NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE ; Jets Rookie Smith Gives Himself 'F' for First Practice

By Waszak, Dennis | The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV), May 11, 2013 | Go to article overview

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE ; Jets Rookie Smith Gives Himself 'F' for First Practice


Waszak, Dennis, The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV)


FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Geno Smith was surrounded by a throng of reporters, a crowded scene usually more appropriate for a No. 1 draft pick than a second-rounder.

But Smith, of course, isn't your ordinary No. 39 selection. And, the New York Jets are certainly used to their quarterbacks - and backup quarterbacks, for that matter - getting this type of attention.

"I just come out," Smith said Friday, "and be my natural self."

Who that is, exactly, has been open to some debate in recent weeks as Smith has taken lots of criticism for his abilities on the field - despite a record-breaking career at West Virginia - and his attitude off it. Various published reports painted Smith as an immature diva who didn't always take football seriously enough.

"Maybe I don't know what the diva behavior looks like," coach Rex Ryan said. "I never saw that at all."

Smith's free fall from potential top-10 pick, and his reported decision - and later, change of heart - to leave New York rather than return to the draft site at Radio City Music Hall added to the perception. As did Smith firing his two agents shortly after the draft.

He's done with all that. Still without an agent, Smith is ready to move on to football again.

"I think it's been a more eventful few weeks for the media," Smith said. "My only job is to focus on what I have here and get better."

And there's plenty to do, if you ask Smith, who said all the right things after his first practice of rookie minicamp.

"I'm going to be tough on myself," Smith said. "I'll let the coaches do the grading, but if I say it, it's an F because I want to be an A-plus.

"Hey man, that's just the way I do things."

Despite the tough self-evaluation, the quarterback looked pretty good during practice. Smith appeared to have a solid working knowledge of the playbook, and zipped many of his passes - mostly in short yardage - around the field.

"I've been studying my butt off, learning formations, learning protections," said Smith, wearing No. 7 because his old No. 12 from his college days is Joe Namath's retired number. "I think I did a good job overall today. There were some bumps in the road. Those are things I think I can clean up."

He also worked under center most of the time, something he wasn't used to doing during his time at West Virginia. Smith hesitated a few times on some throws, and was even yelled at by offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg for failing to pull off a play-action bootleg pass. …

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