New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith said Wednesday that he's frustrated his chance to open the season under center was derailed by a punch from former teammate IK Enemkpali. While his status is uncertain with Ryan Fitzpatrick now leading the offense, he's trying to remain upbeat during his recovery.
Smith told Kimberley A. Martin of Newsday that an X-ray coming up in the next week or so will determine how close he is to returning. He's been trying to hide his emotions while around the team but admitted a fire burns inside about how things happened.
"I'm extremely [angry]," Smith said. "But I have to keep my temper down. I can't exhibit that in the locker room, I can't exhibit that on a daily basis. I just feel for my family more because they enjoy seeing me out there."
After the incident, Jets head coach Todd Bowles described what happened to Smith as getting "cold-cocked, sucker-punched, whatever you want to call it." Adam Schefter of ESPN later reported the altercation started when Enemkpali tried to collect $600 he felt Smith owed him for a plane ticket.
The punch delivered by the linebacker, who's now a member of the Buffalo Bills and has since been suspended for four games as a result of the situation, left Smith with a broken jaw. In turn, Fitzpatrick stepped into the starting lineup.
He performed well in the team's season-opening win over the Cleveland Browns. He posted a 95.7 passer rating while completing better than 60 percent of his throws with two touchdowns and one interception in the 31-10 triumph.
If Fitzpatrick continues to play well while Smith is working his way back, it would obviously be difficult to switch quarterbacks. The former starter explained to Newsday that he doesn't want a potential controversy to start causing problems, though.
"You want to say, OK, it's Fitz's team? But that's kind of pinning me and him against each other," Smith said. "We're all in this thing together. It's a collective bond, and it was that way when I was projected the starter and when I got hurt it was that way. And right now it's the same way."
He also admitted things have changed due to his injury and said he's not going to demand anything. He said his main focus right now is getting back to full strength and then seeing what happens.
Smith is in a difficult spot because his starting job was handed to somebody else due to an incident that, quite frankly, should have never happened. Now, depending on how Fitzpatrick performs, there's a chance Smith won't get another opportunity to prove himself this season.
He's saying all of the right things for the time being and trying to serve as a good teammate. The Jets' quarterback situation will likely garner a lot of headlines once he's cleared to play, though.