NFL notebook: Geno Smith to start at QB for Jets

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Geno Smith will start at quarterback for the New York Jets in the season opener Sunday against Tampa Bay.

The team announced its decision Wednesday, confirming what had been expected since Mark Sanchez injured his right shoulder in a preseason game Aug. 24. Smith, who had an up-and-down preseason, was the team’s second-round pick out of West Virginia.

“We realize that a rookie quarterback and all that, that’s certainly a challenge,” coach Rex Ryan said. “I think our guys are ready to rally behind Geno, and the big thing we’ve told Geno is, ‘You just have to be part of the solution.’ ”

Despite announcing Smith as the starter for this week, Ryan wouldn’t commit to him as the long-term choice under center.

Bills

MANUEL GETS NOD: It turns out Buffalo rookie quarterback EJ Manuel will be ready to open the season against the New England Patriots after all.

Following weeks of attempting to address an injury-depleted quarterback position, coach Doug Marrone announced that Manuel will start Sunday.

Manuel’s status had been in question after he had what the team called a “minor procedure” on his left knee Aug. 18. The first-round pick was injured two days earlier while scrambling in a 20-16 preseason win over Minnesota.

Jaguars

QB DECISION COULD LINGER: A decision on Blaine Gabbert’s return from a broken thumb could stretch until game day.

Jacksonville coach Gus Bradley said his quarterback decision “very easily could” last until before Sunday’s game against Kansas City.

Gabbert, who had a small amount of tape on his thumb, was limited in practice Wednesday. If Gabbert can’t play, Chad Henne would get the start.

Also, tight end Marcedes Lewis left practice early after re-injuring his left calf.

Patriots

NO WORD ON OPENER FOR GRONKOWSKI: Rob Gronkowski said he’s making steady progress from forearm and back surgeries but wouldn’t say if he expects to play Sunday.

The star tight end for the New England Patriots practiced in full pads for the first time this week since his operations as the team gets ready for the season opener at Buffalo.

Gronkowski had back surgery June 18. He also had the fourth operation on his left forearm May 20; he originally broke it Nov. 18.

“I’m just rehabbing everything,” he said. “I want to have my whole body strong.”

Around the league

Commissioner Roger Goodell took issue with the notion that the league’s $765 million settlement with former players is a paltry sum compared to the sport’s revenues. “This is a significant amount of money,” he said. “The plaintiffs also agreed it was an appropriate amount. The mediator felt it was an appropriate amount.” ... The Rams waived linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar rather than wait for their second-leading tackler from last season to serve a four-game suspension. ... 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith and former tight end Delanie Walker were named in a lawsuit by a man who said he was shot at Smith’s house. ... Pro Football Hall of Fame president Stephen A. Perry is retiring after seven years.