AFC East: New York Jets

CORTLAND, N.Y. -- Not every player on the New York Jets thinks they're the best ... the greatest ... the (insert your favorite superlative). Linebacker Demario Davis, keeping it real, refuses to buy into the premature hype.

Davis
In an interview Tuesday with Pat Kirwan and Jim Miller of SiriusXM NFL Radio, Davis -- one of the young leaders on defense -- didn't seem all that thrilled with the boasts from teammates. Davis also seemed to be questioning the team's work ethic. He said they have the potential to be the best defensive team, but there was a qualifier.

"... What it seems like is that, it seems like too many people are saying we can be the best defense or we are the best defense, but the work has to show it," he said. "You know, as far as me seeing it, have we been putting in the work to be the best defense? I would say no. In the first couple weeks, we’ve got to work a lot harder. Guys have to put more individual time in, you’ve got to watch a lot more film, you’ve got to stay on the field a lot longer, you’ve got to come out a lot earlier.

"It’s not just what is mandatory," Davis continued. "If you want to be the best you’ve got to do more. Being the best doesn’t just happen. So I’ve seen a lot of people saying that. I’ve said it myself, but personally, I don’t feel like we’re putting in the work right now to be the best. We have a long way to go and right now we’re not on pace to be the best. We’ve got to start fast this year. We can’t afford to try to catch fire late in the season. We’ve got to start fast.”

Wise words from a young player.
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- We're only five practices into training camp, a little too early to make bold proclamations ... oh, wait, the New York Jets apparently didn't get the memo. OK, forget about that stuff for now; this is about Chris Johnson, who indicated Tuesday that he hasn't felt this good in about a year.

Johnson
The former Tennessee Titans running back tore the meniscus in his right knee last season in Week 3, and it bothered him for the rest of the year.

"In practice, I wasn't able to do any lateral moves," Johnson said. "(Now), I've been able to do lateral moves and stuff like that with no problem. I feel good."

Those are three very important words: I feel good. If Johnson is saying the same thing in December, the Jets should be in good shape. A healthy CK2k will do wonders for the offense, which desperately needs a breakaway threat.

Johnson underwent arthroscopic surgery in January and sat out the entire offseason, building up his knee for camp. So far, so good. Rex Ryan, of course, expects big things out of the former 2,000-yard rusher. Asked why he's confident, Ryan said:

"Well, the whiplash that I got from watching him run 92 yards against me; (that's) one reason. You watch it on tape. Now, did we see the 2,000-yard guy? Maybe not, but I know one thing: He's still pretty darn effective. That was kind of the guy we saw. He still went for more than 1,000 yards last year."

Yes, he did -- 1,077 yards, to be precise. But it was a career low, as was his average per carry (3.9). Nevertheless, the Jets signed him to a tw0-year, $8 million contract.

Oh, by the way, that 92-yard run in 2012? It was actually 94 yards. Sorry, Rex.
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- Rex Ryan didn't want to speculate on what would happen if Geno Smith gets off to a shaky start this season. Can't blame him. Why fuel a quarterback controversy? But the New York Jets' coach, in a roundabout way, suggested Smith will be on a shorter leash than last season because of Michael Vick.

Vick
Vick
Smith
Ryan has confidence in Vick, and that changes the dynamic of the quarterback position.

"When you've got two quarterbacks that know the system, that have been part of it, obviously that's a big thing," Ryan said Tuesday. "Last year, no offense to Matt (Simms) -- Matt did a tremendous job for us -- but here's a young guy coming in, you've got a young starter, a rookie starter, and basically a rookie backup. I don't know if you'd call that an ideal quarterback situation.

"But what we have now might be considered ideal."

The Jets were supposed to have an experienced quarterback last season, but Mark Sanchez suffered what would become a season-ending injury in the preseason. Smith won the job by default, with Simms moving up to the No. 2 role.

It was hardly ideal.

You know what's really ideal? Tom Brady ... Peyton Manning ... Aaron Rodgers, et al.

New York Jets' projected roster

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
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Examining the New York Jets' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)


As expected, Smith is getting about 75 percent of the first-team reps, so there's no controversy here. We had rookie Tajh Boyd over Simms in the previous projection, but the early days of training camp have shown that Boyd isn't ready to take the job just yet. He has some redeeming qualities, but he's rough around the edges.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

It's status quo in the backfield. Johnson still isn't 100 percent, but he's getting there and looks good. This is one of the Jets' deepest areas. Daryl Richardson and Alex Green have shown flashes in camp, but they'll need to do more than that to crack this group.

WIDE RECEIVERS (7)

No changes here, either. Rex Ryan called this his deepest receiving corps since he became the coach, but deepest doesn't mean best. They're still looking for someone not named Decker to separate from the pack. Clyde Gates is challenging the top seven, sixth-round pick Quincy Enunwa (hip injury) is not.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

This group has been uninspiring so far. Amaro has good days and bad days, which can be expected of a rookie. Chris Pantale, who spent last season on the practice squad, is pushing for that third spot. Sudfeld isn't a lock by any means.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

Colon (knee) began camp on the physically unable to perform list, but he should be cleared soon to return. His absence is allowing Aboushi to work with the starting unit, impressing the coaches. Dozier, a fourth-round pick, has caught some eyes as he attempts to play guard for the first time.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (5)

If the Jets had this much talent at a few more positions, they'd be a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

LINEBACKERS (9)

The addition of Babin, signed last week to a two-year contract, changes things because he will have a significant role as a situational pass-rusher. In this projection, we're dropping Jermaine Cunningham to make room for Babin, although Barnes (knee), still not cleared to practice, could be in jeopardy. The unheralded Troy Davis also is making a push. Tough decisions ahead.

CORNERBACKS (6)

Milliner says he's the best cornerback in football. Huh? He's not even the best in the division (see: Darrelle Revis). All the Jets want is the Milliner from last December and they'll be happy. Patterson might not be Revis or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but he's off to a sneaky good start.

SAFETIES (4)

They've been using a three-man rotation with Landry, Pryor and Allen. The Jets like Allen's upside and want to give him as many quality reps as possible. Keep an eye on former practice-squadder Rontez Miles; he's fearless and hits like a truck. If he excels on special teams, he could push Jarrett for the fourth spot.

SPECIALISTS (3)

All set here.

Jets Camp Report: Day 4

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
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CORTLAND, N.Y. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New York Jets training camp:


  • The Jets received a scare when rookie tight end Jace Amaro went down with a knee injury and wasn't able to finish practice, but the word from the team is that he's fine and will be ready for Tuesday's practice. Proving the "Next-Man-Up" philosophy is alive and well, Zach Sudfeld capitalized on the extra reps, delivering a strong practice. He finished with a team-high three receptions in team drills, showing speed and separation ability. This tight end situation could get interesting. Quite frankly, Sudfeld has outplayed them all, including incumbemt Jeff Cumberland, who has been relatively quiet after reporting late to camp.
  • No surprise here, as right guard Willie Colon was activated from the physically-unable-to-perform list. The big fella didn't do a whole lot in practice -- he stayed out of team drills -- but the plan is to ease him back gradually. It's important to build chemistry with new right tackle Breno Giacomini, whom they signed from the Seattle Seahawks. Remember, Colon missed the entire offseason, so he hasn't had any time to practice alongside Giacomini. They both have a history of being penalty prone, so continuity is imperative. They got some time together in positional drills, but nothing extensive.
  • One day after Geno Smith said he expects to be a top-five quarterback and Dee Milliner proclaimed himself the best cornerback in the league, linebacker Calvin Pace told the New York Daily News they have the best defense. Enough already. It's July.
  • Rookie quarterback Tajh Boyd is a former college star with a lot of charisma and the ability to throw a nice deep ball, but he struggles with short and intermediate throws. Sound familiar? Boyd's head is spinning as he attempts to learn a new offense, so that could explain some of his Tebow-esque throws. It'll be interesting to gauge his progress as the summer progresses. With every rep by Boyd, Matt Simms gets closer to nailing down the No. 3 job.
  • Rush linebacker Quinton Coples delivered another solid practice. Rex Ryan said Coples' last two practices were "off the charts," noting how it's "interesting" that Coples perked up once veteran Jason Babin arrived in camp. Hmm, very interesting, indeed. It's called competition, players pushing players, and somewhere general manager John Idzik is smiling.
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- The New York Jets' meandering search to replace cornerback Antonio Cromartie included flirtations with Vontae Davis (a rejection) and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who had the audacity to take an offer from the New York Giants. Despite some pro-Darrelle Revis sentiment in the organization, the Jets decided not to pursue Revis 2.0. In the end, they made Dimitri Patterson their Big Free-Agent Cornerback.

The response from Jets Nation?

A collective groan.

Patterson
Who?

Patterson understands the sentiment, but he has a message for the skeptics: I'm just as good as the big names.

"Fans like high profiles. I don't have a high profile, but my film is legit," he said during a break at training camp. "When the season comes, I'll show everyone why I've been in the league so long.

"Vontae and all those guys, they were first-round picks," Patterson continued. "That's all cool, but as far as ability and responsibility, are they asked to do more than I've been asked to do over nine years? No. Have they been more productive on the perimeter? No, that's not the case at all. My tape shows that it's just a matter of me coming out and showing fans, 'Hey, let me show you.'"

The Jets have an interesting pair of cornerbacks. Dee Milliner thinks he's the best in the NFL (child, please) and Patterson, with his sixth team in 10 years, believe he was one of the biggest steals in free agency. The Jets signed him for one year, $3 million. If they turn out to be right, they will have their best cornerback tandem since 2011, when it was Revis and Cromartie.

Patterson said he has no intention of tainting the Jets' reputation at corner.

"There's a lot of scrutiny at this position because you had Revis and Cromartie," he said. "They were consistently competitive, year-in, year-out, with those guys at corner, so there's a standard that has been set. That's what the fans are accustomed to, so it's only natural to be concerned. My message to them is, don't be concerned."

Patterson is one confident dude for someone who hasn't played much in recent years due to injuries. In fact, he's missed 32 games the last three seasons (the last two with the Miami Dolphins), but he believes in his ability and he believes he's an ideal fit in the Jets' man-to-man scheme.

"Jets fans aren't familiar with me -- they don't have game tape -- so they have to trust that John Idzik and Rex (Ryan) did their due diligence, researching me," Patterson said. "If my résumé said, 'Cover-2, zone corner,' I wouldn't be here."

To get a complete evaluation of Patterson, the Jets had to study his pre-2012 tape. They see a savvy corner with elite ball skills and versatility, capable of playing outside or in the slot. Opposing scouts say he's much better in the slot, that it might be a stretch to play him on the perimeter.

"The guy understands the game and he understands the big picture, and you don't find a lot of guys like that," secondary coach Tim McDonald said.

Ryan said they didn't sign Patterson because he was the last man standing in the free-agent pool, claiming he was on their radar from the outset. Idzik probably didn't want to spend money on a big name, so he took the cheaper route -- a one-year stop gap and a draft pick (Dexter McDougle in the third round). It's risky, considering all the top quarterbacks they face in the first two months of the season. If the Jets get torched, oh, boy, the decision makers will get criticized.

Don't worry, Patterson said.

"I'll show the fans," he said.

Jets Camp Report: Day 3

July, 26, 2014
Jul 26
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CORTLAND, N.Y. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New York Jets training camp:
  • Top pick suffers possible concussion: Calvin Pryor came to the Jets with a reputation for delivering punishment, but he was on the receiving end Saturday in the first full-pads practice. The hard-hitting safety was knocked out of the first contact practice before getting a chance to strut his stuff on defense. He suffered a head injury while blocking as the personal protector (Tim Tebow's old spot) on the punt team. The team said Pryor was being evaluated for a possible concussion. I'm no doctor, but I think it's a good sign that he returned from the locker room to watch the rest of practice. You never want to see a player sustain a concussion, especially someone at a position involved in so many collisions. With Pryor on the sideline, Dawan Landry and Antonio Allen worked as the starting safety tandem. Allen delivered a nice hit on running back Chris Ivory, knocking him out of bounds on an outside run.
  • And on the third day : Chris Johnson rested. It wasn't a total day off -- he participated in positional drills -- but he was kept out of the heavy stuff. He'll probably get a break every third day. It's a smart move. It makes no sense to push a player of Johnson's stature, coming off knee surgery, in the early stages of training camp. It doesn't matter what he does in Cortland in late July. The objective is to have him humming on all cylinders Sept. 7, the season opener.
  • Slick Vick: Michael Vick, who admitted he was mediocre in the offseason camps, has raised his game in training camp. He completed 14 of 17 passes over the last two practices, working primarily with the second team and facing mostly the second-team defense. It's too early to make any definitive statements, but the quarterback situation is working out exactly the way the Jets had hoped. Vick is keeping the pressure on Geno Smith, who has responded nicely. Now, if it stays this way for the entire season, it'll be a controversy-free team. But what are the chances of that happening?
  • On guard: In terms of positional battles, quarterback and safety are getting the most pub, but what about guard? Oday Aboushi continues to impress the coaches, shining in a 9-on-7 drill. What happens when Willie Colon returns to action, which should be any day? Ryan all but handed a starting job to Colon (no shock there), meaning Aboushi and Brian Winters could be competing for left guard. The edge goes to Winters, but don't write it in ink just yet. Rookie Dakota Dozier appeared on the radar screen with a strong practice, so there's that.
CORTLAND, N.Y. – Rex Ryan said he is impressed with the depth of this year’s New York Jets wide receivers, and thinks this could be his strongest overall group since he became the head coach in 2009.

Ryan was asked to confirm – he thinks is the best group he’s seen?

“Well top to bottom, I have,” Ryan confirmed.

This offseason, the Jets have added some veterans at the position in Eric Decker and Jacoby Ford in addition to tenured Jets David Nelson and Jeremy Kerley and rookies such as Shaq Evans and Jalen Saunders.

In 2009, Ryan inherited Jerricho Cotchery, and the team had Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes during his tenure.

“Maybe when we had Braylon and we had 'Tone, there were a couple of guys who looked awesome, but I don’t know if we were that deep,” Ryan said. “Right now I would say so, (Clyde) Gates looked like he’s all the way back, Stephen Hill has had his moments and it’s just all of them, there’s no easy out out there. Whether it’s one-on-ones or team, we’ve got some legitimate receivers out there.”

Ryan, a defensive guy, hasn’t always been lauded for his decisions when it comes to skill positions on offense. The Jets have also gone through three offensive coordinators under Ryan, with Brian Schottenheimer and Tony Sparano in the role before the Jets landed Marty Mornhinweg. But Ryan thinks he has something this year.
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- Takeaways from Saturday's practice at New York Jets training camp:

1. Big names sit: Rookie safety Calvin Pryor suffered a head injury early in practice and didn't finish. He's being evaluated for a possible concussion. He was involved in a collision while blocking as the personal protector on the punt team. Running back Chris Johnson didn't participate in any team drills. This was hardly a surprise, considering the Jets are being cautious with his surgically repaired knee. Afterward, Rex Ryan hinted that Johnson will rest every third day as part of the team's plan for him in camp.

2. Break out the pads: The Jets practiced in full pads for the first time, which made for spirited competition in the 9-on-7 and pass-rushing drills. Safety Dawan Landry and nose tackle Damon Harrison delivered big hits in the 9-on-7 drill, which features the running game. Without Johnson, Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell got the bulk of the reps. Ivory impressed with his ability to get to the outside. Daryl Richardson, battling for a roster spot, showed some giddy-up. Right guard Oday Aboushi stood out, according to Ryan, who gave the second-year lineman a shout-out for his improvement since the end of last season.

3. Double-D: Rookie guard Dakota Dozier, a fourth-round pick, jumped out in the pass-rushing drill. It's always fun to watch this drill because it's one-on-one, in pads, with offensive and defensive players cheering on their teammates and talking smack to the other side. Dozier got beat on one play, but rebounded on the next two, handling bull rushes. That caught the coaches' eye. I remember talking to an opposing scout after the draft about Dozier, and the scout said he considered Dozier is a finesse player who'd struggle with the transition to guard after playing tackle in college. He didn't struggle in this drill.

4. Ebb and ebb: One day after general manager John Idzik said there would be an ebb and flow with the distribution of quarterback reps, Geno Smith received 16 of 19 first-team reps. After three practices, Smith's rep count is 42, Michael Vick 12. I guess we're still waiting for the ebb to turn into a flow. Anyway, both quarterbacks performed well in practice, especially Vick, who completed six of seven passes in team drills. His best throw came in a 7-on-7 drill, a 50-yard touchdown pass to Clyde Gates, who beat Dee Milliner down the sideline. Smith (3-for-5) didn't get many opportunities, as they took advantage of the padded practice to concentrate on the running game. He was almost intercepted. Cornerback Dimitri Patterson jumped an 'out' route and broke up a pass to Eric Decker; it would've been a pick-6 if he held on.

5. Babin moving up: In his second practice, Jason Babin got some work with the first-team nickel. He rotated with Quinton Coples. Speaking of Coples, he recorded a "sack" for the second straight day.

6. Sleepers: After practice, Ryan gave a shout out to two unheralded players, safety Rontez Miles and linebacker Troy Davis. They've impressed the coach so much that Ryan, trying to give them a good opportunity to make the team, will play them with the starters on special teams. Davis plays "100 miles per hour," according to Ryan. Miles recorded a sack on a safety blitz.

7. Medical report: Rookie wide receiver Quincy Enunwa, a sixth-round pick, missed practice for the second day with a hip injury. Linebacker Tim Fugger (ankle) and defensive end Zach Thompson (shoulder) sat out.

8. Odds and ends: Right tackle Breno Giacomini, oft-penalized throughout his career, was flagged for a false start and sat out a play. ... Rookie receiver Shaq Evans caught a 50-yard pass from rookie Tajh Boyd in a 7-on-7 drills. Boyd throws a good deep ball, but he struggles with his accuracy on short and intermediate throws. ... Rookie tight end Jace Amaro, off to a quiet start, caught two passes from Vick in a two-minute drill.

Jets Camp Report: Day 2

July, 25, 2014
Jul 25
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CORTLAND, N.Y. -- A review of Friday's developments at New York Jets training camp:
  1. Babin makes debut: Two days after agreeing to terms, veteran pass-rusher Jason Babin found his way to training camp and participated in his first practice, providing a glimpse of how he might help the defense. Working primarily with the second team, Babin moved around, playing left and right end, standing up in a two-point stance and even dropping into coverage. Officially, he's listed as a linebacker, but we all know he'll be a situational pass-rusher. His versatility makes him a nice fit in coach Rex Ryan's defense. Ryan called Babin a "proven commodity," saying he never would've been available if he had been a few years younger. Ryan, no doubt, recalls how Babin abused right tackle Wayne Hunter in 2011, when the Jets were embarrassed by the Philadelphia Eagles.

  2. Two-dreaded monster: Encouraging news in the backfield: Chris Johnson, who is seven months removed from knee surgery, practiced for the second straight day. That might not sound like much, but there was talk before camp about him being on a modified practice schedule. That still could happen; it'll be interesting to see if he takes a rest Saturday, the first day in pads. Chris Ivory, who tweaked a hamstring during an offseason workout (sound familiar?), made it through practice without any complications one day after sitting out with his cranky hammy. With Johnson and Ivory, it's all about staying healthy.

  3. Special K: Wide receiver Jeremy Kerley, whose importance was highlighted last season when the Jets went 0-4 without him, is off to a fast start in camp. On Friday, he led all pass-catchers with three receptions, including a long touchdown. He took a short pass from Geno Smith, found a seam in the defense and raced up for the sideline. Kerley tends to get overlooked when pundits discuss the wide receiver situation, but the dude can play. It was the play of the day. Later, Smith tainted an otherwise solid day by the offense by throwing an interception, his first turnover in camp.

  4. GM speak: John Idzik, addressing reporters in one of his periodic state-of-the-team chats, was bombarded with questions about the pseudo- quarterback competition. He refused to give any edge between Smith and Michael Vick, even though it's obvious to everyone in Cortland that Smith is the presumed starter. Even the customers at the iconic Doug Fish Fry know it's Smith's job to lose. Nevertheless, Idzik insisted, "I don't think it's tilted at all." He probably thinks the Tower of Pisa is straight.

  5. Q's time to shine: This is a huge season for linebacker Quinton Coples, who jumped out early in practice by blowing past the right tackle and sacking Smith. Later, Ryan defended Coples to a certain degree, disagreeing with Joe Klecko's harsh assessment of the former No. 1 pick. In the offseason, the Jets legend said in a radio interview that Coples "looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane." Ryan noted that Coples recorded a team-high 50 quarterback hits last season. That's fine, but he had only 4.5 sacks. He has to be better than that.

  6. Should Wilkerson get "Mo" money? Ryan was uncomfortable when asked if defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson deserves a contract extension. He called Wilkerson an "ascending player," but he didn't go full gush, as he used to do with Darrelle Revis. Wilkerson told the New York Daily News that he feels underpaid ($1.2 million this season), but he said he won't squawk about wanting a new deal. Here's the bottom line: Yes, he's underpaid, but he's signed through 2015. There's no sense of urgency to lock him up. If they do it now, they would set a precedent that could come back to bite them in 2016, when Sheldon Richardson is in the same boat.

Jets camp report: Day 1

July, 24, 2014
Jul 24
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CORTLAND, N.Y. -- A review of the hot topics from Thursday at the New York Jets:

1. Sunglasses needed: Rex Ryan was fired up after the first practice, radiating enough sunshine to raise the tanning index to a 10. The coach said the Jets are "a zillion miles ahead of where we were last year" at this time, claiming this team is further along than any of his previous teams. He raved about Geno Smith, Michael Vick, Chris Johnson, Calvin Pryor, Antonio Allen and Kyle Wilson. Even rookie quarterback Tajh Boyd got some love. Said Ryan: "He's got a little magic in him." Sitting in the news conference, I thought for a moment that I was covering the '85 Bears. But you know what? This is who Ryan is. He's the enternal optimist, and it's one of the reasons why the players still like playing for him after five years.

2. Geno wins the day: On Day 1 of the pseudo quarterback competition, Smith outplayed Michael Vick, who threw an interception that wasn't entirely his fault. (Rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders ran the wrong route.) There will be more days like this, especially if Smith continues to receive three-quarters of the first-team reps. Vick is working with an inexperienced cast of characters, and that's bound to impact his performance. You'll be reading a day-by-day analysis of the quarterback situation (hey, it's what we do), but know this: To nail down the job, Smith needs to show up in the preseason games. In other words, he can't throw a pick-six on a screen pass on his first attempt. (See: Mark Sanchez, 2013).

3. Three-headed safety: Dawan Landry, Antonio Allen and rookie Calvin Pryor rotated with the starting unit at safety. It's not hard to read the handwriting on the wall: The Jets prefer a Allen-Pryor tandem, but they're not ready to abandon Landry, the wise head of the secondary. Ryan said he wants to keep Allen "really humming because I think he's really stepped up, and I'll try to put him out there with the 1s as much as possible." The same could be said for Pryor. Unfortanately, you can't play with 12 players.

4. Early glimpse at the receivers: Eric Decker, Jeremy Kerley and David Nelson were the best receivers on the field. The others had drops at various points in practice, with rookie Quincy Enunwa (hip) taking an early seat because of an injury. No reason to reach for the panic button. Just stating the facts. Obviously, the Jets need one or two receivers to emerge from the pack.

5. Rex rocks the house: Several players, especially the rookies, were still buzzing about Ryan's speech to the team Wednesday night. Ryan knows how to bring it, especially on the eve of training camp. According to several players, he spoke about the playoffs, how the drought has lasted long enough. This is how Boyd described it: "I'm sitting in there and I don't know what to expect. He gets up there and he's very modest and he's talking, 'It's going to be a great camp, I'm excited.' Then he just flipped the switch five minutes into the talk. You could just feel the fire burning inside the guys. He made me want to run through a brick wall. I think he's got an opportunity to be a legendary coach one of these days."
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- Jason Babin may have agreed to a two-year deal with the Jets on Wednesday, but the defensive end didn't sign on the dotted line until Thursday afternoon. What that meant was the former Jaguar missed the first day of the Jets training camp.

"He's supposed to report today," Jets coach Rex Ryan said. "Hopefully we'll see him on the field [Friday]."

Babin
The Jets have needed a pass-rusher like Babin, and they won't need to wait much longer.

Tight end Jeff Cumberland, who has been excused from the start of camp for personal reasons, was also absent Thursday.

Pryor restraint: Part of rookie safety Calvin Pryor's game is his ability tackle with meaning. Both he and his coaches realize that what they see before he puts on the pads is just a shadow of his true abilities.

"From a physical standpoint we won't recognize him until we put a live drill out there," Ryan said. "Then we'll hear him play. I mean that's what happens, but he's a special guy that way. I think (Dawan) Landry has been a mentor to all of them, but he's certainly taken him under his wing as well. We expect huge things out of Calvin."

Asked if he was ready to hit, Pryor said yes, but he didn't want to hurt his teammates. He'd save that for actual games.

Decker <3's NY: Jets wide receiver Eric Decker was asked what he liked about New York, and the former Denver resident had nothing but good things to say about the food and the shows on Broadway.

"This is one of the best cities, if not the best city in our country," Decker said.

Now there's a man who knows how to win over the locals.

Ryan's job security: The Jets coach appears to have a little more job security this year than he did last, when new general manager John Idzik came in and agreed to keep him for the time being.

There's optimism around the team, and Ryan seems as secure as a coach in the NFL can be.

"I know you guys had that question for me, still working? Yeah, still here! I am still here. I don't know if there was a whole lot of confidence in that last year at this time, but still here."

Roommates: Michael Vick was asked about his first night with running back Chris Johnson and he said it went well, but they didn't get much sleep.

"We sat up and talked maybe a little too long last night," Vick said. "I'm kind of tired right now, but I think I let him get some rest. I was doing all of the talking."

Just like college.

Notes: Wilkerson is no holdout

July, 23, 2014
Jul 23
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CORTLAND, N.Y. -- New York Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson arrived at the Jets facility this morning to take his conditioning test and make the trip to training camp despite ongoing negotiations toward a new contract.

There was some question whether he'd show up, if only because the Jets have had high-profile holdouts recently, notably former cornerback Darrelle Revis,

Wilkerson
"Holding out was never an option for me,” Wilkerson said. “I'm one of the leaders on this team. That wouldn't be a good thing to do. That's not the way a leader should lead his team. On the business side of things, everything will be handled when the time comes. Right now, if anybody has any other contract questions, I would say [Jets general manager] John Idzik is the man to ask."

Wilkerson, drafted in 2011, has two years left on his contract, making $1.2 million this year. Under the CBA, a player is subject to a $30,000-a-day fine if he stages a contract holdout.

At 6-foot-4 and 315 pounds, Wilkerson is one of the best players on the team and anchors what is considered a strong defensive line with players such as Sheldon Richardson. His compensation however, lags when compared to others at his level. The Panthers franchised Greg Hardy this year for a little over $13 million.

PUP talk: Jets coach Rex Ryan commented on the two players added to the PUP list early in the day, DL Antwan Barnes and OL Willie Colon, saying that he wasn’t concerned about their availability later on despite the tag.

“Well, Antwan will be on PUP right now; we are going to be smart with him,” Ryan said. “In fact he passed his conditioning test. Willie Colon also will be on PUP, and he passed his conditioning test. We’re just going to be smart and we’ll see how it plays out.”

Rain on a parade: The Jets opening pep rally in Cortland got off to a damp start. The bus of rookies arrived a half-hour behind schedule, and just after they arrived a lightning storm had cleared out a lot of the fans who had come to say hello. After the deluge, about 150 fans were still around to greet Ryan and the players who rode up on the buses. Ryan put a good face on it though, saying he would take the rain as a good omen.

Long haul: Training camp is one place where grown men making good bank have to room with each other like they’re back in college. Some tolerate it, some dislike it, but just about everybody has a roommate.

This year, LB David Harris and LB Calvin Pace are in a room, while QB Michael Vick and RB Chris Johnson will share space. Asked who he is rooming with, rookie S Calvin Pryor said he’s with a kicker. “I know, I was pretty surprised too,” Pryor said.
CORTLAND, NY -- On the first day of NFL training there are 32 playoff teams and no one can disprove a single claim to the postseason. The New York Jets, of course, have done their fair share of talking this season.

Yet, as the team arrived at the SUNY College at Cortland campus for the start of training camp, some dialed back talk of playoffs and Super Bowls, starting with Jets coach Rex Ryan.

[+] EnlargeGeno Smith, Michael Vick
Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY SportsQuarterbacks Geno Smith (left) and Michael Vick are exuding a quiet confidence as the Jets get ready to start training camp.
“We understand there’s so many steps we have to take to get there,” Ryan said. “We have to improve as a football team. If we could talk about it and get there it would’ve already been done.”

Ryan has been talking about the playoffs since the January 2009 day that he took the Jets head coaching position, when he predicted the team would meet just-elected President Barack Obama in the White House when he hosts the Super Bowl victor.

It hasn't exactly happened like that, but each season offers a new opportunity to say, like Jets WR David Nelson did to the New York Daily News, that the Jets are a playoff team.

Quarterback Michael Vick, who played for a Philadelphia Dream Team that didn’t turn out to be one, said he doesn’t think preseason talk is a problem. Those intra-squad pep talks are just a way of communicating.

“I don’t think there’s any danger in having confidence,” Vick said. “That’s an emotion that we all have, we all want to exuberate at some point -- this is the time to do it. In football you have to have confidence, you have to toe the line between confidence and arrogance, and this team has felt for a long time like they can get it done, and that’s the right mind set. That’s how we feel, and that’s how we want to approach the season.”

And the truth is that individual players on the Jets have noticed the chance in the atmosphere this year, privately saying that the offseason workouts produced a lot of team unity already.

Second-year quarterback Geno Smith, who will get about 70 percent of the snaps at training camp over the more-experienced Vick, isn’t one to join in the predictions, but he can appreciate it.

“I love the confidence, we all love confidence,” Smith said. “We’re confident in ourselves and we’re confident in our team, but today is day one. It takes step by step, you can’t take the elevator up.”

And this was how, on the eve of training camp, the Jets began to quiet the big talk and consider how it would translate into what they could do on the field in the next few weeks.

“We know we’ve got a pretty good team, but we know that we’ve still got to take one step at a time, and that’s getting training camp out of the way and start winning games,” running back Chris Johnson said. “We can’t just jump to the playoffs or straight to a Super Bowl. We’ve got to take it one game at a time.”

Passing the conditioning test Wednesday morning was just the start.
Rex Ryan showed his new boss last season that, even when speaking softly, he still carried a big enough stick to squeeze eight wins out of a team with modest talent. The New York Jets' coach received a well-deserved contract extension.

Now, with the Jets reporting to training camp Wednesday in Cortland, New York, for Year 2 of the Ryan-John Idzik era, we start to learn a lot more about the other half of the leadership tandem, the quiet man who prefers to stay out of the spotlight.

This is Idzik's time.

[+] EnlargeMilliner
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesDee Milliner is one of John Idzik's draft picks that needs to produce for the Jets.
It's impossible to evaluate a general manager after one season, especially in a rebuilding situation, but the landscape changes after two drafts and two rounds of free agency. In the NFL, that’s enough time to get a team from the 6-10 mess that Idzik inherited into the playoffs.

Idzik's predecessors, Terry Bradway in 2001 and Mike Tannenbaum in 2006, reached the postseason in their first seasons as GMs. Go back further, and you will remember that Bill Parcells made it to the AFC Championship Game in his second year as the GM/coach.

Even though Idzik is operating on a long-term plan, evidenced by his emphasis on the draft and his deliberate approach in free agency, an 0-for-2 start wouldn't look good on his résumé. He shouldn't be on the New York Mets' Sandy Alderson timeline, meaning he has to move faster than a glacier. It's just the way of the NFL.

Idzik has been around long enough to put his stamp on the team. He signed, re-signed and drafted most of the projected starters. In fact, only seven starters can be considered true holdovers from the previous administration: D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, Muhammad Wilkerson, David Harris, Damon Harrison, Quinton Coples and Demario Davis.

It's easy to notice they're the best guys on the team, Tannenbaum guys. Idzik needs to get some of his guys on that list. He already has Sheldon Richardson. By the end of the season, the list of top homegrowns should also include Geno Smith, Dee Milliner and Calvin Pryor. If Smith and Milliner are missing, the Jets will miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season, which won’t bode well for Ryan's job security.

Idzik has the Jets pointed in the right direction, and the strides they made last season can't be dismissed. But let's be honest: They overachieved. They were one of the softest 8-8 teams in history, and you can look it up. Their point differential was minus-97, the largest since the 1970 merger for any team with at least eight wins.

The talent base should be improved this season, especially with the additions of Eric Decker and Chris Johnson. Decker was Idzik's one big splurge in free agency, his one Tannenbaum-like move. Johnson and Michael Vick will be one-and-done players, worthwhile Band-Aids who won't ruin the master plan if they fizzle. The offseason proved, once again, that Idzik won't deviate from his script no matter how much salary-cap room he has at his disposal. For the record, there's about $22 million as of today.

Idzik is doing it the right way, avoiding the temptation of the quick fix. That will pay off in the long run, but there will be problems along the way. For instance: Failing to sign a top cornerback in free agency was a mistake that could be exposed early in the season, when they face several elite quarterbacks. The cornerback issue will be exacerbated if Milliner fails to develop as hoped.

The Jets believe Milliner, drafted ninth overall, will be a special player, basing much of their opinion on his strong finish. The same theory can be applied to the quarterback situation with Smith. They're placing a lot of weight on those last four games, and that can be dangerous when you consider the competition. They beat three also-rans, three teams with mediocre (at best) quarterbacks: the Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins.

Now, after seven months of positive mojo, the Jets can prove it wasn't a mirage. If Idzik's investments mirror the stock market, they'll be a playoff team. If it goes the other way, he'll hear the criticism, good and loud. The honeymoon is over. This is Idzik's time.

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