he and Gailey are "on the same page."
It may be Smith's job to lose, but it's also "Ryan's to take, it's Bryce's to take, it's Matt's to take," Bowles said.
The Jets defense is well ahead of the offense at this point. Smith struggled yesterday with his accuracy and with some of Bowles' blitzes. But the vote of confidence from the coaching staff doesn't make him feel any more at ease. "Honestly, it doesn't. It makes me work harder," Smith said, adding that he always has viewed himself as "the type of guy that can lead this team."
But Smith also is 11-18 as a starter and has 25 touchdown passes and 34 interceptions over the past two seasons.
"We're always talking about having a short memory as quarterbacks. Mine has had to be one of the shortest in history," he said.
Fitzpatrick, still rehabbing the broken leg he suffered in December, participated in team drills for the first time on Wednesday but didn't show much velocity with his throws.
Said Bowles: "Ryan has to be healthy, Bryce has to get experience, Matt has to learn the system, so the first-team reps go to the guy who was the first-team quarterback last year."
Notes & quotes:DE Muhammad Wilkerson did not attend Wednesday's OTA session. Neither did DT Sheldon Richardson, but unlike Wilkerson, he was present on Tuesday . . . WR Jeremy Kerley, RB Chris Ivory and CB Dee Milliner also were absent on Wednesday because of personal reasons.