Rookie Geno Smith, who had an unspectacular preseason, will start at quarterback against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, the New York Jets said.
The 22-year-old Smith, a second-round pick out of West Virginia, is starting because of the shoulder injury sustained by incumbent Mark Sanchez.
“What’s important is the opportunity that I have, and it’s a great one. I’m excited about it. I’m happy that my coaches and my teammates trust in me. To be a part of this team is a very big accomplishment for me, that alone,” Smith said.
The Jets have not started a rookie at quarterback since 2009, when Sanchez, a former first-round pick out of the University of Southern California, took the field.
Sanchez hurt his right shoulder in the fourth quarter of the Jets’ preseason game against the New York Giants.
The 26-year-old Sanchez will be the NFL’s best paid reserve with a guaranteed contract that will pay him $8.25 million this season.
Smith struggled after hurting an ankle in the first preseason game.
“I feel great. The ankle is still something that I’m treating. It’s something that’s getting better day by day. Overall, I feel pretty good. I’m able to go out there, I’ve been practicing well. I feel fine out there. Hopefully, Sunday it’s the same,” Smith said.
Sanchez completed 64 percent of his passes in the preseason and had a passer rating of 90.0, but he had three turnovers, continuing a trend that has dogged him in recent years.
He led the NFL with 52 turnovers over the past two seasons.