NEW YORK -- One of the most underwhelming quarterback battles in the NFL got a whole lot more interesting when the New York Jets selected West Virginia's Geno Smith in the second round of the NFL Draft.
The presence of the polarizing Smith interjects some drama - something that owner Woody Johnson surely enjoys - into what was essentially a two-man derby between the beleaguered Mark Sanchez and the injury-prone David Garrard.
And while Smith is the future at quarterback for the Jets, Sanchez and Garrard made it clear Thursday they're eager to prove they belong behind center for the season opener against Tampa Bay on Sept. 8.
"As long as I'm healthy and able to continue to work with the team and don't have setbacks with my knee or my back or anything like that, then I know that I have the ability to (start)," said Garrard, who missed the last two years following back and knee surgeries.
"But I can't talk about it. I've still got to go out on the field and do it. I've been trying to be the number one guy for the last two years and it's one thing after the other that hasn't allowed that."
Sanchez, as always, said all the right things about how the Jets were still his team - just as he did last year, when he ended up distracted by the Tim Tebow circus.
"No doubt," Sanchez said when asked if he expected to remain the starter. "Sure. Of course."
But last year, Sanchez had the support of his head coach and ownership. Now, Rex Ryan is out of patience with Sanchez - remember the icy death stare he gave Sanchez after the five-turnover game against Tennessee officially extinguished the Jets' playoff hopes - and fighting to keep his job under new general manager John Idzik, whose favorite talking point is competition, which is something Sanchez didn't face in his first four seasons.
"They said 'We're going to compete' and that's what we're doing," Sanchez said of Jets management. "They drafted a quarterback, so let's compete."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "You're just professional and you're cool, and if the guy has a flat tire on the side of the road, I'm going to stop, I'm not just going to blow by him. But at the same time, I'm not sending him gifts on his birthday or anything." -- Jets QB Mark Sanchez on the awkward relationship he shared with Tim Tebow as they competed for the playing time last year.