Geno Smith is done for the remainder of the NFL exhibition season after taking a shot to his face from now former teammate Ikemefuna "IK" Enemkpali. (156115)

More 1,000 athletes will be unemployed—albeit for some temporarily—by 4 p.m. this Saturday, the deadline for NFL teams to finalize their 53-man rosters for the start of the regular season. The process is unsettling and indefinite as teams consider factors such as a players age, versatility, salary and injury status, as well as keeping a close watch at the cuts of other organizations with an eye on adding a player that fills an immediate need. 

The Giants enter their fourth and final preseason game tonight (Thursday) against the New England Patriots with most of their roster spots set. Yet one of the most critical slots, backup quarterback, for which veteran Josh Johnson and former Jet Geno Smith are battling, remains in the balance.   

 “Just take advantage of every rep you get,” Smith said of trying to make his case for the job after playing one quarter against the Jets, his former team, Saturday night at MetLife Stadium, ending in a 32-31 victory for the Giants. “You can only control what you can control, and every single rep that you get you just gotta make the best of the situation.”

 Rookie Davis Webb, seemingly the Giants’ future starter once the indestructible Eli Manning—who has started every game for the franchise since 2004—retires, will be cemented as the third-string quarterback.  

The 31-year-old Johnson, drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the fifth round in 2008, appeared in 26 games for his initial NFL team, including five starts, through the 2011 season before joining six teams over the succeeding six seasons. Signed by the Giants in September of last year, he was active for only two games

 Smith, 26, a second-round pick by the Jets in 2013, brings much more game experience to the duel than Johnson, despite being five years younger. He started all 16 regular season games in his rookie season and 13 in the following campaign.

But after an abysmal 3-10 record in 2014, exhibiting minimal progress in vital cerebral aspects of the position, notably struggles with accurately assessing defensive schemes, Smith was relegated to backing up Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2015. Additionally, he was plagued by leadership issues marked by being sucker punched in the Jets’ locker room during training camp by former teammate IK Enemkpali, sustaining a broken jaw.  

 After getting the call for his first start last season in Week 7, Smith sustained a torn ACL in the second quarter versus the Baltimore Ravens and was placed on injured reserve, ending his tenure with the Jets. Signed by the Giants this past March, he hopes to resurrect his career in the familiar surroundings of East Rutherford, N.J.

 From a pure empirical observation, Smith has looked more steady in the pocket than Johnson and has demonstrated better command of the offense. In less than 48 hours, the Giants’ primary personnel decision makers, led by general manager Jerry Reese and head coach Ben McAdoo, will determine who will be the No. 2 QB on the depth chart.