Geno Smith will be sidelined for the next six to 10 weeks following a locker-room altercation, head coach Todd Bowles told reporters today, including Brian Costello of the New York Post (Twitter links). Smith was punched by teammate IK Enemkpali and suffered a broken jaw, which will require surgery, per Costello (Twitter link). Enemkpali has been waived by the Jets.
According to Bowles, the argument between Smith and Enemkpali wasn’t football related — the head coach called it “childish,” and referred to Enemkpali’s blow as a “sucker punch” (Twitter links via Costello).
“It’s something we don’t tolerate,” Bowles said (Twitter link). “It’s something we can’t stand. You don’t walk up to another man and punch him in the face.”
With Smith now sidelined for the start of the regular season, Ryan Fitzpatrick, acquired in an offseason trade with the Texans, looks poised to begin the 2015 campaign as the Jets’ starting quarterback. Rookie Bryce Petty will also be in the mix, but he likely isn’t ready to play just yet, so the team may consider adding a veteran backup until Smith is able to return to the field.
If the Jets determine that Smith will miss closer to 10 weeks than six, the injured reserve with the designation to return is a possibility for him. That IR-DTR slot would sideline Smith for the first eight weeks of games, allowing him to practice six weeks into the season. However, that likely won’t be an option if the club expects him to be ready two or three weeks into the regular season.
As for Enemkpali, the 2014 sixth-rounder was one of John Idzik‘s final draft picks for the Jets. The former Louisiana Tech pass rusher only saw the field sparingly in his rookie season, playing 40 defensive snaps and contributing a little on special teams as well. He’ll become an unrestricted free agent if and when he clears waivers.
To replace Enemkpali on their roster, the Jets have signed cornerback Javier Arenas, the team announced (via Twitter). The veteran corner, who has experience returning punts and kicks, started nine games for the Chiefs’ defense in 2012, and last played for the Falcons in 2014. Arenas also played on Bowles’ defense in Arizona in 2013.