Mr. Thursday Night; New York Jets’ Jeff Smith enjoys strong return

Jeff Smith was one of several silver linings in the New York Jets’ Thursday night defeat, partaking in his first game since last December.

New York Jets receiver Jeff Smith has yet to earn a nickname. “Must-See TV” might be one moniker on the table due to his propensity for Thursday night performances.

Smith returned to NFL duties in time for the opening game of 2020’s fourth week of football, earning 81 yards on a game-high seven receptions (tied with teammate Jamison Crowder). The Jets’ primetime showdown with the Denver Broncos was his first action since the Jets’ visit to Baltimore last December…a game that also took place on a Thursday night.

In last season’s weeknight tilt with the Ravens, Smith earned a 12-yard reception in his regular season debut. It was the culmination of an unusual, yet inspiring football journey. Smith was a quarterback during his freshman season at Boston College before transitioning to receiver. He spent a majority of last season on the New York practice squad before earning a call-up in the Jets’ late-season visit to Maryland.

Alas, injuries have defined Smith’s time in the NFL since then. He sustained an ankle injury in Baltimore and a shoulder ailment while working with the top offensive unit during training camp. Activated in the build-up to the Denver game, Smith played a strong role in the Jets’ offensive output. Four of his catches led to New York first downs.

“I felt good. Coming off (injured reserve), I hadn’t practiced yet, so I felt pretty good,” Smith said in a postgame interview with team reporter Ethan Greenberg. “There’s always some things to clean up, so with (receivers) coach Shawn (Jefferson) and (offensive assistant) Hines (Ward), we’ll go through that and move on to next week.”

Smith and the Jets will have plenty of time to work on the mistakes shown on Thursday night. Ten days linger between the 37-28 to the Broncos and the Jets’ next MetLife Stadium showing, a visit from the Arizona Cardinals on October 11 (1 p.m. ET, Fox).

“It’s never fun to lose. Our main focus is to go in tomorrow, watch the film again,” he said. “We were down a lot last year, and then, in the second half of the season, we came back and went 6-2. Go back, watch film, keep pushing.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags