Ex-Jet Locked In Battle With Veteran Johnson For Backup Quarterback Job And Probably A Roster Spot

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — If Geno Smith is going to win the backup quarterback job with New York Giants, the real competition starts Friday.

For the past two weeks in training camp, Smith and fellow veteran Josh Johnson have alternated as the No. 2 quarterback behind two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning. Rookie draft pick Davis Webb has barely seen any action.

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Manning and Webb, the third-round draft pick out of California, have their spots on the roster set.

That leaves Smith, who signed with the Giants as a free agent after four inconsistent seasons with the Jets, and Johnson, who was on the roster last season but didn’t play, left for one spot.

Whoever produces in the preseason games will probably get the job. Neither has been consistent in training camp.

“‘We’re all competing to get each other better and if it’s that one spot then obviously I’m going for it,” Smith said Wednesday after practice. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for Josh. I think he’s a tremendous player. He’s been in this league a long time, proven guy.”

Geno Smith

New York Giants quarterback Geno Smith works out during training camp on July 29, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Coach Ben McAdoo said his approach to the first preseason game will be the same as a year ago. If that’s the case, Manning will not play.

McAdoo did not reveal his plans for the quarterbacks in the game.

A second-round draft choice by the Jets in 2013, Smith’s stint was marred by injuries. He also lost his starting job in 2015 after a teammate broke his jaw with a punch during training camp.

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Ryan Fitzpatrick replaced him and Smith didn’t get back on the field until October of last season. His stay was short. He tore his ACL against Baltimore and missed the rest of the season.

Smith says his knee is fine and he believes the rehabilitation has him in great shape. While he isn’t looking forward to taking a hit, he is not afraid of it.

He said his failures with the Jets are behind him. He is still learning some aspects of the Giants offense, but he is confident.

“It’s still Chapter One,” Smith said. “We’re still working, still getting better. It’s not that kind of thing for me. I’m always focused on football. I don’t look at the outside story lines, any of that. This is a game that I love. I enjoy playing it and I know that the ups and downs — they just come with it.”

Johnson has not played in a game since the 2013 season with Cincinnati and he has not thrown a pass since the 2011 season with Tampa Bay. He was the Giants’ No. 3 quarterback last season and was active for two games when Ryan Nassib was out with an elbow injury.

Johnson isn’t looking at Friday as a showdown with Smith for the backup job.

“It’s a performance driven business, so you’ve got to get out there and perform with the opportunities that you’ve got,” said the 31-year-old who is entering his seventh season. “Obviously for me, I keep it simple. Then, the fact that there’s only one quarterback that goes out on the field at one time, that’s really all that matters, make sure you’re on the same page with those 10 guys.”

The biggest surprise Wednesday was McAdoo saying that Webb will play against the Steelers. He has limited opportunities in the team sessions in training camp, although he got time in the two-minute drill on Wednesday.

“I feel ready to go,” Webb said. “I have been studying my butt off. I have gotten every rep this entire camp. I might not have been in there, but mentally I have been into every single rep.”

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(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)