NEW YORK — David Garrard joined the New York Jets with his sights set on competing to be their starting quarterback.
Despite not taking a regular-season snap in the NFL since 2010, the 35-year-old veteran is healthy and looking forward to trying to beat out Mark Sanchez and whoever else might be in the mix at quarterback for the Jets this season.
“Honestly, they just told me that I have a chance to compete for the starting job,” Garrard said during a conference call Tuesday. “That’s what was told to me and they all seemed to be very genuine with it. They didn’t seem to be, ‘Let’s just say this to him to get him here and slot him in the 2 or 3 or 4 spot.’ I didn’t feel it.
“That’s how it was presented to me and that’s how I still feel.”
Garrard, who signed Monday with the Jets, dealt with back and knee injuries that sidelined him the last few seasons. Garrard was in training camp with Miami last summer and appeared to have a chance at the starting job, but a knee issue that was covered on HBO's "Hard Knocks" ended those hopes.
"My knee is great now and I've moved on from that," Garrard said. "I've climbed that hill and I'm really just excited to get back in the league and back playing ball and just being on a team."
Garrard said he would feel "comfortable" in a West Coast-style offence that new offensive co-ordinator Marty Mornhinweg is expected to run with the Jets. He also insisted he isn't concerned about taking hits, and still has some of the mobility that made him such a dynamic player earlier in his career.
"If I have to get a first down, I can," Garrard said with a laugh. "I can tell you that much."
The Jets currently have Garrard, Sanchez, Tim Tebow, Greg McElroy and Matt Simms as quarterbacks on their roster, and Mornhinweg said Monday that he expected to have an open competition at the position. But, Mornhinweg also added that Sanchez would "probably have just a little bit of a leg up, it would appear."
That doesn't faze Garrard, who made a Pro Bowl in nine seasons with Jacksonville.
"Just being out of the (NFL) for a couple of years, I really just wanted to be a part of an organization, get back into the league," he said. "I didn't have a problem with going somewhere and possibly being a backup if that was the role that a team wanted me to be in. But when I saw the opportunity to be able to compete for a job, I saw that was good for me and my family."
Garrard is a native of Plainfield, N.J., about 20 miles from the Jets' facility in Florham Park. He visited only with the Jets, and met with Sanchez while he was there.
"He seemed to be a friendly guy," Garrard said. "I think he could kind of feel the same thing from me. This game, sports, is all about competition. I understand that and I believe he understands that. I think that just the way that we handle ourselves is going to be the best thing when we're out there on the field practicing. I'm always going to be a great teammate. I don't care what position I am on the field.
"If he is playing, playing well and performing better than me, then that's just the case. "