The Jets have several job openings on offense. One is for youthful competition at quarterback. And they may well have a spot for a young, up-and-coming wide receiver.
Any Volunteers? Why, yes we do. Two, in fact.
“It’s a small football world,” said Matt Simms.
Simms is the first-year QB with North Jersey roots who spent his last two college seasons with the University of Tennessee, then worked his way onto the Jets roster last offseason. Now he’s back for a second go-round in green and, like all the QBs on this roster, learning a new offense in coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s West Coast scheme.
And one of the wideouts he’s playing pitch and catch with these days is Zach Rogers, the 6’0″, 177-pounder out of Nashville who was viewed by more than a few draftniks as one of the top undrafted wideouts available following the end of Round 7 last month.
“Coach Ryan and Mr. Idzik were very passionate about me coming here,” Rogers told me in the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center locker room recently. “They preached open competition and that’s really all I want. I wanted a shot to make a name for myself and try to make an impact on this team.”
And where did Rogers play his college ball? Tennessee, of course. In fact, he and Simms teamed up on several occasions in the 2010 and ’11 seasons, most notably on a 72-yard touchdown catch-and-run early in the Vols’ 32-29 OT win over Alabama-Birmingham in 2010.
“It’s good to be back teammates with Matt again. He’s a good guy,” Rogers said. “He’s very intelligent. I learned a lot from him. And he’s still got a cannon.”
Simms returns the compliments.
“Zach’s definitely a fast guy, he plays fast, and he’s a really smart guy,” he said. “There’s not too much on the field that he’s not aware of.”
The two didn’t have a lot of connections on the field, only 13 catches in those two seasons (but for 212 yards, a 16.3 average per catch). That’s because Rogers didn’t play a lot in ’10, both were limited in ’11, and last year Simms was gone. Before he departed for the pros, he recalled a business course the two had together. After one class, the two got to talking and Rogers said he was taking his education very seriously because he didn’t think the NFL would be in his future.
“You have the talent,” Simms told him then. “You never know what’s going to happen. It’s a long season.”
Last season at Tennessee, Rogers, despite divvying up passes from Tyler Bray with a pair of top draft picks-to-be — Cordarrelle Patterson went 29th to the Vikings, Justin Hunter 34th to the Titans — Rogers finished with 32 catches for 491 yards (15.3 avg.) and seven TDs, which attracted the attention of the aforementioned Rex Ryan and John Idzik.
“The Rogers kid, we expected him to look good, and he was a tremendous player at Tennessee, albeit he never started because of the other two guys,” Ryan said. “But he was very productive there and he really did a nice job of running routes and catching the football.”
“I was always hoping to get drafted,” Rogers said, “but at the same time this was the hand I was dealt so I’m trying to make the most of it. I was blessed to play with those big-time receivers, though. I learned a lot from them.”
“Remember that story you were trying to tell me?” Simms told Rogers when they were reunited in North Jersey. “It proved to be wrong. It just goes to show that a year or two can really make the difference.”
Now for the disclaimer. Rogers has a long road ahead to get onto the Jets’ regular-season roster, being that he’s one of 13 wideouts, with five of them veterans. And Simms, even though he’s now in a four-man QB competition after David Garrard apparently withdrew due to his ongoing knee issues, knows the field is still crowded.
“But right now I’m just going to take it day by day, improve on one thing at a time, and just go from there, really,” he said. “I’m going to keep my head in the playbook and just keep working.”
Same thing for Rogers, a volunteer no more, who worked a lot out of the slot during the rookie minicamp.
“I’m trying to learn as much as I can. Coach [Sanjay] Lal is teaching me little technique things that maybe I didn’t think about in college,” he said. “I think it’s going pretty well. I’m just trying to learn the offense the best I can and work with my new teammates. It’s a great opportunity for me and really I’m just trying to make the most of it.”
Tags: Cordarrelle Patterson, John Idzik, Justin Hunter, Matt Simms, Rex Ryan, rookie minicamp, Sanjay Lal, Zach Rogers
Posted in Randy Lange | 38 Comments »
Updated, 2:30 p.m. ET
Today just happened to be a media day in the locker room at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. On media days, quarterbacks are front and center. One of the Jets’ veteran QBs, Mark Sanchez, was available. One of the other Jets vets, David Garrard, was not in the building.
“It was a little bit abrupt,” Sanchez said of Garrard “having to call it quits” because his knee “is not holding up,” as he said in his widely circulated text response to a question from SNY’s Adam Schein, adding that Garrard’s departure wasn’t something he saw coming. “He worked hard and he battled through some pain, it sounds like. Other than that, I don’t want to speak for David.”
But No. 6 did speak about Garrard, the nine-year QB for the Jaguars who signed with the Jets the week of the draft with the aim of providing competition at the position for the Jets heading deeper into the 2013 offseason and preseason schedule.
“David worked hard and he had a great attitude,” Sanchez said. “He was one of those guys I felt I’d be able to bounce my ideas off of, having that kind of experience. It’s tough to see a guy go like that. You just wish him the best, health-wise first. He’s played a long time in this league and did a heck of a job. So it was great to be around him the short time I had with him. I wish him nothing but the best.”
Garrard actually did speak, although not to Jets reporters in Florham Park, N.J. He talked with Bruce Murray and Rich Gannon on SiriusXM NFL Radio this afternoon and told them his knee, while it was well enough for him to run around, continued to swell on him.
“I thought, ‘I look pretty good right now. Maybe if I get on with the team, the treatment that they have there, the round-the-clock treatments you pretty much get, that should probably help me out.’ ” Garrard said. “So that’s how I was thinking. When it was healthy, when I was able to go out and participate in practice and run around. I mean, I looked great, I was excited and ready to go.
“But then I’d get four or five days of good work on it in and then the next two days it’s swollen and I have to do everything I can to get the swelling out. Start the next week over and it would just be the same process every time. And so it was never allowing me to just go on and play without any worries. So I just kept thinking, ‘How am I going to compete for the starting job if every four days I’ve got to stop and have an ice bag on my knee while the guys are practicing?’ ”
The Jets still have not made any official comment about Garrard’s status. But if the man who wore No. 9 for less than a month isn’t returning, the QB depth chart at the moment is now at four, with Sanchez beginning his fifth year the clear veteran of the group that includes third-year man Greg McElroy, second-round draft pick Geno Smith and first-year free agent Matt Simms.
“Nothing’s changed. My mindset’s the same,” Sanchez said about his approach assuming Garrard’s taking himself out of the picture. “Stay focused, master this offense, improve on the fundamentals, be as accurate as possible, take care of the football, and lead this team.”
Garrett “Gets a Family”
Last season LB Garrett McIntyre got his first two-sack game and his first two tackles for loss of his career. Last week he celebrated another double as his wife, August, gave birth to their first two children.
“Twin daughters,” proud papa Garrett beamed at his locker. “Summer and Harper McIntyre. They were born May 7 back in Cali. A little premature, but they’re in the NICU [neonatal intensive care unit] and are doing great.”
Congratulations to the McIntyres, all four of them. And now, Garrett, back to work on orchestrating that first two-touchdown game of your career.
WR Jordan White has returned to uniform No. 17, the number he began with last season as the Jets’ seventh-round WR out of Western Michigan. WR Marcus Davis, just acquired on waivers, is No. 89.
Tags: David Garrard, Geno Smith, Greg McElroy, Mark Sanchez, Matt Simms
Posted in Randy Lange | 58 Comments »
Updated, 9:22 p.m. ET
The New York Jets have announced their final seven cuts to get their roster to the NFL’s mandated maximum of 53 players. This latest list of seven includes two more draft choices, RB Terrance Ganaway and WR Jordan White, and their former pro rugby-playing TE, Hayden Smith.
The seven players, all waived:
RB — Terrance Ganaway
WR — Royce Pollard, Jordan White
TE — Hayden Smith
OL — Paul Cornick
LB — Ricky Sapp
DB — Donnie Fletcher
These seven were the last of the Jets’ final cuts, joining 15 players that they waived to get their roster to 60 players. Those cuts were announced earlier in the day and included sixth-round rookie OL Robert Griffin, QB Matt Simms and veteran DE Jay Richardson. Here is that list of 15 players the Jets waived earlier:
QB — Matt Simms
WR — Joseph Collins, Eron Riley
OL — Robert Griffin, Fred Koloto, Matt Kroul
TE — Tarren Lloyd
DL — Jay Richardson, Martin Tevaseu
LB — Marcus Dowtin, Brett Roy
DB — LeQuan Lewis, D’Anton Lynn, Julian Posey
P — Spencer Lanning
All waived players must go through the NFL’s waiver system. Any players who are eligible for the practice squad and have cleared waivers Saturday afternoon can be re-signed by the Jets to their eight-man practice squad.
Also keep in mind that today’s 53-man roster can change throughout this weekend and next week if the Jets add other players as free agents or on waivers. The 53 players currently on the roster practiced at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center today and then got the weekend off before they will return Sunday night for the first practice of the week Monday before the season opener vs. Buffalo on Sept. 9.
Tags: final cuts, Jay Richardson, Matt Simms, Rex Ryan, Robert Griffin
Posted in Randy Lange | 174 Comments »
Updated, 3:04 p.m. ET
The “Spur” position at South Carolina is a lot different than what Antonio Allen is now doing on the pro level with the Jets. Nevertheless, the rookie safety showed a lot of giddyup during today’s first full-pads practice of training camp at SUNY Cortland
“Confidence is big, but you can’t get big-headed,” Allen told newyorkjets.com after he came up with a pair of interceptions in this morning’s drills. “I’ve always had a ton of confidence. I just come out here every day to get better and improve on things I need to work on.”
Allen’s first theft was against undrafted free agent QB Matt Simms in 7-on-7′s, when he played his technique nicely against the TE and read Simms’ eyes all the way. His second was in team drills on Greg McElroy, when he “sliced” the wideout’s route in man coverage.
Interestingly, AA said he’s learning from all members of the Jets secondary, not just the safeties, as he continues his higher education.
“I watch Smitty and YB [Yeremiah Bell], and I watch Revis a lot. He’s a corner, but I watch him and how he breaks on the ball and keeps his eyes on his man. He and Cro, they’re very good at what they do and I just try to adjust my technique to some of the things they do.”
Even before the picks, Allen produced a few big hits.
“I always enjoy the first day of pads,” he said of his first full contact as a pro. “I wasn’t really scared because I love to hit all the time. On special teams drills, I think that set me off. As soon as I got in, I got a big hit, and from there it just proceeded to progress.”
Afterwards, Allen conferred with secondary coach Dennis Thurman, who famously led a Cowboys band known as “Thurman’s Thieves.”
“He was just telling me he’ll be more impressed when I get in there with the ones and do what I did today, Allen said. He’s on his way to earning a few reps with the first unit.
No. 24 wasn’t on the field for this practice but the team announced that the cause of Darrelle Revis’ absence was anatomical, not contractual.
“Darrelle had tightness in his hamstring last night,” media relations director Bruce Speight told reporters during the session. “The trainers cleared him to do individual drills but not 7-on-7 or team drills.”
“He’s had some hamstring issues in previous training camps,” Rex Ryan said at his midday news conference. “This is a minor thing. He thinks he’ll be out there tomorrow. But anytime you get that situation with any player, you hit the brakes and say, ‘Whoa, let’s not do something foolish.’ “
Ryan said that including the 9-on-7′s that led into team drills, the offense ran the ball 22 straight times. “We talk about we need to establish the running game and have our opponents understand we’re a running team,” the coach said. “We will run the football, but 22 straight? I don’t think even I envisioned that much.”
Rex touted a pair of three-hundred-forty-somethings that stood out today: NT Damon Harrison (6’4″, 350) and T Austin Howard (6’7″, 333). On Harrison: “It was his kind of day, a running day. He looked pretty good.” And on Howard: “He was really moving some people off the line.”
RB Bilal Powell had several crowd-pleasing plays on a few runs and at least one short swing pass. … Joe McKnight also slashed off the right side for a 20-yarder that drew applause. … Recently signed WR Raymond Webber, the second-year man who wears No. 1, tipped a McElroy pass in the air, then caught it to walk into the end zone on a long scoring play.
Antonio Cromartie had a nice leaping breakup of a ball headed for WR Chaz Schilens down the right sideline. … CB Kyle Wilson followed that up on the next play with a breakup of a Mark Sanchez pass on a shorter out on the opposite sideline. …T.J. Conley continues to nail some impressive punts with decent hang and great direction.
FB/TE Josh Baker broke his nose and so wore the red hands-off jersey usually reserved for QBs for the second half of practice. As a result, rookie RB Terrance Ganaway got some reps in Baker’s FB role. … Attendance for today’s practice: 2,835.
Tags: Antonio Allen, Antonio Cromartie, Darrelle Revis, Dennis Thurman, Greg McElroy, Matt Simms, Rex Ryan
Posted in Randy Lange | 25 Comments »
Matt Simms, brother of Chris and son of Phil, had a modest goal as one of the 26 tryout players invited to the rookie minicamp at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center this weekend.
“It’s just survival and see what happens,” said Matt after Saturday’s morning practice. “I just want to keep playing the game I’ve been playing since I was a kid, and wherever that is, I would love to do it.”
For now Matt will be playing the game with the Jets, who announced today that Simms signed a contract with the Green & White as an undrafted free agent.
Simms (6’3″, 210) has had his ups and downs along the quarterback road. He was quarterback of the vaunted Don Bosco Prep team in Ramsey, N.J., near his Franklin Lakes home — in fact, he still has the second-most career touchdown passes in New Jersey playoff history, 15 for the Ironmen from 2004-06.
Then he began his collegiate odyssey, going from Louisville to El Camino College to 10 starts for Tennessee but just two of them as a senior, which led to him not only not being drafted but not being signed until today.
“You’re going to go through a lot of different things and it’s going to be hard to adjust to different scenarios,” Simms said. “I’m fortunate that I did have my brother and my father. They have tremendous knowledge of the game and they’re a great support system. Their help has really guided me through this process, even thought it’s been difficult at times.”
The Jets of course have a veteran depth chart of Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow and Greg McElroy at QB and then signed G.J. Kinne from Tulsa as an undrafted FA immediately after the draft. Now Simms makes five, in large part because head coach Rex Ryan and coordinator Tony Sparano were impressed with his throwing at the camp, which concluded with a morning practice today.
“They’ve got to show it to you,” Ryan said Saturday about all of the tryout players that will come to any team’s minicamp in a given year. “You’re out there, you’ve got 40-some guys out there. They need to pop off the tape.
“With Matt Simms, the thing you’re impressed with immediately is how he can throw the football. He has a great arm — he can really spin ‘em. The thing you don’t see is obviously him against the rush. But I followed him, I knew he was at Tennessee. He had his ups and downs when he was there, but he has the arm now, and he has the pedigree.”
We probably don’t have to tell you that Phil Simms had perhaps the greatest passing day in Super Bowl history for the Giants over the Broncos in SBXXI and has been the network analyst for more than 60 Jets games, including seven of their playoff games, beginning with NBC in 1997 and then from ’98 to present with CBS. Chris had 16 starts for three teams over five seasons and now is a New England assistant coach.
Besides Simms, the Jets also announced that they have signed sixth-round S Josh Bush out of Wake Forest, and OL Fred Koloto (6’3″, 297), another tryout who has started at LT and last season at LG for San Jose State. Previously the Jets announced they had signed tryout WR Royce Pollard (6’1″, 175), who had 71 catches for 1,011 yards and eight TDs as a senior at Hawaii.
They also announced today that they have waived C Kris O’Dowd out of Southern Cal, a street free agent they signed in March.
Tags: Chris Simms, Fred Koloto, Josh Bush, Matt Simms, Phil Simms, Rex Ryan, Royce Pollard, Tony Sparano
Posted in Randy Lange | 69 Comments »
Updated, 10:25 a.m. ET
First-round draft choice Quinton Coples got his first breather as a pro during this morning’s rookie minicamp practice. He doesn’t know why but it’s OK by him.
“It was a coach’s decision to sit me out,” Coples told reporters after the practice in the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center locker room. Did he ask why? “No sir. This is no time for questions. They tell me to sit down, I sit down. I trust the staff to make the best decisions for me and I’ll move from there.”
He said he’s not hurt and he’s ready to roll when he’s called on. He did do individual drills under the guidance of new DL coach Karl Dunbar and that will be part of what he takes back with him to North Carolina for a few weeks until he returns for OTAs.
“Coach Dunbar is definitely coaching me well,” he said. “He gave me drills that I’ll take back home with me, drills I’ve never done before, things like hand-placement drills, drills on reading offensive linemen with the way they set, just different adjustments.”
At his news conference this afternoon, head coach Rex Ryan said Coples’ rest was indeed a coach’s decision and nothing was wrong at all with Coples.
“Quinton had a good first day, we know what he can do, so this was a chance to give the other guys a chance to get in there and compete a bit,” Ryan said, adding that he’s done that at rookie minicamps before.
“Yeah, sometimes, especially with the linemen,” he said. “A lot of times, that’s really the only time to evaluate these guys. We’ve already evaluated Quinton. I just wanted to give them the opportunity to compete and see how they move.”
So whatever Ryan did with Coples today, it certainly wasn’t a benching. Rex reviewed what he and the Jets loved about Coples in last week’s first round.
“You look at his ability, he’s 6’6″, 285 and runs a 4.7, and his production? Compare him with any of the other pass rushers,” he said. “He had 10 sacks, then he had a ‘terrible year,’ 7.5 sacks. Look at the tackles for losses, the forced fumbles — he’s got all that. He’s got range, he uses his hands in the pass rush, he can flips his hips and all that kind of stuff.
“He’s a young man that I really feel there might be more to give. I think he’s going to have an upside. So I thought that was a terrific pick for us.”
Player and coach definitely like the progress so far, before the pads go on and the intensity goes up this summer.
“I just expect to be good,” Coples said of his one full minicamp practice and today’s half practice. “I trust the staff and I feel they’re going to coach me up to the best of my ability.”
There are a few players with famous fathers at this camp, but D’Anton Lynn, the undrafted free agent DB from Penn State, said RBs coach Anthony Lynn won’t be helping him secure a roster spot, for a couple of reasons.
“They’re all about business here,” said Lynn fils. “I’ll have to earn my spot on the team. Me and my dad were joking after practice when I called him on the phone. So much is thrown at us so fast that I honestly forgot he was here at the practices.”
But while Anthony won’t be coaching up his son, D’Anton appreciates that this is a fairly unusual situation.
“It is very cool,” he said. “Not many people get to say they played for their dad, especially at this level.”
Ryan, who admits he was helped up the coaching ladder by being the son of Buddy, thinks it’s definitely an advantage for D’Anton having his father in the game. And he also likes some of what D-Lynn brings to the field.
“The thing that jumps at you is that this is a converted corner,” he said. “In the new NFL, that seems what you’re looking at. He was a corner at Penn State and was a very productive player there. I thought he was smart and a good tackler, and that’s what you’ve seen here. We put him back inside, at nickel and had him work at safety. When you have guys competing for jobs, you want position flexibility. He might not be a starting-caliber safety or a starting-caliber corner, but he might be a guy that fits in in between and that’s what you want. He’s also a special-teamer as well, so I think he’s got a chance.”
Second-rounder Stephen Hill continued to go up and grab catches all over the field, including a double move down the field on a deep ball from tryout Matt Simms. … Aussie TE Hayden Smith had a nice grab on a crossing pattern among several and the pro-level rugby player looked more comfortable this morning than he did Friday morning. … LB Demario Davis showed some quicks to get into the backfield a few times during team drills. … RB Terrance Ganaway burst free behind a sealing block by OL Anthony Parker for a big gainer. … Nice pass breakups by undrafted FAs Donnie Fletcher and Ryan Steed. … The Jets told reporters Saturday night that tryout WR Royce Pollard out of Hawaii has been signed as an undrafted free agent.
Tags: Anthony Lynn, D'Anton Lynn, Demario Davis, Matt Simms, Quinton Coples, Rex Ryan, rookie minicamp
Posted in Randy Lange | 11 Comments »