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August 8, 2013

 

Light workout in preparation for Lions

JetsJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Jets players come together for a moment between drills during Wednesday’s practice at SUNY Cortland.

By TOM VARTANIAN
Staff Writer

It was a lighter workout Wednesday at SUNY Cortland as the New York Jets prepared for Friday’s preseason game at Detroit.
There were no “live tackling” session and head coach Rex Ryan even departed from some of the normal routine to allow some group work against formations Detroit will use.
Kyle Wilson saw a lot of extra time at cornerback today as rookie Dee Milliner was pulled as a precaution after feeling some tightness in his calf muscle.
“Dee came in,” Ryan said. “He had a little tightness in his leg. They ran a deep ball on him and I wanted to make sure I got him out because I could see he had a little something there. I don’t know if it’ll be a big deal. I kind of doubt it. I just wasn’t wanting him to pull something if he felt tight there. So, we pulled him out of there.”
There has been a lot of talk of moving Wilson to safety when he’s not part of a three cornerback set.
“I think the number one thing is you take a good football player and you put him out there,” Ryan said. “The thing you mentioned, Jim Leonhard, Rod Woodson was a converted corner to safety. Shoot, we had Deion Sanders play there. When we ran out of everything, it was like ‘Prime (Sanders), do you mind playing free safety? We had Adalius Thomas, who was just the opposite. The main thing is, you get a guy who’s got instincts, smarts, has awareness, you can plug him in.
“Certainly when I say that, Kyle is the nickel,” he continued. “He’s a nickel, but he can also do some other things because he does have such a great grasp of our system. Now, Jaiquawn Jarrett and Antonio Allen are doing a good job also. We’ll use everybody. In today’s game, even here’s an example: if this happened in a game, a guy’s tight, whatever it is, he comes out, you’re plugging guys in. You better have some depth at that position and we certainly do.”
Much of the talk continued Wednesday about veteran quarterback Mark Sanchez being named the starter for Friday’s game at Detroit.
“It felt good,” Sanchez said. “I mean it felt like the natural thing. Something I have been used too so it didn’t really change my approach or anything, but I feel good about, I’m ready to go. (Quarterback) Coach (David) Lee just mentioned it in the quarterbacks meeting, so it was pretty low key. I think right after he told you guys, he told us.”
“I didn’t have any,” rookie quarterback Geno Smith said after learning Sanchez was named Friday’s starter. “The reps have been split. That’s kind of the way practices have been going. My job is just to take care of my reps that come on Friday. I don’t have any reaction towards it, the competition is still open. I’m just continuing to work and to grow.
“I fully back Mark,” he added. “I fully back the coaches’ decisions. Like I said, I’m all about helping this team grow, helping us win. Once they came out with decision that he will start the first preseason game, like I said, I didn’t have any reaction to it. The only thing that I’m focusing on is making sure I’m prepared for the plays that I get in the game.”
The biggest thing the coaches will be looking at is how both quarterbacks react to getting hit by defenders.
“I think you learn a lot,” Ryan said. “Now obviously in college they get hit too, but they’re going to get hit in this league. There’s no question about it so we’ll see how they react. That’s something I’ve said that we really haven’t seen yet because they know they’re in a red jersey and you’re not hitting them. So those guys will be hit this week.”
With the competition still close, the question remained, will Smith get a start in preseason.
“We’ll let that play out,” Ryan replied. “We’ll just take it one step at a time and we’ll let that play out. But he’ll certainly get opportunities with the first-team offense.”
“I think, like I’ve said, I think they’re going to evaluate this thing fairly,” Smith replied. “I trust the coaches, I trust (Coach) Marty (Mornhinweg), I trust Coach (David) Lee and everyone else who is going to be inclusive in making that decision. I’m just going to continue to practice, keep my head down and stay focused. Whatever comes about from this, I think will be the right and just decision.”
As for Detroit, Sanchez gave his thoughts on where the offense is right now.
“I think the offense is clicking right now, but we just got to keep it moving,” he said. “It’s a different defensive look that we’ve seen this last, whatever its been, month or half a month or whatever. You know we just need to stay sharp and prepare as best we can, and get ready to play a tough, tough defense. These guys are really good, we’ve played against them in the past and we went down to the wire, so we know how good this team is.”
This is the fifth-year for Sanchez as quarterback with the Jets. Does it feel any different this time than in previous seasons?
“I like to take them as serious as possible.” Sanchez replied. “Any time you’re keeping score, even when you’re not keeping score, you want to win as a competitor. I think it’s important for us to be sharp and this is our first real scrimmage after the green and white. So the live hitting, you know you’re live, no more red jerseys. You keep your head on a swivel, make sure you’re doing the right thing, get rid of the ball especially against this defense. They’re a tough defense and a great front. So it’s pretty serious, it’s not like we’re taking this lightly.”
“We’ve been hitting each other for a long while now,” center Nick Mangold said. “We’ve been getting some pretty good work in, especially the offensive line. The Lions have a pretty good defense so it’s going to be a good challenge for us really to see where we’re at. We think that we’re doing some good things and this will be a good measuring stick for us.
“We’re coming along,” he added. “I think it’s nice having the veterans there in Willie (Colon) and (Stephen) Peterman because even though we don’t have experience together, we have NFL experience and so instead of having to fully explain after something happens, you’re like ‘Hey, you saw that?’ ‘Yeah, I saw that, here’s how we can get better at it.’ I think that’s been a big help and I think personality-wise we’ve got a great set of young guys who are trying to learn, trying to get better and we have a bunch of old guys who are trying to help. I think that goes a long way when you’re talking about an offensive line gelling together.”

 

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