It has been exactly one year since former Jets linebacker IK Enemkpali radically changed the franchise’s course by breaking quarterback Geno Smith‘s jaw with a punch. Ryan Fitzpatrick, the prospective backup, took the Jets’ job and ran with it during Smith’s multiple-month absence, posting career-best numbers for a 10-win team. While Smith was the Jets’ de facto starter during Fitzpatrick’s months-long contract dispute with the team, he reverted to a reserve role after Fitzpatrick re-signed in July. Enemkpali, meanwhile, has been with AFC East rival Buffalo since it claimed him off waivers the day after his altercation with Smith. In hindsight, Smith is seemingly glad the incident occurred.
“When I look back on this when I’m 40, 50 years old, I’ll ask myself, ‘What time in my life made me a man?’ I think this was that time in my life,” the fourth-year man told Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. “It was so easy to say, ‘Hey, this is not my fault. I’m the victim here, and this guy should be going to jail.’ Instead, I manned up. I owned it. I took responsibility for whatever actions I had in that altercation, and I chose to let that fuel me to become a better man and a better player.”
In the Jets’ preseason opener Thursday, Smith completed 8 of 14 passes for 79 yards and a touchdown against the Jaguars.
Here’s more from around the sport:
- Shortly after New England traded Chandler Jones to Arizona in March, the pass-rushing force called Patriots head coach Bill Belichick to thank him. “I didn’t get a chance to speak to him (the day of the trade) — he was on a flight or something,” Jones informed Tom Pelissero of USA Today. “But I called him the next day and said, ‘Hey, you could’ve traded me to any other team, so thank you for not trading me to a crappy team.’” Belichick laughed, according to Jones, who went on to tell Pelissero that the Pats aren’t “known for really paying guys over there.” Nevertheless, the contract-year defender found the trade “a tad shocking.”
- There are a bunch of teams making calls looking for depth tight ends, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (on Twitter) hears. He expects that market to pick up over the next few weeks.
- The Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League released former NFL running back Joe McKnight on Wednesday, according to Gerry Moddejonge of the Edmonton Journal. McKnight, whom the Jets chose in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, had some success in New York as a return man, but the former USC Trojan’s two fumbled punt returns in Edmonton helped cost him his CFL job. McKnight was in his first year playing in Canada and last saw NFL action as a member of the Chiefs in 2014, with whom he tore his Achilles.
Zach Links contributed to this post.