New York Jets: Calvin Pryor

Pryor: 'I've got a little chip on my shoulder'

November, 11, 2014
11/11/14
3:21
PM ET
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Calvin Pryor may be a little late to the party on this, but the New York Jets rookie said Tuesday that coach Rex Ryan isn't wrong to continue playing Jaiquawn Jarrett in his place.

As to that story that Pryor's inability to show up on time for team meetings may have had something to do with Ryan's decision to make the change at safety?

"No comment," Pryor said, speaking publicly for the first time since ESPNNewYork.com reported that he had been late for multiple team meetings this season.

Pryor later indirectly acknowledged his tardiness and admitted that several Jets veterans have talked to him about it.

"I'm pretty sure it's not the first time guys have been late," he said.

But rather than promise it won't happen again, Pryor chose to take the events of the past few days as a challenge.

"I've got a little chip on my shoulder right now," he said. "I'm kind of backed against the wall."

Asked what he meant by that, Pryor spoke of the expectations that come with being a first-round draft pick, especially one who admittedly has yet to play as well as he should.

Pryor's play has been underwhelming enough that Ryan could say the change in the starting lineup Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers came about because Jarrett had outperformed Pryor in practice. Jarrett certainly justified the decision Sunday, when he became the first Jets player with two interceptions and a sack in the same game.

Ryan then said Jarrett would start when the Jets visit Buffalo after this week's bye.

"During the week at practice, we were rotating," Pryor said. "Jarrett had a hot hand. Why not leave him in? I wouldn't have taken him out. I'm fine with [the decision to start Jarrett against Buffalo]."

Pryor said he appreciated hearing from teammates.

"Those guys are my big brothers," he said. "They want what's best for me."

What's best for him would probably be to show up on time and to work to improve his play.

And how does he do that?

"I'll let my actions speak," Pryor said.

With that, he walked off. He had somewhere to be -- presumably right on time.

Jace Amaro hurts knee in practice

July, 27, 2014
7/27/14
11:50
AM ET
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- It's been a tough couple of days for the New York Jets' top two draft picks.

On Sunday, tight end Jace Amaro injured his right knee in a 7-on-7 drill and received medical attention from the trainers. Amaro's right knee was wrapped with ice, and he watched the remainder of the practice from the sideline. The second-round pick tried to jog and attempted a few light cuts, but he struggled to put weight on it. That he wasn't carted off was a good sign. We'll have an update later.

Meanwhile, first-round pick Calvin Pryor, who suffered a head injury on Saturday, didn't practice. The hard-hitting safety was tested for a possible concussion. No word yet on the results.

Jets wake-up call: Day 1

July, 24, 2014
7/24/14
6:00
AM ET
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- Here we go: Seven months after that wonderful and spontaneous locker-room celebration in Miami, where they partied after hearing Rex Ryan would return, the New York Jets are ready for business once again. The first training-camp practice of 2014 commences at 10 a.m. on the SUNY-Cortland campus.

Per CBA rules, the Jets won't be in pads, but there will be no shortage of storylines. A quick sampling:

• The big-name newcomers -- Chris Johnson, Eric Decker and Michael Vick -- are healthy and ready for action. You might have heard, Vick is competing with Geno Smith for the starting-quarterback job. Vick, who gave himself a C+/B- for his spring performance, knows he had to raise his grade to make Smith sweat a little.

• With Johnson and Decker, along with a lot of young blood at wide receiver, the Jets expect to be vastly improved on offense. It'll be fun evaluating the early stages of the rebuilding job.

• Newly-signed pass rusher Jason Babin is expected to make his Jets debut, joining one of the most talented defensive lines in the league.

• The defensive spotlight also will be on prized safety Calvin Pryor, who has received more praise than perhaps any rookie under Ryan. And that's saying something.

Training camp preview: Secondary

July, 21, 2014
7/21/14
8:00
AM ET
Breaking down the New York Jets' roster, unit by unit, in preparation for training camp, July 23:

Position: Secondary

Patterson
Projected starters: Dee Milliner (CB), Dimitri Patterson (CB), Kyle Wilson (slot), Dawan Landry (S), Calvin Pryor (S).

Projected reserves: Antonio Allen, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Dexter McDougle, Darrin Walls, Ellis Lankster.

Notables on the bubble: Josh Bush, Ras-I Dowling, Rontez Miles, Brandon Dixon (sixth-round pick).

Player to watch: Pryor. He was drafted 18th overall for a reason, and the reason is because the Jets believe he can be a great safety. Rex Ryan calls him an enforcer, comparing him to the late Jack Tatum. Ryan meant well, but he may have put a target on Pryor's back by putting him in the same sentence as one of the most notorious hitters in NFL history. He'll bring a physical, tough-guy element to the secondary, but what the secondary really needs is big plays -- interceptions, forced fumbles, anything. The secondary frightened no one last season.

Milliner
Top storyline: Did general manager John Idzik leave Ryan short at cornerback? It was one of the greatest cornerback classes in free-agent history and the Jets ended up with ... Patterson, a journeyman. Patterson, 31, with his sixth team, has natural ball skills, but he's never on the field long enough to use them. He has missed 33 of his last 48 games due to injuries. Ryan needs corners for his defense the way humans need water to survive. Milliner holds the key. If he becomes a legitimate No. 1 corner -- dare we say shutdown corner? -- it changes the face of the secondary. For the first time since 2006, the Jets don't have someone named Darrelle Revis or Antonio Cromartie at corner. They need Milliner to ascend to that status.

Training camp will be a success if ... : Pryor is in the Week 1 lineup. The coaches say he's a smart cookie, but we'll see how he adapts when the pads go on and the playbook installation intensifies. It would be a major disappointment if he's not an immediate starter, considering his draft position and the relatively tame competition at safety.

Wild card: Landry's role. He played 98 percent of the defensive snaps last season, but he could lose his starting job if the Pryor-Allen tandem flourishes. Landry, known as "The Mentor," has value because of his smarts. But at what point does intelligence get trumped by youth and speed? It'll be a delicate balancing act in camp. The coaches have to get Landry ready while giving the Pryor-Allen duo a chance to develop chemistry.

By the numbers: The Jets' pass defense wasn't bad last season against three- and four-receiver groupings -- a 77.1 passer rating, according to ESPN Stats & Information. They struggled when it was only two receivers -- 103.9 rating.

Jets players select most memorable game

June, 30, 2014
6/30/14
9:00
AM ET
Taking a break from serious football topics, we decided to lighten the mood by asking several players on the New York Jets to name the most memorable game of their career -- high school, college or pro. Here's what we found:

Breno Giacomini (formerly of the Seattle Seahawks): "It has to be the Super Bowl. There was a huge hype about the game, with Peyton Manning being so good and the respect we had for Denver itself. We had two weeks to prepare for them, and the battle we had to go through to get to them, San Francisco, was tough. Plus, it was the first (championship) for the city of Seattle. There's a lot to it, but overall, Peyton Manning being so good, facing our defense. It was awesome."

Sheldon Richardson: "When we beat the Patriots last year. I didn't do anything major, it was just the fact that we won and beat the Patriots at home. It was a close game, a tough fight for everybody on both sides of the ball. It was just a fun game. Right now, that's my most memorable."

D'Brickashaw Ferguson: "It's a tie between college (Virginia) and the NFL -- my first game in each. It was Colorado State and the Tennessee Titans. I don't remember the outcome -- I think we won -- but it was my first NFL start. In college, it was my first time playing Division I football. Those are proud milestones, having an opportunity to compete at those levels. In fact, I think we lost the Colorado State game."

Dimitri Patterson: "It's when I started my first game on 'Monday Night Football,' when I was on Philadelphia (in 2010). That stands out the most out of all the games because Washington was the first team I was with coming out of college. They cut me. I was able to start against them and had two interceptions, one for a touchdown. I played well. That was really the year when I showed people I could actually play in this league at corner, so that games stands out the most to me, just because of the history I had with Washington and being able to start my first 'Monday Night Football' game and play well on a national stage."

Jeremy Kerley, a former high-school quarterback: "State championship my senior year in high school (Hutto, Texas). We played Tatum High School. It was the first time my school went to State -- ever -- so it was a pretty big deal. We traveled pretty good, we had everybody there. ... We were winning most of the game, but with 17-something seconds left -- I think we were down, 38-34 -- I had the ball on the 20-something yard line. We had the ball. Sack, lost the game."

-- Jane McManus contributed

Sunday notes: Geno the scrambler

June, 29, 2014
6/29/14
5:00
AM ET
Cleaning out the notebook on the New York Jets:

1. The Geno plan: Geno Smith caught teams by surprise at the end of last season, running with more frequency than before. He carried 31 times for 186 yards and three touchdowns over the final four games, accounting for roughly half his total production. Clearly, the change in strategy helped him become a better quarterback, an upswing that made the Jets buy in for at least another year. But now, as one opposing player noted, defenses will be better prepared to stop Geno the scrambler.

"I think he'll be better this year, but the other thing is, every team will have had the opportunity to watch 16 games and break him down," Tennessee Titans CB Jason McCourty told me last week at a charity golf tournament on Long Island.

McCourty, who faced Smith last season (a brutal day for the Jets' QB) and will see him again in December, makes a good point. After studying him in the offseason, teams will scheme up ways to keep him in the pocket. They were unprepared for it late last year because he had shown no inclination to run, which frustrated the Jets' coaches at times. Facts are facts: When Smith runs, the offense runs better. The Jets were 6-1 when Smith had five or more carries and 6-0 when he scored a touchdown.

Opponents will go to school on the final four games, count on it.

2. Buying QB insurance: Belated thoughts on Marty Mornhinweg's comment that Smith will get 70 to 75 percent of the first-team reps in training camp: It shows that, as Michael Vick noted on more than one occasion, it's not an open competition. At the same time, the percentage indicates the Jets aren't all-in with Smith. They're hedging their bet, giving Vick one out of every four reps to get him ready -- just in case. Normally, a veteran starter gets about 90 percent of the reps.

3. Anything you can do ... : DT Sheldon Richardson, the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year for 2013, said in a recent interview that rookie S Calvin Pryor has the goods to match his accomplishment. When I asked Pryor his reaction to Richardson's raising-the-bar remarks, he didn't back down one bit.

"When it comes down to it, that's one of the goals I have in the back of my head," the Jets' first-round pick said. "I'll definitely try to fill his shoes."

In case you're wondering, no team has produced back-to-back winners in the 47-year history of the award. In 1980, two members of the Atlanta Falcons' defense split the award, Buddy Curry and Al Richardson.

4. Home bodies: There was some talk about the Jets having dual practices with the Cincinnati Bengals during the run-up to their Aug. 16 preseason game, but the Jets have decided to remain in Cortland, N.Y., for that week. From what I hear, there wasn't too much disappointment in the locker room about skipping the Cincy trip.

5. The joy of Rex: I've heard a lot of players over the years talk about why they enjoy playing for Rex Ryan, but I was particularly interested in listening to Dimitri Patterson, who came from a place -- the Miami Dolphins -- where there was an obvious disconnect between players and coaches.

"Rex gives off this positive energy that spreads around," Patterson told me. "That's why the guys played so hard for him toward the end of the year. What stands out to me is he knows how to put his players in a positive space, mentally."

Maybe Phil Jackson isn't the only Zen master in New York.

6. Michael Vick, cont.: In a sitdown last week, I asked Vick to name his greatest career accomplishment. He thought for a moment.

"I think my greatest accomplishment in my career was being such a young quarterback and having the guile to go into Green Bay in 2002, being a second-year player and making history, basically," he said, referring to the Falcons' playoff upset -- the first road team to win a postseason game at Lambeau Field. "Going in with confidence and winning that football game was I think my greatest accomplishment."

It was a great win, to be sure, but I don't think anything short of a championship can satisfy a "greatest accomplishment" question for 12 years.

7. Farewell to an original: One of the original New York Titans, guard Bob Mischak, died Thursday at the age of 81. He began his career with the New York Giants, but he'll be remembered in Jets/Titans history as the first player to receive all-star recognition. He was the only member of the Titans named to the AFL all-star team in 1960, the franchise's first year. He won three Super Bowl rings as an assistant coach with the Oakland Raiders, and he also coached in Italy and London. That's what you call a full life.

8. Cro the Cardinal: In a post on Instagram, former Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie mocks his critics, saying he ran two sub-4.4 times in the 40. If we write about it, he'll find a way to rip us for misquoting him.

9. He's not Mike Westhoff: Sensed a little edge in Thomas McGaughey's voice when he was asked about the scheme differences between him and his predecessor, Ben Kotwica, and his predecessor's predecessor, Mike Westhoff.

"I’m not Mike Westhoff. I’m not going to try to be Mike Westhoff," said McGaughey, who was hired in February to coach the special teams. "My name is Thomas McGaughey, Jr. and I can be the best me that I can possibly be, and that’s where it stops. Mike Westhoff was a hell of a coach, is a hell of a coach, and he had a great career. Ben was a great coach in his own right. But I’m me. I’m not going to try to be anybody else. I’m not going to try to act like anybody else. I’m going to be Thomas Ray McGaughey, Jr."

All right, then ...

10. Vacation time: I'll be shutting it down for the next three weeks, but make sure you stay locked to our Jets team page. The blog will be populated with interesting features, starting this coming week with another edition of the AFC East "Four Downs" segment -- four team reporters tackling hot issues as camp approaches. The following week, we'll roll out our "Most Memorable Play" series across the league, which is sure to generate debate. After that, we'll start our daily position previews for training camp, which starts July 23. Until then, I'm chilling.

Jets' rebuilt secondary goes green

June, 26, 2014
6/26/14
10:20
AM ET
Two of the MICs (most important coaches) in training camp will be defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman and secondary coach Tim McDonald. They're charged with the responsibility of guiding a young group through its formative stage, trying to minimize the growing pains along the way.

This won't be easy. In the post-Darrelle Revis/post-Antonio Cromartie era, the secondary is in transition. In fact, there are five players -- all of whom have a good chance of making the team -- who are new to the Rex Ryan defensive system: veterans Dimitri Patterson, Ras-I Dowling and Johnny Patrick, and rookies Calvin Pryor and Dexter McDougle.

It'll be summer school in Cortland, N.Y.

[+] EnlargeDimitri Patterson
Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsDimitri Patterson has impressed in his brief time with the Jets.
"(The) lack of experience that shows up at times, but the talent is there," Thurman said. "We know that we have guys that can play. We just have to make sure that we communicate the things that we are supposed to do. If we do that, I think we’ll be fine."

Ryan's system isn't easy because it's predicated on communication, players communicating with teammates before the snap. The beauty of the system is that it's not rigid; it gives players the flexibility to make pre-snap adjustments. But the players have to know what the heck they're doing before the defense can perform a graduate-level curriculum, as Ryan might say.

One of the reasons why his defense has thrived with older players, vets thought to be on the downside of their careers, is because he can tap into their vast experience, providing game plans that younger players can't handle. Who knows? Maybe Patterson, 31, becomes one of those guys.

"A guy who knows how to play," Thurman said of Patterson. "(He) brings knowledge and depth to our secondary. He can play nickel as well, so right now we are very pleased with Dimitri."

The oldest member of the secondary is Dawan Landry, 31, whose background in Ryan's system will make him a proverbial coach on the field. Thing is, he might not be on the field as much as last season because of the young talent at safety. Pryor, drafted 18th overall, is a virtual lock as an opening-day starter.

"We'll answer that after training camp, but he’s a talented kid, we drafted him No. 1," Thurman said. "We feel like he can bring a lot to our secondary, so we’ll see."

By the end of the season, perhaps sooner, McDougle could have a prominent role. The Jets are high on their third-round pick, who impressed during the final two weeks of the offseason program. He missed most of the offseason, still recovering from shoulder surgery last fall.

"I think he is everything we thought he was going to be," Thurman said. "He's a young, talented kid, he is very serious (and) he loves football. There are some guys that you look at them and you say, 'All right, he was built to play this position.' He was built to play corner."
One of the refreshing things about Sheldon Richardson is that he's not afraid to speak his mind. He'll give an opinion on just about anything, whether he's talking about Michael Sam (a former college teammate) or his belief that he should've been the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 draft. Love the candor.

Last week, the New York Jets defensive tackle apparently ventured into a no-fly zone, commenting on teammate Muhammad Wilkerson's contract situation. He lobbied for his linemate, telling the New York Post, "Hopefully, they do the right thing and pay the man." Well, that didn't sit well at One Jets Drive.

"Someone asked me a question, and I gave them an opinion," Richardson said Monday on the NFL Network's "NFL AM" show. "He’s been turning questions down. [John Idzik has] been turning them down, too. So I’m about to start doing the same thing. I didn’t know at the time, but it’s going to get handled."

It's not clear if the directive came from Idzik, Wilkerson or someone else, but Richardson evidently intends to stay mum on contract talks that don't involve him. He touched on a few other topics during the interview, such as:

Geno Smith's development in Year 2: "He just picked it up. He’s a lot more intense. He’s got a little more control over the offense now. The playbook’s opened up a lot for him. He’s been putting them on the money. He’s made a few bad throws here and there, but there’s competition so it’s going to happen."

Michael Vick's presence in the locker room: "[He's] a tremendous help to the team, especially to Geno because he’s real comfortable with the playbook. He’s real laid back [and] a good guy. I love him. I love him being here. I wanted to take a picture when he first got here. It’s Mike Vick. That’s how I looked at it at first. Growing up, that was somebody you watched and somebody you wanted to be like. I’m glad he’s here."

Rookie safety Calvin Pryor and whether he has a chance to win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year: "He does. He’s learning the playbook real well, probably faster than when I learned it. [He's] making his adjustments and reads real quick, not making too many mistakes. He’s being a real pro right now."

Jets notes: Rex's endless pursuit of B&B

June, 15, 2014
6/15/14
5:00
AM ET
A few thoughts on the New York Jets as we head into the final week of the offseason:

1. Song remains the same: Rex Ryan's remarks the other day about the New England Patriots (in response to Calvin Pryor's "hate" quote) triggered a memory. Ryan's comments -- "[Pryor] knows who the enemy is" -- came almost five years to the day in which he uttered his famous line: "I never came here to kiss Bill Belichick's rings." The takeaway: Five years later, not much has changed.

No one knows how the rest of the Ryan era will play out, but it's quite possible he could be remembered one day as a good coach who failed to rise above also-ran status because he was in the same division as the winningest coach-quarterback combination in history. Ryan hasn't been able to conquer Belichick and Tom Brady. No one has, as the Patriots have won the AFC East every year since Ryan took over the Jets in 2009 -- and a whole bunch of years before that. The same thing happened to the New York Knicks in the 1990s; they had some terrific teams, but couldn't get past Michael Jordan.

The Jets have been respectable under Ryan (42-38), the eighth-best record in the AFC over that span, but the Patriots are a league-best 61-19. The Jets finished four games behind the Patriots last season, and there's no reason to think they will overtake their longtime nemesis this season. With Brady expected to play a few more years, Ryan could be playing catch-up for the rest of the Brady-Belichick era -- if he lasts that long. Lousy timing for Ryan? Yeah, you could say that, but he also knew what he was signing up for in '09.

[+] EnlargeRex Ryan
AP Photo/Julie JacobsonRex Ryan took some heat this past week after skipping the Jets' final OTA session in favor of taking his team on a bowling excursion.
2. Misplaced criticism: Ryan's decision to cancel the final OTA practice in favor of a trip to a bowling alley fueled some mild backlash on social media. Actually, it's not unusual for a coach to skip the last day. Belichick, of all people, canceled his final OTA practices in 2012 and 2013. He also took the Patriots to the movies late last season. The criticism of Ryan is off base. It's June, for crying out loud! It's not like he took the team to Dave & Buster's on the eve of a big game. Oh, wait ...

3. A delivery of Flowers?: Despite all the happy talk from the Jets about their cornerback situation, I think they should explore the possibility of signing Brandon Flowers, who was released Friday by the Kansas City Chiefs. The question is, will they? As of Saturday morning, they hadn't reached out to Flowers, according to a league source. Then again, John Idzik isn't a hurry-up kind of general manager, so you never know. In the end, I'd be surprised if the Jets show serious interest despite a need (in my opinion) at the position.

Despite a Pro Bowl appearance, Flowers is coming off a disappointing season in which he was demoted to nickelback. He was rated 87th out of 110 cornerbacks last season, according to ProFootballFocus. That he struggled under former Jets defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, whose system is similar to that of Ryan's, is worth noting. We also know Idzik is reluctant to spend significant money for another team's trash. But we're also talking about a 28-year-old player with a substantial body of work, someone who could benefit by a change of scenery. If they paid $3 million for the injury-prone Dimitri Patterson, why not make a run at Flowers, who would be an upgrade? They have about $21 million in cap room.

4. Goodson's future: Flowers may have sealed his fate by not attending OTA practices, which are voluntary (wink, wink). The Jets' Mike Goodson did the same, prompting some fans to wonder why the Jets haven't cut ties with the troubled running back. Goodson's situation is complicated by his legal problems and perhaps personal issues. Remember, he was slapped with a four-game suspension last year for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. I find it hard to believe he'd deliberately stay from the team, jeopardizing his roster spot, unless there's an extenuating circumstance. His agent hasn't returned calls or emails seeking comment, and the Jets have been tight-lipped, except Ryan saying he hasn't heard from Goodson. Ryan said he expects Goodson to attend next week's mandatory minicamp.

5. New kid on the block: Right tackle Breno Giacomini has spent his entire career on zone-blocking teams -- the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks, his most recent team. The Jets run a mix of zone and gap blocking schemes, which will require a transition for Giacomini. Before signing him as a free agent, the Jets studied tape of how he fared against common opponents, and they came away convinced he could adapt to the specific style they use against certain teams.

6. Big Mike: To improve his oft-questioned durability, quarterback Michael Vick added four pounds of "solid muscle," he told The Daily Press of Newport News, Virginia, his hometown. He told the newspaper he felt great throughout OTAs, proudly noting he scored a rushing touchdown last week.

"Still can move," Vick said. "Doesn't seem like any of my skills have diminished. … I still feel like I can play at a high level. That may be tested at some point this season, and I look forward to it."

Vick described himself as a "trendsetter," saying the mobile quarterbacks of today are continuing the style he brought to the league more than a decade ago. He added: "I was kind of the originator. That's something I can take to the grave."

7. Sheldon wants 'Mo money for Wilkerson: Muhammad Wilkerson is taking a low-key approach to his looming contract negotiations, refusing to make public demands. Teammate Sheldon Richardson is doing the talking for him, telling the New York Post, "Hopefully, they do the right thing and pay the man." Oh, they will. The question is when. After exercising a fifth-year option, the Jets have Wilkerson under contract through 2015, so there's no sense of urgency.

Richardson has a personal stake in the matter because in two years, he'll be in the same boat as Wilkerson. If the Jets renegotiate with Wilkerson before his fourth season, it'll set a precedent for Richardson and other former first-round picks.

8. Picture of the week: Here's soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo receiving a throwing lesson from wide receiver David Nelson. No Tebow jokes allowed.

9. The anti-Rex: Can there be two coaches more dissimilar than Ryan and Jurgen Klinsmann? Klinsmann says it's not possible for his team -- the United States -- to win the World Cup. Ryan goes into every game telling his team they will win -- and I honestly think he believes it. Call me traditional, but I like Ryan's approach. Klinsmann might be right, but no one wants to hear that jive. It's a good thing we didn't have a guy like him coaching the 1980 U.S. hockey team.

10. Farewell to a champion: The NFL lost a legend Friday night with the passing of former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Chuck Noll, who won four Super Bowls. Two Noll disciples became important figures in Jets history -- the late Bud Carson and retired personnel director Dick Haley. Carson, the Jets' defensive coordinator from 1985-88, ran the defense for Noll during the iconic Steel Curtain era. Haley, who worked for the Jets from 1991-2002, was one of the architects of the great Steeler drafts in the 1970s.

Eight takeaways on Jets' OTA practices

June, 13, 2014
6/13/14
12:30
PM ET
The New York Jets wrapped up their organized team activity practices Thursday with a team trip to a local bowling alley. Thoughts and observations on the OTA phase of the offseason, which consisted of nine practices:

1. Growing up Smith: Quarterback Geno Smith, the likely opening-day starter, drew praise from teammates on two fronts: He was decisive in the huddle, communicating plays quickly and confidently -- a far cry from last season. They also said he was more assertive than his rookie year, demonstrating more vocal leadership. These are the progressions you'd like to see from a second-year quarterback. As for his actual play, it's hard to gauge in OTAs, but there was an obvious reduction in turnovers and sacks. Clearly, it's Smith's job to lose, even if Rex Ryan is reluctant to put it in those words.

2. Strength in numbers: Ryan likes to brag about the team's backfield depth, but depth is meaningless if half the unit is hurt. Chris Johnson (knee), Daryl Richardson (toe) and Mike Goodson (knee/no-show) didn't participate in the voluntary practices, leaving plenty of work for Bilal Powell, Chris Ivory and Alex Green, who thought he was a goner at one point. Johnson and Richardson should be ready by training camp, but given the amount of durability concerns (let's not forget about Ivory, who has a history of nagging injuries), the Jets should take a better-safe-than-sorry approach when they construct the final roster. In other words, load up on running backs.

3. The battle for No. 2: Since there's no competition at quarterback (in the words of Michael Vick), the most compelling battle is unfolding at wide receiver. Who's the 2? Don't be surprised if Stephen Hill (yeah, him) emerges as the starter opposite Eric Decker. Right now, I'd say the top candidates are Hill and David Nelson, figuring Jeremy Kerley will be in the slot. Clearly, this is a make-or-break year for Hill, who has yet to transfer his elite measureables into production. Hill did fine in the OTAs. but, remember, there was no press coverage (not allowed under CBA rules). Diminutive rookie Jalen Saunders got a lot of quality reps and demonstrated impressive short-area quickness, but again ... no press coverage. The wild card is Jacoby Ford, probably the fastest player on the team. He blew away teammates with his speed, but there are durability and consistency concerns.

4. Mr. Jessie James: Decker made headlines by skipping two days of practice to attend the CMT Awards with his wife, country singer Jessie James, which overshadowed his impressive work on the field. He's learning a new offense and getting comfortable in new surroundings, but their prized free agent appeared right at home. He's big and smooth, as advertised. You could tell he puts a lot of effort into his route running. A couple of times, he was off to the side, working on his footwork with receivers coach Sanjay Lal. Cynics will say Decker looked so good because there isn't much around him. There's an element of truth to that, but you don't catch 24 touchdowns over two years by accident.

5. Youth is served: Ryan put first-round pick Calvin Pryor on the fast track, giving him plenty of first-team reps at safety with Antonio Allen. Is the handwriting on the wall for Dawan Landry? The dean of the secondary was relegated to second- and third-team duty, but that was because the coaches wanted to give Pryor and Allen as much on-the-job training as possible. They still need Landry because of his leadership and knowledge of the defense, but Ryan, who recognizes the need for playmakers in the secondary, is intrigued by the speed and athleticism of the Pryor-Allen tandem. No doubt, Pryor will be a Week 1 starter. The only question is how they divide the other spot.

6. Musical linemen: Willie Colon's injuries allowed them to try different combinations at guard, with Brian Winters and Oday Aboushi working in both spots. Ryan said Aboushi looks better at left guard, meaning Winters could slide to right guard if something happens to Colon down the road. There's nothing wrong with experimenting, especially in June, but it doesn't mask the fact that the Jets have no experienced backups on the offensive line. And we're not counting Caleb Schlauderaff, whose experience consists of 14 regular-season snaps. They need to pick up a veteran at some point before the season.

7. Dee's cranky hamstring: It's probably nothing, but maybe it's something. Cornerback Dee Milliner was limited in recent practices because of what the team is calling "tightness" in his hamstring. Yeah, it's only June, but considering all the buildup surrounding Milliner -- coaches saying how much he'd benefit from his first injury-free offseason -- it was disappointing not to see him build on the momentum of last season's strong finish. This could be a moot point by training camp, but it's worth noting, especially since Milliner was beset with nagging injuries last season and played hurt throughout college with various ailments.

8. Jace not an ace -- yet: Rookie tight end Jace Amaro struggled with dropped passes, probably because his brain was overloaded with new terminology. This is a big transition for the second-round pick, who didn't play in a pro-style offense at Texas Tech. He came from a simple, no-huddle system that didn't require a lot of thinking on your feet. Clearly, he has talent, but his development will be dictated by how quickly he assimilates into Marty Mornhinweg's offense. Don't expect it to happen overnight.

Ryan backs Pryor on Patriot views

June, 11, 2014
6/11/14
5:46
PM ET
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- It didn’t take Calvin Pryor long to become a Jet. The first-round safety was already talking about how he disliked the Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady last week – following a script set by coach Rex Ryan and former CB Antonio Cromartie.

Pryor
So, of course Ryan wasn’t annoyed by what Pryor said.

“Somebody in an opposite color jersey, you don’t want to like them,” Ryan said. “You respect everybody that you play against, but you don’t like any of them and that’s it because they’re trying to take something away from you -- they’re trying to take victory away from you. And all that hard work and everything else you put into it, so having that dislike for them even, I think is a good thing. I know my brother's on the sideline -- I love him. But on game day? Can’t stand him. He’s trying to take something from me. That’s kind of the mentality that you take, and I think Pryor understands that.”

Here’s what Pryor said last week during a television show.

"Yeah, man," Pryor told SNY’s Daily News Live. "We don't like Tom at all. When I first came here, that was one of the first things I heard about: We hate the Patriots, and we hate the Giants. That's what everybody was telling me. We hate those guys, and I look forward to playing them this season."

Ryan laughed.

“He knows who the enemy is,” Ryan said.

Ryan debuted in 2009 saying he wasn’t going to kiss Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s Super Bowl rings. Over the years he’s called out Brady and his coach, but hasn’t been able to outright win the AFC East.

“They’re the ones we have to beat,” Ryan said. “We recognize it, as everybody should. They’ve won it 10 out of 11 years or something like that and the only year they don’t win it is the year Brady wasn’t there. Obviously your chief rival, and your biggest enemy or whatever, you probably respect them more than anybody. But at the same time, nah, you don’t like them.

“They’ve earned what we’re looking to earn and that’s to win that division.”

Quick study: Pryor hates Patriots & Giants

June, 6, 2014
6/06/14
4:05
PM ET
New York Jets first-round pick Calvin Pryor, a self-proclaimed trash talker, is off to an impressive start in his NFL career. The hard-hitting safety has jumped into the Jets-New England Patriots rivalry, expressing dislike for Tom Brady.

Pryor
“We don’t like Tom at all,” Pryor said on a SportsNet New York interview taped earlier in the week. "When I first came here, that was one of the first things I heard about: We hate the Patriots and we hate the Giants.”

The so-called Border War has produced many venomous comments over the years. Brady himself has remarked he hates the Jets. In 2010, Antonio Cromartie took it to a new level -- or a lower level, depending on your perspective -- using profanity to describe his animosity toward the Patriots' quarterback.

You just don't expect it from a rookie. But, hey, it's part of the NFL: Learning to despise your No. 1 rival.

“So we hate those guys and I look forward to playing them this season,” Pryor said.

Pryor will get his first crack at the Patriots -- and vice versa -- Oct. 16, a Thursday night game in Foxborough, Massachusetts. As for the New York Giants, the Jets don't play them in the regular season until 2015, but there's always the preseason affair.

Breakdown of Calvin Pryor contract

June, 5, 2014
6/05/14
11:00
AM ET
On Monday, first-round pick Calvin Pryor signed a four-year contract for $8,563,254, a fully guaranteed deal that includes a fifth-year team option -- the standard contract for the 18th overall pick.

Before we get to the exact breakdown of his deal, a couple of notes: Pryor has the 20th-highest cap figure on the team in 2014 ($1.556 million) and his average-per-year ranks 29th among 138 safeties in the league, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

The contract:

Signing bonus: $4,547,820

2014: Base salary -- $420,000 (fully guaranteed); cap charge -- $1.556 million.

2015: Base salary -- $809,239 (fully guaranteed); cap charge -- $1.946 million.

2016: Base salary -- $1,198,478 (fully guaranteed); cap charge -- $2.335 million.

2017: Base salary -- $1,587,717 (fully guaranteed); cap charge -- $2.724 million.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets cornerback Dee Milliner was held out of Wednesday's organized team activities with tightness in his left hamstring.

"Just precautionary," Milliner said after practice. "I'll be fine."

The Jets are counting on Milliner, the ninth overall pick in 2013, to be one of their starting cornerbacks this season. He started 12 games as a rookie, but missed last year's OTAs and minicamp with a torn labrum, missed two preseason games with an Achilles injury, and missed three regular season games with a hamstring injury.

Jets coach Rex Ryan said Milliner has been "impressive" thus far in OTAs, prior to the hamstring issue, but needs to stay on the field.

"He has to understand too that he’s gotta be in extraordinary shape," Ryan said. "His challenge will be to be in world-class shape, 'cause we gotta have you out there. He needs to be out there and he needs to get work, 'cause that’s how he’s gonna get better.

"And you saw it as the year went on last year, he got better because of the work on the practice field and in the classroom. He was taking off from there, and you don’t want to see this happen. He’s gotta step it up, because I think he’s got all the talent in the world."

Sloppy! The Jets practiced for two hours on Wednesday, with owner Woody Johnson and general manager John Idzik joining Ryan on the sideline -- and it wasn't pretty.

Neither Geno Smith nor Michael Vick looked particularly sharp at quarterback, rookie tight end Jace Amaro had multiple dropped passes, and there were several yellow flags, resulting in push-ups for the entire team and staff.

"We had like six or seven penalties today, we were blowing coverages, blowing assignments," Ryan said. "It’s a good thing we’re not playing, 'cause it was kind of ugly out there today."

Amaro, the team's second-round draft pick, had 106 catches for an FBS-record 1,352 yards last year for Texas Tech. "But he’s really been looking good until today," Ryan said.

Step right up: First-round draft pick Calvin Pryor, who finalized his contract on Monday, played with the first unit Wednesday, along with fellow safety Antonio Allen.

Dawan Landry, who started all 16 games for the Jets last season, played with the backups.

"We expect this young man’s gonna contribute in a big way for us, there’s no doubt," Ryan said, of Pryor. "I know [Landry] knows what to do. I gotta get these other two to work together and communicate together.

"That’s why you throw [Pryor] out there. You leave him out there with the ones, and let’s see what happens. Make him communicate with the other guys that are working, and we’ll see how it goes."

Doing the safety dance with Pryor & Co.

June, 3, 2014
6/03/14
9:00
AM ET
With first-round pick Calvin Pryor now officially official, having signed his four-year, $8.56 million contract, this is a good time to analyze how the New York Jets might deploy their safeties. It's an interesting question because they have three players they consider starting-caliber safeties -- Pryor, Dawan Landry and Antonio Allen.

Pryor
Obviously, we're not talking about the Seattle Seahawks' safety group here, so it shouldn't take long for Pryor to find a place in the starting lineup.

Like Landry and Allen, Pryor is a natural "box" safety, but scouts say his coverage skills are good enough to where he can be used in zone coverage -- i.e. the deep middle -- although no one is calling him a young Ed Reed. Landry, whose coverage skills are extremely limited, offers value in a quarterback-type role -- a heady player who can make sure everyone is lined up properly. Allen is unusal because he has the athleticism to play man-to-man coverage against top tight ends (ask Rob Gronkowski), yet he's a bit shaky in zones because his instincts and reaction skills need work.

So you have three strong-safety types with different strengths and weaknesses. Don't be surprised if Rex Ryan goes back to a three-safety package on certain passing downs, which he did quite often last season. There were many times in which the Jets preferred a third safety (Jaiquawn Jarrett) over a fourth corner in dime situations. Unfortunately, we don't have a breakdown of how often they used a three-safety package, but the snap distribution over the first nine games (before Reed signed) illustrates how much they relied on three safeties as part of the weekly game plan:

Landry -- 620 snaps/99 percent

Allen -- 397/64 percent

Jarrett -- 234/37 percent

When Reed signed, Ryan dropped Allen like a bad habit, using a Reed-Landry tandem for a few games. Finally realizing Reed, 35, no longer was the impact player he remembered from Baltimore, Ryan scaled back Reed's playing time, opting for a late-season platoon system that included Allen. It occurred too late to dramatically change the snap distribution over the final seven games, which clearly shows a reliance on two safeties:

Landry -- 461/97 percent

Reed -- 368/78 percent

Allen -- 137/29 percent

Jarrett -- 43/9 percent

Looking ahead, Ryan and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman probably will do a lot of mixing and matching, letting personnel and game situations dictate the lineup. For instance, when the Jets face an athletic, pass-catching tight end, Allen probably will have a greater role in the game plan. Landry's role could shrink as Pryor gets comfortable with the defense from a cerebral standpoint. In the end, you will see a lot of Pryor and a playing-time breakdown that resembles the first nine games from 2013, with three players in contributing roles.

SPONSORED HEADLINES