- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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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.
10hEric D. Williams
9hEric D. Williams