BY NICK ST. DENIS
The New York Jets and Buffalo Bills drafted quarterbacks early. Now, they'll start said quarterbacks early.
Just hours after the Bills announced first-round signal-caller E.J. Manuel would get the nod Sunday, the Jets officially named second-rounder Geno Smith their Week 1 starter.
Manuel was the obvious choice for Buffalo assuming he was fully-healed from minor knee surgery he underwent earlier in the preseason. He'll begin his career going head-to-head with Tom Brady's New England Patriots.
The former Florida State Seminole tightened his grip on the starting job through training camp and locked it up when his positional competitor, veteran Kevin Kolb, sustained a long-term head injury. It then just came down to his knee.
"I’m not really surprised," Manuel told BuffaloBills.com of his quick recovery. "I try to work hard at everything. I can control whatever I can control, and I can control trying to get my knee better, and that’s what I’ve done."
Meanwhile, Smith was by most accounts behind veteran Mark Sanchez for the season-opening nod, but Sanchez injured his shoulder in the third week of the preseason and reportedly won't be ready to go at the beginning of the schedule.
The ex-West Virginia Mountaineer Smith will kick off his pro career against former Jets star cornerback Darrelle Revis's Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"I know the entire team is confident,” Jets coach Rex Ryan told NewYorkJets.com. “We are definitely confident that Geno's out there and I think all of our guys are looking forward to see what he can do. It's a tough test going against Revis and two Pro Bowl safeties. It's going to be a test, but it's one we're excited about.”
The AFC East is now the most raw division in terms of quarterbacking, with Ryan Tannehill entering his second season with the Miami Dolphins.
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