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  • When Geno Smith takes the field for the first time with the New York Giants on Friday night, he doesn’t think fans will see a radically different quarterback. But he has improved since he last played with the New York Jets. Smith, 26, signed as a free agent with the Giants this offseason. He’s locked in a battle this summer with Josh Johnson for the backup job to Eli Manning. It will be Smith's first game action since tearing a knee ligament in October. The Giants host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Friday night at MetLife Stadium. Smith's summer has been filled with ups and downs. He struggled with accuracy early but seems to have settled in that area. He’s running well on the knee, his arm looks strong -- he says it’s stronger than before -- and he's progressively becoming more comfortable in the Giants' offense. Geno Smith is locked in a battle with Josh Johnson for the Giants' No. 2 QB job. Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire But Smith also seems to be holding onto the ball too long at times. It’s almost as if he’s waiting for his receivers to get open rather than anticipating or throwing them open. Little by little, he's been getting better. “I think Geno is progressing,” coach Ben McAdoo said recently. “He has some good plays, and he has some other ones where he needs to clean Ezekiel Elliott Jersey up some fundamentals. There’s a lot to the offense, and we throw in a lot schematically. There’s a lot for him to digest that’s new for him. The footwork of the quarterback is a challenge, and he hasn’t had many reps. ... He’s played a lot of football. He gets football easily. He just needs to get those reps.” What has also been noticeable is that Smith has avoided the big mistakes. He Dallas Cowboys Jersey has thrown just two interceptions in live drills at training camp. He indicated the improvement there is a result of experience, not a fresh start or a new offense. “I mean, I’ve always been conscious of that. When it comes to those interceptions, the majority of those happened as a rookie,” Smith said. “I’m not making an excuse for it, but I Dez Bryant Jersey learned from Ezekiel Elliott Jersey those mistakes. And this is, what, four years later? So, I should be better. I am better. I’m smarter. I understand it. I see it better and that just comes with getting more reps and getting a better feel for the NFL game.” Preseason games should be a good test of whether he’s really made progress in that area. There is nothing like facing a live defense that is allowed to Dak Prescott Jersey pummel the quarterback, especially when that opponent runs a different scheme (Pittsburgh uses a 3-4 alignment) than the one Smith faces every day at training camp. Game action could go a long way in determining who grabs the Giants’ backup job. In the preseason opener, Smith is aiming for results. “Ton of completions, great execution on the reads, getting to the run-checks, doing all the things that we need to do to score points,” he said. “As long as we’re scoring points, then no matter how it gets done, we’re doing a good job.” Smith will be playing without a brace on his right knee. He hasn’t worn one at all this summer while alternating days with Johnson as either the second- or third-team quarterback. Smith feels like he's in better shape than before.