On Saturday night, New York Giants rookie and first round draft pick Justin Pugh won't be the only player making their first ever NFL start in the preseason game; New York Jets quarterback and second round pick Geno Smith will be making his first ever start playing against the Giants at MetLife Stadium in the third preseason game of the summer.
Smith is competing for the starting job over Mark Sanchez, who has really struggled over the last few years with the Jets and could be in line to take the job from the fifth-year pro this year. 11 years ago, one of the Giants players was in Smith's shoes, ready to take the leap from star college quarterback to a franchise quarterback.
In the 2002 NFL Draft, David Carr was taken with the number one overall pick by the Houston Texans and seen as the franchise quarterback to lead the then-expansion team into the future. The only problem was that Houston never built an adequate offensive line to protect Carr, as he was sacked 76 times in his rookie year and 249 times in his tenure with the Texans from 2002-2006 and eventually, went from franchise quarterback to journeyman looking for a job.
After a stop with the Carolina Panthers in 2007 where he went 1-3 in limited time as a starter, Carr's next stop was the Giants, where he has done two tenures with; as he signed with the San Francisco 49ers back in 2010. At 34-years-old, Carr remembers what it was like being a 23-year-old rookie trying to take over the NFL and knows what Smith is going through with the Jets, but he also offered up some tips to the Jets rookie.
“He looks like he’s got all the tools,” Carr said yesterday on the Giants’ final day of training camp. “Anybody who is in the National Football League they can throw the ball, they can run around, they can make plays. It’s just going to be a product of the guys around him; how the coaching staff develops him and his confidence is very important. Once you lose that, it’s tough to get it back. It’s the same at any position, but especially at quarterback. He’s got to feel like that whole organization has his back no matter what.”
While Smith's spot on the Jets is definitely safe, Carr is fighting for a roster spot and is battling with veteran Curtis Painter for a backup spot behind Eli Manning. One thing Carr said to George Willis of the New York Post was that if Smith is going to be "the guy" for the other team in New York, he will need to have the full support of the team and not try to do everything himself.
“There’s so much in the NFL that goes into playing quarterback — your offensive line, your wide receivers, your coaching staff, and your own play,” Carr said. “You’ve got to have the perfect storm. Were there times I had doubts about my situation? Absolutely. That’s what you have to guard against as a coaching staff. You have to make sure he believes that everything you’re doing is in his best interest.”
For Smith's sake, he is hoping to have the same kind of luck that Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson had in the league and avoid having what happened to Carr, JaMarcus Russell and many other quarterbacks who ended up being first-round busts.
While Carr will use Saturday's game as another competition to beat out Painter; all eyes will be on Smith to see if he can beat out Sanchez and his play against the Giants could really determine how the rest of his summer and the preseason dictates.
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