Jeane Coakley reports from Jets training camp in Cortland, talking with Michael Vick, Chris Johnson, Eric Decker, Geno Smith and Rex Ryan.
The first day of training camp is always a deluge for me. We’ll be rolling out lots more content on the site through the weekend as we spend time in Cortland, but here’s a first pass at what stuck out at us from the first practice. Lastly, emptying my junk drawer of a brain.
Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comStrike a pose
I’ve been coming off and on to training camp since 2007 and I’ve never seen players do what the Sons of Anarchy did today. As players walk out to the practice field, they pass through a gauntlet of media types, team ambassadors and photographers. Camera shutters whirr and click away and many players stoically walk or jog by to hurry the process along. Most players did just that today, but not the bad boys. The defensive line and their coach Karl Dunbar took the time to stop, gather and and smile for the camera. The moment took less than 30 seconds but it was a clear indication of how this group feels about themselves and each other.
Punt returner up in the air
Jalen Saunders worked with the “ones” on the punt return unit today and looked unshakable. He fielded punts cleanly, advanced the ball quickly and didn’t shy away from contact despite his diminutive frame. At 5’9″ and 165 pounds, it doesn’t seem like it will work, but his low center of gravity, smooth and sudden speed and ability to absorb contact he could be a fun chess piece for the Jets return game which was lacking in 2013. Shaq Evans dropped one punt today with the second unit, so we’ll see what tomorrow brings the young receiver.
Push a push-up
Chris Ivory sat our from team drills, but Rex Ryan isn’t concerned.
“He did have a little bit of a hamstring, but he’s fine,” Ryan said. “It’s not a major deal. But, we’ve got certainly a whole slew of backs that we’re trying to get everybody reps.”
The first day of training camp is always a deluge for me. We’ll be rolling out lots more content on the site through the weekend as we spend time in Cortland, but here’s a first pass at what stuck out at us from the first practice. Next, the offense.
Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com
Why I’m not concerned about Willie Colon’s readiness for camp
Before Rex took the podium today, I noticed on the field that Brian Winters was working with the ones and back playing his more familiar left guard position, the spot where he started three quarters of the 2013 season. 2013 draftee Oday Aboushi was working on the right side of the line, and it occurred to me that there was something implied.
If Colon wasn’t ready to be inserted in the coming days, then one would imagine the team would want to get Winters as ramped up at the more difficult right guard spot normally occupied by Colon, while giving Aboushi more time at the spot where he played in OTAs and where Brick and Nick would do a better job in babysitting the youngster. Rex confirmed Colon’s imminent return in his press conference today when he said that Willie is “ready to go,” but the training staff is working him back onto the field slowly for purely precautionary reasons.
It’s time to flex
The first day of training camp is always a deluge for me. We’ll be rolling out lots more content on the site through the weekend as we spend time in Cortland, but here’s a first pass at what stuck out at us from the first practice. First up, defense.
Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com
DE Jason Babin makes it official, clouds concern on when Barnes will return
With Antonio Cromartie out of the picture this year, the team’s secondary is younger and, as a result, will need to do their best to pressure the quarterback to add “suppressing fire!!!” for their defensive backs. The Jets signing of Jason Babin indicates to me that Antwan Barnes might still have some road ahead of him before he is ready to step back out onto the field. Recovering from an ACL tear is never easy for NFLers and the team seems to be hedging their bets in finding a situational pass rusher. Consensus on the sidelines is that Babin will still be on the roster come cutdowns. We’ll have to see how he looks, but unless he’s fallen far (he still had 7.5 sacks last year) from last year, the Jets can find a spot for him. Rex didn’t put a timeline on Barnes’ recovery, but did say it would be “slower” when compared to Willie Colon.
Platoon play rules the day at safety
Get ready for a lot of Safety Dance headlines. The Jets were rotating rookie Calvin Pryor, Antonio Allen and Dawan Landry early in work with the first team. For now, the Jets aren’t showing their hand about their intent, other than they like their top three safeties. “We’re deep,” Rex said, when asked about his safeties. Rex knows with young players “I want to keep ‘Double-A’ humming … but not … cheat Landry of [practice snaps].” Rex has loved using the Big Nickel before in the past and while he might get there, he seems content to experiment with different looks early on in camp.
Is it coming together for CB Kyle Wilson? To read more of this story, click here
Birth Year: 1977
Years a Fan: Since 1982 (32)
Years Attending Camp: 2nd year in Cortland
From: Northern PA, a four-hour drive
Favorite Memory: The Jets having the lead in the AFC Championship Game in 1998.
Favorite Current Player: Nick Mangold
Expectations this season: Deep into the playoffs.
Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comWhen pushed about this statement and comparing the level of talent to the level of talent the team fielded in 2010, Rex said that it was less about that and more about the atmosphere and camaraderie. That it was more about the dynamic, the leadership, the exuberance and the communication.
While Rex granted that there are still mistakes being made by the team (running backs dropped two handoffs today) he loves the way “they are pushing each other” and spoke at length about how he feels this team is great at communicating to each other.
It’s an interesting point. With a raft of young players and a few veterans, the hierarchy is very apparent. Dawan Landry is the “old man” in the secondary. So is Kyle Wilson. Some of the spectres that players like Santonio, Sanchez and others might have had with the team aren’t here anymore but Rex likes the new dynamics developing.
A few photos from the first day of training camp…
SNY’s Andrew Johnston and Leonard Orman are at Jets Training Camp, and here’s their dispatch of what they saw and heard from Day One of camp…
- Rex Ryan said that this team is further along at thing point in time than any other team he’s had. Ryan said the team knows their schemes and has already built up their chemistry.
- Dexter McDougle got a lot of time with the starters and had an interception during the 11-on-11 drills.
- Geno Smith “looked really good.” He got a lot of praise from coaches and players, especially Rex Ryan and Eric Decker.
- Sheldon Richardson seems to be in incredible shape — a big, trim guy.
- Decker and Jeremy Kerley were in midseason form, as they’ve already seemingly built a connection with Smith. They were running crisp routes and had a lot of good grabs.
- Jalen Saunders also stood out on offense and showed off his speed.
- Shaq Evans dropped multiple balls and was brought aside by coaches a few times. Stephen Hill took him aside, too, to talk to him.