NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith isn’t just bigger and stronger this year.

He says he’s quicker, too.

“I’ve gotten faster,” Smith told the team’s official website. “And I’m also more confident with running the ball. A lot of that has to do with … my reads, and knowing when to put it down to run to get us some extra yards.”

Smith, who has said he put on 10 pounds of muscle ahead of training camp, knows an extra set of downs would make a difference not only on offense, but also on the defensive side of the ball.

And keeping Rex Ryan’s defense fresh could be huge for a team looking to improve on last season’s 8-8 finish.

“I realize the longer we can keep our defense on the sideline and give them time to rest, the better that they’ll play,” he said. “Towards the end of the season last year, down the stretch, we got a chance to see that happen.”

Smith was no slouch on his feet in his rookie season, running for 366 yards and six touchdowns. It’s all about picking his spots, and he’s learning from the best in Michael Vick, who owns the NFL record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 5,857.

“We want to really put emphasis on getting the ball out on time and being sharp and precise with our throws, but if it’s not there, use that extra asset that we have as runners,” said Smith, who appears to have the lead — by a wide margin — in the club’s quarterback competition.

More from the second-year QB:

— On jelling with WR Eric Decker: “We’ve worked extremely hard in the offseason. We got together on our own outside of the coaches, outside of the facilities, and we did a bunch of things as far as running routs and stuff. And we also talked through a bunch of things. … With the reps that we get, we’re just getting better and better.”

— On RB Chris Johnson: “We’ve yet to see fully what Chris can do for us. … When he has been out there, man, you can see the explosiveness and the speed that he has. I know (offensive coordinator) Marty (Mornhinweg) is going to figure out tons of ways to use that.”

— On Vick mentorship: “Mike’s making it extremely comfortable for me. He’s allowing me to grow. He’s teaching me, he’s molding me, and he’s helping me. When you have a guy like that, who’s a veteran guy, who doesn’t have a big ego, it makes it better for the team as a whole. When the team sees us off the field laughing and joking around and having fun, it loosens up the environment, and it allows all of us to bond.”

— On the state of the team: “Our locker room is so close right now. We’ve just got to keep that up and just keep working at it. We’re all bought in to Rex’s system and to what he’s preaching to us, and you can really tell with the way that we practice.”

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