Updated, 4:42 p.m. ET
For a couple of periods in Sunday’s afternoon practice, Kenrick Ellis looked like the beast that ate Cortland, as the player the Jets envisioned him being when they took a chance on him in the third round in the 2011 draft. No. 93 was knifing past the first-string O-line, making tackles in the backfield and blowing up running plays like an unstoppable defensive tackle should.
“Yesterday Kenrick Ellis decides to totally dominate the 9-on-7 period,” head coach Rex Ryan confirmed at this afternoon’s news conference. “Today we made sure we blocked him, I don’t think there was any doubt about that, whether we were doubling him or whatever it was.”
Ellis noticed that as well. I asked him after this morning’s second padded practice at SUNY Cortland if he could recall a personal highlight from camp so far. He instead chose a lowlight from today’s session.
“You know what? The highlight of my practice was when I got double-teamed and got my butt kicked by 66, Willie [Colon], and 77, Austin [Howard]. And that just showed me I have so much more to work on, man. That’s what stood out to me, not being able to dominate those guys.”
I gently reminded Kenrick that it was in fact a double-team block, their 648 pounds against his 346. Maybe he was being a little hard on himself?
“If you take your craft seriously, double-team or not, you’re still supposed to be able to impose your will,” he said. “They got the best of me.”
That may sound like the Ellis who was fighting to keep his head above water his first two NFL seasons, but I detected just a little smile at the corner of his mouth, a sense that while he’s still talking a nose-to-the-grindstone approach, he knows he’s starting to make those big strides that many want to see.
He gave a little hint of that when he was asked about the Sunday practice.
“It’s a competition,” he said. “We have a bunch of guys on the D-line, so what you do every day is just try to stand out from the rest. You have to come in here with a mentality like ‘I want the job.’ Damon Harrison wants the job. Antonio Garay wants the job. Everybody wants the job. We’re just going to have a healthy competition, compete every day and battle and see who gets it.”
It’s still too early to call the starting D-line, but Ellis, who got that Colon-Howard butt-whooping in line drills, came back in team drills to put a roaring pressure up the middle on Geno Smith, forcing either a hurried incompletion or a sack, depending on who’s scoring.
But one thing is clear no matter who the scorer is. Kenrick is coming on.
First-round draft pick Dee Milliner, after agreeing to contract terms Sunday night, spent a good portion of today getting from Alabama to Cortland, N.Y. He is expected to talk with Jets reporters this evening around 7:30 p.m. ET. When he holds that news conference, newyorkjets.com will carry it live.
QB update: Both Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith hit Jeremy Kerley with touchdown passes in 7-on-7 drills today. Sanchez threw a short-zone interception to LB Josh Mauga, who’s had a couple of strong days with the second defense. Smith continues without an interception in 7-on-7 and team drills but also suffered a couple of big pressures that would have been sacks in live action. “Geno’s not throwing picks,” Ryan said, “but we don’t want to be taking sacks. That’s one area he can improve his game, but I’m certainly impressed he hasn’t thrown a pick.”
The kickers were smoking today for the second straight day. Nick Folk was dead-on from 40, 44 and 49 yards, while Billy Cundiff nailed a 53-yarder to end the last two-minute drill of the day, then converted from 42 and 46 in the FG drill to end practice.
Today’s attendance was 970. Tuesday is an off day for the players. Thursday should be a crowd-pleaser as Ryan said he thinks the first live goal-line drills of camp will be held that morning, and goal line will also be a part of Saturday night’s Green & White scrimmage. … Pat Kirwan and Tim Ryan were here this morning taping interviews for their SiriusXM NFL Radio show that airs daily from 3-7 p.m. ET.
Tags: Austin Howard, Billy Cundiff, Geno Smith, Jeremy Kerley, Kenrick Ellis, Mark Sanchez, Nick Folk, Rex Ryan, Willie Colon
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