FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The Jets tapped rookie Geno Smith as their opening-day starter but left the door open, or at least slightly ajar, for Mark Sanchez’s return when healthy.

“I expect everything—many different looks. I expect pressure, especially early,” the rookie quarterback from West Virginia said of Sunday’s start against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “They’ll try and rattle my cage… I expect those guys to come out fired up. They want to make a statement (against) a rookie quarterback. Definitely want to hit me and try to get me out of my game. But I expect those things and I look forward to it.”

History shows the 22-year-old Smith will be trying to buck some rather questionable passing numbers by Week 1 rookie starters.

The fifth-year veteran Sanchez, who injured his throwing shoulder in an Aug. 24 preseason game against the New York Giants, is owed $8.25 million this season. He has committed a league-worst 52 turnovers the past two years, but team management insisted Wednesday he would not be cut or placed on IR.

“We’re having a competition between quarterbacks, and that competition isn’t finished,” said owner Woody Johnson. “Mark will be on the team, I don’t think there’s any question about that. He’s a very, very good quarterback. Franchise quarterback, you can debate the term. There’s a competition for the job, and he’s still in the competition.”

Smith endured an injury of his own when he sprained his ankle against the Lions on Aug. 9. He also tossed three interceptions the same night Sanchez was injured, half the total Smith threw his entire senior season at WVU.

Check out the preseason gallery of Smith above.

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  • Magic Mike

    Poor Geno goes to the team that destroys QBs. Jets are the kiss of death for QBs.

  • John weaver

    I am pulling for geno but the jets and Ryan are just an awful team. It is hard enough to be an NFL quarterback but to be a rookie with a shacky offensive line, average receivers, a rabid press and fans. It all spells hard times for smith. But if he can pull it off, he is an instant all pro because the media will love him as will the fans.

    • Chet Ubetcha

      You're being nice saying average receivers, that means they are on par with everyone else. This is definitely not the case, I feel bad, Geno would have better options on most of the teams in the Big 12 this year

  • pghmountaineer

    I am pulling for Geno, but I have to say I feel sorry for him having to play for Ryan. That guy is a train wreck waiting to happen.
    He's never won anything and never will.
    It's all about him, not the team.

    • Dave

      I'm rooting for Geno to have a good NFL career. But, I sure will feel sorry for him if he has a bad game this Sunday. That NY media will eat him up. Good luck against the Bucks, Geno.

      • Dave

        BTW, I like the picture of Geno sticking his tonge out at Sanchez. Nice jab.

  • Justin

    I don't see Tavon and Stedman coming to save em.