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Veteran QB's vie for backup role


QBs Geno Smith and Josh Johnson look to secure a role on the Giants 53-man roster:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Geno Smith was the Giants' most intriguing acquisition this offseason.

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> Photos: Best of OTA practice
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In the previous two years with the Jets, Smith played in a grand total of three games, starting one, and threw 56 passes. But in his first two seasons, he started 29 of the 30 games in which he played, and attempted 466 throws.

The Giants believe Smith still possesses the skills that made him the 39th overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft and signed him to compete with Josh Johnson – and now rookie Davis Webb – for the backup quarterback job behind Eli Manning. But Smith isn't at full strength. He tore his right ACL in his lone 2016 start, against Baltimore on Oct. 23, and is not fully participating in the Giants' organized team activities.

"As of right now, I haven't taken any team reps," Smith said today after OTA No. 3. "I feel like I can do everything. It is just getting the trainers to give me that access. But I fully believe in what they are doing and just taking our time and when I get out there I will be ready.

"I am feeling pretty good. Every day is getting better and getting stronger. I am feeling good so far."

Smith attends all the quarterback and offensive meetings, and throws the ball in individual and seven-on-seven drills. He looks forward to participating fully in training camp.

"He's still in a limited role right now," coach Ben McAdoo said. "He had some reps in seven-on-seven. We put him through some jog-through reps at the end of practice. He's chomping at the bit, he wants to get out there, but we have to do right on the player."

View the best images from Thursday's OTA practice

Several teams entered the offseason seeking a starting quarterback. Smith has experience, he's young, and he was free. Did he get offers from teams seeking a starter?

"Yeah, but I am going to keep that to myself," Smith said. "I feel like this gave me the best opportunity to grow as a player and I am happy about the decision that I made.

"…Being with Coach McAdoo and all of the coaches – I really got a good vibe from the guys and being with a winning organization. All of the things that I put on the top of my list, I felt that here was the place for it."

Johnson spent the entire 2016 season with the Giants, but did not appear in a game. He has not played in a regular-season game since 2013, nor thrown a pass since 2011, at least not in a game that counts in the standings.

"I hear it, but it's weird to me because it's like they don't credit preseason, like it doesn't happen," Johnson said. "That's football, and I play well in the preseason. That's the opportunity that I was given and for the blessing of the other guys that I've been behind,  they haven't gotten hurt so I've got the opportunity to stay ready. I've always been prepared, since I was younger. I learned that from the guys I initially played with, to always be ready because as a back-up quarterback you never know when your opportunity is going to come. It is just something for people to talk about and it doesn't bother me. My job is to go out when I go out, and play and perform, and if you check my tape recently, I have done that."

*McAdoo on the absences of wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. and Olivier Vernon:

"You want all of your players here, especially your great players. It's a time to build fundamentals, communication, chemistry, and trust. So you want all your players here, especially the great ones. They facilitate a lot of those things for you. But you coach who's here, that's what the time we use it for."

*McAdoo seldom speaks to the media without fielding a question about left tackle Ereck Flowers, and today was no exception.

"Ereck did everything that we asked him to do in the offseason," McAdoo said. "He's in tremendous condition, he looks quick on his feet. It's a great opportunity for Ereck to be out here. He spent a lot of time in the weight room, spent a lot of time conditioning. Spent a lot of time on air, so it's good to get some bodies in front of him so he has a chance to work his technique."

*McAdoo supported the decision by NFL owners to eliminate the first cutdown date in training camp, which pared the rosters from 90 players to 75. Now there will be just one roster cut, to the regular-season of 53 prior to the regular season.

"I'm pleased," McAdoo said. "I think it's a great opportunity. These young guys that come in here, they get a ton of reps in the offseason, and they get a ton of reps in your practice and training camp, and that's really an opportunity for you to showcase them and get an opportunity to make your roster; and if it's not your roster, then somebody else's roster in the league. So I think it's doing right by the players."

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