The first day of training camp is always a deluge for me. We'll be rolling out lots more content on the site through the weekend as we spend time in Cortland, but here's a first pass at what stuck out at us from the first practice. Next, the offense.
Why I'm not concerned about Willie Colon's readiness for camp
Before Rex took the podium today, I noticed on the field that Brian Winters was working with the ones and back playing his more familiar left guard position, the spot where he started three quarters of the 2013 season. 2013 draftee Oday Aboushi was working on the right side of the line, and it occurred to me that there was something implied.
If Colon wasn't ready to be inserted in the coming days, then one would imagine the team would want to get Winters as ramped up at the more difficult right guard spot normally occupied by Colon, while giving Aboushi more time at the spot where he played in OTAs and where Brick and Nick would do a better job in babysitting the youngster. Rex confirmed Colon's imminent return in his press conference today when he said that Willie is "ready to go," but the training staff is working him back onto the field slowly for purely precautionary reasons.
It's time to flex
Today the Jets were using running back Chris Johnson in multiple spots in the formation and Rex Ryan couldn't have been happier about it. After saying yesterday that Johnson was "flying" in his conditioning drill, today Rex grinned that "if he lost a step, you tell me."
Ryan said that Johnson flexed out of the backfield as a receiver running routes and even swept back after the snap. Johnson did things that you wouldn't necessarily expect from him, but makes complete sense that he could do all the same. Rex seems pleased with the wildcard element that Johnson can bring to the formation and what that means for the defense. More on that tomorrow, but expect the Jets to use him in a myriad of ways that don't just rely on his running between the tackles.
Smith Settling in, Vick here to help
It was only the first day of camp, but there was nothing that stood out like a sore thumb in terms of Smith's day. His play was steady and smooth. His knowledge of the offense is much further ahead of where it was a year ago and he was extremely vocal in barking out plays and getting players in the right places if they were misaligned. The confidence in his game and his role compared to where it was a year ago is easily discernible.
But where does Vick fit in? Whose team is this? When asked whether this is "Geno's team" today, Rex turned the tables on the question saying that "this is our team" and while we're sure some folks might roll their eyes, talking to players today it's not that hard to swallow. Often when you hear two quarterbacks in any sort of battle with each other talk about the other, there's platitudes but that they might only be skin deep.
I didn't get that sense from the comments that both Geno and Mike Vick made of each other. There's no thin veneer covering the surface; the two genuinely seem to respect each other. Geno knows how helpful Vick is.
"Mike’s a guy who is willing to teach," Smith told the assembled reporters. "He is willing to give me knowledge and help me with things that he has been through. So there is always a moment where, every conversation we have, I am looking up to this guy, I am learning from this guy. He is an eleven-year vet in the NFL and that’s a position I can only hope to be in one day. So a guy like that you can only learn from and he is willing to help, and it speaks volumes about his character."
Similarly, Vick understands the importance of helping Geno.
"I think it’s very important that Geno understands what it takes to be successful in this league," Vick told reporters. "We spend a lot of time together ... I try to offer him as much advice as I can, trying to help him prepare himself for what he is about to face."
It's only been a day, but Geno seems well prepared so far ... we'll see what the coming days of camp bring.
Give me the damn receiver news!!
I will focus more on the receivers tomorrow, but the headline today was Enunwa's leg issue. Rex was not overly concerned, so we'll see what tomorrow brings. The other two rookies had pretty different days.
While Saunders might have ran his route incorrectly and caused Vick's interception, he had an otherwise great day. Saunders looked good as a returner and took a couple licks that elicited hoots from the crowd, mostly because of his unwillingness to go to the ground, or stop running the ball. Saunders played out of the slot a lot today and I wonder about whether he is yet a viable player from a fixed position on the boundary. But from the slot and in motion he seems to be coming along nicely for the team.
David Nelson was showing his possession receiving skills. At 6'5" he towers over his opponents and he often initiated contact to create space from defensive backs. His massive frame allows him to have a large catch radius and he seems to be getting more comfortable with his role in this offense.
As for Shaq Evans, he had the hardest time. Evans had some drops in drills that seemed to vex him, but he did look good on some deep pass drills hauling in a few balls very well over his shoulder without breaking stride. I will be very curious to see how Saunders and Evans look once the pads come on and the team starts "live" drills in a couple days.
The Jacoby Ford, Clyde Gates and Hakim Saalim group seemed to live up to their billing. They are all blazingly fast but can lapse at the catch point or might have concerns about staying healthy. Of the group, Ford seems the most well-rounded.
- Nick Mangold's hair is a little shorter this year, but his golden locks are still as glorious as ever -- there's just more of a Thor-as-bank-loan-officer vibe about him
- Zach Sudfield and Breno Giacomini are giants. At 6'7" Sudfeld's the tallest non-lineman on the team and it's noticeable with his lean / high-cut frame. I would love to see him do Dee's P Diddy Boat Dance (NSFW sound).
- Boyd is the magic man. While he's not a blazer, he had a nice evasion on a #3s on #1s scrimmage play in which he got almost no protection. Somehow, Boyd eluded the pressure and scrambled for a few yards. Oh and Rex called him "my boy" with a giant smile during the presser.
- Bilal Powell got a lot of work today and broke some long runs and catches. Powell looked comfortable and ready to play his "glue" role for the Jets this season.
- I like RB Daryl Richardson but need to watch him more closely.
- FB Chad Young seems to have a puncher's chance at this team because they don't have any rock solid blockers at the TE or FB position, like they did a few years ago with Ben Hartsock. Young might not be as fluid as a catcher as Bohannon is, but he has the temperament and attitude, so we'll see if he can make some statements as a blocker for this team. Also consider that the eventual blocker might not yet be on the roster.