- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 11, 2015

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Geno Smith’s hopes for a breakout season with the New York Jets took a major blow — to the jaw.

The quarterback will be sidelined at least six to 10 weeks with a broken jaw after being punched by outside linebacker Ikemefuna Enemkpali in the locker room Tuesday morning. Smith, entering his third season, required surgery to repair the injuries.

Coach Todd Bowles made the stunning announcement in an impromptu news conference before training camp practice was scheduled to start.

Enemkpali, in his second season, was immediately released by the Jets. Bowles said Smith and Enemkpali got into an “altercation” in the Jets‘ locker room Tuesday morning.

“It had nothing to do with football,” Bowles said. “It was something very childish, and he got cold-cocked, sucker-punched — whatever you want to call it — in the jaw.”

Bowles wouldn’t go into detail about the nature of the altercation, except to say that “it was something very childish, that sixth-graders could have talked about. It had no reason for happening.”

Smith, who was having a good training camp, will be sidelined for the rest of the summer and likely for the first few games of the season. The season opener at home against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 13 is five weeks away.

The Redskins play the Jets on the road in Week 6.

“Depending on how surgery goes, we’ll see where we go from there,” Bowles said.

Bowles said the Jets could add another quarterback, but it appears veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick will assume the starting job. Bryce Petty, a fourth-round pick this year out of Baylor, and undrafted free agent Jake Heaps out of Miami are the Jets‘ other remaining quarterbacks.

Bowles, in his first season as coach, spoke for about two minutes before heading to a meeting and then practice, but was clearly angered by the situation.

“The team knows this is something we don’t tolerate, something we can’t stand,” Bowles said. “You don’t walk up to another man and punch him in the face.”

It was unclear as to whether there had been previous bad blood brewing between Smith and Enemkpali.

“If you have a team and you have a bunch of side issues, you can’t tolerate that,” Bowles said. “This is something that happened in the locker room and we’re dealing with it internally and that’s where we are right now.”

Smith has had a rough two-plus seasons in the NFL, starting with his slip to the second round of the 2013 draft. He got the starting job with the Jets as a rookie after Mark Sanchez was sidelined for the year after hurting his shoulder in a preseason game, and mostly struggled.

Last year, he had a few flashes of solid play, but again had issues with turnovers and consistency and was benched a few times in favor of Michael Vick. Smith has 34 thrown interceptions and has committed 41 total turnovers in his first two seasons, but new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey was impressed with his progress this summer.

Smith threw the first two interceptions of camp on Monday, an impressive stretch that had the quarterback and coaches thinking positively about his prospects for the upcoming season.

“He took time that month when we were away [before training camp],” Gailey said of Smith shortly before the news broke. “He looked at it and studied it and talked about it and thought about it. When he came back, he really had a grasp of it. I expected it, but it’s been pleasing even so, because he’s really, really done a good job.”

Enemkpali had three sacks in six games last season after being taken in the sixth round out of Louisiana Tech.

To replace Enemkpali on the roster, the Jets signed cornerback Javier Arenas, who has played five seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, Arizona Cardinals and Atlanta Falcons.


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