Jets fans are salivating over the potential of rookie TE Dustin Keller who has been sharp his first week of camp (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Wednesday’s lone practice for Gang Green featured a lot of the tight ends and wide receivers stepping up and showing their stuff. With a lot of young guys joining the likes of Jerricho Cotchery and Laveranues Coles, as well as newcomer TE Bubba Franks, the receiving corps looks solid early in training camp.
Coles did not practice because of an injury that Head Coach Eric Mangini described as “north of the ankle and south of the hip,” giving young guys such as Dustin Keller, Brad Smith, and Marcus Henry among others a chance to shine.
Keller made the most impressive catch of the afternoon, a deep ball for a touchdown from Kellen Clemens, despite a defensive pass interference flag.
Clemens was pleased with Keller's grab.
“He was one-on-one with a safety, which for a tight end of his caliber and his speed for us is a great matchup. I just tried to put the ball out where he could go get it. He was interfered with but still made the play. A great job by him,” Clemens said about Keller’s grab.
“Keller is another one of those guys who is making great strides with the more reps that he gets. He creates some matchup problems and gives us an opportunity to stretch the field out. He’s a smart kid and will help us out this year,” he added about the tight end.
Keller seemed very comfortable and confident about his adjustment from college.
“Everything’s starting to come together. I’m feeling real comfortable with the offense. Everything makes a lot of sense to me now. I understand why we’re doing what so I can move a lot faster out there. It’s a lot faster than college so I was kinda tired at first,” Keller said about the adjustment to the speed change.
Additionally, Clemens praised the efforts and progress of Brad Smith, making note of an impressive leaping catch he made during Tuesday’s practice.
At his pre-practice press conference, Mangini spoke about Smith and how he’s been coming along in his third training camp.
“It’s taking a step back and evaluating what you’ve got. From watching the other guys, watching film in the off-season and talking to the coaches about what I could do to get better, it’s all coming together and everyday is a new day to work on things,” Smith said.
“I like the way Brad has continued to develop. This is his third year as a receiver. Brad’s done a good job carving out a role as a specialty player on offense, and now he’s developing as an every down player,” Mangini said about Smith. He also compared his progress to that of Cotchery, who worked his way through specialty roles to become a starter. “The path is different for each guy, but Brad’s on a very good path,” he added.
Mangini spoke about not needing to be perfect, but rather improving as a team each day to be successful.
“We’ve got a very competitive group,” Mangini said about the receivers and tight ends. “I like the way each guy stands out at different times. I thought Clowney between OTAs and here has done a lot of good things. Wallace, yesterday he had a good day. Brad continues to develop. Chansi is another guy with versatility. It’s a good, young group. Throw Marcus Henry in there. He brings in a different quality with his size,” Mangini said.
“We’re learning together. It’s a great balance with the older guys,” Smith said when asked about the younger receivers complementing the veterans.
Quarterback Battle Continues
While no QB shined today, Pennington managed to drive his team into field goal range during the 11-on-11 drills. Clemens, who has thrown at least one INT every day since camp started, continued his streak as CB Drew Coleman got hit in the numbers by a Clemens pass to end the session.
After one play, RB Thomas Jones dove for an incomplete pass thrown by Clemens and got up noticeably frustrated as he smacked his hands together and shook his head en route to the line of scrimmage.
By the way, no new Brett Favre news at press time. However, WFAN radio personality Craig Carlton was seen shouting to the crowd at Jets Fest before practice "Lets Get Brett" on a bullhorn. Carlton, who hosts a show on WFAN with Boomer Esiason is a admitted Jets fan and pledged on his radio show yesterday that he would try to rally the fans to nudge the team to trade for Favre while he and Esiason visitied today.
D’Brickashaw Ferguson was seen walking around after practice with several Smucker’s Uncrustable peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches in his helmet. One of them fell to the ground, unknown to Ferguson, and was retrieved by a Jets PR person.
LB David Harris (leg), WR Laveranues Coles (leg) and LB Matt Chatham all sat out for a second day. As mentioned above, Mangini didn't elaborate (big surprise) on the severity of any injuries at his presser today but none of the ailments are believed to be serious. TE Chris Baker remained on the PUP list, along with LB Jason Trusnik. RB Leon Washington was excused today for winning the off-season workout award from Mangini. Damien Woody (eye) returned to action.
The team returns to two-a-days tomorrow with sessions at 8:30AM and 5:30PM both open to the public.
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