- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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CORTLAND, N.Y. -- After the first practice of training camp, coach Rex Ryan said Thursday the New York Jets are a "zillion miles" ahead of last year at this time. He went so far as to say this team is further along than any of his previous teams. He wasn't comparing talent, he was just referring to scheme familiarity and overall chemistry.
Typical Ryan bravado? Time will tell, but it was a relatively crisp practice, considering it was Day 1. Geno Smith, in particular, was on his game.
As expected, Smith received about 76 percent of the first-team reps -- 13 reps to Michael Vick's four. Smith completed 7 of 10 passes in team drills, with one sack. Afterward, Ryan praised Smith for his command of the offense. He was particularly sharp in a 7-on-7 drills, completing 5 of 6. It was the kind of start the Jets wanted to see from Smith, the leading candidate in the so-called quarterback competition. Of course, he also got off to a terrific start in last year's camp before fading.
Vick, working mostly with the second team, completed 2 of 5 passes, including an interception (Jaiquawn Jarrett).
Safety dance: They used a three-safety rotation throughout practice, with Dawan Landry, Antonio Allen and No. 1 pick Calvin Pryor taking turns. This will be interesting to watch. Ryan said he wants to give Allen as many first-team reps as possible, but he also doesn't want to take away too much from Landry's workload. At the same time, he wants to give Pryor -- a likely starter -- plenty of quality work. It'll be a juggling act.
Here's CJ: Running back Chris Johnson, six months removed from knee surgery, made his long-anticipated debut. He got a full workload and moved pretty well for a guy who didn't do much of anything in the spring. The biggest takeaway is that, on occasion, he was flexed out as a receiver, displaying his underrated receiving skills. The coaches want to get him in space, which should put a lot of stress on the defense. On the downside, Johnson had one fumble.
New-look receiving corps: Eric Decker, their big free-agent splurge, looked fantastic. He caught two balls in team drills, as did Stephen Hill. No official stats, but it's safe to say Decker was targeted more than any receiver. Early prediction: Decker will be among the league leaders in targets. None of the young receivers stood out. In fact, Shaq Evans had a few drops in positional drills, although he rebounded with a long reception in a one-on-one drill, beating cornerback Jeremy Reeves. The unit had an early case of the yips, as Hill, Clyde Gates and Jacoby Ford dropped balls. At one point, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg expressed a bit of frustration.
Medical report: This could be a minor thing, or it could be considered an ominous sign. Running back Chris Ivory, who missed most of last training camp with a pulled hamstring, sat out team drills with "a little bit of a hamstring," according to Ryan. The coach didn't seem concerned, noting that Ivory was kept out as a precaution. ... Rookie wide receiver Quincy Enunwa (hip) didn't practice. Presumably, it happened early in practice. No word on the severity. ... Linebacker Nick Bellore tweaked a thigh, but finished practice. ... Guard Willie Colon (knee), on the physically unable to perform list, should be ready in a few days. It'll be longer for linebacker Antwan Barnes (knee).
This and that: Newly-signed defensive end Jason Babin didn't make it to Cortland in time for practice. ... Tight end Jeff Cumberland, excused for a personal reasons, also didn't arrive in time. He should be here Friday. ... With Colon out, Oday Aboushi worked at right guard, with Brian Winters at left guard. It was the other way around in minicamp. ... Rookie quarterback Tajh Boyd made a great escape on a strong rush by Muhammad Wilkerson. Boyd showed his inexperience, throwing two interceptions in 7-on-7. ... Rookie cornerback Dexter McDougle got some work with the first-team nickel. ... Cool temperatures prompted Geno Smith to tell quarterbacks coach David Lee that it felt like an air-conditioned setting.