<
>

How the Giants plan to handle Geno Smith and the backup QB competition

As a onetime NFL starter, Geno Smith seemingly has the inside track to the Giants' No. 2 quarterback job, but he, Davis Webb and Josh Johnson need to perform with whatever reps they get. William Hauser/USA TODAY Sports

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants backup quarterback competition is starting to take shape.

Eli Manning is the unequivocal starter. Geno Smith and Josh Johnson are battling for the backup job and appear set to take most of the second-team snaps. That has become clear during the first two days of training camp. Rookie Davis Webb will work with the third team and fit in where he can fit in throughout his first camp.

When the Giants ran live drills on Saturday for the first time this summer, Smith received the first crack at working with the second-team offense after being limited throughout the spring. He was recovering from a torn ACL suffered last year with the New York Jets.

Smith struggled early during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. His accuracy and timing were off. One throw to the flat forced the receiver to the ground in order to make the catch. Another throw to the sideline sailed wide in the Meadowlands wind.

Smith wasn't sharp, but Johnson didn't light it up, either. Johnson was slightly better and more decisive.

It's important to remember this was only the second day of training camp. It was only the first day of live drills. The plan for this summer with Smith, Johnson and even Webb appears to be that they'll all receive some opportunities to snag the backup job, even if Webb is the obvious long shot.

"We're going to roll them all in there, give them a chance to get some reps," Giants coach Ben McAdoo said. "Whether it's two, whether it's three, whether it's four, we'll roll all of those guys."

Smith, 26, is a former starter for the Jets. But he's coming back from a serious injury. It could take him time to get comfortable. Not only is he learning a new offense in a new environment, but he's doing it on a rebuilt knee.

Saturday was just another step in the process, and there were some positives. Smith didn't have a brace or a wrap on his knee. He rolled right on several plays and did so without any noticeable restrictions. He was moving well, and he even fired a bullet into the arms of his receiver on one play after his slow start.

McAdoo was pleased with what he saw at this juncture of training camp.

"Yeah, absolutely," he said. "It was good to get him out there in the team reps. First time we had a chance to put him out there in the team reps. He did primarily 7-on-7 in the offseason, so it's exciting to see. Good competition at the quarterback spot."

The primary competition will be between Johnson and Smith. They could sneak in with the first team every once in a while as the Giants closely monitor Manning this summer and during the season.

General manager Jerry Reese said earlier in the week that Manning could be on some sort of pitch count. The goal is to keep his arm strong throughout the season.

That could create sporadic opportunities for Johnson, Smith and Webb with the first team. Those could be invaluable.

"It depends on which day it is," McAdoo said. "Eli will get the first-group reps. If we decide to push or pull a little bit, we'll do that."

But it's the second-team snaps at camp and in preseason games that likely will decide who will make the roster. Smith, Johnson and Webb need to make the most of those whenever they get them.