New York Jets: Darrin Walls

Contract update: Tying up loose ends

March, 11, 2014
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To paraphrase an old Eric Mangini line, a little housekeeping on the contract front:

The New York Jets signed three veterans in recent days to new contracts. In breaking down the deals, you will notice they gave roster bonuses instead of signing bonuses. It's a smart play because a roster bonus is charged to that year's cap, while a signing bonus is pro-rated for cap purposes over the length of the contract. Granted, these are relatively minor contracts, but with so much cap space ($39.7 million), it pays to absorb the hit now.

Jeff Cumberland, tight end

Contract: Three years, $5.7 million. Includes a $1 million roster bonus (2014). Cap charges are $1.9 million for each year.

Ellis Lankster, cornerback

Contract: Two years, $1.6 million. Includes a $155,000 roster bonus (2014). Cap charges: $885,000 in 2014; $745,000 in 2015.

Darrin Walls, cornerback

Contract: Two years, $1.9 million. Includes a $350,000 roster bonus (2014). Cap charges: $1 million in 2014; $900,000 in 2015.

Jets re-sign cornerbacks Lankster, Walls

March, 5, 2014
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Addressing cornerback depth before the start of free agency, the New York Jets re-signed backups Ellis Lankster and Darrin Walls, the team announced Wednesday night. Lankster was slated to become an unrestricted free agent, Walls a restricted free agent.

Lankster
Walls
The moves came on the same day in which they acquired cornerback Johnny Patrick on waivers from the San Diego Chargers. It means they have six experienced corners under contract, although the future of the No. 1 corner -- Antonio Cromartie -- remains cloudy because of a $15 million cap charge.

Lankster is an underrated signing. In fact, he was ranked No. 6 on our list of the team's 16 unrestricted free agents. He didn't play much cornerback last season (only 29 snaps), but he was a core special teamer, finishing second on the team with 20 tackles. The Jets were concerned that he'd draw interest on the open market, so they made a preemptive strike.

Walls is coming off a weird year. He played a fair amount of football (three starts and a total of 289 snaps), starting opposite Cromartie whenever rookie Dee Milliner was in the doghouse. But when Milliner was in the lineup, Walls was the forgotten man. The Jets rarely used more than three corners in any package, so it turned into an all-or-nothing situation for Walls, who finished with no interceptions and four pass breakups.

Rex Ryan has plenty of bodies at corner, but he'll have a gaping hole if they cut Cromartie. Aside from Milliner, none of the others are starting-caliber players.

Green Day: Eye-opening comparisons

November, 7, 2013
11/07/13
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This is for all the stat geeks out there -- our bye week respite from the usual morning offering.

The NFL compiles a stat sheet that shows how teams perform when specific players are on and off the field, breaking it down by average yards per pass attempt and average yards per rushing attempt. I think this is a great way to evaluate a player's true value to the team. I've compiled a few for the New York Jets, highlighting positional battles and key storylines. For example:

OFFENSE

Wide receiver Santonio Holmes

Average pass play with him: 6.33 yards.

Average without him: 5.79.

The skinny: This puts to rest the theory the Jets are better on offense without Holmes.

Offensive linemen: Brian Winters versus Vladimir Ducasse

Average running play with Winters: 4.32

Average running play with Ducasse: 3.82

The skinny: Winters, a rookie, has experieced plenty of hiccups, but he still has his predecessor beat.

Tight ends: Kellen Winslow versus Jeff Cumberland

Average pass play with Winslow: 5.76

Average pass play with Cumberland: 4.94

The skinny: The Jets better hope that Winslow, back from his PED suspension, is off his "allergy" medication.

Running backs: Chris Ivory versus Bilal Powell

Average running play with Ivory: 4.01

Average running play with Powell: 3.98

The skinny: Pretty much what you expected here.

DEFENSE

Safeties: Antonio Allen versus Jaiquawn Jarrett

Average pass play with Allen: 6.38

Average pass play with Jarrett: 4.90

The skinny: This surprises me -- a lot.

Defensive lineman Damon Harrison

Average running play with Harrison: 2.72

Average without him: 3.21

The skinny: Big Snacks is a big reason why the Jets have the No. 1 run defense.

Cornerbacks Dee Milliner versus Darrin Walls

Average pass play with Milliner: 5.85

Average pass play with Walls: 6.89

The skinny: Now we know why Rex Ryan keeps going back to Milliner.

Linebacker Antwan Barnes

Average pass play with him: 5.41

Average without him: 6.22

The skinny: His season-ending knee injury has been more costly than people realize.

Injury report: No progress for Milliner

October, 3, 2013
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rookie cornerback Dee Milliner did not practice again with his hamstring injury, and as far as playing on Monday in Atlanta, New York Jets coach Rex Ryan suggested the writing was on the wall.

“Not if he’s not going to practice,” Ryan said. “We’ll see where he is tomorrow.”

Milliner
The Jets have an extra day to get players ready for the game, given that they play Monday night. Did Milliner, who missed last Sunday’s game in Tennessee, have a setback of some kind in his rehab?

“I don’t think so, it’s just that he never practiced,” Ryan said.

Last week, the Jets played Darrin Walls in place of Milliner, and Walls struggled -- as Milliner had in Week 2 against the Patriots. During the Patriots game, Milliner was benched, but it doesn’t look as though the Jets have found a permanent replacement. Still, Ryan said Walls would go if Milliner couldn’t.

“We’ll play our guys,” Ryan said. “Darrin has accounted for himself very well up until (parts of last game). They made a few plays on him. They’re going to make plays on anybody in this league. He’s played well, particularly up until this last game.”

Walls (shoulder) was in a red no-contact jersey Thursday.

Here’s the rest of the injury report:

NEW YORK JETS
Did not practice: T Oday Aboushi (knee), WR Stephen Hill (concussion), WR Santonio Holmes (foot, hamstring), RB Chris Ivory (hamstring), CB Dee Milliner (hamstring), TE Kellen Winslow (knee).
Limited: WR Clyde Gates (knee), CB Darrin Walls (shoulder).
Full participation: S Antonio Allen (finger), G Willie Colon (elbow), LB Quinton Coples (ankle), CB Antonio Cromartie (hip), DT Kenrick Ellis (back), LB Garrett McIntyre (shoulder), DT Sheldon Richardson (shoulder), QB Geno Smith (ankle).

ATLANTA FALCONS
Out: T Sam Baker (knee), LB Akeem Dent (ankle)
Did not participate in practice: RB Steven Jackson (hamstring), CB Asante Samuel (thigh), LB Paul Worrilow (knee).
Limited: DT Jonathan Babineaux (foot), WR Julio Jones (knee), WR Roddy White (ankle).
Full participation: WR Drew Davis (ankle).

Film Review: Dissecting Geno's mistakes

October, 1, 2013
10/01/13
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One last look back at the New York Jets' 38-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans:

Good Geno, Bad Geno: Glimpses of both showed up in the first 13 minutes of the game. Let's start with the bad since it reared its head on the second play, Geno Smith's interception on the throw to Stephen Hill. It seemed fairly straight forward, just an underthrown pass, but there was more to it than that. Smith's first read, I'm told, was Santonio Holmes on a front-side post route. Holmes broke into the clear over the middle, but it was too late. Smith moved off Holmes too quickly, setting his sights on Hill, 27 yards downfield. Smith threw it to the wrong guy. Bad read, bad throw, bad everything. It set a bad tone for the game.

Later in the first quarter, with 2:22 remaining, Smith made one of those plays that makes you think he can be The Guy. On a third-and-10, he hung tough in the pocket and got blasted as he delivered a 25-yard strike to Holmes, who made a diving catch. Late in the game, Smith showed terrific ball placement on a crossing route to Jeff Cumberland, who made the catch and ran most of the way for a 37-yard touchdown. Unfortunately for Smith, the bad plays far outweighed the good ones.

[+] EnlargeKarl Klug, Geno Smith
Jim Brown/USA TODAY SportsKarl Klug and the Tennessee defense made operating tough for Geno Smith this past Sunday.
Interception No. 2: This was another bad decision by Smith. He received nice pass protection on a five-man rush, but he stared down Holmes the entire time, failing to see Kellen Winslow open over the middle. He forced the ball to Holmes, who was blanketed by Alterraun Verner, an emerging talent at cornerback. Verner made his second interception of the day.

Let's not forget the sacks: I'd attribute two of the five sacks to Smith's indecision in the pocket. A quarterback should not be sacked on a screen pass, but Smith let it happen twice, resulting in losses of 14 yards (a near safety) and 14 yards (the Behind-the-Butt Fumble/strip sack/touchdown). On the first one, he was supposed to throw a middle screen to Bilal Powell, but Powell got caught up in the traffic. Smith saw it, but instead of dirting the ball, he retreated.

On the touchdown, the timing of the play was out of sync from the outset, as DT Karl Klug got into Smith's face immediately. Powell was open in the left flat. The play reminded me of the Ziggy Ansah pick-six in the preseason. Unlike Mark Sanchez, Smith ate the ball, trying the ill-advised, behind-the-back maneuver. Bad idea. The result was the same as the Sanchez play -- six points the other way.

Dealing with the blitz: The Jets shouldn't have been surprised by anything they saw from the Titans defense. In the first three games, the Titans sent five or more rushers on 45 percent of the pass plays. Unofficially, they sent extra rushers on 44 percent of the plays against the Jets, who struggled against the five-man rushes in particular -- two interceptions, two sacks. The damning statistic? The Jets allowed four sacks on first down. Not good.

Here's a breakdown of how Smith fared versus the different rushes:

Three man: 3-for-3, 48 yards.

Four-man: 13-for-16, 104 yards, two sacks, two scrambles for 19 yards.

Five-man: 5-for-11, 77 yards, two interceptions, two sacks.

Six-man: 2-for-3, 70 yards, 1 sack.

Eight-man: 0-for-1. (This occurred with the ball at the Jets' 2-yard line. It was a classic jailbreak and, by the whistle, 17 of the 22 players on the field were in the end zone.)

Vlad's Waterloo?: This was the second straight poor performance by LG Vladimir Ducasse, who is on the verge of being replaced by rookie Brian Winters. That change likely will occur this week, according to a source. It might have happened in the preseason, but Winters missed time with an ankle injury. Ducasse played well in Week 2 against the New England Patriots, but he followed with a four-penalty game against the Buffalo Bills. In Nashville, his pass protection was terrible.

Ducasse didn't allow any sacks, per se, but he surrendered pressures that contributed to the Titans' first two sacks. On the first sack, he got caught leaning to his left and was beaten with an inside move by DT Jurrell Casey. On the second sack, Ducasse got turned around -- his back was literally facing the line of scrimmage -- and was beaten by DT Antonio Johnson, who flushed Smith out of the pocket.

By my count, Ducasse allowed three pressures and four QB hits. And, oh yes, he was flagged for a false start and holding (declined).

Odds and ends: The Jets' standing as the No. 1 red zone defense took a hit, as they allowed three touchdowns in four red zone chances. On Delanie Walker's 1-yard touchdown catch, LB David Harris bit hard on a play fake and couldn't get back in time. On Justin Hunter's 16-yard scoring reception at the end of the first half, an absolute killer, the Jets had the perfect call. They used quarters coverage, with a defender on every receiver in the end zone. Problem was, CB Darrin Walls let the rookie beat him in a jump-ball situation.

Upon Further Review: Jets Week 4

September, 30, 2013
9/30/13
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Four hot issues that emerged from the New York Jets' 38-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans:

[+] EnlargeSmith
AP Photo/Mark ZaleskiDespite their 2-2 record, the Jets and quarterback Geno Smith are performing unevenly.
Who are these guys? The Jets finished the first quarter of the season at 2-2, demonstrating many of the qualities we expected from this group -- a defense-minded team with a mistake-prone rookie at quarterback. For the most part, they’ve been terrific on defense, especially at the line of scrimmage. Other times, such as Sunday in Nashville, they’ve suffered from shaky coverage on the back end. Offensively, they’ve been what we expected for 12 out of 16 quarters -- a struggling unit. They were prolific against the Buffalo Bills, but was that a mirage? Sure looks like it. The lack of discipline (44 penalties) is uncharacteristic and alarming.

Help the kid: Smith will remain the starter for the time being, so it’s up to offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg to figure out a way to help him. On Sunday, he should’ve leaned more on the running game instead airing it out. Bilal Powell averaged 5.7 yards per carry in the first half, gashing the Titans on some first-down runs, but he carried it only three times in the third quarter, when it still was a game. Look, I’m not going to rip Mornhinweg for being aggressive -- a week ago, he was hailed for his attacking mentality -- but he should dial it back a little when Smith slips into one of his funks. He already has eight interceptions, a season’s worth for some quarterbacks. It makes sense to feature the run against the Atlanta Falcons, considering wide receivers Santonio Holmes (hamstring) and Stephen Hill (concussion) are banged up and running back Mike Goodson is returning from a four-game suspension.

Cornerback issues: For three-plus years, Rex Ryan enjoyed the benefit of having two excellent cornerbacks, Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. He never had to worry about bad matchups on the outside. Now that Revis is gone, Ryan is experiencing what most coaches go through. Darrin Walls became the third player to start at right corner, following Dee Milliner and Kyle Wilson. The once-formidable secondary doesn’t scare anyone anymore. The run-oriented Titans compiled a 129.8 passer rating, beating Cromartie twice for touchdowns and Walls once. I’m not second-guessing the Revis trade, but you can certainly criticize the Jets’ post-Revis plan, as Milliner was struggling before he got hurt.

Self-inflicted wounds: The numbers are damning -- 12 giveaways and 44 penalties. Let’s simplify: That’s 56 bad things in four games. If you throw in the 14 sacks allowed, it’s 70 bad things. It’s hard to win football games at that rate. That they have only two takeaways, meaning a minus-10 turnover margin, compounds the issue. It has to get better or else the Jets will be out of the race by Halloween, especially with a tough October schedule. Ryan’s team is leaking oil in a lot of places, and it’s too late for a full-service oil change.

Bad defensive day turns into slapstick

September, 29, 2013
9/29/13
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NASHVILLE -- Can we please postpone the coronation of the New York Jets' defense?

Full of confidence after last week's eight-sack beat down of the Buffalo Bills, the Jets were sliced and diced by Jake Locker and Ryan Fitzpatrick, who combined for four touchdown passes in the Tennessee Titans' 38-13 victory at LP Field.

The final indignity occurred with 7:06 remaining in the fourth quarter, when cornerback Antonio Cromartie, Nate Washington and back judge Billy Smith collided on a 77-yard touchdown pass -- another Jets blooper.

Cromartie said he asked the official, "What the hell are you doing back here?" He said Smith apologized.

[+] EnlargeTennessee's Nate Washington
P Photo/Wade PayneJets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, back judge Billy Smith and Titans receiver Nate Washington collide. The result was a 77-yard score for Washington.
That pretty much captured the disastrous day for the Jets.

Truth is, Cromartie was beaten cleanly by Washington, who had to slow down because Fitzpatrick's throw hung in the air like a punt. Once Washington made the catch, the collision occurred with Cromartie and Smith.

"No, he didn't interfere with the play," Cromartie said. "That's on me fully. Me being the number one corner on this team, I need to make sure that I go up and intercept that ball or bat it down."

It was a tough day for the Jets' corners. Earlier, Cromartie slipped on the wet grass and allowed a 4-yard scoring pass to Washington. Darrin Walls, who started in the Dee Milliner-Kyle Wilson slot, allowed a 16-yard touchdown pass to rookie receiver Justin Hunter. It was a terrific catch by Hunter, but Walls could've played it better. The Titans use Hunter almost exclusively in the red zone, so it shouldn't have been a surprise that he got the ball -- especially in the final seconds of the first half.

"That's a killer," Rex Ryan said. "There's only one play they can run and that's the shot in the end zone. You know it's coming and everybody in the ballpark knows it's coming. The only time they put that kid in the game is to throw the jump ball, and there's a reason he came down with it."

The cornerback spot opposite Cromartie has turned into musical chairs. Walls started for Kyle Wilson, who last week started for Milliner, the struggling rookie who pulled a hamstring in practice. Ryan is running out of competent corners and, frankly, Cromartie was off his game as well.

Give credit to the Titans; they had a masterful game plan. Recognizing the Jets were focusing on running back Chris Johnson, the Titans put the ball in Locker's hands, letting him throw from the pocket. That's what the Jets wanted, but they got more than they expected from Locker, who completed 18 of 24 passes for 149 yards and three touchdowns. The Jets underestimated Locker, not known for his passing exploits.

"Maybe that's why it surprised us," rookie defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson said.

The Jets were held to two sacks and produced no takeaways for the third straight game. That's simply not acceptable. By the way, the Titans have yet to commit a turnover. In fairness to the defense, it had to play on a short field throughout the game because of Geno Smith's turnovers. The Titans' first three touchdown drives were 18, 26 and 46 yards.

No matter. Linebacker David Harris was visibly irked by the performance.

"Just say we lost," he said. "We got our butts kicked by a better team today. Simple as that."

Asked if the Titans might simply be a better team, Harris snapped, "We lost. Did you see the score?"

With Milliner out, Walls starts at cornerback

September, 29, 2013
9/29/13
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NASHVILLE -- As expected, rookie cornerback Dee Milliner and running back Chris Ivory -- both with injured hamstrings -- were among the New York Jets' inactive players Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.

The Jets announced before the game that Darrin Walls will start at cornerback, opposite Antonio Cromartie. This doesn't come as a huge surprise, but it doesn't reflect well on Kyle Wilson, who started last week for the demoted Milliner. Wilson might have lost the job because of his ill-timed implosion in the fourth quarter, when he lost his poise and committed a penalty on four straight plays.

Wilson is expected to play in the nickel package.

Without Ivory, the Jets went into the game with only three running backs -- Bilal Powell, Alex Green and rookie fullback Tommy Bohanon, who is capable of playing tailback in a pinch. The team didn't immediately announce who will replace Milliner, who was used as a nickel back last week after being demoted in the previous game.

The Jets' other inactives are quarterback Brady Quinn, guard Will Campbell, tackle Oday Aboushi, tackle Ben Ijalana and linebacker Ricky Sapp.

For the Titans, receiver Kenny Britt, the former Rutgers standout, is inactive. He's suffering from a rib injury. He also has fallen out of favor with the coaching staff and, according to ESPN Insider Adam Schefter, is on the trading block.

The Titans' other inactives are former Jets running back Shonn Greene, linebacker Patrick Bailey, center Brian Schwenke, tackle Byron Stingily, defensive tackle Sammie Hill and defensive end Lavar Edwards.

Wilson: I have to learn from my mistakes

September, 27, 2013
9/27/13
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Kyle Wilson certainly has a lot of study material.

The Jets cornerback said Friday he needed to learn from last week's stretch of four penalties in four plays against Buffalo. Wilson, who started against the Bills, may not be the starter against the Titans -- head coach Rex Ryan did not say who will be the starting corner opposite Antonio Cromartie.

"Obviously it's something I have to learn from," Wilson said. "I'm a physical guy and have to learn from it -- that's pretty much it."

Wilson got penalized on four straight plays in the fourth quarter, squaring up against Bills receiver Stevie Johnson. He was then benched for a series. Jets defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman stressed that Wilson needed to show patience, saying "the football gods will allow you to get even with a guy."

"What [Thurman] was getting at was being smart, and I don't want to hurt the team in any way," Wilson said. "Something happens, just understand there will be a time and place for it."

While Wilson started in place of Dee Milliner against Buffalo, he may find himself demoted from that role against the Titans. The only personnel grouping Ryan confirmed the Jets would use was the nickel package where Wilson will be in the slot and Darrin Walls will be on the outside. Milliner will miss the first game of his career on Sunday with a hamstring injury.

"Last week was last week. My focus is all on Tennessee," Wilson said. "Still got some time to get better this week and focus on going out and just playing a great game and putting out my best performance and getting better each day in practice."

Sunday will be a huge opportunity for Walls, a third-year player. He didn't play any defensive snaps in the opener against Tampa Bay and then played just 10 against New England before playing a season-high 28 against the Bills.

Walls primarily played on the practice squad last season, suiting up for just six games. He believes he had a strong offseason and played well in minicamp, and that's helped him build confidence and gain the trust of the Jets' staff. He sees his rise in snaps as proof.

Whether he starts or not, odds are Walls will see the field a good amount since the Titans like to use three wide receiver sets. Walls acknowledged it would be quite rewarding if he's able to make his first career start.

"I think it's a great opportunity," Walls said. "It's a big-time thing for me being as I haven't started a game yet in my career. So I think having my first start would be a great accomplishment. It would be a great opportunity to show what kind of skills I do have."

Thurman to Wilson: Revenge will come

September, 26, 2013
9/26/13
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman offered a piece of advice to cornerback Kyle Wilson, who was slapped with four consecutive penalties last Sunday because he let a wide receiver get into his head:

Don't get mad, get even.

Wilson
Wilson
"The football gods will allow you to get even with a guy, especially if he's wronged," Thurman said Thursday. "It may not happen in that game, it may not happen the next time you play him. But as some point along the line, you'll get a chance -- with a fair, clean hit -- you'll get an opportunity to get him back. You have to wait and be patient.

"Trust me, when guys have been wronged on the football field by someone ... ask anyone if they got a chance to get revenge. They'll tell you yes. It happens that way. That's the way it's supposed to happen."

This stems from a wild sequence in the fourth quarter of the Jets' win against the Buffalo Bills, when Wilson was flagged on four straight plays. He got into it with Stevie Johnson and came unraveled with an embarrassing display of behavior. Wilson apparently felt he was wronged by Johnson, complaining to an official about Johnson's tactics. That didn't help.

Wilson was penalized for holding (Johnson), illegal contact (Johnson), unsportsmanlike conduct (he shoved Bills center Eric Wood) and a personal foul for unnecessary roughness (Johnson). Johnson was called for taunting after the first penalty. Wilson was pulled from the game, but returned on the next series.

"It happens, it's not that big a deal," Thurman said. "It's a teaching moment."

But Thurman didn't disagree with the premise that Wilson, in his fourth season, should know better. His loss of poise allowed the Bills to score a game-tying touchdown. Wilson was penalized more times in 28 seconds than most players get flagged in a season.

Wilson has avoided this media this week during interview periods. His meltdown could have an impact on his playing time. Wilson started last week for demoted rookie Dee Milliner, but he probably won't start Sunday against the Tennessee Titans. That assignment probably will go to Darrin Walls, with Wilson playing the nickel, according to Rex Ryan.

Ryan probably will be forced to shuffle his lineup because Milliner injured a hamstring Wednesday in practice and isn't expected to play.

We'll find out Nov. 17 if the football gods are sympathetic to Wilson. That's when they play the Bills again.

Jets' top pick Milliner benched after half

September, 13, 2013
9/13/13
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Rookie cornerback Dee Milliner, the ninth pick in April's draft, was benched at halftime of the New York Jets' 13-10 loss to the New England Patriots on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium. And this was on a night on which Tom Brady was human; imagine if he was actually hit.

Milliner
Jets coach Rex Ryan was upset with Milliner because he made a couple mental mistakes and was beaten on an apparent 25-yard touchdown pass to Kenbrell Thompkins -- a play that was reversed because the ball touched the ground.

"The young man is going to be a tremendous player, there's no doubt, but I said to him, 'I want you to watch on the sideline,'" Ryan said. "Sometimes when you do that, it's the best thing for you. ... I'm trying to win a game and put in who I think has the best chance to win it. The young man, he's going to be a great player. But at that time, I went with the veteran."

Kyle Wilson and Darrin Walls split the duties at Milliner's spot.

This has been a shaky start for Milliner, the former Alabama standout. In the opener, he allowed a touchdown to Tampa Bay's Mike Williams. Milliner missed two preseason games because of a strained Achilles tendon.

Milliner took the benching in stride.

"I was fine with it," he said. "It was a coaching decision. I'll always back him up on any decisions he makes. He just felt like he needed to pull me out and watch."

Milliner said he made "simple mistakes" -- with costly ramifications.

Rapid Reaction: Lions 26, Jets 17

August, 9, 2013
8/09/13
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DETROIT -- The New York Jets opened the preseason Friday night with a 26-17 loss to the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Despite a killer interception, Mark Sanchez won the night over Geno Smith in the ballyhooed quarterback competition. Smith left in the third quarter after rolling his ankle. It doesn't appear serious, but he can't afford to miss any practice time.

What it means: As it stands now, Sanchez will be the opening-day starter. He gave as many points to the Lions as he produced for the Jets -- seven -- but he showed greater command than Smith, who delivered a nondescript performance in his NFL debut. Smith is doomed if he misses any practice time; it's almost impossible for a rookie to play catch-up in training camp.

Sanchez's night: It was the worst possible start for Sanchez, who threw a pick-six on the Jets' first series. Under pressure on a screen pass, he didn't put enough air under the pass and it was intercepted by rookie defensive end Ziggy Ansah, who returned it 14 yards for a touchdown. Sanchez has a maddening tendency to turn a safe pass into a calamity. In fact, he almost had another screen intercepted.

To Sanchez's credit, he responded to the disastrous start to finish 10-for-13 for 125 yards with a 26-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Jeff Cumberland. It culminated a seven-play, 80-yard drive, much of which came in the hurry-up offense. It was typical Sanchez -- some good, some ugly. Some things don't change.

Geno's night: Unlike Sanchez, Smith didn't make any horrible mistakes, but he also didn't bring any spark to the offense. The former West Virginia star, who got two series behind the starting offensive line, generated only one first down on his first three drives -- a 15-yard pass to Clyde Gates on his first play. Simply put, Smith didn't look ready to take over the team. He finished 6-for-7 for 47 yards. Smith came out on the first series of the third quarter, when he turned his right ankle on an open-field scramble.

Greg McElroy came in and did a nice job against the Lions' third-stringers, going 11-for-19 for 145 yards and an 11-yard TD pass to Zach Rogers.

Big-play tight ends: Dustin Keller is gone, but Cumberland and Kellen Winslow displayed playmaking ability. Winslow made a nice catch and run for 24 yards. Cumberland scored his touchdown on a deep seam, showing his ability to get vertical. It's too soon to say the Jets have two weapons at tight end, but it was a good start.

Another injured running back: John Griffin was carted off with a lower-leg injury. It didn't look good. Already down Chris Ivory, Mike Goodson and Joe McKnight, the Jets can't afford another injury in the backfield. Ivory (hamstring) is expected to return Sunday.

New-look defense: The Jets opened with seven new starters in the post-Darrelle Revis era. All things considered, the defense held up fairly well. Most of the starters played most of the first half, an unusually long stint for the first game, and allowed 10 points. Cornerback Darrin Walls, an early substitution for starter Antonio Cromartie, got beat on a 15-yard scoring pass. One player who jumped out was nose tackle Kenrick Ellis, who deflected a pass and held the point of attack. Safety Dawan Landry got beat once in coverage. Keep in mind that Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford played only two series.

The rookies: It was a so-so debut for top pick Dee Milliner, who started at corner in the base defense. He didn't have to cover all-world receiver Calvin Johnson -- Cromartie drew that assignment -- so that made life easier for Milliner. He had a nice pass breakup in the end zone, but he missed an open-field tackle and allowed a 27-yard reception. Milliner gets some slack, though, because he missed a lot of time and is rusty. It was a relatively quiet night for defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson.

The Q report: Former first-round pick Quinton Coples, making the transition to outside linebacker, flashed good and bad on his first two plays. He deflected a pass on an outside rush, but he failed to set the edge on an outside run by Reggie Bush. Coples didn't move well in space. This will be an interesting position change.

What's ahead: The Jets return to Cortland, for four days of practice. They break camp Thursday and return to Florham Park, N.Y., where they will prepare for next Saturday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Jets sign three from practice squad

November, 22, 2012
11/22/12
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Filling out their 53-man roster, the Jets signed three players from the practice squad -- CB Donnie Fletcher, CB Darrin Walls and WR Jordan White.

With only three healthy corners for Thursday night's game, the Jets needed to add bodies at the position. Fletcher and White have no game experience; Walls played five games for the Falcons in 2011.

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