Rookie KR Justin Miller had a rough morning fielding kicks. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
During rookie CB Justin Miller’s three-years at Clemson, he averaged 30.7 yards per kickoff return, best in ACC history and fourth-best in NCAA history.
Those numbers were one of many attributes which attracted the Jets to select Miller in the second-round of this year’s draft. While Miller has shown promise, he showed that he is still learning while struggling through kickoff drills during a special-teams only practice this morning.
Miller dropped two of fellow rookie Mike Nugent’s kicks and also had one go through his legs into the end zone.
Head coach Herman Edwards talked about what he told Miller. “Whatever you do, if one goes through your hands, don’t panic,” Edwards said.
For Miller to have a successful career, he would be wise to follow those words of advice. Edwards said Miller appeared to be trying to run before catching the ball and also was not squaring his body with his hands.
Miller should see plenty of playing time in the pre-season game on Friday as the starting left cornerback with Ty Law not playing and also on special teams.
Also returning kicks were FA RB Terry Butler and newly acquired FA RB Decori Birmingham. Butler knows for him to make the team, he will really have to stand out. “Once you see the opportunity, you got to seize it and take advantage,” Butler said after this morning’s practice.
A lot of time this morning was spent on situations and making sure the right personnel was on the field. “When you go into the first pre-season game, it alarms you because you want to have the right guys on the field,” Edwards said.
Onside kick returns were practiced as well with the highlight being FB B.J. Askew on the return team displaying solid hands making a sliding catch.
Punt returns were also practiced with Ben Graham and Micah Knorr punting from their own end zone, and own 20 yard line. Graham routinely boomed the ball between 50-60 yards while Knorr’s punts were about 40 yards. Both punters also practiced punting from the opponent’s 45 yard line and trying to land punts inside the 10-yard line. Graham so far seems to have the slight edge despite being a 31-year old rookie after coming from the Australian Football League.
WR Justin McCareins, Birmingham, and Miller practiced catching the punts with no return. Birmingham, who was signed as a free agent yesterday by the Jets and struggled in his first practice dropping a few punts, was much better this morning.
-DT Dewayne Robertson visited orthopedist James Andrews in Birmingham, Alabama this morning at 11:30 to get a second opinion on his knee, according to Edwards. It is believed that Robertson has little or no cartilage in his knee which has made it painful for him to play. Players have been known to play many years with the condition. Robertson had a big season last year with 60 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Edwards said the Jets knew of the condition when they drafted Robertson with the fourth pick in the 2003 draft. Edwards said he does not know if Robertson will play in the game Friday but that he was fine with Robertson going to Dr. Andrews for a second opinion and that Robertson should be fine.
-Edwards said that his wife, Lia, has not given birth yet. “The players hope the baby comes at 7 p.m. tonight,” Edwards joked. If that does occur, Edwards would miss the night practice.
-With QB Chad Pennington not playing on Friday, QB Jay Fiedler will get the start and he is scheduled to for about 15 plays. After, QB Brooks Bollinger will see the majority of action.
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LB Eric Barton, WR Jonathan Carter and WR Wayne Chrebet will rest most of this week to hopefully get over nagging injuries.
-CB Ty Law (foot): Day to day.
-LB Eric Barton (knee): Day to day.
-WR Jonathan Carter (hamstring): Day To day.
-WR Wayne Chrebet (hamstring): Day to day.
Jets take the field for a 7:15 p.m. night practice. Edwards said the team will be in shells, shoulder pads, and helmets. As always, Jets Insider.com will be there to cover all the training camp news.