Sanchez: I assume Smith will start

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets coach Rex Ryan still isn't ready to officially name his starting quarterback for Saturday night's preseason game against the New York Giants, but Mark Sanchez believes that he'll be backing up rookie Geno Smith.

"I'm assuming [Geno will start], but they haven't said," Sanchez said after Wednesday's practice.

Said Ryan: "I think both guys looked good today, but we'll see again how everything is tomorrow. But we're not ready to do that yet. We haven't discussed anything as far as that goes right now."

Ryan said it's fair to anticipate the team making an announcement Thursday, "but we really don't want to put a timetable on it."

Smith, the team's second-round pick out of West Virginia, has taken all the repetitions with the first team the past three days of practice. The 22-year-old missed the team's last preseason game due to a right ankle injury, which he sustained in his professional debut.

"As of right now, we're still practicing. We're still focusing on getting better. We've installed a bit of a game plan, but we don't know yet," Smith said. "I'm sure we'll find out in the next couple days."

Smith said it does matter if he gets the chance to start.

"It's gonna be big for me," he said. "I've been working extremely hard, and I just want to go out there and play."

Smith said his ankle is getting better but isn't 100 percent yet. He continues to receive treatment on it.

He was tremendous in practice Wednesday, completing 15 of 16 passes while throwing two touchdowns.

"It wasn't brutal, that's for sure," Ryan said. "That was a great day. I don't know if that was his best day because he's had a lot of good ones, but he had a great one today."

Exactly a week ago, Smith threw four interceptions in practice, which prompted Ryan to call his performance "brutal."

"I wouldn't say it was my best day," Smith said. "Like I said, overall, every single day, I've been getting better. Whether it's been a good day or a bad day, it's a progression and something I take very seriously."

Sanchez, guiding the second team, finished 10-for-14 passing with a touchdown but was sacked three times. In two preseason games -- both starts -- Sanchez has completed 63.9 percent of his passes and thrown two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. Before being injured, Smith went 6-for-7 for 47 yards in the Jets' first preseason game.

Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.