Ex-Gang Green Quarterback Excited For Opportunity To 'Prove Himself' And Nail Down Giants Backup Job

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Playing the Jets is going to be special for Geno Smith.

Not only is it a chance for the 26-year-old to nail down the Giants’ backup quarterback job in the annual preseason game against the Jets on Saturday, but it’s a shot for the former Jets’ second-round pick in 2013 to show his old team they made a mistake waiving him earlier this year after an up and mostly down four-year stint.

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Smith is trying to resurrect his career after signing with the Giants as a free agent. He has shown flashes of being a capable quarterback in training camp and the preseason, and perplexing moments of bad decisions that have resulted in turnovers.

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With a little more than two weeks to go before the season opener against Dallas, Smith seems to be a little ahead of veteran Josh Johnson in the fight to be Eli Manning’s backup. Rookie third-round draft pick Davis Webb seemingly will be the redshirt third stringer.

Geno Smith

Giants quarterback Geno Smith warms up before the preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at MetLife Stadium on Aug. 11, 2017. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Smith laughed Thursday when asked about playing the Jets. It was the first question he was asked and he knew it was coming.

“You always want to go out there and prove yourself,” Smith said. “But, nothing extra added toward them, though. I have a lot of great respect for a lot of people in that organization and I appreciated my time there, but now it’s just focusing on what we have to focus on, which is going out there and executing on game day.”

Smith has maintained some contacts with the Jets, snap-chatting with defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, and talking with former Jets center Nick Mangold and injured receiver Quincy Enunwa.

Smith said he realized that he would be facing the Jets as soon as he signed with the Giants, but he also said he has to play well.

“If you don’t produce, you’re probably not going to have a job in this league,” said Smith, who has completed 21 of 33 passes for 193 yards and two interceptions.

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“So, it’s not really about the Jets. It’s more about me going out there and just continuing to get better and continuing to showcase my ability, but also be productive. I think I’ve shown that I can make plays, but I need to be more productive and finish drives.”

Giants coach Ben McAdoo did not discuss his plans for his quarterbacks Thursday. Manning probably will play at least the first half and maybe into the third quarter.

Either Johnson or Smith probably will follow him. Smith got the majority of the snaps after replacing Manning on Monday night in Cleveland and Johnson did not get as much. That might flip-flop on Saturday.

Johnson, who finished last season as the Giants backup after Ryan Nassib was hurt, has not played in an NFL game since 2013, and he has not thrown a pass in a game since 2011. The 31-year-old knows this will be an important game for him, too. He only got to throw four passes against the Browns and is 7 of 14 for 37 yards in the preseason.

“They held the ball a lot and controlled the clock,” Johnson said of his limited action Monday. “Different things happened throughout the game. My job isn’t to complain; just be a professional about it, and make sure to take advantage of the opportunities.”

His goal is to put points on the board and get a seventh season in the NFL.

“My love for football has allowed me to stay this long,” Johnson said. “It has allowed me to push through the hard times, to be humble and to keep working in the good times.

“Right now, I’m really trying to just stay in the moment. Obviously, the goal is to be on this team and to be the backup quarterback, but you really have to live in the moment and control what you can control in this process.”

NOTES: WRs Odell Beckham Jr. (ankle) and Brandon Marshall (shoulder) did not practice for the second straight day. Marshall was on the field for practice. Beckham was in the team building getting treatment. McAdoo refused to rule them out for Saturday’s game. … CB Michael Hunter and LB Keenan Robinson remain in the concussion protocol. … McAdoo said he would not hesitate to make changes on his offensive line if he felt it would make the group better.

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