New York Jets: 2014 NFL Training Camp Report

Jets camp report: Day 29

August, 21, 2014
8/21/14
9:30
PM ET
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- A daily review of the hot topics from New York Jets training camp:
  • The Jets returned to their Long Island roots Thursday evening, drawing 11,000 fans for a "Family Night" practice at Hofstra Stadium. This was their way of throwing a bone to their Long Island fan base, which lost the team in 2009. Hofstra was the Jets' year-round home for four decades, but that changed when Woody Johnson decided to move the operation to Florham Park, N.J. They promised an annual visit to Hofstra, but those visits stopped in 2010. They finally made it back, and the atmosphere was terrific. Hey, they could be back next summer on Long Island. The Jets are considering SUNY-Farmingdale, about 20 minutes east of Hofstra, as their training-camp site. It would be a great way to reconnect with the loyal fans that feel abandoned.
  • With a game Friday night, the Jets dialed it down a few notches in terms of practice intensity, but we saw enough to realize the beleaguered secondary remains in flux. There will be two new starters when they face the New York Giants: Safety Calvin Pryor and cornerback Darrin Walls will replace Jaiquawn Jarrett and Ellis Lankster, respectively. Makes sense. Pryor is too talented to sit on the bench. Walls is a borderline starter, but at least he has experience on the boundary. Lankster played well last week, but his meal ticket is special teams. Basically, the Jets will be playing with three safeties -- Pryor, Dawan Landry and Antonio Allen, who remains at corner. You don't want to be in experimental mode for the third preseason game, but it's not as if the Jets have a lot of options.
  • It sure doesn't look like cornerback Dimitri Patterson (leg) will face the Giants; he didn't participate in any of the team drills. Tight end Jeff Cumberland (Achilles' tendon) was limited, so there's a chance he could play. It will probably be a game-time decision.
  • Thursday was a homecoming for guard Willie Colon, a Bronx native who played at Hofstra through the 2005 season. Upon arriving at the stadium by bus, Colon caught some flak from his teammates, many of them wondering why his old college number isn't retired and hanging with the other famous alums from Hofstra -- namely Wayne Chrebet, Marques Colston and John Schmitt, the starting center on the Jets' 1968 Super Bowl team. Said Colon: "It brought back memories. I keep getting heckled on why my name and number isn't up there, but Mr. Schmitt has (No. 77)." Hofstra disbanded its football program in 2009.

Jets Camp Report: Day 28

August, 20, 2014
8/20/14
10:26
PM ET
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets officially moved rookie cornerback Dexter McDougle to the reserve/injured list this afternoon. McDougle, who many thought was bound for the starting cornerback spot, tore his ACL on Aug. 10 and yesterday tweeted that he was going to be having surgery.

The Jets are struggling at the spot, since starter Dee Milliner has a high ankle sprain that will likely keep him out for a few more weeks.

McDougle, 5-foot-10, 195 pounds, was drafted in the third round. He played for Maryland last year, but missed most of last season with a shoulder injury.
  • Don't try to define Geno Smith. The Jets' don't-call-him-starting quarterback said he doesn't appreciate the limitations of quarterback labels. "I hate the fact that people always say, 'Pocket passer versus running,'" Smith said. "I understand why they say it, but a quarterback is a quarterback. You've got to do what it takes to win, whether it's run or pass."
  • Marty Mornhinweg was happy to discuss how great a quarterback competition is to make everyone better. But when he was asked if having Smith start meant that somehow Michael Vick lost the starting job in the competition. "No. No," Mornhinweg said. "Mike has done a beautiful job, and he has played at a high level. Mike can still play at a real high level."
  • It's never too early to talk smack, and Rex Ryan took Andre Williams' bait. When the Giants rookie running back from Boston College said the Giants were the real New York team, Ryan countered with: "Last time I saw him he was getting smoked by Clemson." Zing!
  • Cornerback Darrin Walls is the latest defensive back to get reps with the first team as a tryout of sorts. Ryan isn't sure if Walls will stick. "I always call him my outstanding middle [reliever]. He's a guy you can put in there and you don't lose much. But [can he] prove that he can be the starter, go out there and it's different. Sometimes, for whatever reason, there are some guys that would rather come off the bench than be the starter. I don't understand it, but sometimes that happens. Whether Darrin is that guy or not, I'm not sure."

Jets Camp Report: Day 27

August, 19, 2014
8/19/14
9:00
PM ET
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- A daily review of the hot topics from New York Jets training camp:
  • Rookie wide receiver Shaq Evans was placed on injured reserve Tuesday after having surgery to repair a torn labrum, ending his season. No surprise. On Wednesday, rookie cornerback Dexter McDougle will have season-ending knee surgery. He, too, will be put on IR. This means the Jets will have two less players to cut by Tuesday, when rosters must be pared from 90 to 75. Tough week for the Jets' draft picks. Wide receiver Jalen Saunders is scheduled to address the media Wednesday, an opportunity to clarify the mysterious "medical event" that apparently caused his car accident last week. Rex Ryan hasn't provided any details, except to say it was "an isolated incident" and not due to a pre-existing condition. Saunders is out indefinitely.
  • Cornerback Dimitri Patterson, who returned to practice on a limited basis, said he hopes to play Friday night against the New York Giants. He said there's "no doubt" he will play the season opener. Patterson, who spent more than a week on the sideline with various leg ailments, talks a good game. Asked about the beleaguered secondary, a lighting rod for criticism, he said, "It's OK. That's the good thing about professional sports. You have the opportunity to go out and shut people up." Patterson is one of the reasons why the secondary is taking so much heat. Let's just say he wasn't a popular free-agent signing. That, coupled with his inactivity, has put him under the microscope.
  • Speaking of cornerbacks, Antonio Allen received a mixed review from Ryan on his debut at the position. From a technique standpoint, there was good and bad, but it was a great learning experience, according to Ryan. The experiment continues, Allen lined up with the starters in practice.
  • Geno Smith will start against the Giants. In other news, Woody Johnson is rich.
  • Ryan dismissed comments by Cincinnati Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander, who said he was surprised the Jets were blitzing so much late in last week's game. Ryan said the bigger surprise should've been that he didn't blitz much at all early in the game. He said he relied on "coverage" schemes as a way to test his unproven secondary. He added, "I don't know why they'd be shocked (by the blitzing), but it doesn't matter. I don't worry about their team. We're just trying to focus on our team and what's best for us."
  • The new practice-squad rules, announced Tuesday by the NFL, could have an impact on the Jets' quarterback depth chart. Under the new rules, Matt Simms (active for 16 games last season) is practice-squad eligible. Previously, a player who had earned one or more accrued seasons wouldn't have been eligible unless the player spent fewer than nine games on a club’s 46-player active list in each of his accrued seasons. Now, the Jets might be more apt to keep only two quarterbacks, knowing they could re-sign Simms to the practice squad, assuming he clears waivers. Ryan said he's not married to keeping three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster.

Jets camp report: Day 26

August, 18, 2014
8/18/14
8:35
PM ET
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- A daily review of the hot topics from New York Jets training camp:
  • The Quinton Coples-Jason Babin situation at "rush" linebacker -- sharing first-team reps -- is similar to the quarterback position. The Jets went into the offseason wanting to give Geno Smith every opportunity to be the starter, but they signed a cagey, old vet -- Michael Vick -- for insurance and some competition. It's the same deal with Coples and Babin, except they can both play because it's linebacker. Believe me, once the Jets get a look at Babin on first and second down, they'll have Coples back in his regular role. As one opposing scout said of Babin, "He's not real good versus the run at the point of attack."
  • Wide receiver Eric Decker (quadriceps) returned to practice on a limited basis, which is good news for the offense. This is a big week for Decker, Geno Smith and the passing game, as they prepare for the all-important third preseason game. Last week was a lost week. Now, Decker and Smith are in catch-up mode, trying to sharpen their timing as the regular season draws closer.
  • After an impressive debut, rookie safety Calvin Pryor got more work with the starters than usual. Basically, he rotated with Jaiquawn Jarrett in the spot alongside Dawan Landry. It's only a matter of time before Pryor claims the starting job. I say throw him out there with the starters Friday night against the New York Giants. What do they have to lose?
  • There wasn't much Jets-Giants chatter in the locker room, although Smith did have this to say about the annual preseason contest: "We all know about that Snoopy Trophy and we want to win every single game." Sorry, but I have to laugh whenever a player refers to the Snoopy Trophy.
  • It was good to see Jalen Saunders back on the practice field, albeit in a spectator role. The rookie wide receiver still hasn't been cleared to return after his one-car accident last Friday, which left him in a hospital for two nights. The Jets haven't commented on the "medical event" (from the police report) that caused the accident. Saunders soon will have an opportunity to provide clarity; he's expected to address the media Tuesday or Wednesday.

Jets Camp Report: Day 21

August, 13, 2014
8/13/14
9:00
PM ET
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- A daily review of the hot topics from New York Jets training camp:
  • The Jets conducted their final open practice in Cortland, a relatively light workout focusing on their next preseason game, Saturday night against the Cincinnati Bengals. The most entertaining part of the day came after practice, when the entire team participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. With a big assist from the Cortlandville Fire Department, the team was doused with cold water, much to the delight of a few hundred fans. It was a neat, fan-friendly way to end the three-week run in Cortland. The New England Patriots nominated the Jets for the ALS event and, as Rex Ryan said, "Anytime you get issued a challenge by New England, we're going to accept that challenge."
  • One of the disappoinments to Cortland was that none of the rookie wide receivers separated from the pack. Shaq Evans got hurt, Jalen Saunders was OK but nothing special and Quincy Enunwa dropped too many passes after returning from a hip injury. Saunders will make the team as a punt returner, but the way it looks now, he'll be no better than the fifth or sixth receiver. It's still early, of course. They have three games left, time for Saunders and/or Enunwa to jump out. Ryan is waiting. "Yeah, if somebody jumps out and puts on a Victor Cruz performance, like he did against us in that preseason game (in 2010), I'll definitely sign up for that," Ryan said.
  • Eric Decker sat out again with a quadriceps injury. That makes four out of the last five days on the sideline. It's too early to panic, but it's important that he and Geno Smith spend as much time together as possible, developing chemistry. It looks like Decker will play against the Bengals, but don't expect it to be an extensive outing. In that case, Week 3 of the preseason becomes very important.
  • Time for some quarterback number-crunching. We charted every pass over 14 practices in Cortland (11-on-11 drills only), and it's fair to say that Michael Vick outperformed Smith from a statistical standpoint -- slightly. Unofficially, Smith completed 55 percent of his passes (72-for-130), with eight touchdowns and four interceptions. Obviously, he needs to raise his completion mark over 60 percent. In a West Coast-style offense, that should be the minimum for a quarterback. Vick completed 60 percent (64-for-106), with seven touchdowns and four interceptions. Mind you, some of these stats are subjective, especially touchdowns, so this isn't an exact gauge of the two quarterbacks. It's also worth noting that Smith, who took 81 percent of the first-team reps, had to face the starting defense on a vast majority of his snaps. Clearly, he has work to do, but just remember what happened a year ago on the final day in Cortland -- the infamous "brutal" practice, as dubbed by Ryan.

Jets camp report: Day 20

August, 12, 2014
8/12/14
7:00
PM ET
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- A daily review of the hot topics from New York Jets training camp:
  • It was a rough day for wide receiver Stephen Hill, who dropped two passes in wet and windy conditions. Hill has been all over the map in camp, ranging from spectacular to skittish. It'll be interesting to see his role in the regular season. Right now, he's their fourth-best receiver, behind Eric Decker, Jeremy Kerley and David Nelson. Hill received public support from Geno Smith, who said, "Stephen had some drops, but I'm not going to get down on him. I'm not going to yell at him, I'm not going to create a scene." Hill is a tease -- talented, but inconsistent. If I were the Jets, I'd look to trade him for a cornerback. He might draw some interest because of his potential and his reasonable contract. Asked about Hill's lack of progress, Rex Ryan praised his blocking, akin to complimenting a blind date on her great personality.
  • After a slow start because of a concussion, rookie safety Calvin Pryor is starting to assert himself. He's feeling frisky, and that was evident in practice, particularly when he jolted wide receiver Saalim Hakim on a crossing route. The Jets' first-round pick can expect a heavy workload Saturday night against the Cincinnati Bengals. He'll play a little with the starters, a lot with the backups and some with the backups' backups. "I think the guy has a chance to be big time," defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman said Tuesday. For now, Dawan Landry and Jaiquawn Jarrett are getting the first-team reps.
  • It was a rough day in the red zone for the offense, as Smith and Michael Vick were a combined 1-for-8. The one completion was a 10-yard touchdown, Smith to Decker, who beat safety-turned-cornerback Antonio Allen with a nice inside move. Cornerback Ellis Lankster broke up two potential scores, defending passes to Hill and rookie tight end Jace Amaro. The Jets have to improve in the red zone, especially in the air. In 2013, their passer rating inside the 20 was 81.7 (26th), according to ESPN Stats & Information. They also need to spend more time in the red zone; their 106 total snaps ranked 30th. The addition of Decker, no doubt, will help the overall efficiency.
  • Congratulations, Tajh Boyd. That was a nice touchdown drive and a well-deserved celebration with your teammates.
  • Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, addressing reporters for the second time in camp, acknowledged they could use Michael Vick as a change-of-pace quarterback. "I suspect, looking forward, there will be times where you see a little bit of it," he said. But Mornhinweg agreed with Vick, saying it disrupts the rhythm of the starter -- a "real" issue, he said. They don't want to mess with Smith's psyche. It also would put Vick in harm's way. My take? Dust off the Vick package once in a blue moon, but that's it.

Jets Camp Report: Day 19

August, 11, 2014
8/11/14
8:00
PM ET
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- A daily review of the hot issues from New York Jets training camp:
  • This is how a longtime AFC personnel director responded Monday when told the Jets had moved safety Antonio Allen to cornerback: "Wow." Yeah, it's a surprise alright, but the Jets are desperate after losing Dee Milliner (ankle) for a few weeks and Dexter McDougle (knee) for the rest of the season. The Jets believe Allen has some cornerback traits in his skill set -- they like his 6-foot-1 frame and aggressive attitude -- but this is a Hail Mary. If they like his potential so much, why didn't they try this sooner? This smacks of GM John Idzik, a former Seattle Seahawks executive, trying to copycat the size of the Seattle corners. Naturally, Rex Ryan did a nice job of selling it, saying Allen has progressed "a million miles" since they drafted him in the seventh round in 2012. Allen showed last season he can cover athletic tight ends in man-to-man situation, but it's a different world on the boundary, facing receivers that run sub-4.4s in the 40. Gut feeling: The Allen experiment doesn't work out and they sign a veteran.
  • Allen lit up the practice field in his first day at cornerback, making two interceptions in team drills. He wasn't available afterward to talk about the move to corner, leaving us to wonder about his feelings. He was making nice strides at safety, working with the first team alongside Dawan Landry. This could stunt his progress -- if the corneback move is aborted at some point. Somehow, I don't think Allen's comments will be as candid as those of Roger Duffy in 1996. Because of injuries, Duffy, an interior lineman, was shifted to tackle for the season opener. Asked his immediate reaction to Rich Kotite's decision, the usually reserved Duffy said he was "stunned and amazed."
  • Milliner made an appearance on the practice field, wearing a walking boot on his left foot. He rode the stationary bike, and that was about it. Afterward, he walked gingerly to the interview tent, appearing as if he's still experiencing discomfort. He acknowledged he was "in a lot of pain" at the time of the injury. An X-ray was negative, he said, adding they still can't diagnose the nature of the sprain because it's still too swollen to take an MRI. He said he has no timetable for a return, admitting he's not sure if he'll be back for the season opener. He said: "You don't want to get out there and rush things and mess it up even more, or get out there and you're not 100 percent and give up plays." This is a tough blow for Milliner, who was having a very good camp. He was limited last preseason due to injuries, and it took him a while to catch up.
  • Sitting at breakfast at the local hotel, I was approached by a Jets fan, who asked simply, "Do we have a problem?" Naturally, he was referring to the cornerback situation, not the quality of the coffee.
  • The offense was a bit out of sync, and that was to be expected. Consider the players that didn't practice: running backs Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory and wide receiver Eric Decker.

Jets camp report: Day 18

August, 10, 2014
8/10/14
8:13
PM ET
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- A daily review of the hot issues from New York Jets' training camp:
  • The Jets have a cornerback crisis, the result of a double whammy in practice. Top corner Dee Milliner suffered a high-ankle sprain, according to a league source, and rookie Dexter McDougle blew out his left knee, the team announced. What are the odds? Losing McDougle hurts their depth, which wasn't great before Sunday, but they can manage without him. The primary concern is Milliner, who figures to miss at least a few weeks. The Jets open against the Oakland Raiders in four weeks, which means he could be on the sideline for Week 1. They'll really need him in Week 2, when they face Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. This was a horrible day for the Jets, who got hit twice in their most vulnerable area.
  • So does John Idzik deserve criticism for this predicament? Yes and no. You can't blame the general manager for an injury, let alone two at the same position. It's part of the game, and it can ruin the best of plans. But here's the problem: This wasn't the best of plans. The player he chose to replace Antonio Cromartie -- Dimitri Patterson -- is an injury-prone veteran who, not surprisingly, is injured. Funny how that happens. It's not serious, and he should be on the field soon, but they can't feel confident in Patterson's long-term durability. Idzik left himself short at cornerback, the most important position in Rex Ryan's defense, by not splurging for one of the big-name free agents. Obviously cap space wasn't the issue. A top-tier corner would've greatly minimized the curent damage.
  • Don't look now, but the Jets' draft class is shrinking before our eyes. McDougle (third round) is done for the year, and wide rceiver Shaq Evans (fourth round) also could be finished because of a shoulder injury, according to Ryan. This is a terrible blow for McDougle, who missed the final nine games of Maryland's 2013 season because of major shoulder surgery. By the time he appears in a regular-season game in the NFL -- September, 2015 -- he will have gone two years without playing. That's tough. The Jets had high hopes for McDougle, whom they expected to push Patterson for the starting job opposite Milliner.
  • Ryan said he's confident in his cornerback depth. Without a doubt, this is the depth they chose in the offseason, meaning: They re-signed Darrin Walls ($950,000) and Ellis Lankster ($815,000) to one-year contracts and they acquired veteran Johnny Patrick on waivers. In other words, it's not like they sat on their hands. They were proactive in retaining their own backups. Now they'd better hope they're the right backups.
  • Rookie wide receiver Quincy Enunwa, a disappointment over the first two weeks, exploded with two long receptions -- a 70-yarder in team drills and a 45-yarder in a seven-on-seven drill. Unfortunately for the Jets, the latter came at the expense of Milliner, who got tangled up with Enunwa when they both went up for the ball. There haven't been too many great practice days by rookies, but Enunwa -- a sixth-round pick from Nebraska -- broke out in a big way. As Michael Vick said, "Quincy has really been turning it on."

Jets Camp Report: Day 17

August, 9, 2014
8/09/14
8:00
PM ET
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- A daily review of the hot topics from New York Jets training camp:
  • This was a deja vu day, as Rex Ryan was questioned about the possibility of using Michael Vick in a change-of-pace role, assuming he's the backup quarterback. It conjured up memories of 2012, when the Tim Tebow/Wildcat story resulted in a daily feeding frenzy. What prompted the new questions? The Jets devoted an entire practice period to the Wildcat. That, coupled with Vick's impressive scramble in the preseason opener, got people thinking. Ryan didn't dismiss the possibility of using Vick in a specialized role, but I'd be surprised if it's a staple in the offense. Yes, the Jets like the Wildcat (they ran a league-high 38 snaps last season), but the injury risk is too great with Vick. Methinks Ryan was engaging in a bit of gamesmanship by putting it out there.
  • Tight end Jace Amaro needs to develop a little bit of nasty, and cornerback Dexter McDougle has to drop a few pounds. That's what we learned about the Jets' second- and third-round draft picks, respectively. In a classic Parcells-ian move by Ryan, the Jets coach sent a message to the rookies, letting the world (and them) know this is a big boy's game, predicated on toughness and professionalism. Basically, he said Amaro needs to play to his size (6-foot-5, 265 pounds), suggesting he dust off old Mike Ditka tapes. As for McDougle, Ryan noted that he reported to camp overweight. How does a cornerback show up overweight? You can bet McDougle will be doing extra conditioning in the coming days.
  • There's no reason to be alarmed, but it's worth noting what wide receiver Eric Decker has a new hurt -- a quadriceps injury to go along with previous hamstring and foot injuries. The $36 million man participated in positional drills, but he sat out in team drills. Again, it's nothing major, but when the team's top free-agent addition is nicked up ... well, you know.
  • Yes, it's true, Ryan and I switched places, with Ryan playing reporter and asking yours truly to field questions at his daily presser. All I can say is, I'll never be as entertaining as he is behind the podium.
  • This was another strong day for cornerback Dee Milliner. On the first play of team drills, Geno Smith challenged him, throwing deep to Stephen Hill. Milliner stayed with Hill, stride for stide, batting away the pass. Perfect coverage. This came two days after his impressive performance in the preseason opener.
  • Linebacker Calvin Pace spoke for older veterans across the league when he described the monotony of camp. "It's uncomfortable," he said. "I'm 33 years old, staying in a dorm room with a roommate. It's one of those things, you think when you get out of college you never have to come back to that, but every year we're forced to. But I know what it is. It's part of it, so one more week and back to normalcy." Hear, hear.

Jets camp report: Day 13

August, 5, 2014
8/05/14
8:00
PM ET
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- A daily review of the hot topics from New York Jets training camp:
  • Rex Ryan specified his quarterback rotation for the preseason opener, saying Michael Vick will relieve starter Geno Smith in the second quarter. No surprise there, obviously, but it's interesting that Vick is scheduled to get at least a series with the starters. At least, that's the plan. As much as the Jets want Smith to be their opening-day starter, they're hedging their bet by giving Vick a run with the first unit. It's a smart move, especially since he's had very little time with the starters in practice. Smith can make this real easy on everyone by playing well. If he struggles ... then it gets interesting.
  • Obviously, the Jets didn't want to see rookie Shaq Evans hurt his shoulder, which could land him on injured reserve, Ryan said. But let's be honest: If he misses the season, it's not a crushing blow for the wide receiving corps. Evans, a fourth-round pick, has been erratic in camp, showing nice deep speed but dropping too many passes. He has potential, but he's not one of the six or seven best receivers on the roster right now. The best thing he has going for him is his draft status; teams hate cutting early- and mid-round picks. If his injury is as serious as Ryan suspects, the Jets will be able to stash him on IR -- a virtual redshirt season.
  • The Jets signed veteran tackle Bruce Campbell, addressing a growing concern -- depth at the tackle position. Beyond D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Breno Giacomini, the top backup is Ben Ijalana, who has no regular-season experience on the line. The other backups, Brent Qvale (concussion) and Markus Zusevics (knee) are banged up. The Jets got a look at Campbell in minicamp, inviting him as a non-roster player. He tore up the scouting combine in 2010, running the 40 in 4.75 seconds at 6-foot-7, 314 pounds. Some experts predicted he'd be a first-round pick, but he fell to the Oakland Raiders in the fourth. How fitting: The Raiders love size-speed guys with limited football skill. The Raiders gave up on him in 2012, trading him for -- are you ready for this? -- Mike Goodson.
  • Smart move by Ryan, keeping first-round pick Calvin Pryor out of Thursday night's game against the Indianapolis Colts. From a risk-reward standpoint, it makes no sense to play their prized rookie in a meaningless game. Sure, he needs the experience, but he hasn't had enough practice time after his concussion to feel comfortable, mentally or physically. The Jets have nine days before they play again at Cincinnati, plenty of time for Pryor to get up to speed. Some risks aren't worth taking; this is one of them.
  • Ryan all but handed right guard Willie Colon a starting job, saying, "If he stays healthy, I have a tough time not seeing him in the lineup." Colon has a long injury history (most recently, knee and biceps surgery in the offseason), so there are no guarantees. Ryan's comment suggests left guard Brian Winters might not be as entrenched as we thought. The Jets have been talking up Oday Aboushi, giving him reps with the starters at both spots. At the very least, Aboushi will be a "swing" backup, capable of filling in if Colon gets hurt or if Winters doesn't improve after a rough rookie season.

Jets Camp Report: Day 12

August, 4, 2014
8/04/14
8:00
PM ET
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- A daily review of the hot topics from New York Jets training camp:
  • Coach Rex Ryan acknowledged the obvious on Monday, saying Geno Smith will start over Michael Vick in the first preseason game. It would've been silly to prolong it, considering the first official depth chart was released before practice. And there it was, in black and white: Smith, listed with the starters, Vick with the backups. A season ago, they went the "slash" route with the first depth chart, listing the quarterback position as Mark Sanchez/Geno Smith. That, of course, was an open competition. The current competition is anything but.
  • I asked Ryan if he's giving any thought to the possibility of using the ultra-dangerous Vick as a change-of-pace quarterback. Based on his answer, I got the impression he'd rather mow the grass fields at SUNY-Cortland than try another Tim Tebow situation.
  • Calvin Pryor is back. Cleared for contact after a concussion, the Jets' first-round pick returned to practice. Now he's in serious catch-up mode, trying to atone for six missed practices, including the Green & White scrimmage. For a veteran, it's not hard to get up to speed. For a rookie, a week of inactivity is like missing two weeks. Safety is a complex position in Ryan's defense, which explains why he prefers seasoned veterans -- Dawan Landry, Ed Reed, Jim Leonhard, etc. Ryan is bucking a personal trend by counting on a rookie, but he has great expectations for Pryor. Despite the lost time, he could play in the opener.
  • Monday's practice was lackluster. Ryan attributed the lack of energy to a heavier-than-usual workload in the Green & White scrimmage on Saturday night. They ran a total of 80 plays, giving extra reps to the starting units. He expects them to be fresh for the Indianapolis Colts. Remember, he promised they'd score a touchdown.
  • Moment of the day: In a light moment, defensive lineman Leger Douzable stepped into a special-teams drill as a kickoff returner -- and the 284-pound Douzable promptly fumbled. Hey, it was one of those days.
  • Quote of the day: "I'm not afraid. I'll put it out there: I believe in this football team. I believe in this organization. There's no question about that. But do I have to say that, 'Hey, I guarantee that we're going to win a Super Bowl"? I don't need to say that. I don't gain anything by it, but is it a goal of this organization to be a world champion? Of course" -- Rex Ryan

Jets Camp Report: Intrasquad scrimmage

August, 2, 2014
8/02/14
11:10
PM ET
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- A review of the hot topics coming out of New York Jets' annual Green & White scrimmage:
  • Let me start with a concise summary of what unfolded Saturday night: Geno Smith still makes questionable decisions, Michael Vick still runs fast, Stephen Hill still belongs on the all-Cortland team and Rex Ryan's defense still runs the show.
  • The offense has a lot of work to do. Then again, we already knew that. In a 12-possession scrimmage, the offense failed to reach the end zone, settling for two field goals. You could take the half-full approach and credit the defense -- and I will later -- but I'm not going to exonerate the offense for its goose egg. It could have salvaged some pride late in the scrimmage, but the second unit (led by Smith on this particular drive) failed on four straight plays from the 1-yard line, including three runs by Alex Green. I guess this means there won't be any "We're-the-best-offense-in-the-league" quotes from the locker room -- at least not anytime soon. Ryan downplayed the performance, promising they will score points in the preseason opener. I couldn't tell if his fingers were crossed when he said it.
  • If this were an open quarterback competition (and we all know it isn't), we would all be saying Vick has a slight edge on Smith, the presumed starter. Smith (7-for-14, 84 yards) was almost intercepted twice and he took a fourth-down sack at the goal line. He telegraphed a sideline pass that should have been a pick-six by Darrin Walls, who dropped an easy interception. In four series (three with the first team), Smith produced only three points. Smith is having a solid camp, so I'm not going to bash him after a mediocre scrimmage, but he certainly wasn't as sharp as he needs to be. His signature play was a 41-yard strike to Hill on a skinny post. Overall, Smith was "pretty decent," Ryan said. No, the coach said, he is not planning to shake up the quarterback rotation in practice; Smith will continue to get the vast majority of the reps.
  • Vick finished as the leader rusher -- two scrambles for 35 yards. On a 20-yard scramble, he left linebacker Garrett McIntyre in his dust. Vick created some electricity, reminding everyone that he is still a dynamic player with the ball in his hands. "I feel fast," he said. "At 34, it's amazing I feel as good as I do." Vick, known for his durability issues, said he hasn't experienced any soreness in camp, crediting the team's conditioning program. Vick (7-for-13, 47 yards) played four series, including one with the starters, which ended with a field goal. He said he told center Nick Mangold and guard Willie Colon how much he enjoyed playing with the first team, complimenting them on their pass protection. Was he trying to send a message? Ryan loved what he saw from Vick, saying, "Shoot, my gosh, the dude can flat out fly."
  • The Jets' marquee additions, Eric Decker (one catch for 7 yards) and Chris Johnson (five rushes for 14 yards), were relatively quiet. Johnson admitted to being "a little nervous" because it was the first live contact for his surgically repaired knee. He didn't get a chance to flash his trademark speed in the open field, but he was satisfied with the night, saying, "I wanted to test my knee against full contact and I came out feeling good." Baby steps. Decker caught a slant from Smith on the second play, and that was it. He said he played about 20 plays, but honestly, it didn't seem like that many.
  • Hill always makes a big play in the Green & White, but he was upstaged by Greg Salas (five catches for 54 yards), who was the best receiver on the field. Yes, he had a drop, but he separated consistently on a variety of routes. Vick gushed about Salas, whom he knows from their days in Philadelphia. Referring to completion over the middle, Vick said, "I can't believe he caught it." Salas is having a terrific camp, making a strong push for a roster spot.
  • The defense did some crowing after the game, and deservedly so. "I'm pretty sure that goes down as a win in my book," Sheldon Richardson said. It was a big win. Except for the long play to Hill -- cornerback Dimitri Patterson was burned -- the defense was communicated well and didn't miss many tackles, which impressed Ryan. The goal-line stand was "awesome," according to Ryan. Newcomer Jason Babin recorded two sacks. There is reason to be optimistic about the defense, which looks terrific in the front seven, but let's hold the parade. It wasn't exactly challenged by a wide-open passing offense.
  • A few unheralded players boosted their stock, none more than safety Rontez Miles, who recorded a sack and a pass break-up. The Jets have a crowded safety position, and we haven't seen No. 1 pick Calvin Pryor yet. Miles is a fearless defender who spent last season on the practice squad; he will hit anything that moves.

Jets Camp Report: Day 9

August, 1, 2014
8/01/14
11:00
PM ET
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New York Jets training camp:
  • For all his struggles last season, Geno Smith was a fairly effective on deep pass attempts. In fact, he completed 39 percent (23-for-59) on throws of 21-plus yards, which isn't bad. He demonstrated that skill Friday, unleashing a 60-yard strike to Stephen Hill. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg likes to take deep shots, probably more than most that run the West Coast offense. The Jets should be able to improve their efficiency this season, especially if the running game takes off. That will force opponents to play eight-man boxes, creating opportunities on the perimeter. Friday was an encouraging step.
  • It's too early to be concerned, but the Jets can't be thrilled with their cornerback play. It was a rough practice for Dee Milliner, who got beat twice by Hill. If he can't cover an unproven player such as Hill, how will he handle Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall, receivers he probably will cover in the first month of the season? Milliner is having an okay camp, but he hasn't done anything that would make you to think he's the best cornerback in football. Oh, wait, he already said that. Rookie Dexter McDougle, a minicamp star, was slow out of the gate in training camp and is now nursing a groin injury. On Friday, the defense surrendered a handful of long balls. By the way, Darrelle Revis continues to dominate in the New England Patriots' camp. Just saying.
  • Injuries continue to pile up for the Jets, but they haven't been hit with anything major yet. So there's that.
  • Rookie tight end Jace Amaro continued to take baby steps, showing signs of improvement since that awful practice a couple of days ago. Mornhinweg believes the second-round pick should start to get comfortable in another week or so. The tight-end position is complex in Mornhinweg's system; it takes time to master.
  • Another impressive day by Hill, begging the question: Real or mirage?
  • Moment of the day: In straight "man" coverage, Hill torched Milliner up the left sideline, hauling in a wonderfully thrown ball by Smith for a 60-yard touchdown -- one of the best plays of camp.
  • Quote of the day: "Making sure everyone is on their deal, making sure I'm on mine, we'll be unstoppable" -- Hill on the potential for the offense.

Jets Camp Report: Day 8

July, 31, 2014
7/31/14
8:00
PM ET
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New York Jets training camp:
  • The three coordinators met the media for the first time in camp, and the most interesting takeaway came from Marty Mornhinweg, who gushed about the progress of the receiving corps, particularly Stephen Hill and Clyde Gates. Hill? "Outstanding," Mornhinweg said. Gates? "Pretty impressive," he said. Pardon the skepticism, but don't we hear that every year? In Hill's case, he has gone from prospect to suspect. He usually plays well in camp -- Mr. August, anyone? -- and fades away in the regular season. Some of it is a durability issue. Ditto, Gates. Truth be told, there has been no major movement in the wide receiver depth chart, except maybe a small move by Greg Salas. It's Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley, and everybody else, according to coach Rex Ryan. None of the rookies have stood out, but it's early. They get the benefit of the doubt.
  • Once upon a time, the Jets billed themselves as a Ground & Pound offense. Remember those days? On Thursday, they got a chance to do some grounding and pounding, with the first goal-line drill of camp. With the starters on the field, the offense and defense played to a draw -- two touchdown runs from the 2-yard line and two stuffs by the defense. No, the offense didn't use defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, who may have been their most effective goal-line back last season. (I say that only half-jokingly.) Chris Ivory scored on an inside handoff and Geno Smith found the end zone on a rollout, outrunning the pursuit. It's important to note the starting guards were Willie Colon and Brian Winters. Among the guards, they're the best drive blockers, giving them an edge over challenger Oday Aboushi. He worked with the second-team offense, which went 0-for-3 at the goal line.
  • Michael Vick didn't get any first-team reps (first time that happened), but he demonstrated plenty of elusiveness when he bolted the interview tent when asked if he believes the coaches have already made a quarterback decision. Now I know how hundreds of defensive players have felt over the years: I couldn't keep him in the pocket.
  • It's that time in training camp: The head coach got the "surprise" question, as in: Have any players surprised you? After thinking for a few seconds, Ryan mentioned rookie defensive lineman Kerry Hyder, an undrafted free agent from Texas Tech. "[He] has popped out of nowhere," Ryan said. "He's a bad-bodied D-lineman, but he makes plays." Hey, not everyone has a body like Muhammad Wilkerson. Ryan is known for taking physical outcasts (too short, too fat, etc.) and molding them into players. Hyder is a project worth monitoring. Two years ago, they hit it big with a no-name from a small school -- Damon Harrison.
  • Moment of the day: Decker made a terrific juggling catch on a long pass from Smith in a seven-on-seven drill. He reached out with one hand, tipped it up in the air and hauled it in, with cornerback Dee Milliner in coverage.
  • Quote of the day: "My feeling is we're much further along, but let's not let that trick us. That doesn't mean we're any better at all" -- Mornhinweg, comparing the offense to last year.

Jets Camp Report: Day 7

July, 30, 2014
7/30/14
9:00
PM ET
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New York Jets training camp:
  • The Jets like to think they're an elite defense, but elite defenses make big plays -- meaning takeaways. Since 2009, under Rex Ryan, the Jets are only 15th in takeaways. It has been a point of emphasis in training camp, and the defense responded in a big way Wednesday -- five interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns. It's important to keep it in perspective because the quarterback wasn't Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, but it still was a step in the right direction. A baby step, but a step nonetheless.

  • There are two sides to every turnover. The offense simply has to do a better job of protecting the football. Sound familiar? This has been a common theme throughout the Ryan era. Ryan's quarterbacks (read: Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith) have thrown 94 interceptions in five years, more than all but five teams. You can't win consistently that way. On Wednesday, Smith, Michael Vick, Matt Simms and Tajh Boyd (two) combined for five interceptions. Imagine how good the Jets could be if they can reduce the interception total by, say, five over the course of a season. That would be huge.

  • It's no secret that Marty Mornhinweg needs a pass-catching tight end in his West Coast offense. They invested a second-round pick in Jace Amaro, a record-breaking receiver in college, but he's learning a hard lesson about life in the NFL. Amaro struggled mightily, dropping a pass and running a couple of wrong routes. The only thing he caught was flak from coaches and teammates. The Jets still believe in Amaro, but another option is developing before their eyes -- Zach Sudfeld. "Absolutely tremendous," Ryan said of Sudfeld. He was a training camp star last year for the New England Patriots, earning the nickname "Baby Gronk," but he disappeared when the lights went on. It'll be interesting to see how he performs in the preseason.

  • Take a bow, Demario Davis. On this day, you played like Willie Davis.

  • You almost feel bad for Boyd, the perpetually upbeat former Clemson star who is having the kind of camp that gets players cut. "Oh, yeah, he's struggling, there's no question, he's struggling," Ryan said. But the Jets will be patient with him, hoping he'll perform better in games, with a game plan that will accentuate his strengths. He threw three interceptions in practice, including one in a 7-on-7 drill. Too bad they can't reunite him with his old college receiver, Sammy Watkins. That would make him and a lot of other people around the Jets real happy.

  • Moment of the day: Davis, reading Geno Smith, overplayed a wide-receiver screen to Clyde Gates. He made the interception and returned it about 20 yards for a touchdown, punctuating the score with a quasi-slam dunk.

  • Quote of the day: "It was a great pickup by our scouting department. You look at the guy, he's about 6-foot-7 or 6-foot-8. I call him Sasquatch." -- Ryan on Sudfeld.

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