With young veteran Vyncint Smith and rookie Denzel Mims sidelined with injuries, just-signed vet Chris Hogan not yet cleared to begin practice, and with only eight wide receivers on the roster, it's next-man-up time for the Jets at wideout.
Paging Jeff Smith.
"I think my main thing is just to know the whole offense," Smith said after today's second practice of Jets training camp, "and wherever my chance comes, to be able to go in there, not think too much, and be able to play fast. Next man up."
Smith (6'1", 195) is in his second season with the Green & White after signing as an undrafted free agent out of Boston College following the 2019 draft. However, he missed most of last year's summer camp with a hamstring injury, spent most of the year on the practice squad, was activated for the game at Baltimore, and left that game for IR with an ankle sprain.
But Smith now is healthy and improving his visibility, largely because he brings some interesting skills to the training table. One is his 4.4 speed.
"My dad ran track and my mom played volleyball and ran track, so I've just always had that kind of speed," he said. "That's just a positive side to my game, being able to use that speed at the right time."
Another trait, he explained, is learning the Jets' offense "through a quarterback's mind but being able to run the routes."
That's because up through high school, Smith was a quarterback — and quite a prolific one at Central Catholic HS in Clearwater, FL, as he set school records and earned All-State class honors.
"I wanted to play quarterback. I played quarterback my whole life," he said. But his BC coaches felt his speed, hands and QB's mindset would translate better to wideout. "It was kind of weird at first, but that transition the past two, three years I think have gone smooth."
Except for last year's injuries, of course. But Smith got his first pro reception and only catch of the season, a 12-yarder from Sam Darnold for a first down in the opening quarter. And all year he took in all the coaching he could, from Darnold as well as from veteran WRs Demaryius Thomas and Robby Anderson.
"Spraining my ankle, that was tough," Smith reflected, "but it was a learning experience for sure. DT and Robby helped me throughout the year and even toward the end to stay in it. They helped me a lot through the whole process."
And now, while this year's WR group goes through a bit of an early-camp injury transition, Smith is putting all his rookie knowledge to good use.
See the Best Photos from Sunday's Indoor Practice at Jets Training Camp