By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- Are you ready for some football ...
... in a semi-controlled setting in which the quarterbacks are off limits and there is no winner or loser on the scoreboard?
The New York Jets play their annual Green & White scrimmage at 7:15 p.m. ET Saturday at SUNY-Cortland. Basically, it's a glorified practice, offense versus defense, but there is live tackling and drives will be completed, giving it kind of a game feel. There will be player introductions, a halftime show (sorry, no Bruno Mars) and post-scrimmage fireworks, adding to the ambiance.
What to watch for:
Plenty of work for the starters: Rex Ryan, breaking from the usual routine, is planning to give the first units more snaps than usual. It's an interesting approach, considering they play their first preseason game in only five days, home against the Indianapolis Colts. The big offseason additions, Eric Decker, Chris Johnson and Michael Vick, are expected to play. Decker was limited Friday because of a minor hamstring issue, so that bears watching. Johnson is seven months removed from knee surgery, trying to recapture past greatness. Vick will lead the second-team offense.
Geno 2.0: The coaches have been talking up Geno Smith for months, saying he has made significant progress since the end of his rookie season. An intrasquad scrimmage hardly qualifies as a showcase, but it'll be nice to see him in a quasi-game setting, facing a good defense. We know he can throw, we know he can run. The focus will be on his decision making. Yes, he will lead the first-team offense, as he has done since Day 1 in camp.
New-look offense: With Decker and Johnson, and with a more-experienced Smith, the Jets believe they can be more balanced and explosive than last season. Of course, last year's unit didn't set the bar very high. It'll be fascinating to see how they use Johnson, who could be flexed out as a receiver in certain formations. Dude can catch; that's an under-rated aspect to his game. Prediction: Stephen Hill will make a big play; he always does. He's Mr. August. The starting offense has been inconsistent in camp, but it started to show signs of life Thursday and Friday. Let's see if it can carry the momentum into the scrimmage.
Missing rookies: The scrimmage is a great opportunity for many fans to see the draft picks in action for the first time, but some could be missing. Safety Calvin Pryor (concussion), cornerback Dexter McDougle (groin) and wide receiver Shaq Evans (shoulder) didn't practice Friday. As of Friday, Pryor hadn't been cleared for physical contact, so he's unlikely to play. Without a doubt, the rookie under the spotlight is tight end Jace Amaro, who has struggled with the offense.
Rebuilt secondary: The concern on defense is the back end, particularly the corners. Veteran addition Dimitri Patterson has been solid, but no one has jumped out, not even Dee Milliner. This is a young group, and there will be growing pains.