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Friday, August 2, 2013
Practice report: Defense controls goal line

By Rich Cimini

CORTLAND, N.Y. -- The Jets conducted their most physical practice of training camp on Friday, capped by a goal-line drill that was dominated by the defense. As QB Mark Sanchez said afterward, "The defense won the goal-line drill, flat out."

With the ball at the 3-yard line, the first- and second-team offenses were stuffed on all four rushing attempts -- Bilal Powell (twice), Chad Spann and John Griffin. Clearly, the lack of a big back showed up in the drill. The job will fall to RB Chris Ivory, but he's still out with a hamstring injury.

On the positive side (for the offense, anyway), there were a pair of fourth-down TD passes. Geno Smith rolled right and hit TE Konrad Reuland in the end zone. Sanchez scored on a similar play, finding TE Hayden Smith for a TD.

Looking at it from a defensive perspective, Rex Ryan was obviously pleased. He singled out DE Muhammad Wilkerson for his performance in the goal-line drill. Ryan wasn't happy with the goal-line defense last season, and he's hoping this was a positive harbinger.

ROOKIE HURT: The downside to live tackling is injuries. On the final play of goal line, promising rookie C Dalton Freeman was carted off with what could be a potentially serious leg injury. No update was provided afterward.

"There's only one way to practice it and that's to go full speed," Ryan said.

QB COMPETITION: It was a run-heavy practice, so there weren't many opportunities for Smith and Sanchez. Smith, leading the starters, went 3-for-3, with two TD passes and two sacks. His best moment was a 40-yard scoring pass to Powell, who beat LB Josh Mauga down the right sideline.

Sanchez was 3-for-6, with one TD and one sack. His highlight came in 7-on-7 drills, when he hit Jeremy Kerley for 30 yards.

DOUBLE DEE: Rookie CB Dee Milliner participated in team drills for the second straight day. He got some work with the starters, surrendering two completions to WR Stephen Hill, who has looked sharp in camp except for one bad drop. Milliner is being brought along slowly after missing the offseason and the first four practices, but there's a chance he could play Saturday night in the Green & White scrimmage.

ATTENDANCE REPORT: Once again, Ivory (hamstring) didn't practice. He was in pads at the start of practice, but didn't participate in positional drills, an indication he might have suffered a setback. He was relegated to the stationary bike. Only six running backs practiced fully. ... DT Sheldon Richardson (dental surgery) and WR Stephen Hill (illness) returned to practice. Injured players that didn't practice were WR Marcus Davis and WR Titus Ryan. WR Braylon Edwards and TE Kellen Winslow rested. ... LG Stephen Peterman (shoulder) sat again, so rookie Brian Winters got the first-team reps.

SOARING: To prepare for the goal-line drill, the running backs practiced their goal-line leaps. They jumped over plastic trash cans and landed on a giant foam pad. Naturally, McKnight showed some creativity, executing full somersaults. I think he impressed the Russian judge. (Kidding, of course.) Later on, McKnight whiffed in a blitz-pickup drill, allowing LB Antwan Barnes to blow by him. McKnight's inconsistency as a blocker is one of the reasons why he's not the third-down back.

CUP OF JOE: McKnight didn't finish practice. He walked off during a team drill and remained next to a trainer on bended knee. A few minutes later, he walked slowly to the locker room. This his has been a tough camp for McKnight, who flunked the conditioning run because of dehydration. No update was provided.

PASS-RUSH DRILLS: Rookie LT Oday Aboushi struggled a bit in one-on-one drills. He whiffed on LB Troy Davis, who blew by him with a swim move. There was some speculation at the time of the draft that Aboushi, a fifth-round pick, would be moved to tackle. So far, he's been playing left and right tackle. ... Winters neutralized DT Antonio Garay on a bull rush. ... LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson stood up LB Quinton Coples on an outside rush.

ODDS AND ENDS: OLB Ricky Sapp was a big factor. By Ryan's count, he recorded four or five sacks. OLB Calvin Pace, continuing his strong camp, also had a sack. ... DT Damon Harrison got some reps with the first defense. ... Former special teams coach Mike Westhoff, now working for ESPN radio as an analyst, watched from the sideline for the second straight day. ... S Dawan Landry was the only projected starter on the kickoff-coverage unit. ... S  Jaisquawn Jarrett worked in the starting nickel instead of Antonio Allen. ... Rough day for QB Matt Simms, who was sacked twice.