Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comIn preparation for the 2014 season, many Jets players participated in the team’s voluntary Organized Team Activities this past week. Here’s what we learned from the Jets during their two days of practice.
All Eyes on Dee – The Jets drafted Dee Milliner ninth overall in 2013 to be a major component of the Jets defense going forward. He has the size, the speed, the range and the athleticism to be a world-class NFL corner, but he’s had some trouble staying on the field. After pulling a hamstring in practice, Rex lauded Milliner for knowing to pull up and not aggravate the injury, but Rex’s aggravation was at keeping Milliner on the field so that he could continue to learn and become a focal point for the Jets defense. “His challenge will be to be in world-class shape,” Ryan told reporters on Wednesday this past week. “Because we’ve got to have [Milliner] out there. He needs to be out there and he needs to get work, because that’s when he’s going to get better … he has to step it up because I think he has all the talent in the world.” For Rex, there must be something about those NFL sophomores. He seems to like to call them out as the team heads into training camp.
Lots of Work Ahead – The Jets made a number of additions to the offense but the first one the team made in the draft is trying to tread water in the deep end of the NFL pool. Rookie tight end Jace Amaro seems to be having a tough time adjusting to the new offense and himself admitted that he was thinking too much about what he should be doing and where he should be. Tight ends can be lifesavers for young quarterbacks or free agent quarterbacks adjusting to a team with new personnel. Amaro will be a big part of this team moving forward but it is important for him to do as much study between now and training camp to get himself off on the right foot.
Bullish on the Dozier — When asked this week about what rookies have stood out to him, head coach Rex Ryan praised Dakota Dozier on his versatility, but also called out his jumpiness. “We’ve put [Dozier] in there, right side, left side, different things, and he’s done some good things,” Ryan said. “Then he’s also jumped offsides about five times, but [we’re] seeing some positives.”
How will OLB Antwan Barnes recovery play out? — Last year the Jets brought in Antwan Barnes to be a situational pass-rusher for the team, but he suffered a Week 5 ACL injury. So how will his recovery proceed and how would the Jets use him this year? ACLs are tricky and while recovery is possible, Barnes will be 30 this year and the game’s best players generally need a full year to recover. The good thing for Barnes is that in the role he was designated last season, he was tasked with getting after the passer, so the lateral agility needed to corral ball-carriers might not be an issue. Barnes was effective at hurrying the passer for the Jets, so if he appears to be close to full-speed this summer, the Jets might be able to carve out a roster spot for him, but at present his making the 53 man roster might be a mild surprise.
To Sir, With Love – While the Jet player in question who addressed Mike Vick as ‘sir’ was likely just doing it out of respect, it seems as this story is taking Vick down The Darkest Timeline. It seems like coming to New York has put Vick into something of an existential crisis that he’s not faced to this point in his NFL career; that of the veteran superstar who must come to terms with aging gracefully. Some fans might never experience empathy for Vick, but there’s some sadness (to me) in watching this unfold. Vick seems to be doing all the right things in how he has approached his second-string status and in his attempts to diffuse any controversy, but the media keep making an issue of an as-of-yet non-issue.