Updated, 5:55 p.m. ET
It might have seemed as if it was QBs 24/7 at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center today, and Rex Ryan wasn't giving the reporters the answer to their question about who has finally, definitively, for the rest of the season won the Jets' quarterback competition.
"The only thing I'm willing to say is that our focus is strictly on Tampa Bay, and our starting quarterback is Geno Smith," Ryan said. "That's all I'm going to get into it, because that's the truth. I understand we've got a game the Thursday after, but our focus is Tampa Bay. We owe it to ourselves, our fans and everything else to put everything we have into this game, and that's exactly where our attention's going to be."
Still, there were a few other starting positions that Ryan hadn't addressed, but he nailed them down today late in his daily news conference.
Taking the first snaps at tailback, he said, will be Bilal Powell. "Chris [Ivory] is going to play a lot of football," Rex said, "but Bilal earned the right to start. He did a tremendous job throughout training camp."
At left guard, the starter will be Vladimir Ducasse, the second-round pick in 2010 who until now has one career start under his belt, and that at tight end vs. Kansas City in '11. Vlad credits his new role to a whole lot of physical/spiritual cross-training.
"Like I've been telling everybody, this offseason I took my workout to another level, and I've just been praying more, talking to God more. I feel good," he said. "And I feel the coaches have shown a lot of trust in me. I've just got to go out there and prove them right, just do my job."
And taking the nod at safety is second-year man Antonio Allen, who had a spirited summer competition with Jaiquawn Jarrett for the starting gig alongside Dawan Landry.
"Just a normal day. Just walked in and looked at the depth chart," AA said, trying to nonchalant his new role. "It's a big accomplishment. I'm proud of myself. I'm proud of what I accomplished this offseason, and hopefully it continues during the rest of the year."
Ryan also reminded that the Jets' starting units will be — have to be — about more than 22 players.
"It doesn't end with the top 11 on offense and the top 11 on defense," the coach said. "All our guys are going to play. Whoever's up for that game is going to play and going to contribute. I think that's good for all the guys. ... We have a good football team. We'll be popping out of our skin to play on Sunday. It's a home game and Tampa Bay, the way they play, they're an aggressive, high-energy team. It'll be interesting to see what happens out there."
Quick Change at QB
Matt Simms is wise beyond his years, or else he's a good poker player, because he calmly agreed that yes, the Jets' QB depth chart has undergone a radical makeover in the last, oh, month.
"Yeah, it really has," he said with a smile. "It's a rough game, it is a business. Unfortunately you get close to certain people and build relationships, and the business part of this kind of takes that away from you. That's just part of the game."
The DC, for those keeping score at home, began this summer as Mark Sanchez/Geno Smith as a 1/2 slash, Greg McElroy at 3 and Simms at 4. For the Bucs the operative chart will be Smith starting, Simms backing up, Brady Quinn at 3 and Sanchez with an asterisk as an injured player.
But another part of the game is dealing in the moment, and Simms has a good grasp on this moment as the Jets' No. 2. He won't get many reps during the week, just as he didn't this summer, just as he didn't last April when he was an unsigned tryout player at the Jets' 2012 rookie minicamp. But he's only a sprain, a strain or a pain away from logging his first minutes as a pro QB so he's got to be readily mentally to step in and lead the offense in a pinch.
"It's always been a dream of mine just like it is for most of the people in here to make it this far," he said. "My journey to this dream was obviously not a smooth path all the time, but nonetheless the path did teach me a lot of things to prepare me for this situation I'm in. And I'm just truly grateful for the time I've had here and just for the Jets to invest that much effort into me, to start me like they did in the Philly game. Truly it means a lot to me, and that's why I owe them everything, and that's why I have to go out there and do everything I can."
Ryan read off the first two categories of his first injury report of the season. The Did Not Participate listed four players: LB Quinton Coples (ankle), TE Kellen Winslow (knee), DL Leger Douzable (illness) and Sanchez (right shoulder). The three-man Limited group was CB Antonio Cromartie (hip), DT Kenrick Ellis (low back) and WR Santonio Holmes (foot).
Fourteen other players are listed as full participants in today's midday practice. You can find our entire injury report by clicking here.
Tampa Bay's report is more spare. The name most Jets fans care about is Darrelle Revis, and the CB is listed as the only "full" participant at the Buccaneers' Central Florida practice today. The other injured Bucs: Did Not Participate — TE Tom Crabtree (ankle), CB Rashaan Melvin (hamstring), G Carl Nicks (foot). Limited — RB Mike James (eye), RB Erik Lorig (calf).