I’ve just gotten home on this soggy Sunday afternoon after witnessing my second Jets’ training camp. This time it was just me and Cliff out there, throwing caution to the wind as dark clouds threatened to rain over the 1:30 practice session.
We arrived right on time as the team was warming up. I immediately noticed that the players were in full pads, so I was looking forward to seeing some hitting.
After the jogging and stretching, the team broke up by positions. This time around, I was much closer to the secondary. I got to have a really good look at what’s happening with the defensive backfield. Across the field, we had a pretty good view of some of the linebacker drills as well.
Please remember, I’m still trying not to read too deeply into some of my observations. It’s still very early in training camp. With this being only my second time at a professional practice session, all I can do is identify what looks good and what doesn’t. But that’s enough of an introduction, right?
At this point, the secondary’s first unit includes Darrelle Revis, Kerry Rhodes, Eric Smith, and Justin Miller. Revis and Rhodes are no surprise, as both continue to display excellent speed.
Smith appears somewhat stiff in drills, but he nabbed a nice interception off Brett Ratliff this afternoon.
Speaking of Ratliff, I was enamored with his zip on the opening day of camp. Fans that saw him through the other days this weekend were equally impressed, as Erik Boland’s notes from Day 3 quoted a fan saying, “Looks like it’s Ratliff.”
Unfortunately, Sunday wasn’t so good to him. Ratliff overthrew a couple passes, the most significant being the aforementioned interception to Eric Smith.
Dustin Keller looks absolutely phenomenal. He might be the one to return some dignity to #81 after Justin McCareins and Curtis Conway tarnished its reputation. Anyhow, Keller was making some really good catches in the middle of the field.
His speed is nothing to be sneezed at either, as he broke away from two defenders to catch a really nice pass from Chad Pennington up the field.
Pennington made some really nice throws today. As expected, nothing really had much power behind it, but his accuracy is still deadly.
I didn’t really get to see too much out of Kellen Clemens, but from what I did witness, Pennington outplayed him this afternoon. In all fairness, I saw less than a handful of pass opportunities.
However, Clemens still held on to the ball a bit too long. On one play, excellent coverage from the defense forced him to feed the ball to Keller on a dump off route. Had it been a game situation, such a play may have ended in a sack.
The wide receiver competition is gearing up to be an exciting one. Lavernaeus Coles and Jerricho Cotchery will undoubtedly own the #1 and #2 positions, respectively. But the #3 and #4 slots have the potential for some close 3-way battles.
Chansi Stuckey is emerging as the speedy receiver we haven’t had since Santana Moss was traded. He’s quick and has incredible hands. Whether or not his impressive ability will give him the nod against the experienced Brad Smith is debatable.
Refusing to be left out of the conversation, David Clowney has been making some very impressive grabs in traffic.
At this point, I believe Stuckey will receive the nod for the #3 receiver. Smith will likely fall to the fourth receiver spot, but I’d expect Clowney to give it a very strong push.
Marcus Henry and Wallace Wright are on the field, but they seem to have disappeared in the fold with the performances those four receivers have put forth.
Vernon Gholston was on the field today. He didn’t look bad, taking advantage of some weaker competition in Nate Garner and Jacob Bender. I didn’t get too see much of him, as I spent most of time watching the first defense practice. I did see him drop the tennis ball during some linebacker practice drills, though.
Truthfully, there wasn’t much worth noting, but he was on the field and I know the fans want to hear about him.
Unfortunately, this was all I was able to really take from practice. Just as real 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills were going to begin, the storms commenced, sending all the fans home.
What I can say, without a doubt, is that the first pre-season game will answer a lot of questions.
The defense looks fast—really fast. Even with the battle for the second safety and corner back positions, the speed out of some of these guys is remarkable.
The linebackers are covering a lot of ground quickly. I can’t wait to see these guys when they’re not playing at 3/4 speed.
The first pre-season game will also shine a bit more light on what’s going on with the quarterback position. Right now, it appears the two QBs are putting forth identical performances, as neither one is truly standing out.
Both of their weaknesses and strengths have been discussed to death, and their skill sets provide totally different opportunities for the offense. Since those differences are so opposite of one another, I believe it will benefit the team if Mangini can decide on a starter well before Week 1 in Miami. We’re going to want to see the team on the same page right away.
Overall, it’s looking like a pretty slow start in camp. I’m hoping this doesn’t translate to a slow start when the regular season begins.