David Garrard was going through the mundane chore of packing some things for his trip to New Jersey to rejoin the Jets when he came across one shirt that he wanted to pack.
It was a black T-shirt and in green lettering it read: “Some Things Just Don’t Retire.”
It was a shirt likely made for someone north of 65 years old but for Garrard, it was fitting. That the lettering was in Jets green made it the perfect shirt to wear as he walked around the locker room, back with the Jets for the second time this year.
The Jets signed Garrard on Thursday, a player who retired from the NFL as a member of the Jets after he signed with the team on March 11. Now, he’s back, but not to compete with rookie quarterback Geno Smith for the starting job.
“Geno has the job. If my number is ever called, I need to be ready for that. It’s my job to help these guys and Matt Simms and just be as much of a leader as I can in the locker room and as much of a leader and a mentor as I can in the quarterback room,” Garrard said. “I was a rookie once and I know how it is. Everything is flying around and you’ve got guys who are looking for you to be the leader. You’re still trying to figure things out yourself.”
Plagued throughout the tail end of his career by knee injuries that cut short a previous comeback attempt with the Dolphins, Garrard hasn’t thrown a pass in a regular season game since he was the starter with the Jaguars in 2010.
“He has a commanding presence in the huddle and he throws the ball extremely well,” head coach Rex Ryan said.
The Jets lost Mark Sanchez for the season after he had shoulder surgery on Tuesday. A day after the Jets essentially ended their relationship with Sanchez, they might be doing the same thing to another quarterback on their roster. Bringing in Garrard and his battered knees, even if only for a test run, isn’t a good sign for Brady Quinn.
The Jets have until Oct. 21 at 4 p.m. to make a decision on whether to keep Garrard.
“We’ll see exactly where he is,” Ryan said. “There haven’t been any guarantees or promises made.”
Garrard had reached out to general manager John Idzik about the possibility of a return on Sunday after he watched a couple NFL games and still felt the desire to play. He knew the Jets still owned his rights and he wanted to give him the first opportunity before the information was reported by the media.
“I started to get some pretty good feedback from when I was talking to him and I just told him that, ‘Hey, if there’s anything I can do to help you guys out in any kind of way.’ I know my veteran leadership in the meeting room and on the practice field can really help Geno continue to grow,” Garrard said. “He’s been doing a great job. If there’s anything I can do, I’d love to be able come back and help you guys.”
Jets notes …
»A hamstring injury continues to keep rookie cornerback Dee Milliner off the practice field, making him unlikely for Sunday’s game against the Steelers.
“[He] did not do any team drills at all today,” Ryan said of his first-round pick. “We’ll see.”
»Like Milliner, wide receiver Santonio Holmes is not looking like a player ready to hit the field. Holmes was hurt two weeks ago in the loss at the Titans when he left with a hamstring injury in the second half and did not return to the game. He hasn’t played or practiced since. Ryan wouldn’t rule out Holmes but said, “I don’t know if you want to say it doesn’t look good.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.