FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Geno Smith is working his way back to playing. For now, a visit to practice counts as progress for the New York Jets quarterback.
Smith returned to the field Monday at the team’s practice facility for the first time since being sidelined with a broken jaw after a teammate punched him nearly two weeks ago.
“It’s good to see his face,” coach Todd Bowles said. “He didn’t do much, but he’s not hurting like he was, I guess, so he came out.”
Smith is still unlikely to participate in any drills for the next few weeks, but Bowles said he was cleared for light jogging and light throwing.
Smith’s jaw was broken on Aug. 11 when linebacker Ikemefuna Enemkpali punched him in the locker room. Enemkpali was immediately cut by the Jets and claimed off waivers by Rex Ryan’s Buffalo Bills the next day.
Smith was expected to miss six to 10 weeks, and he had surgery to insert metal plates and screws into the jaw on Aug. 13. Bowles said the timetable for Smith’s return to full participation had not changed.
The quarterback has been attending team meetings at the facility for the last several days, but his presence on the field — even without him practicing — got some fans in attendance shouting his name as he stretched with the rest of his teammates. Smith, wearing a red no-contact No. 7 jersey and no helmet, then headed to the trainers’ area.
“It feels good to have him back out here,” wide receiver Brandon Marshall said. “He looked good over there working out a little bit.”
During practice, Smith briefly jogged on a back field and then threw some passes to injured wide receivers Devin Smith (ribs) and Shaq Evans (back). He later joined the offense on the sideline during team drills, chatting with current starter Ryan Fitzpatrick and offensive coordinator Chan Gailey before heading back into the facility. Geno Smith was not made available to the media.
“He’s been in meetings and been vocal and helping out and all that,” Fitzpatrick said of Smith. “I think he’s kind of getting back into it. He’s allowed to be around a little bit more now, so I think that’s helpful for him.”
Fitzpatrick started the Jets’ first two preseason games, and is expected to play at least a half with the starters against the Giants on Saturday night. He was 13 of 19 for 118 yards and helped lead New York to a scoring drive against Atlanta last Friday night.
General manager Mike Maccagnan recently said Smith could miss at least the first four games of the regular season, so Fitzpatrick is busy trying to build chemistry with the starters, particularly receivers Marshall and Eric Decker. On Monday, Fitzpatrick and Decker worked on routes together after practice.
“I just think it’ll continue to get better, the more reps we have,” Fitzpatrick said.
NOTES: DE Muhammad Wilkerson participated in team drills for the second straight day after missing most of the last three weeks with a tweaked hamstring. He’ll play Saturday, barring any setbacks. ... QB Matt Flynn, signed last week as veteran insurance, is unlikely to play until the Jets’ preseason finale against Philadelphia as he works through a hamstring issue. ... Bowles said rookie LB Lorenzo Mauldin sprained his left knee during the team’s practice at Hofstra University on Sunday night. Mauldin will not play against the Giants. ... LB Calvin Pace left practice with a strained groin. Bowles had no immediate update on the severity. ... Bowles said second-year TE Jace Amaro, sidelined with a sprained shoulder, won’t practice “any time soon.”
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