We’re back with another edition of TOJ’s #PickSix. This week, we are going to look at six position battles that will go a long way towards determining the New York Jets depth chart.
The Jets were back at the Atlantic Health Training Center in Florham Park today for day one of minicamp. Let’s take a look at some of the trending topics.
Continue reading “New York Jets Evening Coffee: Welcome To Minicamp”
TOJ’s Mike Donnelly spent the day in Florham Park yesterday for New York Jets mini-camp. Here are his observations
Turn On The Jets own Mike Donnelly spent yesterday in Florham Park for the last day of New York Jets mini-camp. Here are his observations and make sure you give Mike a follow on Twitter –
With the Jets Mini-Camp coming to a close on Thursday, I decided to call out sick from work (Sorry, Brian) and take a drive over to Florham Park with my buddy Dan, pretty much on a whim. Camp was open to the public and I figured it would be a better way to spend the day than sitting in an office. I was right.
I also had grandiose images dancing in my head of showing up, observing all the comings and goings, taking Twitter by storm with my hilarious commentary and finally cracking that illustrious 100 follower milestone. I’d also befriend all the players, meet all the beat writers that we’ve begun ranking each week here on this very site, and then leaving triumphantly after Mark Sanchez gave me his cell phone number to meet up for a beer later in the day. Unfortunately, I was unprepared to accomplish any of this, as my phone was half-dead after my charger didn’t work the night before, I didn’t have my car charger or my iPad, and I was forced to rely on the power of memory. Damn you, stupid phone charger. Fortunately, between Dan and myself, we were able to piece together the entire day. Here is a rundown of my thoughts from my day at Jets Camp, in no particular order:
The Jets D-Line looks tremendous – You can read and hear about how big and athletic these guys are, but when you see them up close, it’s really something. Quinton Coples stands out and just looks like a physical freak, Sione Pouha is massive, and Mo Wilkerson looked awesome out there. On the very first play of team drills, he knocked down a pass and gave a Dikembe Mutombo-style finger wag to Mark Sanchez. I said it a few weeks ago in my Stock Watch column, but it bears repeating: Mo Wilkerson is going to be a stud for this defense. That autograph I got from him today is going to be worth a fortune! (Ok, not really, but I’m still glad I got it.)
Speaking of autographs.. – Many of the players were extremely fan-friendly and personable. I didn’t run around trying to get them to sign my little “Jets Mini Camp” cardboard paper thing they handed out at the entrance, but many of them did come by where I was standing and signed it. Aaron Maybin was extremely personable and even posed for many photos with fans. Nick Mangold, Pouha, and Wilkerson all also came by and were very cool about signing for the fans, especially kids, which is always nice. Joe McKnight also signed a ton of stuff, gave away his gloves, and even cracked some jokes about eating McDonalds. Rookies Stephen Hill and Demario Davis signed for a while, and I was fortunate enough to get both of their John Hancocks (check out the picture below of DeMario’s signature, which has got to be the funniest one of all time). I also saw Dustin Keller, Brandon Moore, Matt Slauson (hold that thought on Slauson for a minute) and a few others spending more than their fair share of time signing stuff. Also signing autographs for a few minutes until it got a little out of control? Mr. Mark Sanchez. And yes, the Sanchize graced my little piece of paper by scribbling a few lines on it.
Matt Slauson’s shoulder is fine, and he isn’t happy playing RG – Here’s my semi-juicy nugget of information I came across while in Florham Park. While signing autographs, a fan asked Slauson how his shoulder was and why he was playing RG instead of LG. He said his shoulder is 100% healthy and that he doesn’t know why he’s playing RG. He then added with a bit of a smile although he didn’t seem pleased, “I told Vlad I’m not happy about it.” Bears watching when training camp starts. Are they grooming Vlad to be the new LG while reducing Slauson to more of a “swing role” since he has more versatility? Guess we’ll find out. (My guess: No. Vlad stinks.)
Aaron Maybin and Tim Tebow are HUGE – Much has been made of Tebow’s size the past few days in the media, especially from our pal Manish Mehta, who whipped out his tape measure and scale to compare Tebow’s height and weight to everyone from David Harris to Rex Ryan this week. But the fact is he does looks enormous, which is a good sign for our short yardage wildcat package and punt team I suppose. Maybin, who recently tweeted a picture of himself on the scale weighing 254 lbs, looks every bit of it. His arms and upper body were completely jacked, and you have to think that will only help him on the field.
Hard to get a read on the Offense – Any time Sanchez or Tebow throw an incomplete pass, everyone wants to jump all over them and say the offense sucks. We have the Sanchez fans rip the Tebow fans, the Tebow fans rip the Sanchez fans, and everyone hates everything. Like I wrote in my Take a Deep Breath column, everyone needs to relax. It’s June, and although Chaz Schilens was pretty impressive, these quarterbacks are still playing without Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill, not to mention they’re learning a new system and going up against arguably the best defense in the NFL. Speaking of which, this is not exactly breaking news, but Darrelle Revis is still very awesome. Throwing to his side is a lost cause.
The #2 TE spot is not looking promising – Jeff Cumberland is a guy a lot of coaches and fans had high hopes for, but man oh man did #86 look awful on Thursday. He dropped a bunch of passes, and Tony Sparano was completely ripping into him about his curious pass-catching technique where he runs down the field and doesn’t turn his head around to look where the ball is, only to have it land a few feet away from him. Hayden Smith also doesn’t appear to be ready to play football at this level, which makes sense since he’s been playing rugby in Australia the past few years, but you can tell he has some potential — just not for this year probably.
Manish Mehta is a cool guy – I know, I know, judging by some of the feedback we’ve gotten in our Beat Writer Power Rankings, many of you have turned on Manish lately because of his apparent Tebow love and Sulia usage on Twitter. I get it, I agree with most of it, and I wrote about that in our initial rankings (I also mentioned how it wasn’t too long ago he was far and away the best Jets writer, though). But when he was standing a few feet away from me on the other side of the fence, I couldn’t help but to call out to him and introduce myself as the guy who has been grading his performance weekly online. Instead of blowing me off or just calling me an asshole, he couldn’t have been nicer. Manish was gracious enough to came over and chat for a few minutes. We joked about the power rankings and his placement in them (“As long as I stay in the top 6, we’re cool”), talked about the Tebow phenomenon (“He’s popular, what can I say?”), and even his Sulia love (“Ahh come on man, what do you want me to do?”).
We also talked about Revis, David Harris, TurnOnTheJets.com, and probably would have continued a little longer since it was a down period in practice if his colleague at the Daily News, old fart Gary Myers, didn’t come over to ask him if he was paying attention to practice or if he was “holding a dissertation over here”. Gary is lucky he’s not a beat writer, or else I’d rank him 17th out of 6 this week. Speaking of which, there is no truth to the rumor I happily accepted a bribe from Manish to move him up to #1 this week. Or is there? Guess we’ll see on Wednesday.
So there you have it. My day at Jets Camp. We’d love to hear stories from anybody else who was in attendance this week, and maybe I’ll see some of you in Cortland in a few weeks.
Turn On The Jets takes a closer look at the top storylines heading into the New York Jets 3 day mini-camp
The New York Jets have a 3 day mini-camp kicking off tomorrow. It will be the last time the full team is gathered before training camp which starts at the end of July. The skill position offensive players will be gathering in the coming weeks for Mark Sanchez’s “Jets West” camp but that will smartly be closed to the media. I threw the question out on Twitter earlier today, “What is one storyline you’ll be focusing on for
#Jets mini-camp the next 3 days? (Non-Tebow related).” Here are a few responses I received, along with more extended commentary on them than what I could give in 140 characters –
The Jets current depth at running back is absolutely a cause for concern. For starters, Shonn Greene is going to need an improved performance from what we have seen the past two seasons. He is never going to be an elite back but if he gives the Jets 1,200 yards, keeps his YPC comfortably over 4.0 while protecting the football, it is satisfactory. However, he will need support. Ideally, Joe McKnight will seize the 3rd down role and be able to handle being his primary backup. McKnight’s potential was never fully realized in Brian Schottenheimer’s scheme (a recurring theme for many players). It will be interesting to see if Tony Sparano can find a way to use McKnight in similar ways to how he used Reggie Bush in Miami.
Outside of Greene and McKnight, the Jets need either Bilal Powell or Terrance Ganaway to step up as a short yardage, power running option off the bench. Ganaway is comfortable with the option from college, which could help get him on the field with Tim Tebow. Powell disappointed last season but was taken in the fourth round for a reason and should benefit from his first full NFL off-season. If both players struggle in camp, could the Jets consider adding Cedric Benson?
@TeamThirstTrap – How the 46 defense will function/look?
This year’s defense should have more depth and versatility than any unit Rex Ryan has had since taking over as the Jets head coach, particularly on the defensive line. One of the most interesting things to watch the next 3 days and all throughout training camp is the number of different positions certain players are lining up at. The Jets have the ability to run a hybrid 3-4/4-3/46 that will give offensive coordinators and opposing quarterbacks nightmares. Up front, Quinton Coples, Aaron Maybin, Calvin Pace and Muhammad Wilkerson should be all over the place depending on the personnel group. On the back end, Ryan has to figure out how to best utilize his three strong safeties: Yeremiah Bell, LaRon Landry, and Eric Smith while piecing together coverage from whomever lines up at free safety.
@KristineReese – I am very anxious to hear how Wayne Hunter is coming along
Aren’t we all? Considering that Vlad Ducasse has spent all of OTAs filling in for Matt Slauson at guard and that Stephon Heyer and Ray Willis are career journeyman, it looks like Wayne Hunter is a safe bet to be the opening day right tackle. Skepticism of this decision is more than warranted but it is also reasonable to assume that Hunter has a chance to improve to his 2010 level of play, particularly with a new coach and system that supposedly will play better to his strengths.
@e_man – Holmes
Enough said. Holmes will be the most closely scrutinized player on the Jets roster heading into the season who isn’t a quarterback. The New York media will do no favors for him but he isn’t going to help his cause by throwing helmets at open practices. How will he develop in Tony Sparano’s offense? Will he ever receive credit for doing positive things, like mentoring the younger receivers on the roster? Will his stand-off relationship with the local media continue to sour? #10 is certainly worth keeping your eyes on in the coming months.
LaRon Landry getting acclimated to the defense
I received multiple questions about Landry. He is expected to be attendance but I’m not sure anybody knows how far along he is in his rehab. It will be good to have him around the team but I wouldn’t expect to see him taking extended reps until we get into training camp. By all accounts, Yeremiah Bell has looked terrific since joining the team, so it would be nice to see how Rex plans to use him in tandem with Landry. Unfortunately, we probably won’t have a clear picture of that until week 1.
First a few updates:
1. Congrats to the Lakers on repeating as NBA Champions. I thoroughly enjoyed the Celtics choking and blowing a 13 point second half lead. Don’t compare LeBron to Kobe. Kobe has five championships. However, please still come to New York, LeBron.
New TOJ TV: Live Footage From Jets Minicamp
Enjoy our new episode of TOJ TV, featuring a terrific new intro, footage of the new stadium, minicamp practice, interviews with numerous Jets fans, and much more. Special thanks to Damien Woody’s entire family for shouting out Turn On The Jets at the end of the video:
First a few updates:
1. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets)…There is no logical reason for you not to do it.
2. Game 7 here we come…should be fun. I was little surprised at the extent Boston just laid down and died last night.
3. Another thank you to David Clowney and Donovan Warren for taking the time to do interviews with Turn On The Jets. We are working on future interviews with Jerricho Cotchery, Dustin Keller, and James Ihedigbo.
Wednesday Minicamp Review: A Day At The New Stadium
Our video producer, James Corbett and myself made the trip out to the New Meadowlands Stadium today for minicamp. We arrived about 15 minutes late for the 11:30 practice, and the first thing I noticed was how many people had turned out for a Wednesday morning. There were people in full tailgate mode and I can’t argue with finding an excuse to play beer pong in a parking lot on a Wednesday morning in June. As usual, there was plenty of energy from the fans. The new stadium is enormous compared to the old one.
I doubt it will be like this on game days, but they had it set up that you could basically walk right up behind the sideline at the ground level and watch behind a small fence. You could literally stand about 10 yards from the field. We pushed to the front and got a spot right in front of the defensive back drills, where Darrelle Revis was receiving plenty of support. There were constant “Please Pay Revis” chants and a bunch of signs saying “Pay Revis.” Antonio Cromartie is huge in person. He either bulked up or the television makes him look skinnier than he really is. He was getting a ton of love from the fans and turned about five times to wave to everybody.
We then relocated to seats on the 50 yard line for 11 on 11 drills. Sanchez hit Braylon on dig route but then had to run a penalty lap because half of the offensive line jumped offsides. Kellen Clemens came in and promptly threw an interception on a deep ball to Antonio Cromartie who had a long run back and looks scary elusive in the open field. Later in the 11 on 11s, Sanchez hit Cotchery on a nice deep crossing route, where he beat Kyle Wilson.
A few other observations, from that period: Brad Smith is getting a ton of work at quarterback and he isn’t just running Wildcat stuff. He was basically the number two today and received more reps than Clemens, Kevin O’Connell, and Erik Ainge (who barely played and appears to be falling behind O’Connell). Smith actually had a few nice throws, including hitting a deep in route to Marcus Henry. He also ran a few options with Danny Woodhead. Another guy who impressed me was receiver Larry Taylor. He is a small, shifty guy who looked very good out of the slot.
The Jets then moved to 7 on 7s. The first thing to notice is how many different looks the Jets can run with their personnel. Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, and Jerricho Cotchery were being moved all over the place. When the Jets go to three wide, Cotchery primarily works out of the slot. However, Braylon was being sent in motion frequently. The Jets were also showing plenty of looks with Keller split out, and Joe McKnight or LaDainian Tomlinson in the slot.
During this period, Brodney Pool and Darrelle Revis had nice pass breakups. Dustin Keller just beat Bart Scott for a short touchdown. LaDainian Tomlinson had a pretty grab out of the backfield that he took in for a 20 yard touchdown. When the backups were in, James Ihedigbo broke up a corner route to rookie tight end Jeff Cumberland, who looked pretty good out there, right in front of us.
In the last 11 on 11 drills, Cotchery had a rare drop but was consoled by Sanchez right as a plane flew over, which said “Happy Birthday Jerricho.” All of the fans sang a few verses of Happy Birthday to J-Co, who turned and waved. The Jets also ran their patented sideline comeback to Cotchery but Revis was all over him and broke it up, which was followed by another “Please Pay Revis” chant.
At the end of the practice, the entire team took a lap to high five the fans. We got some great footage of this as the new episode of TOJ TV will show. On the way out, we got some interviews with fans and funny enough got an interview with Damien Woody’s whole family by accident. We were simply approaching fans asking what they thought the team’s record would be, so we approached Woody’s wife and kids (unknown to us). They answered our questions and shouted out the site, when I complimented his son’s jersey (a Titans white Woody jersey), she said “well we better be Woody fans, I am his wife.” So that was interesting.
Finally, we drove by the player exit and caught Jason Taylor walking out. Nobody has hated on Taylor more than me, but I give him credit for taking his time and signing every single person’s autograph and taking about 35 pictures. Good work JT. (And no I didn’t ask for an autograph, but Corbett did get good footage of him).
Some other loose-end observations: Dwight Lowery was particularly active and had some nice pass break-ups…John Conner is quicker than I expected…Joe McKnight looked like he is going to be a serious weapon out of the slot…Brian Schottenheimer is loud…Nick Mangold got some reps at safety against the second offense and had a few nice blitzes off the edge…Braylon Edwards beard is nasty looking but Edwards was the most impressive offensive player on the field by a good margin.
Anyway, that was it. Keep an eye for new TOJ TV, which will have great footage of the new stadium, practice, and plenty more.
Get Hyped For This Season
First a few updates:
1. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets)…And if you happen to be at minicamp on Wednesday at the new stadium keep an eye out for TOJ TV, we will be interviewing the crowd and building up some street credit for the site as part of my case for a press pass.
2. Big win for America’s favorite touch football team in the wild-card round of the ACFL playoffs today…look at that huddle. We are just like Sanchez, J-Co and Braylon out there.
Sunday Night Pre Minicamp Jets Thoughts
Some thoughts before the three day avalanche of updates on Sanchez’s 7 on 7 numbers, contract problems, and Rex Ryan press conference quotes…get pumped about minicamp in June:
– You never want to get crazy about non contact practices in June but this an important three days for Mark Sanchez. He finally will be out there at 100 percent leading the first offense through all the sessions. It would be nice to see him put together three solid practices, where he is protecting the football and improving his rhythm with Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards. Sanchez and Cotchery already seemed to be relatively locked in, but this is Edwards full off-season with the team and Holmes is obviously a new addition.
– Speaking of Santonio, good quote about him from Sanchez pulled from Rich Cimini on his blog over at ESPN New York.
“When you get a new receiver as a quarterback, it’s like a new toy,” he said. “Let’s say it’s a race car. What’s the first thing you do? You floor it. Pedal to the metal, let’s go. Let’s see what he’s got. I want to see what my race care has, I want to see what Santonio has.
“When we first started throwing, when we had a ‘9’ route, I launched it about as far as I could … He’s running, looking up at the ball, takes his eyes off the ball, gets into another gear, looks back up, late hands, tracks the ball … (Completion). He just knew. I mean, you don’t coach that. He’s unbelievable.”
When is the last time a quarterback could say that about a Jets receiver? Sanchez throws a nice deep ball and you can already see that some time on the Jets first possession in week five, Brian Schottenheimer is going to be dialing up a “go” route for Holmes. Points didn’t come easy for the Jets last season, so it would be nice to grab some touchdowns on a 60 yard bomb here or there.
– Can we not rush Kris Jenkins back for minicamp? Let the man keep dieting and working himself back into shape for training camp. All North Jersey fast food establishments should not be allowed to serve Jenkins until after the season…that goes for Damien Woody and Rex Ryan too.
We really haven’t heard much about Shonn Greene so far this off-season. Does everybody remember he is the starting running back on a team that runs the ball more than anybody in the NFL? Beat writers, I need some Monday and Tuesday updates on how #23 is looking and then I will see for myself on Wednesday. Hopefully, he spent some time on the jugs machine this off-season to work on those pan-hands.
– Speaking of running backs catching passes, I hope to see the return of the Jets screen game this season. They were terrific from 2006-2008 in that area but didn’t do anything with it last season. Obviously, LaDainian Tonlinson will be a big help but hopefully Joe McKnight can also get going early in the year.
– What am I looking forward to the most from these next three days? I want to see if Nick Folk can keep up his momentum of making field goals. I want some quality Rex Ryan quotes. I want everybody to stay healthy. I want Kyle Wilson to make progress in the nickel role and I want the contract rhetoric to get a little less combative from Revis and Mangold, which hopefully means there has been some progress in negotiations.
First a few updates
1. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets)…It will be the smartest thing you have ever decided to do about anything.
2. Another Spirits Win…yes your favorite North Jersey touch B football team is now 4-1.
3. NBA Playoffs quick thoughts? I am thinking the Cavs are rolling in five games over the Celtics. Utah will take a couple of games from LA but ultimately lose in six. The Magic are going to roll over the Hawks in four or five. The Suns and Spurs are going to seven games…I don’t know who to pick.
4. Will the Turn On The Jets Podcast ever come? Yes, it is on the way…just give me a few weeks. During May we are getting two podcasts and a new TOJ TV and there are plenty of other major things coming on the way because graduate school is finishing up and I am still unemployed.
Rookie Camp Wrap-Up
– The two primary stories coming out of this past weekend are Joe McKnight’s rough start to his NFL career and the non-story on the Santonio Holmes Ipod issue. In terms of McKnight, there is no reason to overreact to three days of practice without equipment on. The guy has tons of natural talent…he will adjust to the NFL and get himself into the proper shape. Don’t forget how Leon Washington started out his career by dropping everything thrown and kicked to him. He was running more Mangini penalty laps than anybody on the team and he turned out fine. Also Shonn Greene struggled in his early practices last year and eventually got it together. It takes some time, it is only May so let’s not go crazy about McKnight’s early problems.
With Holmes, the story was clearly overblown. The released police report says Holmes complied with the request to turn off his IPod. There isn’t really anything left to say about it, unless you are a Patriots or Dolphins fan looking to talk yourself into some random reasons why the Jets could struggle with Holmes now on their roster.
– The players who stood out were clearly Alabama outside linebacker Cory Reamer, who impressed Ryan with his knowledge of the defense and his hustle/instincts, Donovan Warren who I think has a very good chance to stick on the roster and contribute on defense right away, Brian Jackson a corner from Oklahoma (you know Rex loves those corners), and Kevin Basped and a linebacker from Nevada.
– It sounds like Kyle Wilson made a strong impression in his first few days in a Jets uniform.
– Rex Ryan was on point in his post practice press conferences. I am not sure the guy could any more confident or funny for a NFL Coach. There will be no shortage of soundbites this season.
– It sounds like there is a good chance Mark Brunell will end up on the Jets, even if they wait until July 22nd after the final eight rules stop being in effect. There is no stopping the Jets from making a “gentleman’s agreement” with Brunell and having him end up with a copy of the playbook to study before joining the team. You don’t get the impression the team wants Kellen Clemens to be the backup this season.
– Is there any way the Jets don’t end up with Adalius Thomas at some point this off-season?
– The Jets will next have OTAs on from May 25th to May 27th.
– A quick complaint about ESPN’s recently released NFL Power Rankings, which has the Jets at #8 behind the following teams:
I will give you the Saints, Colts, Vikings, and even maybe..maybe the Cowboys, however no to the Chargers…we beat them in the playoffs last year and had a better off-season than them. Green Bay and Baltimore are also two other teams who didn’t get as far as us in the playoffs and we had a better off-season than both those teams.
First a few updates:
1. Daily running back contract updates – It is apparently now 50-50 that Leon Washington will have a new deal in place before training camp starts on Friday. Washington’s agent is meeting face to face with Mike Tannenbaum tomorrow, hopefully to iron out the final details of the contract. The Jets aren’t planning on making any new offers to Thomas Jones and there hasn’t been any news about him planning to hold out, so I guess we’ll just have to see what happens on Friday.
2. TV Discussion of the Day – I was a big fan of the third episode of Entourage, much better than the first two. Funny cameo by 50 Cent and some progress in the plot line.
Jets Training Camp: Five Under the Radar Players to Watch
Anybody can watch out for Mark Sanchez and other high profile players, but here are some lesser known players to keep an eye on during Jets training camp.
1. Jamaal Westerman – Linebacker
The Jets signed the former Rutgers defensive end to a free agent contract immediately after the draft. Westerman stood out in both OTA’s and mini-camp impressing the coaching staff with his versatility and ability to learn both outside and inside linebacker. Rex Ryan said Westerman will begin camp at inside backer but he should still receive some work at outside, especially with Calvin Pace suspended. The backup positions at linebacker are wide open and from the way Ryan has praised Westerman’s early work, the UDFA should have a good shot at grabbing one of the Jets 53 spots.
2. Mario Urrutia – Wide Receiver
Urrutia has something no other Jets receiver has, height. He stands at 6’6 and weighs 232 pounds. The Jets receiver position is wide open after Jerricho Cotchery, giving a little known player like Urrutia a chance to battle for a roster spot. He had a huge freshman and sophomore year at Louisville before having a let down junior year and then becoming a 7th round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2008. They cut him after the season and the Jets picked him up, hoping he could develop into a red-zone threat. You can’t teach height and Urrutia displayed a ton of talent in his first two seasons at Lousville, maybe the Jets found a diamond in the rough to help their thin receiver core.
3. Jack Simmons – Tight End
Simmons is the only Jets tight end on the roster except for Dustin Keller, who played the position last season giving him a potential edge in the battle for the #2 tight end spot. He was a three year starter at Minnesota and caught 34 passes for 331 yards and 2 TD’s last year. Simmons was impressive in mini-camp, showing good hands and an ability to block, something the Jets desperately need at the tight end position. After Keller, it is wide open for the #2 and #3 tight spot, giving Simmons a great chance to be on the active roster despite being a rookie UDFA.
4. Ropati Pitoitua – Defensive End
After spending last season on the practice squad, Pitoitua could have a chance to work himself into the defensive end rotation in 2009. He has great size at 6’8, 310 pounds and the Jets are thin at his position, with inexperienced players behind starters in Shaun Ellis and Marques Douglas. If Pitoitua has a strong pre-season, he could end up on the active roster and be a part of the Jets long term defensive line plans.
5. Ahmad Carroll – Cornerback/Safety
Carroll is a former first round pick who was just about out of the NFL until the Jets took a shot on him last season. He responded by becoming one of their better special teams players, providing speed on their coverage units. The word out of the OTA’s was that Carroll looked good in his defensive back drills and Rex Ryan’s aggressive man to man scheme plays to his athletic strengths that made him a first round pick. Carroll could be a surprise contender for the nickel-back role or a spot in the Jets dime packages. The Jets are also a little thin at safety after Rhodes, Leonhard, and Eric Smith and Carroll has the size to potentially move over and play both corner and safety.
Jets Highlight of the Day: Thomas Jones may not be getting a new contract, but he is getting a highlight today on TurnOnTheJets.com (Turn off the music, if you don’t want to hear explicit lyrics)
First a few updates:
1. RIP to former Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, who was one of the brightest minds in the NFL.
2. Brett Favre has decided to stay retired…boohoo.
Jets Training Camp: Five Position Battles
1. Starting Quarterback: Mark Sanchez vs. Kellen Clemens vs. Erik Ainge (Just Kidding)
Why Sanchez Will Win: The Jets didn’t trade up to draft Sanchez and pay him 60 million dollars to have him sit on the bench. Rex Ryan watched Joe Flacco lead the Ravens to the AFC Championship game last year and will believe Sanchez can do the same. The rookie from USC only has to keep it close with Kellen Clemens this summer and the job will be his.
Why Clemens Will Win: He is more experienced in the offense and the Jets are built to win now. Sanchez only had 16 starts at USC and simply won’t be ready to lead a NFL offense by September. Similar to how Chad Pennington was out playing him last summer, Clemens will use his knowledge of Brian Schottenheimer’s offense to handily outplay the overwhelmed rookie this summer.
Prediction: The two quarterbacks will play relatively even this summer, which means Mark Sanchez will win the job.
2. Starting Wide Receiver: Chansi Stuckey vs. Brad Smith vs. David Clowney
Why Stuckey Will Win: He performed the best in mini-camp and OTA’s and is coming off the best season in 2008. He had more catches than Smith and Clowney combined last year, and is by far the most polished of the group at the position.
Why Smith Will Win: He has the best combination of size and speed and is the best overall athlete. He will finally put it all together this summer as a wide receiver.
Prediction: Stuckey will receive most of the reps as the #2, followed by Clowney, and then Smith.
3. Outside Linebacker (Week 1-4): Vernon Gholston vs. Marques Murrell
Why Gholston Will Win: The guy was the number 6 overall pick in the draft for a reason. Rex Ryan will push Gholston towards becoming the elite pass rusher the Jets drafted him to be.
Why Murrell Will Win: He is hungrier than Gholston and plays with more passion for the game. Gholston was simply a workout wonder and won’t be able to translate his talent to the NFL level.
Prediction: Gholston will start, but Murrell will still receive 25-30% of the reps.
4. Nickel-Back: Donald Strickland vs. Dwight Lowery
Why Strickland Will Win: The veteran has been a pretty good nickel back the previous few seasons and Ryan will feel comfortable with him in the game in key 3rd down situations.
Why Lowery Will Win: He showed plenty of talent in his rookie season and was a quality starter for the first few weeks of the year. Lowery will learn from his rookie mistakes and develop into a quality nickel-back.
Prediction: Even though most people expect Strickland to win the job, I like what I saw from Lowery last season and think he will be guy.
5. #2 Tight End: Kareem Brown vs. Richard Owens vs. Jack Simmons
Why Brown Will Win: After being moved from defensive end, Brown had a productive spring and impressed the coaching staff with the potential he has displayed. Somehow, he has the most experience in this offense despite only being on it since the 2008 season ended.
Why Owens Will Win: He is the only player among these three with NFL experience at tight end.
Why Simmons Will Win: The UDFA had a strong showing in the spring and will build on that in the summer. He was a productive player last season in college and is the only player of the three who played tight end at any level of football last year (Owens was out of the league and Brown was a DE).
Prediction: I think Brown and Simmons end up splitting the reps as the #2 tight end.
Jets Highlight of the Article: Who can forget this 2007 match-up between the Jets and Rex Ryan’s (as a D coordinator) Baltimore Ravens. Look at my boy Cotchery tearing it up, but more importantly look at $#%$% Justin McCariens dropping passes. I will never forget shattering a remote control on this day because of #81.