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Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Practice notes: Sanchez, Geno struggle

By Rich Cimini



FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Thoughts and observations from Wednesday's practice, the final OTA session open to the media:

1. Shades of 2012: With their top four wide receivers sitting out team drills because of injuries, the Jets' offense was a mess. It's hard to conduct a pass-oriented practice when the top receivers are players with little or no experience. As a result, Mark Sanchez (9-for-19) and rookie Geno Smith (5-for-9, one interception) struggled. The practice ended with an unsuccessful two-minute drill for each quarterback.

Sanchez's possession actually lasted 10 plays, but the offense seemed to be stuck in the mud, going nowhere. There were two offensive penalties, a throwaway, a near interception and an errant throw that drilled CB Aaron Berry in the calf. The drive came to a merciful and fitting end, as time expired with the offense -- down by three points, no timeouts remaining -- attempted to line up for a clock play at the opponents' 20. Smith's two-minute drive, which lasted seven plays, ended with a long field-goal miss by Brett Maher.

Mark Sanchez
Without healthy, experienced receivers to throw to, Mark Sanchez had a tough day.
2. Hurting receivers: Santonio Holmes (foot), Stephen Hill (knee), Jeremy Kerley (undisclosed) and Clyde Gates (hamstring) didn't participate in teams drills. In fact, Holmes was nowhere to be found. Hill and Gates are recovering from pre-existing ailments. Not sure about Kerley, who took part in individual drills. Needless to say, it left a patchwork receiving corps.

3. Rotating quarterbacks: Sanchez and Smith rotated more than they had in the previous practices open to the media. All told, Sanchez received 25 reps, Smith 14. Both got opportunities to work with the first team. This time, they began team drills in the red zone. For the most part, it was a struggle for the offense, as the receivers failed to gain consistent separation. Sanchez finally hit WR Joseph Collins for a short TD pass on the final play of the period.

Smith was intercepted by LB Demario Davis, who caught a ball that bounced off the hands of a receiver (didn't get the number) on a quick slant. Smith threw a fastball, too hot too handle. Another red-zone interception was nullified by a penalty. By the way, Matt Simms and Greg McElroy didn't get any team reps, only a couple of snaps each in 7-on-7 drills.

4. Deep thoughts: They devoted the entire 7-on-7 drill to downfield passing. One thing about coordinator Marty Mornhinweg: His track record tells us he likes to take more deep shots than your typical West Coast playcaller. On this particular day, the success rate wasn't very good. The best play came when Sanchez hit Thomas Mayo on a long sideline route, beating CB Darrin Walls. Nice route, great throw. After that, Sanchez and Smith took turns misfiring on deep passes to receivers who probably won't make the team. One receiver, Vidal Hazelton, incurred the wrath of receivers coach Sanjay Lal when he didn't pursue on an interception return.

5. No Q at OLB: DE Quinton Coples is making the transition to linebacker, but he hasn't played any base linebacker during the open practices. Weird. Because the defense spent a good part of the practice in nickel, Coples was used primarily as a down rusher. DE Muhammad Wilkerson had a nice day, batting down a Smith pass as he rolled out. NT Kenrick Ellis recorded a "sack."

6. No Goodson: Embattled RB Mike Goodson didn't practice and wasn't spotted on the field. His absence had nothing to do with his pending drug and weapons charges; he was out with a stomach bug, according to a source.

7. Westhoff's back: Former special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff, who announced his retirement after the season, visited practice and watched from the sideline, interacting with players and members of the coaching staff. Westhoff is launching a career in the media; he will be studio analyst for Jets games on ESPN Radio.