WR Chansi Stuckey is doing everything he can to convince the Jets he should be the #2 wideout this season. (JetsInsider.com Photo)
Wide receiver Chansi Stuckey has been making some serious noise during the early parts of camp, and continued his standout play with another outstanding day today.
It was quarterback Kellen Clemens’ turn to run the first team offense during morning practice, and he wasted no time finding the emerging wideout on the second snap of the day. Stuckey added several other impressive grabs on the day, showing the ability to shake a defender that the coaching staff desperately needs to see from a largely unproven receiving corps.
“I thought Stuckey really was the one that stood out to me today,” head coach Rex Ryan said. “He made some great catches and got open a bunch. We know he is doing a great job. He is having a great camp. So I was happy to see that.”
The emergence of Stuckey as the premier performer amongst the receivers fighting for the number two spot behind Jerricho Cotchery has to be a far more welcomed sight than Ryan let on, even though the quote is extremely positive.
The free agent spending spree that swept through the organization the previous two offseasons left the wide receiver position virtually untouched, aside from the departure of Laverneous Coles to the Cincinnati Bengals. Some members of Gang Green’s faithful were hoping to nab the wide receiver that used to play for that other New York team (hint: he made a pretty important catch in the Super Bowl with his hands, not his helmet), but in the wake of the recent legal proceedings, that no longer appears to be an option.
So what you see in Jets camp right now is what you’re going to get in the 2009 season. The Jet offense is just a few pieces away from being an elite unit in the NFL, and a number two receiver is a dimension that could create an infinite amount of matchup problems for an opposing defense. With two top-tier running backs, a solid offensive line and a budding star in tight end Dustin Keller, having a legitimate number two receiver will make it nearly impossible for a defense to commit extra bodies to stop one particular wrinkle.
Ryan alluded to the prospect of Stuckey taking on that role this afternoon, comparing him to some of the better slot receivers in recent memory.
“Just like Wes Welker. Wes Welker is a slot receiver, is he decent? He’s pretty good. Wayne Chrebet, that’s in my opinion, a slot receiver. Now, they’re starters, but they are also in-between-the-numbers type guys. I’m not saying he can’t go outside because he could, just like Chrebet, Welker and (T.J.) Houshmandzadeh. But they’re hard as heck to cover in the slot. It’s not a negative towards Stuckey. It’s a positive. He’s a difference-maker in that slot. He’s so elusive that he is hard to cover. I think he is there right now. There is competition with Brad (Smith), Wallace (Wright), and (David) Clowney. They’ve all had their moments. I think Stuckey is consistently the guy who is getting open and catching the ball.”
CAMP CORTLAND TIDBITS
UPDATING THE QB BATTLE
A number two receiver is only good, however, if you have a quarterback that can get him the football. The competition continued today between Clemens and rookie Mark Sanchez, with each signal caller having a few highlight reel throws. Sanchez connected with Marcus Henry on a 40-yard touchdown strike during 9-on-9 passing drills, while Clemens was solid in 11-11 drills as well. Each of them did have their rough patches, though, leaving no clear leader in the clubhouse with Friday’s preseason opener looming.
“It’s funny, one guy will do better in one drill, one guy’s doing better in the other drill,” Ryan said. The last three plays that we did on offense, Kellen (Clemens) threw two balls out of the end zone when that’s the last play of the game. That’s something you can’t have, you absolutely can’t have it. Then, Sanchez steps up in the pocket, avoids the rush, and gives his receiver a chance. That’s what you have to have in that last second, that last play. You have to leave it on the dance floor. You can’t just toss it out of (the end zone). I told this to Kellen, he assured me, “Rex, I certainly wasn’t trying to put it out of the end zone.” So that was good to hear. But then (Clemens) also had some great throws. Clemens had some great throws in the course of practice, so again, there’s that competition. It’s still there. It’s not that one guy is clearly outplaying the other guy yet.”
The coach also stated the rotation for the two quarterbacks has not been set, with a decision being made in a meeting tonight.
They may be on opposite sides of the ball, but safety Jim Leonhard has helped Kellen Clemens better understand the nuances of manipulating a defense.
“He got me today,” Leonhard said of a play in which Clemens burned him for a big gain. “To where he looked me off and looked back and looked me off again and then threw it. We talk. I’ll talk to Kellen a lot. Just try to give him little things that really give us a problem and he used that to his advantage today. He came down the field right after and said, “Did I hold you off? Did I hold you off?” (I said) ‘You definitely did.’ Like I said, it’s a chess match in camp when you’re seeing the same plays, the same guys over and over. We’re giving it to each other pretty good right now.”
What’s equally interesting about the quote is all that it takes to make the defense do what you want from the quarterback position. If you notice, Clemens’ head moved in four separate directions, in a matter of seconds, to execute the play and burn Leonhard. It’s mastering these kinds of things that allow a quarterback to make the next step in his development.
SURVEYING THE M*A*S*H UNIT
The list of injured Jets seems to be growing by the day, and Ryan ran down the list and updated the status of his injured players.
Cornerback Darrell Revis participated in individuals but was left out of group activity today, while center Nick Mangold was described as ‘day to day’ with a sore knee. Donald Strickland sat out today with a bruised knee, and Kris Jenkins is progressing nicely after he strained his calf last week. Damien Woody suffered a head injury, but the coaching staff was not sure whether or not it is a concussion at this point.
The team has one more day at Cortland before they travel downstate for a practice at Hofstra Univeristy on Long Island on Wednesday then their first pre-season game against St. Louis on Friday at the Meadowlands. Next week is the team's last at SUNY Cortland.