July 28, 2012
Jets get off to flying start
After a productive opening day of practice for the New York Jets at SUNY Cortland on Friday morning, no one was feeling better following the three-hour session than quarterback Mark Sanchez and new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano.
The very first pass thrown by Sanchez in the 11-on-11 set was a 40-yard toss. The ball was slightly tipped by All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis, but rookie wide receiver Stephen Hill — who had gotten behind Revis — made the correction and pulled in the ball.
The diving catch brought Sanchez running downfield and offer congratulations to his receiver.
It wasn’t the only play the speedster from Georgia Tech stood out on during the workout. He later caught eye of head coach Rex Ryan for a block on a running play, which sent a cornerback to the ground despite the non-contact setting.
Ryan didn’t know which player it was, and was certainly surprised when he found out it was Revis that Hill got the better of once again.
“He is fast,” Ryan exclaimed of second-round draft pick Hill. “It is also that Georgia Tech mentality. ‘I can block and I can catch the ball.’ He was impressive today.
“One thing I can’t wait to see when we get the pads on is the 9-on-7 drill,” Ryan explained. “The defense’s mentality is that we can stop anyone. It’s the exact opposite on offense. They think they can score against anybody. That really is the mind-set we are trying to develop with the offense and the defense.”
Spectators were not allowed to view the opening day of camp, though they will be welcomed this weekend for a pair of sessions that both get underway at 8 a.m. Those fans will see a more up-tempo pace that Sparano’s offense is running that actually allows for more overall reps for the third-string guys in camp.
“I really like the tempo we had today,” Ryan said. “We were getting through the scripted plays. We actually doubled the reps in some sets. When you do that, you give the threes (the third string) those extra reps. Tony is always stressing to get in and out of the huddle quickly. Because of that, we are certainly going to have a team that is in shape. You may have noticed we had a lot of running plays and play-action and we moved the ball down the field.
“Sanchez looked sharp as did Santonio Holmes, the veteran of wide receiver group who made a couple for very nice grabs — one with Revis blanketing him. The second grab was against air (no defense), but we told the guys what defense they would be facing. Mark looked at ‘Tone and said let’s do this. He (Holmes) sold the vertical rout up the field and cut quickly to slant pattern for a nice gain. Those two guys are on the same page.”
Revis did get a little revenge by picking off a Sanchez pass after a misread of the defensive coverage.
Heralded newcomer and current back-up quarterback Tim Tebow completed four short passes during his snaps, but was under pressure a number of times and he tried to scramble out of trouble. On one occasion, Sparano got on Tebow for not throwing the ball away and he also fumbled the snap during a running drill. He did connect with Jeremy Kerley on a 45-yard scoring strike, but the play was negated by an offensive offside penalty.
“He did some good things today,” Ryan stated of Tebow. “He broke containment on one play and could have just thrown the ball out of bounds. That would be okay. Just find a lane and throw it away, but he is so darn competitive that he’ll say that I’ll just shrug that first guy off and run.”
Tebow also appeared on the punt team as the personal protector, the last guy before the punter in the formation. At 6-foot-3 and near 250 pounds, Tebow makes an imposing figure.
“Believe me, some people may think twice as sending a bunch of people at the punter,” Ryan said. “He will hit you, he’s not afraid to block. You have to be conscious of the fact that he can run and pass the ball. He is a smart player and I really love his attitude.”
On the sidelines for the first day were rookie linebacker Demario Davis (hamstring) and offensive tackle Jeff Otah (physical).
Davis was doing some agility drills while Otah was working on conditioning so he can eventually pass his physical. Safety LaRon Landry was dressed, but did not participate in the team drills.
Both offensive guard Matt Slauson (shoulder) and linebacker Bryan Thomas (foot, shoulder) did participate in team drills. Another veteran linebacker, Bryan Thomas, left the field for a few minutes, but returned with his leg wrapped because of a gash he suffered during one of the drills.
There appears to be a battle for Slauson’s spot at left guard as he split first-team reps with second-year Jet Vladimir Ducasse.
“I think it is going to be a good competition,” Ryan said. “Vlad has had a terrific off-season. Because Matt did have to have that surgery, it allowed Vlad to get the reps with the first team this spring. This could really be good because we would like to have Matt get some reps at right tackle.
“We really want the guys to learn more than one position,” he continued. “You need that hidden depth because you only have 53 guys, 45 guys that are active. You need guys who can cross over. You need two or three guys who can play center. You need a guard who can play tackle, a tackle who could play tight end. We have even talked about (Antonio) Cromartie playing offense at wide receiver as well as cornerback. That is your hidden depth. If you can execute at multiple positions, you are a valuable player.”
In the kicking battle, give the early edge to incumbent Nick Folk who was 4-for-4 from between 38 and 46 yards. Josh Brown was just 2-for-4 as he connected from 48 and 52 yards, but missed from 42 and 44 yards.
This morning’s workout was a first for fans, who were expected to arrive earl. After the quiet of day one, it will certainly be a much louder second day. It will be interesting to see how the players react.
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