Backup QB Brooks Bollinger ran the first team offense during the afternoon session today. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
The Jets completed another of their seven scheduled two-a-days this evening as they used the session to evaluate multiple facets of the running game. Some familiar faces shined, and a rookie vaulted himself into the spotlight.
Despite being fourth on the depth chart, quarterback Brooks Bollinger threw with the first-team squad today, and given his lack of arm strength, the session was a perfect opportunity for head coach Eric Mangini to evaluate the skills of the running backs currently at his disposal. RB's Cedric Houston, Derrick Blaylock, and rookie Leon Washington all performed amicably in the backfield today, which is no change from recent practices. Blaylock looked to possess the most complete set of skills, combining speed and agility with an impressive ability to break tackles, while Houston and Washington showed flaws.
Houston impressed the crowd all evening with his speed and power, often lowering a shoulder and plowing through a defender. Washington, a much smaller back, appeared quick and able to change directions with ease. However, when both backs hit the field in 11-on-11 drills, they struggled with their abilities to read defenders and avoid contact. Houston did show signs of adjustment throughout the session, culminating in a brilliant burst down the sideline after a short pass from Brooks Bollinger for a big gain.
Still, all three of these backs were overshadowed today by rookie RB Nick Hartigan, an un-drafted free agent acquisition out of Brown University. Hartigan has shown steady improvement and a strong desire to learn from older players since the first day of training camp, and today was no different; he sped around like Blaylock, cut corners like Washington, and powered through defenders like Houston. While his talent is still visibly raw, Hartigan continues to improve daily, and he could very easily be a huge difference maker for the franchise in years to come.
In addition to various running plays, the team also practiced a variety of short passes, reverses, and bootlegs. The four competing quarterbacks took turns throwing short outs to the team’s running backs, as well as to FB B.J. Askew, who accumulated quite a highlight reel during practice by making a number of good catches on balls thrown by QB Patrick Ramsey. Askew also showed his prowess in running, breaking through the middle for short gains on a number of occasions.
The team also experimented with some trick plays today, including a pair of reverses to WR Laveranues Coles and a gorgeous bootleg by Ramsey during two-minute drills. Ramsey broke off the line and ran for 20 yards before sliding to a stop, causing onlookers to burst into applause.
-QB Chad Pennington played with the fourth-team today and, in turn, took very few snaps. When he did get the opportunity to throw, he looked rusty and his timing wasn’t as good as it has been. It may be possible that the four-man quarterback race is keeping Pennington from getting the snaps he needs to get ready for the regular season.
-LB Jonathan Vilma intercepted a Ramsey pass in 11-on-11 drills today, one of many interceptions thus far in training camp.
-Practice was moved to the grass field for a majority of today’s session. Though no official word was released on why the change was made, Jets Insider has learned that there was some sort of problem with the surface of the FieldTurf in one corner of the field.
-Veteran T Adrian Jones has been impressive this camp and seems to be excelling on the offensive line now that he is back to his natural position, right tackle. Rookie D’Brickashaw Ferguson has taken his place at left tackle.
-The Jets pass-rush looked awful in drills today. With John Abraham now a member of the Atlanta Falcons the offensive line seemed to have an easy time stopping the blitz by putting the majority of focus on DT Shaun Ellis. The Jets defensive line is beginning to become a big concern.
-Speaking of the defensive line, although no confirmation has been made by the team, several sources are reporting that NT Sione Pouha had arthroscopic knee surgery last week and could be lost for an extended period. If this is true, it would be a big disappointment for the team since Pouha came into camp in great shape and was expected to be a big part of the new 3-4 defense that Mangini has implemented.
-After a brutal first week of camp where the mercury pushed triple-digits with Everglades type humidity, the team seemed invigorated by a day with temperatures hovering around 80 and low humidity. Thankfully, a similar forecast is expected for the next several days.
-CB/KR Drew Coleman (knee): day to day
-TE Jason Pociask (shoulder): IR Out for Season
-RB Curtis Martin (knee): on PUP list
-C Trey Teague (ankle): on PUP list
-WR Dante Ridgeway (leg): day to day
-DT Tui Alailefaleula (leg): day to day
-DT Sione Pouha (leg): day to day
-CB Erik Coleman (illness): 1-2 weeks
-CB David Barrett (leg): day to day
The Jets return to the field for a second consecutive two-a-day tomorrow, with sessions at 8:45AM and 5:30PM. Be sure to check back to JI for all the latest camp reports.