CORTLAND, N.Y. — The heavens opened up on the second day of training camp for the Jets at SUNY Cortland, and not just because Tim Tebow was present. On the first day that practice was made open to the public, thousands of fans — a few of whom were actually bashing the Florida Gator product — stayed to see what’s in store for their team as the 2012 season approaches.
As the rain poured down fans cheered as players like Mark Sanchez, Aaron Maybin and Ricky Sapp shined despite the sloppy field conditions. In the team’s 7-on-7’s and 11-on-11’s drills Sanchez and Tebow traded snaps. And for each completed pass by either player a separate part of the crowd roared. As the drills continued it was easy to tell the team was responding to the faithfully boisterous crowd.
“We got some of the best fans in the world. You guys saw the conditions out here, it was raining, thundering. I definitely didn’t see anyone go anywhere. The fans were still energetic and loud for the entire practice. Stuff like that doesn’t just keep us into it but raises the overall tempo of practice. We’re out here feeding off the energy of our fans,” Maybin said.
Tebow, a player who’s developed a reputation as a poor practice player in Denver, struggled in the rain. As the team worked on corner fade routes, Tebow routinely threw weak balls — receivers had to slow up and wait for the ball. Sanchez, however, continually threw to an area on the field where the receiver was going to be — something that has plagued the USC product in his career.
On the defensive side of the ball Maybin and Sapp highlighted the linebackers unit, as well as the newly acquired Yeremiah Bell. A team leader and defensive mainstay in Miami, Bell nearly picked up two passes — making two very athletic break-ups in the process. He’s seemed to fit and blend in with this team right away, not missing a beat filling the hole left by Jim Leonhard.
As for Maybin and Sapp, the two speedy outside linebackers wreaked havoc on the edge all morning long. According to Rex Ryan, Maybin’s been a standout early on. With a full off-season under his belt he will be in a bigger role as an outside linebacker, but don’t be surprised to see him on special teams as well. Mike Westhoff loves his speed and his “hidden depth” so much that he was being used as the right gunner on the team’s punt unit. Sapp has a history of injuries, but his speed rush mentality is reminiscent of Maybin’s skill set and could play the role he played last season. Sapp regularly bull-rushed back-up right tackle Stephen Heyer and applied pressure on the quarterback.
KERLEY’S INSULT TO INJURY:
Perhaps the biggest story of the day was the news that second-year wideout Jeremy Kerley is officially in Ryan’s dog house. Ryan said in his press conference following the wet practice that Kerley needed to “step it up” and that he wasn’t happy with him this off-season. Kerley missed practice today with a hamstring tweak, but Ryan hinted towards the former Horned Frog having trouble adjusting to Sparano’s new offensive scheme.
Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone was in attendance today. The Orange head coach was a former offensive line coach during the Herm Edwards regime. His team will be playing at MetLife Stadium against the USC Trojans on September 8th, just a day before the Jets open up their season at home against the Buffalo Bills.
A team source told me that when you think a kicker shanked a kick in practice, it may have been on purpose. Often during practices, kickers have accuracy drills where they try and kick either upright. That tidbit made me wonder if Josh Brown’s two misses of 40+ yards are something to be aware of or pass of as just another team drill.
ODDS & ENDS:
An odd sighting to end practice, as reporters huddled underneath the interview tents during the downpour Tebow wasn’t going to let a little rain stop him from strutting his stuff. He ran from the practice field — shirtless — to the locker room past reporters and cameramen who all seemed puzzled yet surprised by the noteworthy passerby. The reason he was shirtless? No one knows for sure.