Jason Smith practices, might play in Philly

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Jason Smith, run out of St. Louis after three difficult seasons, is glad to have a fresh start with the Jets.

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," the newly acquired tackle said Wednesday. "To somebody, I was beautiful."

Well, let's not go that far. Let's just say the Jets think he's more attractive than Wayne Hunter, whom they shipped to the Rams in a ballyhooed trade for backup right tackles.

"He's five years younger and a little more athletic" than Hunter, Rex Ryan said. "That's why we made the trade. When the trade was proposed to us, we were like, man, I was comfortable with Wayne in that role, but this is an opportunity. Let's take a look at him and see this young man."

Smith, wearing No. 63, practiced for the first time with his new team. Ryan hopes Smith can play about 10 snaps Thursday night against the Eagles, but he admitted he's not sure if that's possible.

This has been a stunning downfall for Smith, the second overall pick in 2009. He took a $6 million pay cut last spring, lost his starting job in training camp to a former sixth-round pick (Barry Richardson) and got traded for a backup. The Rams were so eager to get rid of him they agreed to pay $1.55 million of his $4 million salary for 2012.

"I think a fresh start is good for a lot of people," he said.

Ryan believes Smith was hurt in St. Louis by unfair comparisons to Orlando Pace, a franchise left tackle. Smith agreed.

"Orlando Pace was an eight-time Pro Bowler, I believe," he said. "There aren't many guys to do that throughout the course of their career, let alone play eight years. I made the statement before that he had his own shoes and I had mine. It's his life. I never looked at it that way. No disrespect, but a lot of people with a pen in their hand looked at it that way, but I didn't. It's their opinion."

PHILLY FINALE: Ryan reiterated that Greg McElroy and Matt Simms will share the quarterbacking duties for the final preseason game. Most of the starters will get the night off.

INJURY REPORT: TE Dustin Keller (hamstring), LB David Harris (ankle) and DT Mike DeVito (calf) were among those that didn't practice. They're all expected to be ready for the season opener ... OLB Ricky Sapp (ankle) will miss his fourth straight preseason game.

TOUGH CUTS: Ryan said the linebacker position might present some of the toughest decisions on the final roster cutdown. Right now, they have 12 linebackers, including eight returning vets plus third-round pick Demario Davis.

PUNTING COMPETITION: Incumbent T.J. Conley said he was a little surprised the team claimed Spencer Lanning on waivers, creating a competition for the final game. Conley's response: Bring it on.

"I know I'm capable of being a great punter in the NFL, and that's what I plan on doing," he said.

He also said this about Lanning's arrival: "I'm not too worried about it. It's competition. I've dealt with it before and I've always come out on top."

Actually, that's not accurate. He got cut twice by the Jets, 2009 and 2010.