Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Practice notes: Bad to the last drop
By Rich Cimini
Neither Geno Smith nor Mark Sanchez impressed at minicamp on Tuesday.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Observations from the first minicamp practice:
1. Can anybody catch?: The rain stopped, but there were plenty of drops in Florham Park. Conservatively, there were at least four dropped passes, including two by WR Jeremy Kerley, one by WR Stephen Hill and one by WR Thomas Mayo. Kerley missed a wide-open deep ball from Mark Sanchez and Hill, back in action after missing a few practices with knee swelling, dropped a beautiful deep-middle strike from rookie Geno Smith. It was a classic case of alligator arms by Hill, which is unacceptable because these are no-contact practices. As expected, WR Santonio Holmes (foot) didn't practice. One receiver who stood out was Vidal Hazelton, who made a few nice grabs.
Thomas Mayo was responsible for one of at least four dropped Jets passes.
2. QB competition: It was a blah day for Sanchez and Smith. They weren't great, but they weren't terrible. As usual, Sanchez worked exclusively with the starters, completing four of eight passes with a sack and a near-interception. On a bootleg, he threw a pass into the chest of DE Muhammad Wilkerson, who couldn't hang on to what should've been an easy interception. Smith practiced with the second team, going 4-for-7 with three sacks. Both quarterbacks struggled in seven-on-seven drills, as Sanchez misfired on the last four passes, Smith his final three. The silver living: No turnovers for either quarterback.
3. Sack artist: Backup OLB Ricky Sapp was a demon on the edge, recording two sacks in team drills. He showed a nice burst, something the Jets could really use on defense. Keep in mind, though, that he faced the second-team line. Still, it was an encouraging day for Sapp, who has potential if he can avoid the injury bug. Antonio Allen, battling Josh Bush for a starting job at safety, recorded a sack.
4. Auditions: It didn't take long for them to get a look at TE Kellen Winslow Jr., who was invited to camp on a tryout basis. On the third play of team drills, Sanchez hit Winslow for a quick completion, the kind of throw he used to make to Dustin Keller. Winslow also had a reception from Smith. Clearly, he has lost some of his dynamic speed, but he didn't look out of place on the practice field. The key for Winslow, who has battled knee injuries, is how well he recovers for the next practice. It was a relatively quiet day for WR Mike Sims-Walker, another player on tryout. At times, he seemed to have trouble gaining separation.
5. Where's Vlad?: OL Vladimir Ducasse is moving all over the line. Last week, he lined up at left tackle. In this practice, he was used at right tackle, backing up Austin Howard. Versatility is a good thing, but it also could be a sign the team is grasping at straws. The former second-round pick isn't a lock to make the team.
6. Hurry up: The offense ran a period of no-huddle. That's always a challenge, especially when the offense is trying to learn a new system. There were some penalty flags and some blocking breakdowns, which can be expected. Afterward, Howard raved about how quickly they're learning the offense. "This is the most progress as a unit that I've seen since I've been here," he told me. Of course, he's been here only a year.
7. Defensive wrinkles: Rex Ryan noted before practice that they had installed five new coverages on defense to deal with shifts and motions. He said it would be a mental challenge for the players to absorb that much, but he wanted to test them. It was hard to get an exact read on the outcome. Clearly, the defense won the day, but there were a few wide-open receivers.