Sanchez to start Jets preseason game, Smith will see time early

Mark Sanchez had a rosy outlook on the offseason. Credit: Getty Images
Mark Sanchez will get the start on Friday, but Smith will also see time early in the opener.
Credit: Getty Images

Mark Sanchez will get the start on Friday night when the Jets take on the Lions in preseason game No. 1, but it will likely be Geno Smith who will get more time on the field.

The incumbent Sanchez and the rookie Smith have been engaged in a quarterback competition that has turned into a dead heat since the start of training camp. On Tuesday afternoon, head coach Rex Ryan announced that Sanchez will be the starter in the game against the Lions.

Now entering his fifth year in the league, Sanchez has entered every season as the team’s starter and has never faced a true quarterback competition.

“It’s been an even competition. We’ve been rotating days and things like that. Certainly Mark is the incumbent,” Ryan said. “Again, the competition starts off and we’ll see where it goes from here but it seemed like the natural thing.”

Even though Sanchez gets the start, in all likelihood he won’t see much playing time, as the first team typically plays just a series or two in the first quarter of the opening preseason game. Smith could play the rest of the opening half and perhaps even into the third quarter, giving him a chance to stake his claim to the starting spot. Ryan said many of the starters will stay in for Smith’s early series.

On the recently released depth chart, Sanchez and Smith are listed as sharing the No. 1 slot at quarterback. It is the only position on the team where the starter is split under two names.

During Tuesday’s morning session, the second full practice after Saturday’s Green and White scrimmage, Sanchez reportedly had another strong practice while Smith had some struggles, including throwing an interception during the team period.

Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer for updates from training camp.


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