On Saturday morning at 4 AM, my alarm went of signaling to me that it was time to wake up and take the 4 hour drive to Cortland. Instead of rolling over and falling back to sleep like I normally would, I could not wait to get on the road and be at practice.
After arriving at camp an hour before practice started at 10, I got myself a spot right up against the fence and awaited the start of practice. This was my routine for both Saturday and Sunday, so here are some observations I made from just these two days of camp. Jace Amaro is tremendous– The first thing that I ultimately noticed was the size of Jets second round pick, tight end Jace Amaro. Amaro is bigger than some linebackers on the team, which is unbelievable for a tight end. On the field though, Amaro struggled a little bit. He had a drop in 11 vs 11’s on a high pass from Geno Smith, and then had to sit out the rest of practice on Sunday due to an issue with his knee, which luckily seems minor. While Amaro has struggled a bit so far in his first camp, there is no denying his hard work. Once practice ends and everyone clears the field, Amaro goes over to the JUGGS machine and catches 150 passes, each and every day. If Amaro can put it all together, defenses will have their hands full with the Jets rookie tight end.
What QB competition? – After watching practice the last two days, and although the Jets won’t admit it, there really is not a QB competition going on. On both days of practice, I would have to say that Geno Smith was working with the first team 95% of the time, while Vick maybe got a rep or two with the first string on each day. In drills, Smith would be throwing to Eric Decker and David Nelson, the projected starters at WR, while Vick would be throwing to Clyde Gates and Jacoby Ford, amongst others. Vick has made comments recently saying that he is in NY to help Smith and make him the best QB he can be, and that he knows it ultimately is not his job, although he still believes he can play. One thing that is evident right off the bat is Geno Smith put on some muscle this offseason, as he looked a bit bigger than he did last year. Smith looked pretty solid on both days, with no ” wow” moments, but no moments that made the fans go ” ugh”.
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Rontez Miles– While rookie first round pick Calvin Pryor, Antonio Allen, and veteran Dawan Landry all have their spot on the team locked up, Josh Bush, Jaiquawn Jarrett and Rontez Miles are all fighting for that 4th safety spot. While Bush had himself a strong practice on Sunday, intercepting a redzone pass from Mike Vick, Rontez Miles was arguably the player on the field who opened eyes the most. Miles motor is at 110%, and he is always around the ball, whether it is a run, a pass, or making a tackle on special teams. Miles play has not gone unnoticed as Rex Ryan called him out in his press conference for his high motor. If Miles can stay healthy and continue to play this way, the Jets will have a hard time letting him go.
What about the Receivers?– I will start off by saying this, Eric Decker comes as advertised. Decker caught everything thrown in his direction the past two days, and his routes are great to watch. While Decker has been terrific, what about the others fighting to play alongside him? Jeremy Kerley did not have any big moments at all during camp, but the Jets and everyone else already knows what to expect from him. A guy who really looks good is David Nelson. While some think Nelson will be left off the roster, I just do not see it. Nelson is a very solid receiver who does not really have a major weakness. Nelson and Geno Smith seem to be growing some chemistry, which is evident in practice. Stephen Hill looked pretty good this past weekend, making his fair share of big plays that excited the fans. Hill did in fact drop a few passes though, which has been the issue for him so far in his career. All in all though, I thought Hill had a pretty good weekend. Rookie Shaq Evans continue to have a case of the dropsies, dropping a pass in 11 vs 11 from Smith, but he did have a beautiful grab on a deep ball from Tajh Boyd for a touchdown on Saturday. Fellow rookie Jalen Saunders looks like a younger Jeremy Kerley. Saunders is tough as nails, welcoming contact even though he is one of the smallest guys on the entire team. Overall, the group is light years ahead of the WR’s from last season.
Some other quick notes. Demario Davis is the vocal leader of the defense, and looks to be in tip-top shape. Davis is on track for a breakout third year in the league. Also, to the surprise of nobody, the defense line looks terrific. While they cannot show off too much in practice, the group would have had a good amount of “sacks” if they were allowed to hit the QB’s. Second year offensive lineman Brian Winters and Ody Aboushi have also looked strong so far in camp. Aboushi held his own yesterday against defensive rookie of the year Sheldon Richardson, which is no easy task. Ellis Lankster, known for his special teams play, has looked good at CB. On Saturday Lankster broke up a pass from Smith intended for Eric Decker, which pleased the defense.
All in all, this is the most talented Jets team in recent years, and it is very evident from just watching practice that they are a very confident bunch.