Updated, 3:10 p.m. ET
As head coach Rex Ryan said at today's news conference, "There's days guys dip some, but today was a bad day. There's no other way to put it."
Ryan wasn't talking about his players' choice of chaw. He was referring to rookie QB Geno Smith's just-concluded practice. In three words, said Rex:
"It was brutal."
Smith, who went almost the first week of training camp at SUNY Cortland with crisp, accurate throws that were un-pick-able, finished the last public practice of camp today with four interceptions. His sore ankle still seemed to be bothering him, as did some fundamentals. One of the picks was tipped by Ryan Spadola into the hands of free agent S Rontez Miles.
But with S Bret Lockett's interception during a late-practice hurryup drill, the head coach who is presiding over the Smith-Mark Sanchez competition to be the Jets' starting QB on opening day could soften Geno's showing only so much.
"These days happen, but you don't expect them to happen," Ryan said. "Obviously he has to come back from it and he will come back from it. But this was a really bad day for Geno."
Smith, speaking before Ryan, said the ankle hasn't hindered him.
"I haven't really been trying to use it as an excuse," he said. "I've been going out there, giving it my all, and I think I've done a good job of pushing through it this week."
But Ryan agreed that Smith saying he wasn't hindered by the ankle, which he rolled early in the third quarter at Detroit sounded like bravado.
"The thing is, he's not using that as an excuse," the coach said. "To me, that's a positive thing. But you see him out there. He's not able to move like he normally does, he's not able to drive the ball like he normally does. With his velocity, that doesn't mean he still can't get it out there. He's competing. He's been out there every day. But is he 100 percent? I would say he's not 100 percent."
Ryan had a few thoughts on what did bring on Smith's struggles.
"I think there were a lot of things," he said. "Fundamentals, I think that contributed to it. He was late on a lot of throws today. There were some contributing things there."
Smith was asked what caused today's interceptions.
"I don't know," he replied. "You all watch the tape. I'm pretty sure you all have got it. Just go ahead and watch it."
CB Antonio Cromartie put today's practice aside in assessing what he's seen from No. 7 so far this camp.
"You see some mistakes, but that's just the learning curve," Cromartie said. "I've been impressed with him just picking up the offense, coming in and doing the things he can do. Right now he's playing through an ankle injury, and that's showing a lot, showing his competitive side and wanting to be out there."
Reporters' questions went from Smith's practice and his ankle to the starting assignment against Jacksonville at MetLife Stadium on Saturday night that's suddenly more up for grabs than ever this week. One practice throw won't decide the starter for the Jaguars or the Buccaneers on opening day, but in the same drill that Smith was picked by Lockett, Sanchez let a deep ball fly into the arms of his old reliable receiver from 2009-10, Braylon Edwards, who beat his man down the sideline.
"As of right now, we're not ready to say we're going with this guy or this guy," Ryan said about Saturday's starter, adding later, "We're hoping Geno's able to play and Mark's able to play and everything's the way we originally planned. But again, plans could alter. We'll lean on our trainers and everybody else on all injuries, not just Geno's."
If and when Smith takes the new MetLife UBU Speed Series S5-M turf on Saturday, he said he'll be good to go.
"If I'm out there, I can't make any excuses, I won't make any," he said. "And if I'm out there on Saturday night, I'm going to give it my all, go out there and not think about it."