Rookie QB Responds To Criticism; Has Nothing But Praise For Competition

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Geno Smith says he doesn’t “worry about what people say.”

He may need to double-down on that. The rookie quarterback has already dealt with some not-so-nice headlines in New York, and the heat will only intensify at training camp this summer during the Jets’ five-man QB competition.

“My skin is pretty thick,” Smith told USA Today on Monday.

The second-round pick was clobbered in a Yahoo! Sports report last week, which quoted unnamed league executives who came away from their pre-draft assessments unimpressed with the West Virgina quarterback. The report also alleged Smith appeared more interested in noodling around on his cell phone than actually connecting with potential teams’ coaches.

“That’s not true,” Smith said. “I got strong remarks from all the teams I visited with. … I couldn’t care less what’s coming out in the media because I know what’s true.”

Like when it was reported that a disappointed Smith would leave town after slipping out of the first round?

“Coming back on Day 2 was never not an option for me,” he said. “My goal was to go up on that stage and shake Mr. Goodell’s hand. And that’s what we did.”

The 22-year-old was selected by the Jets with the 39th overall pick. Now he’s front and center in the nation’s largest media market, where he’ll be needing that thick skin.

“What more can you ask for?” Smith told USA Today. “As of right now, my role as a rookie quarterback is to be a sponge. I have a goal in mind. I’m going to work hard towards it. And I’m just going to do all the things I think are necessary for me to eventually be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.”

Smith’s first task will be to learn new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s playbook “like the back of my hand.” Smith had some kind words for his competition, saying he holds “the utmost respect” for Mark Sanchez — “a great guy.”

And then there’s veteran David Garrard.

“David sent me a text the day after I was drafted,” said Smith. “I expressed how much I was looking forward to learning from him, competing with him and allowing him to mentor me and to help me get better. I’m going to do the same for him.”

Smith also defended his decision to fire his agents after the conclusion of the draft. He was once expected to be the first quarterback taken, possibly a top-10 pick. In four years with the Mountaineers, Smith threw for 11,662 yards with 98 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.

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