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Jets to start Geno Smith at QB Sunday, but beyond that ...

New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith will start against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, just two weeks after he was benched in the second half for backup Matt Simms.

Smith has struggled in his rookie season, passing for nine touchdowns compared with 20 interceptions. He’s also been sacked 39 times this season, and his offensive line is giving up the most sacks per pass play (10 percent) of any team in the league.

“It’s been up and down. Not untypical of a rookie,” Rex Ryan said. “He had a really good week last week. I think the biggest part is it starts with protection. I think if we can protect this young man he’s got the ability to make all the throws and I think that’s something where it has to start.”

It’s been unclear whether Smith is the team’s starting quarterback moving forward. He replaced Mark Sanchez after Sanchez missed the season with shoulder surgery, and Ryan avoided a question regarding riding with Smith for the rest of the season.

“The only thing we’re focused on is this game so that’s the only thing I can tell you,” Ryan said. “I understand, I recognize we have three games left, but we’re just focused on this game. We have to improve from last week, learn from mistakes that were made and then move on to this opponent. We don’t really focus on thinking that far in advance.”

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