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Devin Smith practices full again as debut nears

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. –- Devin Smith is still a tad sore in his rib area but he's practiced full every day this week.

The rookie is eager to make his NFL debut and New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles says Smith's availability Monday against the Indianapolis Colts could likely be decided on game day based on personnel and schemes.

Perhaps Bowles will also take into consideration Smith's familiarity with Lucas Oil Stadium.

The last time Smith played there, he torched the Wisconsin secondary for four receptions for 137 yards and three touchdowns in a 59-0 Ohio State rout in the Big Ten championship game last December.

The Jets may decide to throw Smith's warp speed on the indoor turf against Indianapolis to give quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick a deep threat. So far, Fitzpatrick has Brandon Marshall as a mammoth target and Eric Decker to throw to in the slot.

Smith could eventually work his way into the third spot which was something the Jets brass might've envisioned when they drafted the speedster with the 37th overall pick in the second round.

Smith's development was delayed when he broke his ribs and suffered a partially punctured lung.

"Right now, I'm a little sore," admitted Smith, who has played at Lucas Oil Stadium in the past two Big Ten title games. "[But] moving around, I feel pretty good."

While offensive coordinator Chan Gailey says Smith has to catch up with all the practice time he missed since he suffered the injury at the start of camp, the receiver has been in his playbook and team meetings studying routes and the offense.

The Jets, though, want to ease Smith into action.

"I think right now as a rookie you would put him at a spot," Gailey said. "Not going to tell you which one. Put him at a spot and try to leave him there in order to keep it as simple as possible for him early in the year."

If Smith is active, he also could see time on special teams as a gunner and a potential emergency option as a kickoff returner -– something the Jets have been trying him at in practice a bit.

Smith certainly could be another weapon for the Jets' receiving corps. Marshall had six catches for 62 yards and a touchdown in his Jets' debut during a 31-10 win over the Cleveland Browns. Decker had two receptions for 37 yards and a touchdown while Chris Owusu played as the third receiver and had four receptions for 55 yards.

Gailey said he really liked what he saw in his three-wide sets with Decker playing inside.

"He's got a unique feel inside," Gailey said. "Some guys do and some guys don't. I've had some guys that couldn't play in there at all. We kind of threw him in there early and he had a great feel for it so we are going to working him in the slot there until he proves he shouldn't be there.

"I think he can be a big weapon for us inside."

That, of course, means Jeremy Kerley remains the odd man out on offense. Kerley was the Jets' slot guy but now he's been reduced to depth and the team's punt returner.

"I think at this point we got some roles defined," Gailey explained. "He fits a little bit of a lot of roles but not major in any of the roles at this point because we didn't have him for so long [because of injuries] so we started molding it around other things and we are where we are."

Gailey added: "He is still going to have bits and pieces of things that we think he would make a difference on. But there's not enough room for everybody on every play. Unfortunately with the time he missed, this is a bad term -- you don't want to say odd man out -- but we haven't created the role for him yet that he will end up playing at some point for us."

It remains to be seen what role the Jets will create for Smith. But his debut is nearing and it could very well come Monday in a place he once starred.