- The Jets received a scare when rookie tight end Jace Amaro went down with a knee injury and wasn't able to finish practice, but the word from the team is that he's fine and will be ready for Tuesday's practice. Proving the "Next-Man-Up" philosophy is alive and well, Zach Sudfeld capitalized on the extra reps, delivering a strong practice. He finished with a team-high three receptions in team drills, showing speed and separation ability. This tight end situation could get interesting. Quite frankly, Sudfeld has outplayed them all, including incumbemt Jeff Cumberland, who has been relatively quiet after reporting late to camp.
- No surprise here, as right guard Willie Colon was activated from the physically-unable-to-perform list. The big fella didn't do a whole lot in practice -- he stayed out of team drills -- but the plan is to ease him back gradually. It's important to build chemistry with new right tackle Breno Giacomini, whom they signed from the Seattle Seahawks. Remember, Colon missed the entire offseason, so he hasn't had any time to practice alongside Giacomini. They both have a history of being penalty prone, so continuity is imperative. They got some time together in positional drills, but nothing extensive.
- One day after Geno Smith said he expects to be a top-five quarterback and Dee Milliner proclaimed himself the best cornerback in the league, linebacker Calvin Pace told the New York Daily News they have the best defense. Enough already. It's July.
- Rookie quarterback Tajh Boyd is a former college star with a lot of charisma and the ability to throw a nice deep ball, but he struggles with short and intermediate throws. Sound familiar? Boyd's head is spinning as he attempts to learn a new offense, so that could explain some of his Tebow-esque throws. It'll be interesting to gauge his progress as the summer progresses. With every rep by Boyd, Matt Simms gets closer to nailing down the No. 3 job.
- Rush linebacker Quinton Coples delivered another solid practice. Rex Ryan said Coples' last two practices were "off the charts," noting how it's "interesting" that Coples perked up once veteran Jason Babin arrived in camp. Hmm, very interesting, indeed. It's called competition, players pushing players, and somewhere general manager John Idzik is smiling.
The response from Jets Nation?
A collective groan.
Patterson understands the sentiment, but he has a message for the skeptics: I'm just as good as the big names.
"Fans like high profiles. I don't have a high profile, but my film is legit," he said during a break at training camp. "When the season comes, I'll show everyone why I've been in the league so long.
"Vontae and all those guys, they were first-round picks," Patterson continued. "That's all cool, but as far as ability and responsibility, are they asked to do more than I've been asked to do over nine years? No. Have they been more productive on the perimeter? No, that's not the case at all. My tape shows that it's just a matter of me coming out and showing fans, 'Hey, let me show you.'"
The Jets have an interesting pair of cornerbacks. Dee Milliner thinks he's the best in the NFL (child, please) and Patterson, with his sixth team in 10 years, believe he was one of the biggest steals in free agency. The Jets signed him for one year, $3 million. If they turn out to be right, they will have their best cornerback tandem since 2011, when it was Revis and Cromartie.
Patterson said he has no intention of tainting the Jets' reputation at corner.
"There's a lot of scrutiny at this position because you had Revis and Cromartie," he said. "They were consistently competitive, year-in, year-out, with those guys at corner, so there's a standard that has been set. That's what the fans are accustomed to, so it's only natural to be concerned. My message to them is, don't be concerned."
Patterson is one confident dude for someone who hasn't played much in recent years due to injuries. In fact, he's missed 32 games the last three seasons (the last two with the Miami Dolphins), but he believes in his ability and he believes he's an ideal fit in the Jets' man-to-man scheme.
"Jets fans aren't familiar with me -- they don't have game tape -- so they have to trust that John Idzik and Rex (Ryan) did their due diligence, researching me," Patterson said. "If my résumé said, 'Cover-2, zone corner,' I wouldn't be here."
To get a complete evaluation of Patterson, the Jets had to study his pre-2012 tape. They see a savvy corner with elite ball skills and versatility, capable of playing outside or in the slot. Opposing scouts say he's much better in the slot, that it might be a stretch to play him on the perimeter.
"The guy understands the game and he understands the big picture, and you don't find a lot of guys like that," secondary coach Tim McDonald said.
Ryan said they didn't sign Patterson because he was the last man standing in the free-agent pool, claiming he was on their radar from the outset. Idzik probably didn't want to spend money on a big name, so he took the cheaper route -- a one-year stop gap and a draft pick (Dexter McDougle in the third round). It's risky, considering all the top quarterbacks they face in the first two months of the season. If the Jets get torched, oh, boy, the decision makers will get criticized.
Don't worry, Patterson said.
"I'll show the fans," he said.
That won't dissuade Rex Ryan from sticking with the plan. The Jets' goal is to return to the NFL's elite under new coordinator Thomas McGaughey.
"We're going to use a bunch of those guys on all of our special teams," said Ryan, mentioning Dawan Landry, Antonio Allen and Demario Davis in particular. "We think we have to get better on 'teams.' We want to be one of the best special teams units in the league. It's really all hands on deck, especially the punt team. We want to have a great punt team."
McGaughey has said his primary goal is to improve the punt-return unit, which ranked 26th last season. The talent at the bottom of the roster has declined in recent years, taking a toll on the special teams. This year's 12-player draft should help, but they evidently want to get some of the top horses out there as well.
A year ago, only one starter played more than 29 percent of the snaps on special teams -- Davis (33.3 percent). Not far behind were Landry (28.5), nose tackle Damon Harrison (26.9) and Allen (26.5). We'll see if those numbers increase in 2014.
Once upon a time, under former coordinator Mike Westhoff, the Jets were pretty darn good on special teams. Asked late last season about his former unit, the retired Westhoff said, "They're limited in personnel -- and I'm being kind."
Rex Ryan confirmed the timetable, saying it's not a serious injury. No doubt, that's a relief for the Jets, who have big plans for the former Texas Tech star.
Turns out Amaro had been bothered by knee tendinitis in recent weeks. He called it a "nagging injury" and a "wear-and-tear deal," attributing it to the nonstop pace of the past year -- from his college season to scouting-combine prep to post-draft practices and the minicamp. Sunday's incident was a "tweak" to his patella tendon, causing it to become "a little inflamed," he said.
"It's going to be fine," he said. "I don't think there's anything to worry about."
The Jets drafted Amaro in the second round, expecting him to develop into a major pass-catching threat. After all, he caught 106 passes last season for Texas Tech. He struggled learning the Jets' offense in the spring. He also has a long way to go as a blocker, but he's proud of the way he blocked Sunday in the 9-on-7 drill, coming off a shaky performance Saturday.
"I feel a lot more comfortable than I did the first couple of weeks (of offseason practices)," he said.
You can't accuse Amaro of being lazy. He catches 150 balls a day on the JUGS machine.
It happened Saturday in the Jets' first contact practice, when the first-round draft pick, blocking in a kickoff-return drill, collided with the returner. He didn't finish practice.
Initially, it was termed a head injury. The concussion diagnosis was confirmed after he underwent tests.
"The returner got knocked into him and it kind of hit him just right," coach Rex Ryan said. "It's just one of those things, like one of those heavyweights hitting you in the chin and the lights go out, I guess."
Pryor will enter the NFL's protocol for head injuries, meaning he has to be cleared by a neurologist before he can return.
The Jets drafted Pryor 18th overall, in part, because of his physical style. Ryan called him an "enforcer," comparing him to the late Jack Tatum, one of the NFL's most notorious hitters of the 1970s.
As a safety, Pryor is involved in a lot of high-speed collisions. Ryan said he's not concerned.
"Not really," he said. "I think if a guy had two [concussions] or something like that, maybe it would. You know he's used to big collisions. It never looked like that big a deal, but it certainly is now."
Tight end down: This wasn't a particularly sharp practice, and it took a bad turn in a 7-on-7 drill when promising tight end Jace Amaro hurt his right knee and sat out for the remainder of the practice with a big ice wrap on his knee. The Jets have big plans for their second-round pick, and losing him for any length of time would be a blow.
Good news/bad news: Despite tweeting late Saturday night that he's "fine," rookie safety Calvin Pryor sat out, one day after suffering a head injury. In fact, Pryor didn't even make it out to the practice field. The Jets have yet to reveal whether their first-round pick has suffered a concussion or not. Monday is a mandatory day off for the team, so Pryor will have at least two days of rest.
Guard Willie Colon (knee) was activated from the physically unable to perform list and participated in practice on a limited basis. He took part in positional drills but stayed out of team drills. Brian Winters worked at right guard, with Oday Aboushi at left guard. It'll be interesting to see how they rotate them once Colon is back to 100 percent.
QB update: Neither Geno Smith nor Michael Vick was that sharp. There were some pass-protection issues, so Smith and Vick did more scrambling than usual. As expected, Smith received the vast majority of the first-team reps, 15 to Vick's four. Smith was only 4-for-10, Vick was 4-for-7. There were some bright spots in a red-zone drill, as Smith tossed two short touchdowns, one to Amaro and the other to Chris Johnson. Vick had a scoring throw to Zach Sudfeld. Neither quarterback had a turnover. That's called a silver lining, folks.
Drops and penalties: Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg couldn't have been thrilled with this practice. Stephen Hill, Shaq Evans and Jeremy Kerley dropped passes, and there were several penalties. The players did more push-ups than a platoon of Marines. At one point, Rex Ryan gathered the team for a brief meeting in the middle of the field. After that, they ran a few more plays.
CJ's back: After sitting out Saturday's contact drills, Johnson practiced fully, as expected. That's the plan: Every third day will be an off/limited day. The Jets are taking it easy with Johnson, seven months removed from knee surgery.
Medical report: Wide receiver Quincy Enunwa (hip), a sixth-round pick, remained on the sideline. ... Linebacker Tim Fugger (ankle) and rookie defensive end Zach Thompson (shoulder) sat out again.
Odds and ends: Safety Josh Bush made an interception in a 7-on-7 drill but dropped one in team drills. ... Seventh-round linebacker Trevor Reilly pancaked tight end Colin Anderson in a blitz pick-up drill. ... Wide receiver David Nelson and Dimitri Patterson exchanged heated words after a play. ... Another rough practice for rookie quarterback Tajh Boyd. ... The Jets have a mandatory day off Monday. They need it.
On Sunday, tight end Jace Amaro injured his right knee in a 7-on-7 drill and received medical attention from the trainers. Amaro's right knee was wrapped with ice, and he watched the remainder of the practice from the sideline. The second-round pick tried to jog and attempted a few light cuts, but he struggled to put weight on it. That he wasn't carted off was a good sign. We'll have an update later.
Meanwhile, first-round pick Calvin Pryor, who suffered a head injury on Saturday, didn't practice. The hard-hitting safety was tested for a possible concussion. No word yet on the results.
Milliner, who will enter his second NFL season as the Jets' top cornerback, told the New York Daily News that he believes he is the league's best player at the position.
"The best corner in the league? Me," Milliner told the Daily News in an interview Saturday. "I ain't gonna say that somebody else is better than me."
A first-round draft pick who was benched multiple times last season, Milliner made positive strides down the stretch in 2013. He clearly feels that his late-season surge will carry over into 2014.
"I'm not going to say somebody that plays the same position is better than me," Milliner said. "Don't care if they've been in the league 10 years and I've been here five months. That's how it's going to go.
"I'm the best. I'm not going to say that another man that plays the same position ... and say he's better than me? I can't do that."
Milliner's lofty aspirations also include an eventual place in the Hall of Fame.
"I want to be great," he said. "That's the difference between the players that are in the Hall of Fame and not in the Hall of Fame. ... You want to do great things. That's what I want to do."
Here are a few things to look for:
- Rookie safety Calvin Pryor left Saturday’s camp early with a head injury, and there was no update on his condition when Rex Ryan addressed the media Saturday afternoon. Expect an update, but the biggest clue will be whether Pryor is on the field again, even to condition on the sideline.
- Ryan has been working offensive linemen Brian Winters and Oday Aboushi on each side of the line, but it may not be long before starter Willie Colon is off the PUP. Colon has said he expects to return soon, and Ryan echoed that on Saturday. How soon is soon?
- The weather has been great in Cortland. Geno Smith said it was like practicing in air conditioning compared to New Jersey this time of year, but that could change Sunday. The Jets could practice in rain, although lightning would clear the field.
- Top pick suffers possible concussion: Calvin Pryor came to the Jets with a reputation for delivering punishment, but he was on the receiving end Saturday in the first full-pads practice. The hard-hitting safety was knocked out of the first contact practice before getting a chance to strut his stuff on defense. He suffered a head injury while blocking as the personal protector (Tim Tebow's old spot) on the punt team. The team said Pryor was being evaluated for a possible concussion. I'm no doctor, but I think it's a good sign that he returned from the locker room to watch the rest of practice. You never want to see a player sustain a concussion, especially someone at a position involved in so many collisions. With Pryor on the sideline, Dawan Landry and Antonio Allen worked as the starting safety tandem. Allen delivered a nice hit on running back Chris Ivory, knocking him out of bounds on an outside run.
- And on the third day : Chris Johnson rested. It wasn't a total day off -- he participated in positional drills -- but he was kept out of the heavy stuff. He'll probably get a break every third day. It's a smart move. It makes no sense to push a player of Johnson's stature, coming off knee surgery, in the early stages of training camp. It doesn't matter what he does in Cortland in late July. The objective is to have him humming on all cylinders Sept. 7, the season opener.
- Slick Vick: Michael Vick, who admitted he was mediocre in the offseason camps, has raised his game in training camp. He completed 14 of 17 passes over the last two practices, working primarily with the second team and facing mostly the second-team defense. It's too early to make any definitive statements, but the quarterback situation is working out exactly the way the Jets had hoped. Vick is keeping the pressure on Geno Smith, who has responded nicely. Now, if it stays this way for the entire season, it'll be a controversy-free team. But what are the chances of that happening?
- On guard: In terms of positional battles, quarterback and safety are getting the most pub, but what about guard? Oday Aboushi continues to impress the coaches, shining in a 9-on-7 drill. What happens when Willie Colon returns to action, which should be any day? Ryan all but handed a starting job to Colon (no shock there), meaning Aboushi and Brian Winters could be competing for left guard. The edge goes to Winters, but don't write it in ink just yet. Rookie Dakota Dozier appeared on the radar screen with a strong practice, so there's that.
Ryan was asked to confirm – he thinks is the best group he’s seen?
“Well top to bottom, I have,” Ryan confirmed.
This offseason, the Jets have added some veterans at the position in Eric Decker and Jacoby Ford in addition to tenured Jets David Nelson and Jeremy Kerley and rookies such as Shaq Evans and Jalen Saunders.
In 2009, Ryan inherited Jerricho Cotchery, and the team had Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes during his tenure.
“Maybe when we had Braylon and we had 'Tone, there were a couple of guys who looked awesome, but I don’t know if we were that deep,” Ryan said. “Right now I would say so, (Clyde) Gates looked like he’s all the way back, Stephen Hill has had his moments and it’s just all of them, there’s no easy out out there. Whether it’s one-on-ones or team, we’ve got some legitimate receivers out there.”
Ryan, a defensive guy, hasn’t always been lauded for his decisions when it comes to skill positions on offense. The Jets have also gone through three offensive coordinators under Ryan, with Brian Schottenheimer and Tony Sparano in the role before the Jets landed Marty Mornhinweg. But Ryan thinks he has something this year.
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- The New York Jets' Geno Smith is the worst starting quarterback in the NFL, according to a recent ESPN survey, but he expects to be closer to the top than the bottom over the next year or two.
"The thing about it is, you have to climb up," Smith told ESPN.com on Saturday after practice. "If I'm No. 32, by this time next year or the year after, I expect to be in the top 5."
It was a bold statement, considering his struggles through most of last season, but Smith reported to training camp with a greater sense of confidence, according to coaches and teammates. They say he made huge strides in the offseason.
But the league remains skeptical. ESPN polled 26 coaches and personnel executives, asking them to rate this season's 32 projected starting quarterbacks. Smith finished dead last.
He said he is aware of the poll.
"My first reaction was, 'You know, man, I've got to prove them wrong,' " Smith said. "In the end, none of that matters. My key job is to make sure this team is improving and I'm doing everything I can for the betterment of this team."
The Jets are encouraged by Smith's progress, although they haven't named him the starter yet. He's competing against Michael Vick, but Smith, receiving the majority of the first-team reps, is clearly ahead.
Jets coach Rex Ryan won't handicap the race -- he won't even say if Smith will start the first preseason game -- but he clearly believes Smith is on the rise.
"Let's take that survey after the season and see where our quarterback ranks," Ryan told ESPN.com. "Let's see where Geno ranks.
"The beauty of it is, what I know for sure is, we get to prove it. Let's see where we all rank after the season. It'll be interesting to see if they take that survey again, what it would look like at the end of the year."
One of Smith's most ardent supporters is veteran guard Willie Colon
“Yeah, and I embrace it, I like it,” Vick said. “It’s cool and at the same time I get to better myself and my practices, I come in and I challenge myself to take advantage of every rep and be the best that I can be. Every practice, and that’s the fun part about it so I’ve got two roles but it’s easy. It’s football it’s a game I love.
Geno Smith said Vick’s first attempt at a mentoring role has gone well.
“[He’s done a] great job,” Smith said. “It’s not one of those things where he’s trying to implement anything that I need to change or anything. Rather, just helping me with life lessons and learning from some of the things that he’s done. He’s been in this league 11 years. He’s had his ups and downs. Everyone knows that quarterbacks, you’re going to have a ton of those -- ups and downs, ups and downs. You’ve just got to stay levelheaded. That’s the main thing that he talks about.”
Vick seems to be having fun, rooming with running back Chris Johnson, who he describes as one of the funniest people he’s ever met. But it’s different from the days when he was the clear leader of the offense.
“I’m cool with it,” Vick said. “I understood the situation coming in, and I know it was Geno’s job and my job was to push Geno. The thing I’m going to be is, I’m going to be a guy who’s going to help Geno. But it this team needs me to play, I’m going to be ready to play.”
Given the way the reps have been distributed, Vick hasn’t had an much time to work with players like Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley yet. Instead, Vick’s balls get sent to rookie Jace Amaro and Jacoby Ford.
“When I have an opportunity to go with those guys I try to make the most of it,” Vick said. “It’s very rare. I try to let Geno get as many reps as he can with those guys because he’s going to be out there with them the majority of the time.”
Vick isn’t quite to say that he’s ready to be the next Mark Brunell-type of quarterback -- a late-career guy who rarely takes the field but helps develop the young starter.
“I wouldn’t say that, I have a lot of football left to play so I wouldn’t take it that far,” Vick said. “But if that’s what it is now and the next couple years we’ll see. But I know I just want to cont to play good football.”
“It was a head injury and obviously when those things happen you’re going to side on being cautious and that’s what we’re doing,” coach Rex Ryan said. “Whether it’s a concussion or not I’m not sure. We’ll see how that progresses.”
Ryan said that the former Louisville player, who came in with a reputation for hard hits, was in the role of punt protector with the contact occurred. This was the first day the Jets have practiced in pads.
“It’s not like you can say he got dinged or whatever,” Ryan said. “But dinged these days that means be cautious and do what’s in the best interest of the young man.”
Ryan said the team was obligated to be forthright in the case of possible concussions, which is a more straightforward approach than the 2013 training camp, when the team would not clarify the nature of a head injury involving RB/KR Joe McKnight.
Pryor was getting a good share of first-team reps, and is expected to make a case to start as a rookie. Jets watchers were anxious to see him in full-contact drills.