Rex Ryan said today that he doesn't know if there's going to be more competition anywhere than what the Jets are going to have at their SUNY Cortland training camp. And the position with the most prominent competition is about to heat up at Friday's first full practice of camp.
"I feel good about my ability, I'm confident in my ability," said fifth-year incumbent starting quarterback Mark Sanchez. "I feel comfortable up here. I've had some of my best practices up here. This place is like a second home to me and I'm ready to go, ready to compete and play my best."
"I've been preparing extremely hard, studying, getting familiar withe the offense, the terminology," said second-round rookie QB Geno Smith. "I feel more and more comfortable with it as the days go by. I'm just preparing myself and I know once I get more acclimated with it, the game will slow down, and that happens with time."
Reporters tried to push each player to declare that he's the man to take the reins of Marty Mornhinweg's West Coast offense and lead the Jets' O back from last year's travails. Both said they were that man — up to a point.
Mark, are you confident you'll be the starter? ESPN New York asked the incumbent.
"Absolutely," Sanchez said. "You've got to play like that."
And Geno, can you take this job away from No. 6?
"In my heart, I expect to have a shot," Smith replied, "and that's all I can ask for."
Ryan wasn't tipping his hand on which one has the edge going into camp or how long it will take to name the starter.
"That's something you want to do sooner than later," the silver-haired coach said outside the Glass Tower dorms on the SUNY Cortland campus. "But I think the big thing is to make sure there's fair competition, and when I make the decision, clearly I feel great about it. And it's not just me. I'll lean on several other people. But it has to be the right decision."
Ryan cited his and Sanchez's first year with the Jets and the team's first year at Cortland in 2009 as an example of what he's referring to as a fair competition at the all-important position. Sanchez was declared the winner over Kellen Clemens on Aug. 26 of that year.
"I thought it was fair," the coach said. "I think when we made the decision to go with Mark, it was the right call at the right time." Now the timing isn't as important as holding that fair and open competition and getting the call right. The first indications of what that call will be will arrive Friday morning shortly after the 10 a.m. start to the first practice of camp.