Thursday, May 30, 2013
Practice notes: Good day for QBs -- really
By Rich Cimini
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Observations from Thursday's organized team activities, the second session open to the media:
1. Look, no interceptions: Eight days after Rex Ryan chided his quarterbacks (mostly Mark Sanchez) for their turnover-prone ways, the overall play from the quarterback position was considerably better than the previous open practice. Sanchez and rookie Geno Smith didn't have any turnovers. Repeat: no turnovers. Sanchez, working exclusively with the first team, completed 8 of 12 passes in team drills. He ended with three straight completions (all against the second-team defense), including a blitz-beating pass to TE Hayden Smith, who made a terrific catch. Smith was nearly perfect, completing 8 of 9 (one drop) with two sacks -- although he had a couple of near-interceptions in a seven-on-seven drill in the red zone.
Geno Smith was nearly perfect on Thursday.
This wasn't high-risk offense. Both quarterbacks operated a controlled passing attack, throwing mostly screens and short passes. Smith's longest completion was a 30-yarder to WR Joseph Collins, who caught the ball over CB Aaron Berry -- a misplay by Berry. Smith played with the second-team offense, although he got several reps against the starting defense. About half of his plays came out of shotgun, where he's more comfortable. On one play, Smith checked to an audible and threw a quick screen. Overall, this was a solid practice for both quarterbacks.
2. Hill's back: WR Stephen Hill, who missed a practice last week due to knee swelling, was back on the field. He participated in positional drills but was limited in team drills. He looked fine, but the team is proceeding with caution. As Sanchez noted, Hill still is chipping off some rust. Clyde Gates (hamstring) remained on the sideline. Newly signed WR Ben Obomanu, formerly of the Seahawks, jumped right in and got a lot of reps, including a few with the starters. He dropped a pass in a seven-on-seven drill. Obomanu also returned some kickoffs. Santonio Holmes remained on the sideline, rehabbing his surgically repaired foot.
3. New old role: It looks like CB Kyle Wilson, who replaced the injured Darrelle Revis in the starting lineup last season, is destined to return to his nickelback role. He worked in the slot, with Antonio Cromartie and Aaron Berry starting on the outside. When first-round pick Dee Milliner (shoulder surgery) is healthy in training camp, he'll probably replace Berry in the starting group. From all indications, the coaches believe Wilson is best suited to covering the slot receiver.
4. On guard: The Jets will have two new guards. The question is, which two? LG Willie Colon and RG Stephen Peterman lined up with the starters, but third-round pick Brian Winters rotated with Colon. Clearly, Colon gets the edge because of his experience, but don't rule out Winters in the left guard competition. Here's something interesting: Former second-round pick Vladimir Ducasse lined up at left tackle with the backups. Hey, the more you can do ...
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5. Aussie shines: Former rugby player Hayden Smith continued to make strides at tight end. Smith, who didn't play organized football until a year ago, made a brilliant, 15-yard catch on a pass over the middle. He made a full-extension lunge, holding on to the ball as he crashed to the ground. He got extra reps because Jeff Cumberland (personal reasons) wasn't at practice. Smith will be a fun player to watch in training camp.
6. Safety dance: With Josh Bush recovering from offseason shoulder surgery (he practices with the red, noncontact jersey), Antonio Allen is receiving a great chance to win the starting safety job opposite Dawan Landry. He's had some good moments, and he's had some shaky moments. He missed a big-play opportunity in a seven-on-seven drill, dropping a would-be interception from Smith.
7. Aggressive D: Rex Ryan offered an interesting note on the defense, saying he wants to get back to the ultra-aggressive mentality from 2009. He said they spent too much time last season adjusting to matchups created by the offense instead of dictating the matchups themselves. (A tweak at former defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, perhaps?) To accomplish that, Ryan said they're throwing the kitchen sink at the offense in OTA practices while also increasing the tempo. Indeed, there was a lot of energy in Thursday's practice, with players flying around in noncontact drills.
8. Goodson is fast: In recent weeks, RB Mike Goodson has been making headlines for the wrong reasons. This week, he returned to practice, showing the reason why the Jets signed him -- speed. On a toss play, Goodson got to the corner and turned up, blowing past would-be tacklers. If he can provide that dimension to the offense, a threat on the perimeter, the running attack will be a lot less predictable than it was last season.