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Tuesday, May 21, 2013
W2W4: First open OTA practice

By Rich Cimini

Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith
The OTAs are preliminary heats in the QB competition between Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith.
The Jets will conduct the second of 10 OTA practices Wednesday morning. This one is significant because the media will be allowed to watch. Some storylines we'll be following:

Mark vs. Geno: These OTA practices -- and next month's minicamp, for that matter -- are the preliminary heats in the quarterback competition. The serious stuff starts in training camp and, of course, the preseason games. But we here in New York love a good quarterback controversy, so you can bet we'll be following closely as Mark Sanchez and rookie Geno Smith begin what should be a three-month battle for the No. 1 job. Based on his experience, Sanchez should take the early lead over Smith. Granted, it's a new system for both players, but Sanchez has practiced for four years against a Rex Ryan-coached defense -- a big edge. The key for Smith is to avoid mental errors and show daily improvement.

The new Q: This will be our first look at Quinton Coples as an outside linebacker. It's hard to get a feel for linebackers in non-contact practices, but it'll be interesting to see how the 280-pound Coples handles the responsibilities of the position -- moving in space, dropping into coverage, etc. The Jets are convinced he can make the transition, but this is a tall order. We're talking about a former interior lineman playing in a two-point stance, moving forward, backward and side-to-side. It should be fascination to see this unfold over the next few months, assuming it lasts that long.

The post-Revis defense: Darrelle Revis is gone, happy that he found his bucks with the Bucs. Also gone are Bart Scott, LaRon Landry, Yeremiah Bell, Mike DeVito and Sione Po'uha. That formidable Jets defense, so impressive in 2009 and 2019, is a memory. They could have at least six new starters, including four players with limited or no NFL experience -- LB DeMario Davis, NT Kenrick Ellis, rookie DE Sheldon Richardson and the winner of the safety battle between Josh Bush, Antonio Allen and Jaiquawn Jarrett. It's not like starting over, but it's close. Fortunately for the Jets, they have a stalwart on each level of the D -- CB Antonio Cromartie, LB David Harris and DE Muhammad Wilkerson. That will help with on-field communication. First-round CB Dee Milliner (shoulder) still is rehabbing.

On guard: Unlike last summer, when the Jets created a faux competition between Matt Slauson and Vladimir Ducasse at left guard, there are legitimate battles at both guard spots. Old vets Willie Colon (still limited by a knee scope) and Stephen Peterman are the favorites, but they'll be pushed by third-round pick Brian Winters and, yes, Ducasse. Change doesn't come too often to the Jets' offensive line. In fact, the last time they began a season with two new starters was 2008, when Alan Faneca and Damien Woody. That was so long ago that some guy named Favre was the quarterback.

All hands on deck: New offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg likes to throw the ball. The question is, does he have enough people to catch it? WR Santonio Holmes (foot) is out, so this will be a good opportunity for others to get reps. The MIP (most important player) is sec0nd-year WR Stephen Hill, who needs to take a giant step. Slot man Jeremy Kerley is solid, but they need more production out of the tight ends (hello, anyone home?) and the backs. The key addition in the backfield is Chris Ivory, but he's a banger, not a pass catcher. Mike Goodson is supposed to be that guy, but he's dealing with his legal problems. Right now, the offense could be as limited as it was last season.