All Eyes On Mark Sanchez And Geno Smith Friday Night

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The New York Jets didn’t score a touchdown until their preseason finale in 2012. The team is hoping a new year — and a legitimate quarterback competition — will bring better results.

Willie Colon and Stephen Peterman were brought in to solidify the offensive line. Tony Sparano is no longer calling the plays. Bilal Powell has been turning heads in the re-tooled running back corps.

But in 2013 — much like last year with Tim Tebow — it’s all about the quarterback position. Mark Sanchez has rookie Geno Smith pushing him for the No. 1 job, and the incumbent starter has stepped up his game at Camp Cortland.

Now Sanchez has to put it together for Friday night’s preseason opener in Detroit — and stop any talk of a touchdown drought before it can begin.

“I think I earned the right to start this first game, and we’ll see how it goes from there,” Sanchez said Wednesday. “I’ve got to keep playing well to stay on the field and that’s the plan.”

Smith, the team’s second-round pick out of West Virginia, was expected to also get snaps with the first-team offense. Greg McElroy and Matt Simms should see some playing time too as they battle it out for the third-string job.

“It’s going to be exciting for all four quarterbacks,” said new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. “I’m excited to see all four quarterbacks play and move and groove a little bit and run the offense.”

A report in Metro New York this week said Sanchez had a “slight” lead in the QB competition. He’ll be in for a challenge Friday against Ndamukong Suh and the Lions’ defensive line.

“I do think Mark’s progressing at a high rate,” Mornhinweg said. “He’s done a fine, fine job.”

Jets fans have been looking forward to Smith’s preseason debut since the NFL Draft. Mornhinweg praised the “ultra-talented” rookie for “an excellent job to date with his preparation off the field and the production on the field.”

Smith insisted he wouldn’t be a bundle of nerves before the game.

“I’m going to go about it as I always do, business as usual,” he said. “I’m going to try and just take care of every single aspect of it, from the time we step on to the plane, to the time we get off the plane, to the time we step on the field, until it’s time to go home.”

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