Standouts From First Weekend of Camp
Cortland, NY- With three days of training camp in the books, it’s time to use this incredibly small sample size to make insane proclamations about the upcoming season. Or we could just discuss the players who stood out above the rest over the first three days and leave the wild prognosticating to the other guys.
Sanchez- Mark Sanchez looks like a new quarterback. Yes it’s just training camp, but he is practicing with a consistency that has managed to elude him throughout his first three seasons in the league. Sanchez has bulked up, weighing in at 230 up from 218 at the end of last season, but it’s the consistent speed and velocity of his throws that has been impressive, especially since for the first time we are now seeing Sanchez throw the ball to a spot on the field and letting receivers go get it. His passes fly out of his hands with more zip and a tighter spiral, again it’s just training camp and he has had these types of days before in both practice and games, but I certainly haven’t seen him play at this level for three straight days at anytime over the two seasons I covered this team.
Physically Sanchez looks improved, but that’s not even the best news for Jets fans. On the field Sanchez is louder than he has been in the past, he’s taking more control of the offense and he’s being more forceful with his teammates in telling them exactly what he wants them to do. Sanchez has often been accused of being mentally weak, which I always found ridiculous because a mentally weak person wouldn’t get out of the bed in the morning if they had to deal with the criticism Sanchez deals with on a daily basis, but there’s no denying that Sanchez could stand to be more demanding and get in his teammates faces when necessary. However this takes time and it appears that time is coming. The offensive players have all talked about how Tony Sparano makes sure to hold everyone accountable and it appears Sanchez is demanding and getting the same respect from his teammates.
McKnight- During OTA’s it was the second-year back out of UMass, John Griffin, who stood out among the running backs, yesterday Bilal Powell reminded me of how he impressed me during the offseason last year [he plays faster than you expect], but today was the Joe McKnight show. McKnight has tacked on weight in the offseason so he can become a more complete back, but he hasn’t lost that electric speed. On a sweep play, McKnight took the pitch and turned the corner bursting up field before using some of his new weight and strength to bounce off a few defenders before eventually being dragged down to the ground.
Maybin- Mayhem Maybin is clearly not satisfied with the idea of playing like he did last year, he’s out to improve and improve dramatically. He’s bigger and stronger and it sure doesn’t look like he’s lost a step. He just seems to be working harder than everyone else. Between drills and breaks you can see Maybin sprinting, you see him leading chants and getting teammates riled up, sacking QBs and wrapping up running backs and you even see him playing gunner on the punting team. His new strength combined with his speed make him a unique fit in this role and he has had no problem trying to help the team in anyway he can. Today Ryan confirmed they have many more packages designed that involve Maybin than they did last year and if he plays at the level he is playing know, improve on last year he will.
Hill, Holmes, Schilens- All three receivers have flashed at different times. You already know what Holmes is capable of doing when things are going right, but while Jets fans should obviously reserve their excitement about Schilens and Hill until they produce in a game, no one will blame you for dreaming about the potential of these two young, big, strong and fast receivers.
Yeremiah Bell & Antonio Allen- LaRon Landry is the safety acquisition that has gotten the most attention, but with him being limited so far it has been Bell who has impressed all throughout OTA’s and his knack for seeming to be in the exact right spot on almost every play has continued through the first three days of camp. We know Bell can be effective as an in the box safety, but the way he has smoothly picked up the intricacies of this Rex Ryan defense so quick gives the Jets hope that he can be just as helpful in coverage situations. Today at practice the Jets were running 4-3 sets, with Bell and Eric Smith taking turns with one playing free safety and the other in the box and when Landry is healthy to play full time he will take Smith’s spot and the Jets will continue to switch up their roles to further confuse the offense.
Rookie safety Antonio Allen turned in a performance today to make sure he found his name on this list as he made two very nice plays where he recognized the route and immediately jumped in front of the receiver for the interception.
Bart Scott- On one play today, Tim Tebow dropped back to pass and after finding no one to throw to, attempted to take off running before being met by Scott running full speed extending his arms in the Jets plane/flight boy dance instead of wrapping Tebow up and tackling him since there’s no hitting the QBs. Scott looks faster on the field, but more importantly he’s back to his old fun-loving self and it clearly has a positive effect on his teammates.
Revis- Revis is Revis, it would hardly be newsworthy to talk about Revis looking good in practice, but Revis sitting out of practice with a sore hamstring? That’s most definitely newsworthy, as long you don’t try and make the leap to this being about his contract. It’s just a minor injury and nothing to be concerned about, but obviously the Jets want to play it safe with their best player.