Jets’ QB Smith has torn ACL in knee

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Dennis Waszak Jr.

NEW YORK >> Geno Smith’s sec­ond chance at start­ing ap­pears to be over.

His play­ing days with the New York Jets could be, too.

An MRI on Mon­day re­vealed that the ma­ligned quar­ter­back has a torn an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment in his right knee, and Smith seek­ing a sec­ond opin­ion on the in­jury that would end his sea­son. That means Ryan Fitz­patrick is back from the bench and will start Sun­day for the Jets at Cleve­land.

“When you hear that, that’s tough luck for the kid,” coach Todd Bowles said dur­ing a con­fer­ence call. “Fitz­patrick fin­ished the game up, and we’re go­ing from there with Fitz.”

Smith, a sec­ond-round pick in 2013 who is sched­uled to be a free agent af­ter the sea­son, in­jured his knee in his first start since 2014 while tak­ing a sack from Bal­ti­more’s Matt Judon in the sec­ond quar­ter of the Jets’ 24-16 win Sun­day.

It’s a stun­ning turn of events for Smith, who didn’t ini­tially be­lieve the in­jury was se­ri­ous.

“I don’t feel like it hurts a ton,” Smith said af­ter the game. “Hon­estly, I was beg­ging to go back out there, but I un­der­stand they’re do­ing their jobs, so we’ll see how it goes (Mon­day) and move on from there.”

NFL Net­work first re­ported the sever­ity of Smith’s in­jury.

It’s the lat­est bout with bad luck for Smith, who lost his start­ing job to Fitz­patrick last sum­mer when his jaw was bro­ken by a punch from then-team­mate IK Enemk­pali.

Un­til Sun­day, Smith had ap­peared in just two mopup roles since his last start in the 2014 sea­son fi­nale.

“He caught a bad break two years in a row,” Bowles said. “I’m sure he’ll bounce

back from it, but it’s a tough part of the busi­ness.”

With Fitz­patrick strug­gling with 11 in­ter­cep­tions in New York’s first six games, in which the Jets started 1-5, Bowles went with Smith as his starter against the Ravens.

Smith had a solid start to the game, go­ing 4 of 8 for 95 yards, in­clud­ing a 69yard touch­down to Quincy Enunwa. But he was hurt when he scram­bled to his left and held onto the ball rather than throw it away on a third-down play, and took the sack.

He limped off the field and was checked by train­ers on the side­line be­fore be­ing taken to the locker room.

Smith spent the sec­ond half in sweats on the side­line as Fitz­patrick helped lead the Jets to a win.

“I think it’s ter­ri­ble,” Enunwa said. “For a guy to get his op­por­tu­nity and only get a half to play, I feel bad for him.”

Smith drew some crit­i­cism from Hall of Fame quar­ter­back Joe Na­math, who wrote on Twit­ter : “If you’ve got a right knee in­jury keep­ing you out of the game, why are you stand­ing on the side­line the en­tire 2nd half? How bad can it be?”

Smith saw Na­math’s com­ments and re­sponded on Twit­ter : “Some­body tell Joe that the doc­tors have the final say on whether you can or can­not get back into the game ... and also that I love him!”

The Jets will now have to turn back to Fitz­patrick as their start­ing quar­ter­back.

Bryce Petty, a fourthrounder last year, and rookie Chris­tian Hack­en­berg, a sec­ond-rounder, are also on the ros­ter. Petty has been prac­tic­ing for only two weeks af­ter re­cov­er­ing from a pre­sea­son shoul­der in­jury.

“Bryce has to get his reads and his tim­ing and ev­ery­thing else back down,” Bowles said. “Fitz is our best op­tion to go in and win this week.”

Bowles had not de­ter­mined whether Petty or Hack­en­berg would be the No. 2 quar­ter­back be­hind Fitz­patrick, say­ing he would see how prac­tice went this week.

Fitz­patrick was candid af­ter the game about how he felt owner Woody John­son, general man­ager Mike Maccagnan and Bowles, among oth­ers, had lost faith in him.

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