Day three has come and gone. The players got into pads for the first time today and were able to get some hits in. Here's what we saw on the offensive side of the ball.
Counting on Chris
In years past, Rex Ryan has put some of his veterans on "pitch counts" to protect them from an unfortunate training camp injury that would derail their ability to contribute during the regular season. Kellen Winslow saw a limited number of reps last year. This year Chris Johnson and new linebacker Jason Babin are both working on such arrangements.
When asked today about specifics of Johnson's rotation, coach Rex Ryan demurred to answer pointedly, but was willing to say that "there is a plan" for the amount of work they put on Johson. While nothing's official, an arragement like two days on and one day off might be what is in store for the veteran running back and hopeful playmaker for the Jets.
While Johnson sat, Bilal Powell saw a lot of work with the ones and twos and is taking advantage of it. Powell demonstrated good speed and evasiveness on some runs to the perimeter. Powell also had a nifty move in which he avoided a would-be tackler on a pass to the flat. Powell's solid day wasn't limited to offense. He also received lots of praise from special teams coaches on a kick coverage play where he read the play extemely well and overpowered the blocker, thereby allowing others to get set up for a quick "stop" of the kick returner.
Quarterbacks keeping Decker busy
Complements are nice, but targets are better and the Jets quarterbacks have been keeping Eric Decker busy so far in camp.
"He seems to be getting a lot of action." Rex smiled when asked about what he thinks so far of Eric Decker. "The ball is finding him and that's a good thing ... when you get open you get a lot of opportunities and he's gotten a lot of opportunities"
It seems to be Decker's technique and functional strength that makes him such a enticing target for the Jets quarterbacks. He runs precisely and his feet are smooth in and out of his breaks, he stems well and does an excellent works the top of his routes
While there's a lot of talk about his feet, rookie receiver Shaq Evans told me that it is Decker's hands that impress him most.
"He has strong hands," Evans said. "Even if a guy is all over him he knows how to snatch it and just keep it away from him and keep it locked in his hands. [Defensive backs] are always going to try and rake it out of his hands and they are never going to get it."
Rex echoed that sentiment when asked a follow up about Decker's technique. "He gets separation, even though he's not ... the fastest guy." Rex told repoters. "There are some fast guys that can't get separation."
"Michael Irvin was quoted saying 'I don't have to run what he runs, he has to run what I run.' And I think that sometimes that's why you see a guy that maybe doesn't have that 4.2 speed or 4.3 speed, still make big plays."
Colon "real close" to return to field
While Rex said today that guard Willie Colon is "real close" to a return, he's not there just yet.
"We think that Willie's real close to coming off of [the physically unable to perform list]," Rex told reporters today.
But with Colon still sidelined on the PUP, the Jets have been experimenting with their guard spots by moving around their second and third best guards Brian Winters and Oday Aboushi to experiment and see who is best equipped to be the starter.
"[Willie is] not out there now so what you're doing is flipping them. Maybe your guy is a starting left guard or maybe the guy's a swing guard. But if there's true competition you don't know who that starter is right now. You're giving guys a chance to compete and that's what they're trying to do."
So while Winters seems the likely starter, Rex offered up today that Oday Aboushi "keeps jumping out at me" and due to his progress as a player since last season in becoming a better "more physical" player.
With Willie out, the Jets are getting a good look at evaluating both Aboushi and Winters and adding Colon only makes the group better. It will be interesting to see how the reps get divided once Colon comes back.
- More solid routes and catches today from Jalen Saunders, Rex picked him out in particular as a player he likes
- Stephen Hill had another nice sideline reception right at the sticks from Geno Smith, doing a great job of controlling his body to keep his feet in bounds but get the first down.
- Hakim has been looking good for the team and catching a number of nice passes, but he is also doing a good job on special teams of getting downfield quickly as a flyer.
- Acrobatic deep catch by Gates from Geno over Milliner. Hoots from the crowd. "He's all the way back" glowed Rex during the presser.
- Greg Salas had a very nice catch in traffic in which he did a great job of asserting himself and getting to the ball first and hanging onto it.
- Jacoby Ford with a slick wheel route catch with the twos. His speed and his body control to turn up field quickly was very impressive.
- Shaq Evans keeps getting a little better day by day. He had a great deep catch that was thrown by Tajh Boyd with Brandon Dixon in coverage.