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Ryan Fitzpatrick looking to beat the odds again and win Jets job

Ryan Fitzpatrick has mostly practiced with the second team so far in training camp. Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. –- Through the first four days of New York Jets training camp, Geno Smith has had a solid camp and has yet to throw an interception.

Ryan Fitzpatrick hasn’t thrown a pick yet either.

But so far, the Jets’ quarterback competition is lopsided in one department -- Smith has gotten the reps with the first team with Fitzpatrick working mostly with the second team.

Fitzpatrick, though, expressed belief in head coach Todd Bowles that there will be a fair competition until the first-year coach names his starting quarterback.

“The thing we stress every day and Coach Bowles stresses is he going to put the best guys on the field to help the team win,” Fitzpatrick said when asked if thinks he will get a fair shake in the competition. “That is what we are all here for, to win football games.

“Todd was hired as a head coach for a reason and we all really respect him what he did in his career as a player and what he has done so far as a coach. He really treats us like men.”

The prevailing feeling is that it is Smith’s job to lose with offensive coordinator Chan Gailey saying in May that the competition really isn't one. Still, Bowles has maintained that Smith is the starter in camp but has to earn the job.

So far, Smith has had some nice moments in camp practices. Fitzpatrick, who was acquired in a trade during the offseason, has shown some of the veteran qualities that have allowed the seventh-round pick in 2005 to remain in the NFL for 11 seasons. The former Harvard quarterback has spent his career overcoming odds and labels.

“Noodle arm, can’t throw it past 20 yards, can’t throw the deep ball, slow, too risky,” Fitzpatrick rattled off among the criticisms he has heard. “I think that is usually the scouting report on me.”

Fitzpatrick, though, also comes to the Jets with one major asset on his side -- his familiarity with Gailey’s system and terminology.

Gailey, the Jets’ offensive coordinator, was the head coach in Buffalo from 2010-12. Fitzpatrick was with the Bills from 2009-12.

So despite the fact that Fitzpatrick is returning from a broken leg suffered last December, Bowles says Fitzpatrick is where he needs to be in this competition.

“He’s up to speed,” Bowles said of Fitzpatrick, who threw for 2,483 yards and 17 touchdowns last season in Houston. “He has had a lot more intel on the offense than everybody else has had but being injured you got to play [and show it on the field] but he is up to speed.”

Fitzpatrick said he is 100 percent full-go with his health and that he is running on the field without thinking about his leg. He also shouldn’t have to think too much when it comes to knowing what Gailey wants and expects.

Fitzpatrick said it took him about a day to forget about the last two offensive systems he played in Houston and Tennessee and recall what he had in Buffalo. With Gailey, Fitzpatrick threw for an average of 3400 yards, 24 touchdowns and 18 interceptions a season in Buffalo.

“Fitz is a good veteran quarterback, efficient, knows where to go with the ball, gets the ball out of his hands quick,” said linebacker Calvin Pace, who has faced Fitzpatrick in a few AFC East battles. “He was always a guy that I think our defense respected. A competitor, tough guy. I think he will make us better and help Geno a lot.”

For now, Fitzpatrick tries to show what he can do with every throw he makes even if he isn’t throwing with the first team the majority of the time like Smith so far.

"It means a lot to me," Fitzpatrick said of winning the starting job. "That is why I am still playing. I am a competitor. I got five kids and a lot of other stuff going around but this is what I really love to do."

“I just go out there and play as hard as I can,” he added. “… I am really going to be here putting in 100 percent into this and that is why I sleep easy at night because I put everything I have into it.”