Jets Camp Report: Day 2
July, 25, 2014
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- A review of Friday's developments at New York Jets training camp:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.