NFL OTA news: Geno Smith gets 1st-team reps; E.J. Manuel takes snaps behind Kevin Kolb, Tarvaris Jackson


Geno Smith makes a move on Mark Sanchez' starting job, while E.J. Manuel sits behind two veterans. Neither quarterback has looked as good as Peyton Manning has during OTAs. Those stories and more in Thursday's OTA roundup.

Geno Smith may be getting an early leg up in the competition against Mark Sanchez for the New York Jets' starting quarterback job. Head coach Rex Ryan confirmed that the rookie has been taking first-team snaps with the offense during offseason training activities.

Sanchez has struggled mightily during OTAs. Notably, he threw three interceptions during one practice last week. Smith didn't light things up in that session either, but he took much better care of the ball than the incumbent starter.

Circumstances may be working against Sanchez. With Ryan fighting for his job, the Jets may not hesitate to turn to Smith if Sanchez ultimately wins the starting job and struggles again. Also of note: Matt Simms appears to have moved ahead of Greg McElroy in the battle for the Jets' No. 3 QB spot.

More from Thursday OTAs:

E.J. Manuel behind Kevin Kolb, Tarvaris Jackson

While Smith may be locking up a starting job, fellow touted rookie E.J. Manuel still has a ways to go in his bid to see the field for the Buffalo Bills this season. Kevin Kolb and Tarvaris Jackson reportedly alternated series running Doug Marrone's offense, with no mention of Manuel.

The Bills apparently feel comfortable letting Kolb and Jackson compete for the starting job for now, while Manuel takes time to develop his fundamentals. It would be a surprise to many if the first-round pick didn't see playing time this season, however.

Peyton Manning has 'more zip on the ball'

Peyton Manning's arm is apparently still improving from the neck surgeries he underwent prior to last season. Wide receiver Eric Decker said Wednesday that it "definitely felt like he (Manning) had more zip on the ball" throughout March and April workouts.

There were major concerns about Manning's arm heading into last season, but he still managed to complete 68.6 percent of his passes for 4,659 yards and 37 touchdowns on his way to earning 2012 NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors. The thought that his arm is still improving has to be scary for opponents.

Lamar Miller favored to win Dolphins' starting RB job

The Miami Dolphins need a new starting running back now that Reggie Bush is a member of the Detroit Lions. According to reports, last year's third-stringer Lamar Miller appears to have a leg up on the competition, ahead of the likes of Daniel Thomas, Jonas Gray, Marcus Thigpen and Mike Gillislee.

Miller finished third in rushing for the Dolphins last season as a rookie, behind Bush and Thomas, after averaging 4.9 yards per carry on his way to 250 yards. Thomas averaged just 3.6 yards per carry and had 325 yards rushing before being placed on injured reserve late in the season due to a knee injury.

Thomas should see carries if he's healthy, but for now expect Miller to see the majority of the touches at running back for the Dolphins.

Willis McGahee yet to participate in Broncos OTAs

Willis McGahee has yet to participate in OTAs with the Denver Broncos this offseason. The veteran running back tore his ACL in Week 11 last season, and will turn 32 in October, so there's a good chance he is taking precautions with his aging body. McGahee has skipped OTAs in the past for similar reasons.

Even after rushing for 731 yards in 10 games last year, McGahee may be fighting for a roster spot when training camp begins in July. The Broncos drafted Montee Ball in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, and also have former first-round pick Knowshon Moreno and third-round pick Ronnie Hillman on the roster. There are a lot of quality running backs on the Broncos' roster, and unfortunately for McGahee, he has by far the most wear on his legs.

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