Kellen Winslow Jr. said all the right things and made a number of positive plays on Tuesday during the first day of Jets minicamp, which also doubled as a tryout for the former first-round draft pick of the Browns. With the team's tight end situation in a state of flux, the oft-injured Winslow Jr. could provide a helpful spark for the Jets if he can show glimpses of the talent that once earned him the riches contract ever for a tight-end at $36 million over six years with Tampa Bay in 2009.
After a disastrous stint with the Patriots last year in which he suited up for just one game, the 29-year-old is trying to breathe new life into his once fabulous career. He was home Saturday, his future in doubt when he got a call from the Jets inviting him to the three-day camp.“My job is to make plays and however it works out that’s how it works out,” he said following practice at the team’s Florham Park, N.J. facility. “I’m a playmaker and my job is just to make plays. So I’m just trying to make the team.”
Winslow was a conspicuous presence on 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 drills Tuesday as he caught passes from both Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith -- he made a particularly nice diving catch on a pass from Smith. Winslow dismissed the idea that not knowing the starting quarterback made it difficult for him to find his comfort zone.“No, I’m just trying to learn the offense,” he said. “I got a lot to learn and my job is to learn the offense and try and make this team.”
Winslow was an All-American at the University of Miami and was selected sixth overall in the 2004 draft by the Browns, before a motorcycle accident nearly ended his career. But Winslow Jr. returned to the Browns, telling the Associated Press in 2006 that even at 90% he was “still better than every tight end out there.”He backed up those words, finishing with 82 catches for 1,106 yards in 2007 and was named a first alternate to the Pro Bowl behind Antonio Gates before Gates backed out and Winslow took his place. He then embarked on a record-breaking season with the Buccaneers, setting a new franchise record for catches (77) and receiving yards (884) in 2009.“Well, I have years left,” he said on Tuesday of the shelf-life of his career. “My last year was 2011 [when] I caught 75 balls and so I’ve been productive. It’s just the NFL. It’s how it goes sometimes. You get cut, you get traded, and you can’t do anything about it. It’s out of my control, you know?”
He described the process of waiting around for a team to show interest in him as painful because of the uncertainty involved. Winslow received comfort from his Hall of Fame father, Kellen Sr., but mostly from his wife, Janelle, he said.“It was hard, very hard,” he said. “It’s a situation that I’ve never gone through, probably one of the hardest situations I’ve ever [had]. You don’t know what your future holds and this is my dream and when it’s taken away like that it’s hard, very hard.”Asked if it was emotionally uncomfortable for a former Pro Bowler to be relegated to having to audition to make the team, he said, “Not really, not at all. I’ve had a real productive career, not awkward at all. This is how the NFL is. It’s a business and I’ve been very productive.”
Besides, it beats the alternative, which was to be “sitting on the couch. So I’m going to prove myself and try and impress the coaches.”
Sounds like this Mitch guy, unlike his two predecessors at the NYDN was actually watching the Jet practice and not just using "unnamed sources" to just make stuff up.
Compare with the Dick for instance, whose "report" was about all the Jet wide receivers dropping passes (title---Bad to the last drop) based on his own admission of seeing at least FOUR dropped passes at yesterdays minicamp
I was there...there were probably between 200 and 300 passes thrown and I saw no unusual number of drops. I believe Dcat and a couple of other JI attendees reported that dropped passes were not a big issue
Sadly the Dick was not fired by espn for his tweeted attack on a female colleague. Journalism would be upgraded if he were unemployed
1. Marty likes the deep ball : New OC Marty Mornhinweg runs a West Coast system, which means he gets labeled as a coach whose offense is predicated on quick, short passes. To a large extent, that's how he operates, but Mornhinweg, by his own admission, likes to take deep shots more than his West Coast brethren. That philosophy was on display Tuesday. In the 7-on-7 drill, quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith attacked downfield with several long passes. They weren't too successful. Sanchez connected with Vidal Hazelton, and that was about it. Smith made a fantastic throw to Stephen Hill -- quick release by the rookie QB -- but it was dropped. Truth be told, the entire passing game was out of sync, as Sanchez and Smith were a combined 7-for-16 in 7-on-7s. The longest completion was Greg McElroy to Marcus Davis, a wobbly pass that somehow found its way into the right hands.Marty Mornhinweg got another look at Geno Smith in action on Tuesday.
2. Geno's learning : When Smith has time to set and throw, he throws a pretty ball -- good velocity with a tight spiral most of the time. But the former West Virginia star needs to work on his pre-snap responsibilities, mainly recognizing the blitz and finding his hot reads. Rex Ryan's defense can be tough on an inexperienced quarterback, showing a myriad of different looks. But it's good preparation for the real thing.
3. Bilal be seeing you : Third-year RB Bilal Powell got his number called a few times, mostly on draw plays out of the third-down package. He has been overshadowed this offseason by Chris Ivory and Mike Goodson, but Powell still looms as a factor in the backfield. He's battling Goodson for the third-down job. Powell has running skills, but he lacks the pure speed of Goodson, who shows a burst whenever he gets the ball in his hands.
4. Fab Four : It'll be interesting to see how the Jets set up their defensive front in nickel situations. On Tuesday, it was Calvin Pace and Antwan Barnes at end, with Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples at tackle. That's could be a formidable interior rush with the two former No. 1 picks, but Pace and Barnes have to prove they still have enough giddy-up to get the job done on the edges.
5. Tebow's history: The message was loud and clear: The Jets are done talking about former QB Tim Tebow. Ryan wasn't comfortable answering questions about the newest Patriot (at least he didn't get testy and walk away, a la Bill Belichick) and many of his players seemed downright afraid to talk about Tebow. GM John Idzik is trying to change the culture around the organization, and Tebow, through no fault of his own, symbolized the "circus." The new philosophy: Out of sight, out of mind.
Darrelle Revis is a distant memory in the New York Jets’ new-look secondary.
Gone is the man considered by many to be one of the best players in team history, and perhaps the best NFL cornerback. But, Rex Ryan believes Antonio Cromartie can handle the load of being the main guy — especially since he did it last season when Revis was hurt.“We’re very fortunate to have a true No. 1 cornerback,” Ryan said Thursday before the final practice of the team’s three-day minicamp. “We hope to have more than just that, but we’re very fortunate to have Cro because he’ll stand with anyone in the league with his talents.”Ryan has also been pleased with Kyle Wilson’s progress, and throw in the expectations for Dee Milliner, this year’s No. 1 pick who’s still recovering from shoulder surgery, and the Jets’ cornerbacks corps is surprisingly promising — even without Revis.“We’re confident,” Wilson said. “We’ve got a good group from top to bottom. There’s competition and we’re just pushing each other. You can’t have a bad day in that room.”
The team’s mix of cornerbacks includes the touted first-round picks such as Cromartie, Wilson and Milliner and lesser-known players such as Darrin Walls, Aaron Berry, Ellis Lankster, Donnie Fletcher and Isaiah Trufant — far from household names at the time.
“Yeah, but everybody can play,” Wilson said. “That’s the good thing.”
When Revis — traded to Tampa Bay in April — went down for the year early last season with a knee injury, it was Cromartie who filled in as the shutdown cornerback while taking on opponents’ best wide receivers week after week.
While Cromartie wasn’t exactly Revis — and very few are — he was one of the bright spots in an otherwise dismal season for the Jets. He made the Pro Bowl for the first time since 2007, his second NFL season with San Diego.“I’m not sure how many corners actually played better than him last year,” Ryan said. “But I see him taking another step. I don’t think there’s any doubt. I see him taking a step as far as his leadership as well, bringing guys with him.”
Cromartie, who was excused from practice Thursday for personal reasons, is expected to train privately with some of the team’s other defensive backs, including Berry and possibly Wilson, before training camp begins at the end of July.“There’s been a big difference since Reev got hurt last year, Cro’s been a lot more vocal and really just stepped up to the challenge and trying to motivate us on a daily basis,” Wilson said. “He’s definitely been leading by example.”Wilson trained with Revis in Arizona the past few summers, learning the intricacies of the position from a guy he considered somewhat of a big brother. This offseason, Ryan has taken time to sit down with Wilson and explain the entire defense to him, piece by piece.While it’s likely Wilson will give way to Milliner at the No. 2 cornerback spot, he serves in a valuable role as the team’s nickel back as well as moving around within the secondary depending on the coverages called.
“I will say this about Kyle: This is the best camp he’s had, and it’s not close,” Ryan said. “I’ve been proud of the way he’s come into these OTAs and the way he’s competing. The other thing about Kyle is mentally, he’s a sharp guy as well. He can work inside and outside and we’ll play him at both spots.”
Wilson was the Jets’ first-round pick in 2010 out of Boise State, and the team expected big things from him immediately. But he suffered from a lack of confidence in his rookie season after blowing some plays, and struggled to be consistent.There have been some fans and media who have suggested this could be a make-or-break season for Wilson, especially since New York took Milliner with the No. 9 pick in the draft in April. While Wilson said he has welcomed Milliner aboard, he was asked if the rookie’s presence could serve as motivation for him.“Yeah, it’s going to do something,” Wilson said with a smile, “but me just staying focused is going to help me out and that’s exactly what I’m trying to do.”
Wilson has felt more comfortable this offseason, attributing that to knowing “exactly what to look for” on the field.“I know why we’re calling stuff and scenarios and I try to use that to think like a coach out there, so I’m not having rookie mistakes,” he said. “You can see things and understand why we’re doing it and what we’re trying to do defensively and to put myself in a better position.”Milliner is the wild-card in the cornerback mix for Ryan and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman. The former Alabama star hasn’t practiced at all this offseason, but he and the team hope he’ll be ready to go at the start of camp.And despite his lack of action this spring, Ryan knows exactly what he’s got in Milliner.
“Certainly there is going to be competition for that (outside) spot, but Dee Milliner will have every opportunity to compete for that as well,” Ryan said. “You take a guy with the ninth overall pick, and for good reason. The guy’s a tremendous talent, one of the top corners to come through the draft in a long time.”
SMITH CLARIFIES ‘NO COMMENT’ : Geno Smith says he definitely intends on attending Mark Sanchez’s private workouts, if invited, with Jets teammates in California.Smith clarified his “no comment” responses from Wednesday — that seemed to suggest there could be some tension between the Jets quarterbacks — when asked if he would join Sanchez’s camp next month at Mission Viejo High School.Smith says Thursday he was “caught off guard” by the question since the two hadn’t discussed the workouts. He says he was “always taught that if you don’t know exactly what you’re answering about not to comment on it.”The second-round draft pick, competing with Sanchez for the starting job, says he hasn’t been officially invited but is “more than willing to go there.” Sanchez normally invites all offensive skill players.
NOTES : TE Kellen Winslow Jr. impressed the Jets during his three-day tryout and it appears likely the team will sign him, although he hadn’t been told anything as of Thursday afternoon. “I’ll just go back and wait,” said Winslow, who added, “It’s a great spot.” … GM John Idzik on working with Ryan: “He’s been fantastic. … He’s a joy to work with. As you guys know, he makes it fun. I think he’s been energized.” … RB Mike Goodson was back at practice after missing a day dealing with legal issues. Prosecutors in New Jersey are sending the drug and weapons case against him to a grand jury, and Idzik wouldn’t guarantee Goodson will make the team. “There are no guarantees in life,” he said. “There are certainly no guarantees in the National Football League. But the legal situation, we just let it run its course and we respond accordingly, the same way with the league, the same way with the club. We’ll let things take their course.”
The offseason came to an unofficial end last Thursday with the conclusion of the mandatory minicamp. The Jets report July 25 to Cortland. So what happens between now and then? Because they're the Jets, something unexpected will happen. For now, a look at some items on the agenda :
1. Unsigned draft picks : Three of the seven choices remain without contracts -- CB Dee Milliner (first round), DT Sheldon Richardson (first) and QB Geno Smith (second). GM John Idzik said last week he expects to have them all signed by training camp.With a rookie wage scale in the CBA, negotiations should be straightforward, although the question of whether to include offset language could be an issue with Milliner and Richardson. Around the league, only six first-round picks have signed; 23 second-round picks have signed. Smith negotiation's could be complicated by the fact that his representation, Roc Nation Sports, is being investigated by the NFLPA. Idzik, however, said "nothing is standing in the way" of completing a deal.
2. Free-agent market: At this point on the calendar, teams are generally pleased with their rosters and will wait for training camp to unfold before addressing needs. The Jets have a few glaring needs, namely wide receiver. The most attractive free agent is Brandon Lloyd, but he has a reputation for being a problem child. He has played for six teams in 11 years. He got cut by the Patriots, a team that needs receivers, despite 74 catches for 911 yards last season. The thin free-agent market also includes Austin Collie, Laurent Robinson, Braylon Edwards, Steve Breaston and Randy Moss.
3. Tone's time alone: WR Santonio Holmes, recovering from LisFranc foot surgery, said he will remain at the Jets' facility during the hiatus to rehab his injury. In all likelihood, he will begin training camp on the physically unable-to-perform list. Holmes said his "target date" is to be ready for camp, but the organization's target date is Week 1. Holmes knows he's playing for a contract in 2014 (we're assuming he'll be a cap casualty), so you can bet he won't come back until he's convinced he won't re-injure the foot. His rate of recovery likely will impact whether the Jets decided to acquire another veteran.
4. The Goodson situation: The Mike Goodson case was forwarded last week to a grand jury for possible indictment on drug and weapons charges, but prosecuting attorney Peter Foy said he will "continue to speak with counsel about resolving this prior to grand jury" -- meaning a possible plea deal. Obviously, the Jets would like to have a resolution as soon as possible so they could execute a contingency plan, if necessary. They're counting on Goodson to be a significant contributor in their rebuilt backfield.
5. Jets West: Mark Sanchez is planning to hold his annual players-only passing camp in Mission Viejo, Calif. The only question is whether Geno Smith attends. The weeklong event isn't open to the media. How do I feel about that ?
Eric Allen Sr. Reporter/Director, Internet Programming Email @eallenjets On the Inside
The Jets will report to SUNY Cortland on July 25. It won't be long now
Las Vegas, NV
Q: Are the Jets receivers going to be ready for a full season of Jets football? In order for us to have any chance to compete for the Lombardi Trophy, we have to have them step up to the next level of play and stay there all season long.
EA: In a word, the Jets receivers had an underwhelming minicamp. Rex Ryan was none too happy with the drops and he had every right to be agitated.
So what does it all mean? Well Santonio Holmes and Clyde Gates are two of the top four wideouts on the depth chart and neither participated in team activities. Tone continues to work his way back from the Lisfranc injury and Gates was slowed by a balky hamstring. The Jets need No. 10, but they also really like Gates. Not just a speed guy, Gates is a hands catcher who runs quality routes. But the 5’11”, 197-pound Gates, a fourth round-pick of the Dolphins in 2011, has to be durable and step up his game this summer.
Jeremy Kerley had at least three or four drops in team periods. But Kerley is a precision route runner with plenty of quickness. He sets up DBs well at the top of routes and is just a smooth operator. I wouldn’t worry a thing about JK and the dude can throw it well from the QB position in the Wildcat. And Kerley also is the Jets primary punt return man.
The Jets need Stephen Hill to make a jump in Year 2, but he was inconsistent at camp. He looked solid in individual drills, but he had a few drops in team and and he needs to attack training camp with a relentless attitude.
It is WAY too early to give up on Hill. Growing pains should have been expected and his ridiculous start against Buffalo in Week 1 created unrealistic expectations. Coming from that triple option attack at Georgia Tech, check out Demaryius Thomas’ career starts. A first round-pick of the Broncos in 2010, Thomas caught 22 balls his rookie season, 32 his sophomore campaign and then 94 in 2012. Good thing somebody in the Broncos front office didn’t get impatient while Thomas continued to grow.
Credit undrafted rookie Ryan Spadola (Lehigh) for playing through a hamstring injury at camp. He never put the ball on the ground and got open underneath a bunch of times. The 6’3”, 200-pound Spadola has very good size and appears to be a willing blocker. He will have to show that he is dependable on special teams in August.
Fellow rookie Zach Rogers, a Tennessee product, also had a few drops overall. But Rogers is a fine route runner and he knows where there is space on the field. Not a burner, Rogers has the quickness to get separation underneath. It will be interesting to see how he progresses when the pads come on because Rogers is slight of frame at 6’0”, 172 pounds. He looked to be a dependable punt returner, but can he make some plays on coverage as well?
Vidal Hazelton, who attended Moore Catholic HS in Staten Island, NY, might have caught more passes in team situations that anybody at camp. A 6’2”, 209-pounder, Hazelton has good size and that might help him as he attempts to carve out a special teams role.
Veteran Mike Sims-Walker came to camp on a tryout basis. He displayed good hands the final day of camp, but he is not a player who is going to separate much at this point of his career.
Special teams are a huge part of this evaluation process and that is something a lot of fans just don’t take into account. If Ben Obomanu makes the final roster, it will be because he dominates on teams this summer.
Q: Does Brian Winters have a shot at starting the season at left guard?
EA: Winters definitely has a shot at starting, but I think his percentages might be better actually at right guard.
The Jets feel great about former Steeler Willie Colon. If Colon’s body can hold up for 16 games (he finished the past three seasons on injured reserve), the Jets will have a major steal. The Bronx native lined up at LG throughout OTAs and minicamp and that left side of the line looks awfully formidable with Colon beside LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson.
Stephen Peterman, a 31-year-old who started has started 90 regular season games in his career and was most recently with the Lions in Detroit, was the first-team RG in the offseason. I think Winters is going to push Peterman for that spot throughout training camp. The Jets love competition and that will be one we’ll watch up at SUNY Cortland.
North Attleboro, MA
Q: It is hard to keep reporting that the Jets don't have a full healthy receiving corps to help the QBs perform well? Do you think the elite QBs in this league depend on All-Pro WRs to be good? If Sanchez starts 1st week, it is more an indictment that Geno isn't ready or good enough. Sanchez wouldn't even be on the team now if it weren't for that contract.
EA: I like reporting good news to Jets Nation, but unfortunately that is not possible all the time. If you are an elite QB, you are an elite QB. Great targets help the cause (think Atlanta, Denver, Green Bay), but many times in this league you have to throw players open. We have all seen Sanchez play well before and if he excels in camp, then that isn't necessarily an indictment on the rookie. Right now, they are neck and neck.
"They won’t separate right now," said QB coach David Lee. "We have time, plus I’m very aware with quarterbacks the greatest way to evaluate them is in a ballgame versus out here in shorts."
Ozone Park, NY
Q: EA we have heard so much about Sheldon Richardson, but what about Dee Milliner? Will he be a full go by training camp and ready for the season opener?
EA: Milliner, who spent a lot of time on the bike this offseason while recovering from shoulder surgery, expects to be ready to roll by training camp. Rex Ryan believes he has a special talent on his hands and the Green & White will have one of the top CB groups in all of football.
Q: I’m a big fan of Thomas Mayo. I would like to know if he looking good for the Jets. And FYI, he is the truth!
EA: Mayo didn’t get many opportunities in team action at camp. A 6’2”, 205-pound first-year player from California (PA), Mayo could benefit from pads in training camp. He is going to have to flash to get an increase of reps.
Q: Why haven't the Jets targeted Kerry Rhodes at safety?
EA: The Jets are awfully high on Dawan Landry. He will be the quarterback back there at safety and the team likes its young talent including Josh Bush, Antonio Allen and Jaiquawn Jarrett. Bush has very good coverage skills, Jarrett can pack a punch and Allen brings a mix to the table because he is a rangy athlete with a sizeable upside.
Q: How come we don't hear much about Greg McElroy in the QB competition? Has he been weeded out already?
EA: The competition mantra isn’t going away, but you just have to follow the reps. Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez are the only two players receiving the reps with the starting unit. I would say the race for No. 1 is pretty much a dead heat as we head to Cortland. Fascinating stuff by David Lee on Geno by the way that got lost the other day.
"He’s the most interesting guy. When his footwork is good success follows him like no other quarterback I’ve ever coached. It happens every day," Lee said. "He double hitches on the posts it makes him late instead of a single hitch. Those things are killing him. We’ve installed so much, so many plays. And then there’s new plays and what’s that footwork."
Q: Oh my! Do the Jets have enough cap space to bid on QB Matt Ryan should his contract talks fall through and he hits FA?
EA: Not happening.
Just like Joe Flacco was never going anywhere.
Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff told USA Today recently, “We’re not concerned about it. When the time is right, we will consummate a deal.”
Not only does Nick Mangold think Mark Sanchez should be the Jets’ Week 1 starting quarterback, but the Pro Bowl center believes the rest of the Gang Green locker room feels the exact same way.
Mangold voiced his support for the embattled Sanchez yesterday during a promotional appearance at Washington Square Park, saying his close friend gives the Jets a better chance than rookie Geno Smith of being successful right away this fall.Asked if the rest of the locker room also hopes Sanchez will emerge as the starter, Mangold nodded.“I believe so,” he told The Post. “I haven’t walked around with a pen and paper and taken a poll, but from the feeling I get, the locker room wants to win. Whoever gives us the best chance to do that, we want out there — and at this point, Mark gives us that best chance.”
Sanchez has been buried under an avalanche of criticism the past two seasons as he flailed away while the Jets missed the playoffs both years, but Mangold still has his back.Mangold’s backing of Sanchez for the starting job was enhanced, he said, by what the veteran lineman saw during offseason workouts and last week’s minicamp.“I think Mark is a fantastic quarterback for us, and I think he can do some good things,” Mangold said. “He showed some good flashes in the spring, getting [new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s] system down and commanding the offense the way that he should be. We’ll see how training camp plays out, but either way, the competition will make him a better player.”
Mangold indicated Smith has a ways to go before the second-round pick from West Virginia is ready to be an NFL starter.“Mark had a little bit better idea of the ideas and of seeing things, which are things Geno is going to have to work his butt off on,” Mangold said.But Mangold also defended Smith, saying he has seen no evidence of the “diva” tag that was applied after Smith caused a brief stir at the NFL Draft, fired his agents shortly afterward and then hired rap star Jay-Z’s new agency to replace them.“He can be a good player for us,” Mangold said. “He’s a hard worker, and he’s asking questions. He’s taking the coaching and taking the advice to heart, and I think he’s doing some good things.”
Mangold joked that Smith is on notice from teammates to start bringing Jay-Z to Jets practices, but said the newcomer is well-liked.“He’s not a diva,” Mangold said. “I don’t see the diva. I don’t get where that came from. Maybe it was somebody with sour grapes who didn’t get to pick him and is spreading some bad stuff out there. But he’s been great for us.”Mangold also couldn’t help taking a few digs at the arch-rival Patriots in the wake of Aaron Hernandez being involved in the investigation of a shooting death, Rob Gronkowski’s multiple surgeries and New England’s surprise decision to sign Tim Tebow.
“I bet Bill [Belichick] is losing his mind right now,” Mangold said.
Asked if he was healthy going into the summer break, Mangold then poked fun at Gronkowski by saying: “As long as I can avoid back surgery and forearm surgery, I’m good.”
Q: Aside from the QB position, which is the most interesting position competition you foresee?
EA: Great question to get us underway.
Let’s start on offense with guard since I want to clarify something from last week. Brian Winters, a third round-pick from Kent State, is going to push Stephen Peterman for a starting spot. If Winters wins the job, I think he would shift over to left guard and Willie Colon, who worked solely at LG during the spring, would switch to the right. Typically you will line up your tight end more on the right side and you’ll get your most powerful linemen (Colon) out there. Winters is a more athletic option, so he would be a natural to shift left and pull more on the power runs. But the 6’4”, 323-pound Peterman started every game the past three seasons for the Lions and he will be ready for this battle.
As we have noted many times, the wide receiver position is filled with uncertainty. While Santonio Holmestold me he is targeting a training camp return, the Green & White may open practice in Cortland with Tone still on the sideline. As Tone said to me on JTL, he suffered a Grade 4 Lisfranc injury where there was a separation and ligament damage in his foot.
If Holmes is out for a while this summer, the Jets may have to add another veteran to the mix. Vidal Hazelton had a very good minicamp as did rookie Ryan Spadola. Fellow rookie Zach Rogers flashed at times and he could make a push for a roster spot.
Kellen Winslow Jr. made the most out of his tryout in the spring and was inked to a deal. A healthy, reinvigorated Winslow would give the tight end position a needed boost. Fullback will be interesting because the Jets have veteran Lex Hilliard and they added Tommy Bohanon, a seventh-round pick from Wake Forest.
Defensively I will stay in the backfield at safety and cornerback. Who will line up as a starter next to Dawan Landry with Josh Bush and Antonio Allen being the favorites? The Jets say Kyle Wilsonhas had a fabulous offseason, but Rex Ryan believes rookie Dee Milliner has “special” in him. So I like that competition on the outside and that fight for those final CB spots could be crazy. There is so much talent here at cornerback.
Q: Do you think the Jets will have the best defense in the AFC East?
Both the Dolphins and the Bills have made some improvements, but I think the Green & White will have the best unit in the division. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie and defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson are stars, and hybrid Quinton Coples has the potential to dominate as well. The Jets have increased their speed quite a bit in the front seven with the additions of DT Sheldon Richardson, OLB Antwan Barnesand the elevation of Demario Davis to starter.
The Patriots lived off turnovers last year, but they give up a ton of yards through the air. Yes, that is a product of them being ahead frequently, but that is not looked upon by most as a dominant unit. Former Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine was a quality hire for the Bills and they have some pieces with DE Mario Williams, DT Kyle Williams, CB Stephon Gilmore and S Jairus Byrd. How quickly will free agent additions at LB (Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler) and CB (Brent Grimes) make a difference in South Florida?
Q: Let's say Geno isn't deemed ready to be an NFL starter and Mark gets the ball Week 1. What do the Jets do if the West Coast really is perfect for Sanchez and he shines? You just drafted a top QB yet now you have a guy who has a chance to be a solid option for the next 10 years as well.
EA: If Mark Sanchez shines in the West Coast offense, we should buy sunglasses and enjoy the view. This is a winning league and Sanchez should get the rock if he gives the Green & White the best shot at victory in Week 1. We are getting way ahead of ourselves here, though, talking about the next decade. There is no pressure for Geno Smith to start — it’s not like he was the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Smith is a second-rounder who is not going to count a ton on the books.
Q: I know there is only one Wayne Chrebet, but can you see either (Zach) Rogers or Marcus Davis to be the next Wayne Chrebet with their potential?
EA: Yes, we must hold off on the Wayne Chrebet comparisons. As far as Rogers, the Tennessee product is a savvy route runner who has a knack for getting open underneath. His natural position is the slot and the Jets have a very good one of those in Jeremy Kerley. At 6’4”, 228 pounds, Marcus Davis has very good size but didn’t get many opportunities in 11-on-11 at minicamp. He could benefit from pads in the blocking category, but he has to find a way to separate from NFL corners.
Q: When do the Jets go to Cortland?
EA: The Jets report to SUNY Cortland on July 25. I will probably be in town by July 24.
Q: When are we going to make a smart move and pick up FA WR Brandon Lloyd?
Q: Do you think the Jets will try to get more talent on the WR corps or are they going to go into 2013 bare bones like last year?
Orange County, CA
Q: EA, could we see the Jets sign free agent wideouts like Braylon Edwards or Brandon Lloyd?
EA: The Jets will continue to tinker with their roster. After signing vet Ben Obomanu, they brought in former Jaguars wideout Mike Sims-Walker for a tryout. First-year GM John Idzik will not take a “bare bones” approach and I anticipate the Jets to continue to scan the open market. Wide receiver is a fluid situation.
Spring Valley, NY
Q: Has Coples had any time in minicamp at OLB? If so how does he look? What about the rest of the D-line?
EA: Yes, Coples played some OLB at camp (the Jets don't often play a conventional defense). The former hoop player is a natural athlete and he doesn’t look awkward standing up. Coples will rush the QB more often than not. The pads won’t come on until training camp, but you can see there is a lot of talent along the line. Most people expect a lot more four-man fronts in 2013. You know what you have in Wilkerson, Coples will play both OLB and DE and rookie DT Sheldon Richardson already has an NFL motor. Is Kenrick Ellisready to take the next step at the nose position? Vets Damon Harrison and Antonio Garay will add to the rotation. You could make the argument that Wilkerson is the most indispensable player on this roster.
With training camp just a few weeks away, the AFC East blog continues its look at players in the division who are on the roster bubble.
Next, we take a look at New York Jets guard and former second-round pick Vladimir Ducasse.
Reason for hope : The best thing we can say about Ducasse is his high draft status. Teams do not like giving up on second-round picks. There's always the optimism in New York that, at some point, the light will come on for Ducasse and he will finally live up to his potential. Ducasse struggled again last year in limited playing time and continues to be a raw project. But the Jets need depth on the offensive line. Perhaps a new West Coast offense can spark something in Ducasse that we have not seen in the past.
Reason for concern : To put it bluntly, Ducasse is a draft bust. The Jets gave him three years to develop, and he has not shown the type of strides the team was hoping for. Ducasse lost his biggest supporter in New York when former general manager Mike Tannenbaum was fired after last season. New Jets general manager John Idzik did not pick Ducasse in the second round and does not have the same ties. Ducasse must show he is ready to play this year or the Jets will move on.
Happy Training Camp Opening Day everyone! Rookies and quarterbacks report today so now is appropriate to take a stab at what the final 53 man roster might look like.
Quarterback: Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith, Chris Simms – The starting quarterback battle will rage on through preseason Week 3 most likely before a starter is named. The third quarterback competition has seen Simms’ reps increase during OTAs making the likelihood of him beating out McElroy greater.
Running Back: Chris Ivory, Mike Goodson, Bilal Powell, Brian Bohanon - The Jets will run a running back by committee approach this year as Ivory and Goodson both have an injury history. Ivory and Goodson are a good inside/outside tandem with Powell there to spell them. Bohanon is a jack of all trades fullback who should beat out Lex Hilliard who played poorly last season.
Wide Receiver: Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley, Jason Avant, Ben Obamanu, Jordan White, Zach Rogers - The X-Factor is Holmes who has had a difficult recovery from his Lisfranc injury which may prompt the Jets to carry 7 wide receivers. An upgrade from the waiver wire is a necessity and Avant could be the odd man out in Philly due to his contract and lack of breakaway speed. He did very well in Mornhinweg’s offense and would fit in very nicely. Obomanu showed flashes during his days with Idzik’s Seahawks, teammates last year thought Jordan White was talented enough to deserve more playing time but he needs to be healthy and Rogers has a knack for getting open and would be a good backup for Kerley in the slot.
Tight End - Kellen Winslow Jr, Jeff Cumberland, Konrad Reuland - If Winslow stays healthy this is a good group. Cumberland is a receiving tight end who is better off as a number 2 option and Reuland is a better blocker than the other two. If Brent Celek is available from the Eagles this equation may change.
Offensive Line: D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Willie Colon, Nick Mangold, Brian Winters, Austin Howard, Steven Peterman, Oday Aboushi, Dalton Freeman, Caleb Schlauderaff - Ferguson and Mangold are the lynchpins of the line, Howard came on as the year went along and is an excellent run blocker who needs to work on his pass blocking and Colon, Winters and Peterman will compete for the two guard spots. A healthy Colon will elevate the line to elite status. If Freeman can show he can play some guard as well as center it should spell the end of the Vladimir Ducasse era.
i figured i'd put this here, but Eric Wright was released due to a failed physical. don't know what it is but if the Jets docs check him out and think he's good to go, he'd be a good addition to the secondary. with Milliner being an injury risk, not to mention a rookie, Wright could come in and start.
i figured i'd put this here, but Eric Wright was released due to a failed physical. don't know what it is but if the Jets docs check him out and think he's good to go, he'd be a good addition to the secondary. with Milliner being an injury risk, not to mention a rookie, Wright could come in and start.
We can’t dub him “Johnny White Shoes Griffin” just yet, but John Griffin has looked speedy in the Jets’ backfield at their SUNY Cortland training camp and it’s not just the white footwear.“Really, I’m just taking advantage of the opportunity I’ve got right now,” Griffin, the Jets’ new No. 24, said after today’s second practice of camp. “I know we’ve got a couple of guys hurt and Mike [Goodson]‘s not here right now. So I’m really just trying to take advantage of the opportunity that’s been given to me. I know I’ve worked hard so I know I’m ready for it.”Griffin looks ready. The 5’11″, 208-pounder has gotten his opening with Chris Ivory and Joe McKnight both being sidelined at times so far with injuries and Goodson not reporting, and he and his shoes have flashed. It could be getting free to scoot off tackle or taking a screen and zipping down the green and white rapids for a big gainer.
He feels he can be a complete back. As a Northeastern junior, he had a 200-yard rushing game and a 1,000-yard season in 2009. As a receiver, he’s been hot and cold, mixing in a few drops with his crowd-pleasing downfield forays, but he knows one of the answers to that.“I like to think I’m a pretty good route-running back,” he said. “I probably need to strengthen my hands a little bit, do some more off the field. But I pretty much like doing it all.”As for the white shoes, it’s not a tribute to Joe Namath or Billy Johnson, just a sartorial thing that some of the Jets backs started this spring.“I remember Joe [McKnight] and Mike [Goodson] wore them one day, we all did, and we kind of stuck with them,” he said. “Actually, Antonio Cromartie gave these shoes to me.”It’s taken Griffin a while to get going in the pros, but he finally made his NFL debut with nine special teams plays for the Jets in last season’s finale at Buffalo. Maybe there are more plays where that came from if he and his shoes continue to flash this summer.
Comings and Goings
Griffin and the Jets backs were joined on the roster by newly signed Chad Spann (5’9″, 198). Spann’s claim to fame was that he led all FBS players in 2010 with 22 rushing TDs in 11 games for Northern Illinois, but he’s only made it to Tampa Bay’s and Pittsburgh’s practice squads. He wore No. 34 in white (Donnie Fletcher is 34 in green) at today’s practice. … Also, CB Aaron Berry, who tore an ACL early in Friday’s first practice of camp, was placed on injured reserve.Clyde Gates was still motoring in day two, ripping down the right sideline to gather in a Geno Smith longball in 11-on-11 drills. … Antonio Allen had a nice 7-on-7 zone interception of Mark Sanchez trying to hit Stephen Hill with a deep ball. … Rex Ryan says he likes what first-year WR Vidal Hazelton has shown so far, “and not because he got into a little whatever.” That whatever was a short but intense chin-to-chin confrontation with Cromartie after Cro hit Hazelton hard after a reception in positional drills. … Including a kick each in a two-minute drill at the end of practice, Nick Folk was 4-for-5 and Billy Cundiff 2-for-5 on field goals into a good Cortland cross-breeze.
Two years ago, safety Jaiquawn Jarrett entered training camp with the Philadelphia Eagles as a second-round rookie out of Temple looking to fill the void from the departure of nine-time Pro Bowler Brian Dawkins. Things didn’t work out as planned for Jarrett in Philly, however, and the Eagles decided to part ways with the hard-hitting safety just one game into the 2012 season.This past New Year’s Eve, Jarrett signed a reserve/future contract with the Jets. Now he joins a group of young safeties eager to fight for a starting role alongside veteran safety Dawan Landry.Jarrett said he never questioned the reasons for his release from the City of Brotherly Love. He is, however, grateful that the Jets are giving him a look to see what he can do.“The Jets gave me a second chance at the occupation that I love,” he said, “so I’m just happy and blessed for this opportunity to come here and prove myself.”
Today, in the first practice of training camp with full pads, Jarrett (6’0”, 196) lined up at safety with the ones. Dropping back in coverage, he knocked down a ball intended for TE Chris Pantale forcing an incompletion. Rushing past the line of scrimmage on a blitz, he tackled the running back for a loss of several yards.He has no preference for blitzing versus covering.“I prefer to do whatever’s going to help the team win,”he said.Jaiquawn makes sure to take advantage of any and all learning opportunities. Having played with the likes of Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in Philadelphia and now joining teammates such as Antonio Cromartie and Landry with the Jets, Jarrett feels “blessed for the opportunities to have played with some of the great players in the league.”Trying to constantly soak in everything his teammates and coaches have to offer, he appreciates the help he receives from the “old guy” on the team.
“Dawan has been great to all of us,” Jarrett said, referring to the safeties. “He knows each position, from D-line to linebackers to the secondary. He can coach at any position. So we call him ‘mentor’ or ‘OG.’ He’s an old head.”In addition to learning from his veteran teammate, Jarrett’s ears perk up any time that any safety on the team slips up, as he knows a teachable moment awaits him.“Every safety gets different coaching points,” he said, “because you all mess up certain things. But when a coach is talking to a specific safety, he’s really speaking to the whole group. It’s important to take notes and learn from it so from that point forward, when that play comes up, you know what not to do.”
While knowing what to do and what not to do are necessary, taking the field and executing the plays will be something that Jarrett must accomplish to lock up a roster spot and compete for a starting role. Still only 23 years old, he's hoping to convince the Jets that one team’s trash is their treasure.
Manish Mehta says three young receivers have caught the Jets' eye in training camp so far.
Gates saw some playing time last year. He has gotten praise from Rex Ryan to the press so far. Hazelton was undrafted out of Cincinnati in 2011 and has bounced around a few teams since. He has never played an NFL game. Spadola was undrafted out of Lehigh this year.
None of this is necessarily meaningful. It is relatively easy to look good in practice. The upcoming green and white scrimmage should tell us a bit more, albeit not much. Then off to preseason games, which again will not be very meaningful. The bottom line, though, is the Jets are not very good at wide receiver on paper so there is playing time waiting for a young guy who steps up. Keep your eye on these three to see whether any can become that guy.
Dee Milliner drew comparisons to the shutdown cornerback Darrelle Revis the instant the Jets drafted him ninth over all after trading Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Milliner must bear that burden as long as he wears green and white.
Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson was taken with the 13th pick of the draft in April.Geno Smith’s every word and throw have been dissected since the Jets selected him in the second round, starting a quarterback competition with the turnover-prone Mark Sanchez. Even if Smith outduels Sanchez, the scrutiny of him will only intensify.
The circumstances surrounding the arrival of those two celebrated prospects are giving defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson, a fellow rookie, the rare luxury of being a first-round draft choice who is breaking in largely unnoticed. He is not complaining.“Most definitely it is a good thing for me; I like being under the radar,” said Richardson, drafted four spots behind Milliner with the first-round selection obtained from Tampa Bay. “Between Dee and Geno, I’m the one they don’t know about.”
Richardson (6 feet 3 inches, 294 pounds) is not likely to remain in the background much longer. In some respects, he appears to be closer to a sure thing than Milliner or Smith.Although Milliner was widely regarded as the premier cornerback in the draft, he had five operations during his career at Alabama and was unable to take the field this off-season because of a shoulder procedure. Milliner missed three practices before ending his brief holdout, leaving Coach Rex Ryan unsure whether he will play in Saturday’s scrimmage.
Smith’s much-debated footwork and throwing mechanics might have been behind his drop into the second round despite a record-setting career at West Virginia.On Thursday, Mike Westhoff, a former Jets special-teams coach, watched his first practice as an ESPN analyst and viewed Smith as a developing talent. Westhoff said Smith initially reminded him of a baseball player who looked more comfortable throwing across his body, making him more effective while working the left side of the field.
“He looked like he could hit from one side of the plate and not the other,” he said. “But there is some improvement.”In contrast with Milliner, the only concern about Richardson’s health involves his teeth. He missed the last two practices after having one tooth pulled and requiring a root canal. On a scale of 1 to 10, he rated the pain as an 8. That might seem high, given the travails huge linemen are expected to play through. But he asked for understanding.
“It’s just a nerve sitting up there with stitches in it,” he said.
There is little or no debate about the ability of Richardson, a star since he attended Gateway Tech High School in St. Louis, to play defensive line and tight end. He was named an E.A. Sports first-team all-American in 2008, when he had 88 tackles, 19 sacks and 6 defensive touchdowns as a high school senior. Offensively, he made 27 catches for 541 yards with eight scores.He continued his success while at the College of the Sequoias in Visalia, Calif., and then after transferring to Missouri. According to statistics compiled by Missouri, he finished his senior season with 75 tackles, including 10.5 stops for losses totaling 50 yards, and four sacks.“We don’t want to put him in Canton yet,” Ryan said, referring to the site of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, “but he looks pretty good.”
“He’s an explosive guy,” Ryan said. “He certainly belongs here. He loves the game. You can tell by the way he plays.”Richardson prides himself on bringing enthusiasm to every snap without being pushed by coaches or veterans.“I’m a hardworking, blue-collar guy, doing what is necessary and then some,” he said.
Coach Rex Ryan may be growing concerned about the condition of Chris Ivory, a running back who continues to miss practice with a sore hamstring. “I thought it would progress a little better than it has,” Ryan said, without offering a timetable for Ivory’s return. Ivory, obtained during the off-season from the Saints, has a history of injuries.The mobility of Geno Smith paid off with two sharp completions during practice. In one instance, he eluded a rush, stepped up in the pocket and lofted a deep sideline pass that was just within reach of a diving Ryan Spadola, a rookie wideout from Lehigh. On another play, Smith rolled right and whirled left to hit Konrad Reuland, a second-year tight end, for a 9-yard score.Mike Westhoff, who served as special-teams coach when the Jets reached the A.F.C. championship game during their first two seasons with Mark Sanchez, said of Sanchez’s role: “He was on the bus. I don’t believe he was driving it.”