NFL Nation: Dexter McDougle

This is our post-minicamp edition of the mailbag. What say you, New York Jets fans? @RichCimini: I find it hard to believe the Rex Ryan-Mike Pettine relationship has deteriorated to the Bill Belichick-Eric Mangini level, but I think it's fair to say it took a wrong turn with PlaybookGate. Ryan was disappointed and hurt by Pettine's comments and, yes, he probably felt betrayed. Who could blame him? The Belichick-Mangini relationship, already strained before SpyGate, was completely severed when Mangini blew the whistle on his mentor's spying operation. Tough to top that in terms of acts of disloyalty. After that, the chill was on display for every post-handshake between them. It's too bad the Jets don't play the Cleveland Browns this season; the handshake would've been a must-watch event. @RichCimini: I know most fans don't want to hear this, but they're content with the current cast. The coaches were almost giddy with Dexter McDougle's performance over the last two weeks, so they feel they can go four or five deep at corner -- Dee Milliner, Dimitri Patterson, Kyle Wilson, McDougle and Darrin Walls. Defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman, not one to toss around compliments, talked about McDougle as if he's the next Darrelle Revis. As I've said, I'd be surprised if they get involved with Brandon Flowers. The brass feels comfy with the current situtation. @RichCimini: Stephen Hill and Quinton Coples wouldn't be considered surprises because they were highly-drafted players a couple of years ago. Keep a close watch on guard Oday Aboushi, who impressed during the spring. I think he will push for the starting job at left guard, which will affect incumbent Brian Winters (right guard in minicamp) and, possibly, returning right guard Willie Colon. If you're looking for a super surprise, remember this name -- Kerry Hyder. The undrafted defensive lineman from Texas Tech really showed up in minicamp. At 6-foot-2, 280 pounds, he's undersized for the Jets' scheme, but Ryan & Co. have a way of finding roles for defensive linemen who can play, regardless of size. @RichCimini: It's an interesting situation because it's a new situation. The Class of 2011 (first round) is the first affected by the new CBA rules. Obviously, the Jets want to sign Muhammad Wilkerson to an extension, but there's no sense of urgency this year because he's under contract through 2015. His cap numbers for '14 and '15 are $2.2. million and $7.0 million, respectively -- team-friendly costs. John Idzik is a hard-line negotiator who likes to maximize leverage. Well, he has all the leverage in this case, so that tells me he will try to get a deal done by the start of the season. The question is whether he makes it sweet enough to satisfy Wilkerson. Keep an eye on the J.J. Watt situation in Houston; he's in the same boat as Wilkerson. If a Watt deal gets done, the Jets and Wilkerson can use that as a measuring stick. They might as well take advantage of all their cap room. An extension also would send a positive message to their best player and the rest of the locker room -- and the fan base, for that matter. @RichCimini: Without a doubt, it was Jalen Saunders. He's only 5-foot-9, 165 pounds, but he's one feisty dude. He has good short-area quickness and catches the ball well. He got a lot of reps with the first-team sub packages, getting on the field when they went to spread formations. It'll be interesting to see how he makes the transition when the pads go on, because like I said, he's just a wisp of a receiver. He's also one of the leading candidates at punt returner. Shaq Evans looked lost in minicamp, dropping a lot of passes, but he was understandably rusty, having missed the OTA practices due to school obligations. Of the rookies, he has the most complete skill set, so I'm looking forward to seeing him in training camp. Quincy Enunwa didn't jump out. He looks the part -- a solidly built 6-foot-2 -- but he's behind the others and could have trouble making the team.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets wrapped up minicamp -- and the offseason -- with a 90-minute practice Thursday in a light rain. A few takeaways:

Smith
1. Quarterback hiccups: One day after his coaches lavished praise upon him for a terrific offseason, Geno Smith ended on a down note, throwing two interceptions in team drills. One was an ill-advised throw, a pass into double coverage. He was looking for Eric Decker, who was covered by CB Dee Milliner, and it was picked off by rookie S Calvin Pryor. Later, Smith (2-for-6 in team drills) was intercepted by Milliner on a deep ball that went off the hands of Decker. It's important to keep this in perspective. Two turnovers on the final day of minicamp doesn't change anything. As Marty Mornhinweg indicated Wednesday, it's Smith's job to lose. Michael Vick was 2-for-7, with a couple of overthrows.

2. Young ball hawks: Turnovers are always a good news-bad news story in practice. The good news is that the secondary, which produced very few big plays last season, came up big. In addition to Pryor and Milliner, rookie CB Dexter McDougle made a big play, intercepting Vick in a 7-on-7 drill. (Vick seemed upset; there might have been a miscommunication with WR Jeremy Kerley). Afterward, Rex Ryan praised McDougle as one of the standouts in minicamp. This will be the youngest secondary of the Ryan era. The upside is the improved team speed on the back end; the downside is the lack of experience, which will inevitably lead to mental errors.

3. Another Hill to climb: WR Stephen Hill, who could be fighting for his roster spot, finished with a terrific practice. This was a positive offseason for Hill, who needed a jolt after a second straight disappointing season. He worked with the starting base offense, with David Nelson replacing him in some three-receiver packages. Nelson, too, looked sharp, hauling in two completions from Smith. Unlike past years, the Jets actually have some depth at receiver. It'll be interesting to see which players separate from the pack in training camp.

4. Dawan is da man: Veteran S Dawan Landry became the forgotten man in recent weeks, especially with Pryor and Antonio Allen working exclusively with the first team. After practice, Ryan tossed a bouquet to Landry, mentioning him as one of the standouts in minicamp. Ryan also revealed that Landry won an "Iron Jet" award for his exploits in the conditioning program, noting that he reported to the offseason program in superior condition. Funny how that works; they draft a safety in the first round and the aging incumbent shows up looking better than ever.

5. Attendance report: LB David Harris (hamstring tightness) and TE Jeff Cumberland (undisclosed) sat out. As expected, RB Chris Ivory (ankle) didn't participate. With Chris Johnson (knee) also out, Bilal Powell and Alex Green had busy days.

6. Have a nice summer: The offseason program is over. The team won't be together again until training camp. Reporting day is July 23 in Cortland, New York.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Notes and observations from Wednesday's OTA practice:

1. He-e-e-e-re's Dex: Third-round pick Dexter McDougle, who missed the final nine games of his senior year due to major shoulder surgery, made his practice debut for the New York Jets. After three weeks of wearing a red (non-contact) jersey, the rookie cornerback wore green with the rest of his defensive teammates and impressed Rex Ryan so much that the coach called him out in front of the team afterward. McDougle worked with the second-team nickel package and didn't seem tentative at all. This, of course, is good news for the Jets' revamped cornerback position.

[+] EnlargeEric Decker
AP Photo/Julio CortezThe Jets will be counting on receiver Eric Decker to produce in the red zone this season.
2. Rex comes clean: The Jets received mild criticism for taking McDougle in the third round, considering the time he missed at Maryland. Ryan admitted he, too, thought it was a risky pick, but others in the organization -- mainly defensive coordinat0r Dennis Thurman -- "eased my doubts" about McDougle. Ryan said Thurman, after watching McDougle on tape for the first time, came up to him and said, "I've got the guy right here." Ryan said they graded McDougle as one of the top "character" players in the draft. Assuming he has no setbacks, he will be able to participate in next week's minicamp.

3. Changing of the guards: 'Tis the time of year to experiment. With Willie Colon (arthroscopic knee surgery) sidelined for the remainder of the offseason, the Jets have been rotating players at right guard. On Wednesday, it was Brian Winters' turn. He traded places with Oday Aboushi, who moved to Winters' spot at left guard. No, this doesn't mean Colon is in danger of losing his starting job. Ryan acknowledged that Colon, who is expected to return for training camp, is a likely starter, but not necessarily at right guard. Interesting. Moving the players around in June creates competition and flexibility that could help in training camp.

4. Geno and Vick: There was a concentration on the two-minute offense and the red zone in practice. Both Geno Smith and Michael Vick looked sharp in the red zone, each quarterback completing four of five passes in team drills. Smith got most of the work with the starters. His best moment came when he stepped up in the pocket and found wide receiver Eric Decker in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. Decker dominated in the red zone, one of the reasons why the Jets are paying him $7 million a year. Vick displayed his old form, scrambling for a touchdown. He also made a nice scoring pass to rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders.

5. Two-minute hiccups: Smith wasn't nearly as crisp in the hurry-up situation. He started off with a deep ball to Decker, but the drive stalled as he misfired on three of his last four passes. First-round pick Calvin Pryor came on a safety blitz to disrupt Smith on one play.

6. Rex on the QB competition/non-competition: Not surprisingly, Ryan spoke glowingly on the Smith-Vick battle -- even though it's not really a battle, if you ask Vick. "Both guys are sharp," Ryan said. "They're pushing themselves and pushing each other. That's exactly what we wanted to have happen. ... I've been really impressed with it."

7. Attendance report: Players that didn't participate in the voluntary practice included wide receiver Jeremy Kerley (personal), running back Mike Goodson (undisclosed), running back Chris Johnson (knee), running back Daryl Richardson (toe), wide receiver Jacoby Ford (undisclosed), Colon (knee), rookie wide receiver Shaq Evans (school obligation) and linebacker Antwan Barnes (knee). Ryan said he expects Goodson to show up for next week's mandatory minicamp. As expected, Johnson -- six months removed from knee surgery -- isn't expected to do much, if anything, in the minicamp. Ford will be full speed by next week.

8. Dee's cranky hammy: Cornerback Dee Milliner, who sat out last week's open practice, participated on a limited basis. Officially, the team is calling it hamstring "tightness," not a pulled hamstring. Got that? Ryan said they kept him out for precautionary reasons.

9. Odds and ends: Pryor continued to work with the starters. It was Pryor and Antonio Allen at safety, with Dawan Landry practicing with the second team. Landry already knows the defense; the plan is to let Pryor and Allen get as many reps as possible. ... The Jets are continuing their penalty/push-up tradition. When a penalty is committed, the entire team drops for 10 push ups. General manager John Idzik was among the non-players that did pushups. ... Matt Simms, battling rookie Tajh Boyd for the No. 3 quarterback job, threw an interception. ... Rookie tight end Jace Amaro, coming off a three-drop day last week, had another drop but looked much better catching the ball.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets opened rookie camp with a two-hour practice in the rain. A few takeaways:
  1. No. 1 debuts: It was a rather non-descript practice for safety Calvin Pryor. He missed his one opportunity to make a big play. Lined up against a slot receiver, the first-round pick made a great read and jumped the route, but he didn't get his hands up in time and the pass sailed over the his head. It should've been an interception. Rex Ryan made sure to point that out to Pryor. Interestingly, Pryor lined up as the personal protector on the punt team. Another Tim Tebow?
  2. Jace impresses: Tight end Jace Amaro was among the standouts in practice. The second-round pick caught everything, displaying sure hands and good body control. You could tell instantly that he has caught a lot of passes in his career. His speed doesn't jump out, but he's a fluid route runner. He's known as a pass-receiving tight end, but he certainly has the size (6-5, 265 pounds) to be an in-line blocker.
  3. Busy Boyd: The Jets have only two quarterbacks in camp, so sixth-round pick Tajh Boyd got plenty of reps. (In case you're wondering, the other quarterback is B.J. Cunningham, a former Green Bay Packers draft pick who is participating on a tryout basis.) Boyd has mechanical glitches in his delivery, as the pre-draft scouting reports noted. He drops his release point at times, throwing at three-quarters. He also has an elongated motion. On Day 1, the former Clemson star struggled with his accuracy on short and intermediate passes. He threw behind sixth-round pick Quincy Enunwa over the middle, resulting in a deflection and an interception by fifth-round linebacker Jeremiah George. On the positive side, Boyd threw a couple of nice deep balls. That was the takeaway from his pro day; the Jets' scouts were impressed by his deep-ball accuracy.
  4. Three's company: The trio of rookie receivers -- Enunwa, Jalen Saunders and Shaq Evans -- had an OK day. Evans jumped out early with his smooth route running and quick hands, the ability to snatch the ball out of the air. But later on, he dropped a well-thrown deep ball by Boyd. Saunders dropped a pass in an early drill, but he rebounded with a strong practice. To quote Ryan, Saunders is an "itty-bitty" receiver at 5-9. Jeremy Kerley has enjoyed success at the same size, but Kerley is well built. Saunders is a wispy 165 pounds, so you wonder if he'll be able to take the pounding.
  5. McDougle off-limits: Eight months removed from shoulder surgery, cornerback Dexter McDougle wore a red jersey (non-contact) and didn't participate in team drills. Afterward, the third-round pick explained the nature of his injury at Maryland, saying he suffered a dislocated shoulder and fractured shoulder blade in the third game.

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