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Todd Bowles says Ryan Fitzpatrick is Jets' starter even when Geno Smith returns

New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) throws

New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) throws against the Indianapolis Colts in the first half of an NFL game in Indianapolis, Monday, Sept. 21, 2015. Credit: AP / Darron Cummings

Todd Bowles isn't about to disrupt team chemistry -- not even for a healthy Geno Smith.

The Jets coach reiterated Tuesday that Ryan Fitzpatrick will remain his starting quarterback, even after Smith returns from injury.

Smith's jaw was broken in two places after he was cold cocked in the locker room Aug. 11 by then-teammate Ikemefuna Enemkpali. Smith not only lost his starting job to Fitzpatrick, but he was given a six-to-10-week recovery timetable.

His return, however, is fast approaching. But that has little effect on Bowles, who put to rest the possibility of a quarterback controversy.

"Ryan is our starting quarterback right now," Bowles said on a conference call. "I mean, we're going good, we have good chemistry going and everything else. Geno understands that. And, as we go, Ryan's our quarterback. And we'll go forward from there."

The same day as the Smith-Enemkpali altercation, Bowles said he wouldn't go back to Smith if the offense was running smoothly with Fitzpatrick.

"If the other guy is playing well, and the boat is going right, and there are no waves . . . and we're 4, 5, 6, 7-0? Yeah, you're not coming back to start," Bowles said on Aug. 11.

on Tuesday, a day after his blitz-happy Jets defeated Andrew Luck and the Colts, 20-7, on Monday Night Football, Bowles left no doubt that Fitzpatrick is the guy.

"Ryan's the starter," he said.

Last week, during an exclusive interview with Newsday, Smith said he's set to have his final X-ray in "a week or so" to determine whether he's healthy enough to participate in team drills without restrictions, as well as live game action. And for the first time since the incident, Smith finally admitted he's still deeply upset by the punch.

"I'm extremely [angry]," he said. "But I have to keep my temper down. I can't exhibit that in the locker room, I can't exhibit that on a daily basis. I just feel for my family more because they enjoy seeing me out there."

If Fitzpatrick and the Jets (2-0) continue to impress, there's a chance Smith will be relegated to the sideline for much longer than he expected.

"He has to get reps in practice," Bowles said of the third-year quarterback. "He has to read defenses all over again. It's like the start of training camp. When you haven't read the defenses and set the fronts and called out blitz protections and everything like that, that takes a minute. So once he gets back into that flow, I think it'll start coming back to him pretty good."

But, again, Bowles made it clear that Smith's return won't impede Fitzpatrick's progress.

"Ryan will get all the first-team reps," Bowles said.

Smith expressed confidence in his ability to lead the offense but he also acknowledged, "I'm in a different position now, so you've got to be realistic about things. I'm not trying to sit here and say I'm demanding certain things. I'm just working to get healthy. And then, you've got to see the rest."

Notes & quotes: The Jets signed WR Titus Davis to the practice squad and released DE Jordan Williams from the practice squad . . . Quarterback-turned-receiver Terrelle Pryor and ex-Giants WR Corey Washington were among several players who worked out for the Jets on Tuesday . . . The Eagles said LB Kiko Alonso and DT Cedric Thornton won't play Sunday.

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