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Geno Smith still believes N.Y. Jets will make playoffs

LOS ANGELES -- Who is the real Geno Smith?

This will be a running question through the early portion of the rookie quarterback's career with the New York Jets. Smith was inundated by criticism -- much of it personal -- in the days after the 2013 NFL Draft. It's led to natural curiosity if he can handle the harsh spotlight of playing in New York.

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The Geno Smith we saw Thursday at an NFLPA Rookie Premiere event was fully engaged. There was no cellphone in sight. He played with children at Sunrise Elementary School and looked comfortable as he spoke with the media.

Could it be an act put up by a rookie who knows his every move is being scrutinized? Maybe. But this Smith was the same guy we interviewed the day before the draft in New York. He seems genuine.

Around The League asked Smith if he was relieved to start rookie camp with the Jets, a natural way of moving on from the surprising wave of anonymous criticism.

"I didn't listen to it. Obviously, there was something being told about it, but it didn't weigh much on my conscience," Smith said. "I got my playbook the day I was drafted. I studied it, I got back home, I worked out, I did all the things I'd need to do to prepare myself for rookie camp. Went to rookie camp, worked as hard as I could, got better and that's what it's all about for me."

On the day he was drafted, Smith predicted the Jets would make the playoffs. Does he still feel that way?

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"Yeah, I honestly do," he replied. "And I think all 32 teams in the league have the same goal. And I don't think that's a negative thing, I think it's all positive. I think we're working toward that. I'm not making any promises. There's a lot of work to be done, but I think every team should go in with the mindset of winning the Super Bowl."

That quest for the Super Bowl will be undertaken without David Garrard, who told NFL.com's Adam Schein that knee issues have forced him to leave the Jets.

"Oh man, I got off the plane, I heard about it, I called (quarterbacks) coach David Lee, I texted David. I just wished him well," Smith said. "I know how those things are. I understand that he wanted to be part of the team, but his body was breaking down on him, and he made the decision that was best for himself, and I wish him well."

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.

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