Defense was what impressed during Wednesday afternoon’s practice by dominating the offense and showing excellent pressure on the quarterback and harassing running backs behind the line of scrimmage. Led by highly vocal defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson and the play of DT Dewayne Robertson, the Jets’ starting unit jammed wide receivers with bump and run coverage, showed various blitz schemes and generated a consistent pass rush throughout the afternoon.
Defense was what impressed during Wednesday afternoon’s practice by dominating the offense and showing excellent pressure on the quarterback and harassing running backs behind the line of scrimmage. Led by highly vocal defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson, the Jets’ starting unit jammed wide receivers with bump and run coverage, showed various blitz schemes and generated a consistent pass rush throughout the afternoon.
The defensive MVP of the session could have been rewarded to numerous candidates, but the performance of second-year DT Robertson clearly stood out. D-Rob, who has been very vocal to the press about his plans to break out this season, knifed through the line on several occasions, recording a sack and two tackles-for-loss. Robertson’s fellow linemen, led by DT James “Tank” Reed, DT Jason Ferguson and DE Shaun Ellis, also caused serious havoc, forcing misfires from QB Chad Pennington and QB Brooks Bollinger, who resumed his second-team duties. Both Pennington and Bollinger left much to be desired during the two-hour session. After a stellar performance earlier this week, Pennington looked indecisive and frustrated as the defense got their hands on numerous passes at the line of scrimmage and down field during the afternoon practice.
The aforementioned Reed saw significant playing time with the starting unit at both defensive tackle positions and has become a consistent presence along the line. Overall, the defense exhibited far more emotion and aggression than the offense, which had difficulty matching the defense’s spirit and success.
Not all of the credit goes to the defensive line for their consistent pass rush in practice today. Forcing the quarterbacks to hold the ball longer than desired was a secondary that shadowed receivers and tight ends for the majority of practice.
After an earlier drill that taught the team’s defensive backs to recognize intended receivers by the QB’s stance and shoulder location, the secondary blanketed the team’s pass catchers for most of the afternoon. CB Donnie Abraham and CB Ray Mickens had pass deflections during the session and CB David Barrett showed solid man coverage. Coach Herman Edwards recognizes the talent his team possesses at the corner position and has confidence in his top three corners this year.
“I know we have two corners out there,” Edwards said, “and when it’s nickel we have three out. But I don’t really worry about who’s on the left side or right side, because they’re all good players.”
It would be a disservice to not mention the linebackers in this report, as they had a productive day and were the heart of Henderson’s unit. While rookie LB Jonathan Vilma continued to sit out due to a calf injury, fourth-year LB Jason Glenn replaced him in the lineup and could be heard psyching up the defense on virtually every snap. During the early portion of the full-team drills, the defense lined up in a 3-4 formation with Ellis, Ferguson and Robertson up front and Victor Hobson, Sam Cowart, Glenn and John Abraham all lined up at LB behind them. Abraham and Hobson took turns lining up directly on the line of scrimmage and over the tight end during the drill.
As far as the offense is concerned, there was little to cheer about during the afternoon session. While Pennington and Bollinger clearly struggled, they weren’t alone. The offensive line did little to protect the QB or open holes for the running backs during the practice. Those who shined on offense were FB Jerald Sowell, who sneaked by LB Victor Hobson for a long catch down the middle, and RB Jonathan Reese, who continues to show excellent vision on inside running drills. Reese provided the offensive play of the day with a tremendous burst up the middle for a would-be TD run. Of the receivers, TE Chris Baker continued to show why coaches have been impressed with him this camp, providing a reliable target on short to intermediate routes. The offense was without star WR Wayne Chrebet, as he continues to nurse a groin injury.
The special teams units practiced during the early part of the session as P Toby Gowin and P Brian Simnjanovski alternated punting to Santana Moss, Justin McCareins and Ian Smart. Gowin showed solid leg strength and air time, whereas Simnjanovski didn’t fare as well. Handling of punt returns was virtually flawless, except for a rare muff by Moss during the drill. RB Little John Flowers showed good burst on the punt-block team.
INJURY REPORT: S Jon McGraw seemed to be nursing some type of injury and sat out for most of the session. In his absence 2nd year S Derek Pagel stepped in. The nature or severity of McGraw’s injury is not known at press time. Here is the status on the other dinged Jets players.
--LB Eric Barton (Hamstring): Day to day.
--S Reggie Tongue (Calf): Day to day.
--WR Ken-Yon Rambo (Hamstring): Expected to be out till next week.
--WR Lawrence Hamilton (Hamstring): Day today.
--C Curt McGill (Knee): Day to day.
--WR Wayne Chrebet (Groin): Day to day.
--RB Derrick Ward (High Ankle Sprain): Out 1-2 weeks.
--DT Josh Evans (Knee): Day to day.
The team has only one practice tomorrow at 7:PM. The practice is open to the fans and is their only evening practice of the camp. Jets Insider.com will be there so check back often for all of the latest training camp news and reports.