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 »
Football is about a lot of things — the spectacle, the TV, the money, the trophy, the rings. But it is built on a lot of other things, such as great personalities and great stories. One of those people with one of those quintessential football stories is new Jet Lanier Coleman.
Whodat? Coleman is someone most fans have never heard of before, the 6’4″, 322-pound defensive tackle from New Orleans and Louisiana-Lafayette. Less than a week ago he went from longshot tryout at the Jets’ rookie minicamp to newly signed undrafted free agent.
But that only begins to scratch this story’s surface. Coleman was a longer shot than most tryouts in part because he’d been out of the game for three years. Well, out of the game but not far from it. As the friendly, intense big guy told me as we walked down the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center first-floor hallway last Saturday, when he was still an unsigned tryout, he’d spent those three years well in investing for his future by moving into the ranks of college strength and conditioning coaches. This past season he was one of the nation’s youngest strength coaches at the University of California.
“In my job, a lot of guys I work with and a lot of the mentors I have, they say to the guys they work with, ‘What do you desire? What do you want most in life?” he told me this week from his new spot in the Jets’ locker room. “When I look back on everything, in my youth, as a strength coach, my desire, my passion obviously is to help motivate and mold guys. But also, it was to still play football.
“So coming back into it was a huge thing on my part. I told some of my athletes I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t get back and give it a shot.”
Coleman was “in it” in the first place for his decent career for the UL Ragin’ Cajuns in 2007-08, which got him on NFL draft radars only to the extent that he received a tryout with Minnesota in ’09. And that may have come about due to the scouting of another product of Bayou country, then-Vikings D-line coach Karl Dunbar.
“Coach Dunbar is legendary in my part of the country in South Louisiana, for not only the type of coach he is but the type of man he is,” Coleman said. “When it comes to anything in sports, before we walk through those doors, we’re men first, in the community and as leaders. He’s one of those to me, somebody I’ve always looked up to and a lot of the coaches I’ve worked for and worked with have felt the same, that he’s a great man.
“The story goes that Coach Dunbar was at LSU’s pro day, his alma mater, and he just came down I-10. When he saw me at my pro day, he was pretty impressed and told my position coaches he was pretty interested in me,” Coleman said, adding of the trip north, “It didn’t work out. I felt like I had done a lot, I had done everything I could, and when they told me they weren’t going to give me another opportunity, that was pretty tough to deal with.
“Not that I used the three years to recover from it, but it really took me a while to refocus my emotions back from football. It was a very difficult thing to deal with at the time. But I came out of it OK, I guess,” he said with a chuckle.
Coleman began his post-football career path, first with UL, then Rice for a year and a half, then Cal. But he kept in touch with Coach Dunbar, who texted him to “Keep on fighting for it, find a way in.
“It was not a big speech, nothing overly motivational,” Coleman said, “but it was just something that was enough for me to keep on fighting for this goal I had for this coming season.”
Dunbar, of course, moved on in his career path, from the Vikes to the Jets before last season. Fast-forward to this offseason. The Jets brought 61 players to their rookie minicamp: their seven draft picks, 29 undrafted free agents, 25 first-year players. The odds are prohibitively against any tryout player making any NFL roster.
But Coleman showed head coach Rex Ryan, coordinator Dennis Thurman and Dunbar that he could stay play the game. And after the release of signed undrafted FA Roosevelt Holliday, Coleman found his way in.
“It was such a huge victory, so to speak, for me, my family, my loved ones, my support system,” he said. That support system is large and includes his mom and dad, Ané and Larry, his girlfriend Alyssa, and strength coaches Rob Phillips (Tulane), Rusty Whitt (Louisiana), Jared Kaaiohelo (Rice), his coaches at Cal and coaches Chris DiSanto and Derek Keyes with the Cleveland Browns.
And he’s got a bunch of friends and well-wishers from down home and around the country who are now with him on his dream ride.
“Some of my friends are like, ‘Your goal is to go out there and be a Hall of Famer.’ Ultimately, yeah, you want to be the absolute best you can be,” he agreed. “But right now my goal is to be in the best shape I can be coming into training camp. My goal now is to go have a good lunch, go have a good meeting with Coach Dunbar, then come back and have another great day on Friday.”
Lanier Coleman may have taken some time to fight his way off that writer’s block he had, but now he’s begun writing one of those fine NFL stories, and there’s no last page in sight.
Tags: Dennis Thurman, Karl Dunbar, Lanier Coleman, Rex Ryan, rookie minicamp
Posted in Randy Lange | 46 Comments »
Is Geno Smith a gymrat? Seems that way. But he’s definitely a bookworm.
The anecdotes continue to collect, like three-hole-punch pages slipping onto the rings of a playbook binder.
The one impressive predraft tale was told by ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer, who runs the Elite 11 passing camp pairing up top college quarterbacks with top high school QBs. The six college signalcallers last year each got a 90-page playbook three weeks before the start of the camp.
“Geno showed up, and on day one, he could’ve taught it,” Dilfer said. “He didn’t just know it. He owned it.”
Tale No. 2 is one that I observed on Thursday. Smith was literally the first rookie to come through the football entrance after noon to check in for this Jets rookie minicamp. He had some time to kill before he headed from the hallway to the locker room, so he opened up something — his playbook. And he was studying it.
Could that have been for show? I suppose so. But there weren’t any news cameras or reporters in the hallway, just a few Jets personnel. Maybe he took a few minutes to refresh his memory about a play or two because that’s who he is.
Then came these two practices Friday and today. They’re all rookies and first-year players, so be wary of the single anecdote, but Rex Ryan remembered one particular play that impressed him as a defensive coach and head coach. It was an adjustment that wasn’t in the playbook yet but Geno made a good anyway.
“One time when Geno was back there, we had a run called,” Ryan said. “With Marty [Mornhinweg], we all know how rare that is, especially when we’re in these no-pad days. But the run was called to the tight end, and the way the formation was set up the defense gave us a crazy look. The outside linebacker was lined up two removed and there was no edge [blocker] there.
“We don’t even have a checked play in. But Geno checked out of it anyway. Obviously he’s got some awareness.”
“I try not to make mental mistakes in practice,” Geno said this afternoon in the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center locker room. “I try to be sound in the huddle, to saying the cadence, to going out there with the proper footwork, the proper depth on my drops and doing my reads. I’m trying not to make mental mistakes.”
Mornhinweg, the OC, and QBs coach David Lee, Smith said, “do a great job of allowing us to improve. I’ve got a long way to go, I know that. We all do. I think that goes for every single rookie that comes into the NFL, every single quarterback — probably the toughest position in the league. So there’s a lot on my plate. It’s just about how you handle it. I’ve been doing my best to just study my playbook, stay up late, come in here early, do all the things necessary to be a good quarterback.”
Ryan has stressed twice the better second offensive line that’s lining up now. With draft picks Brian Winters, Oday Aboushi and William Campbell and free agent All-America C Dalton Freeman, Ryan said, “It’s a good-looking group, there’s no doubt. That’s impressive to me.”
The dark-horse candidate is Will Campbell, the Michigan DT who’s lining up at guard. “He’s the kid that really intrigues me,” Rex said. “Mike Devlin’s an outstanding coach, but I’m surprised Campbell’s not making mistakes. He seems like he’s been doing it his whole life.”
Ryan gave passing praise to first-round D-lineman Sheldon Richardson again, free-agent LB Troy Davis out of Central Florida. And he did not name one defender who missed his turn on a play. “The defense was so good, they decided to line up with 10 today,” the coach said. “I can never figure that out. If I’m [on the field], I’m going to know where I am on the depth chart.”
Tags: David Lee, Geno Smith, Marty Mornhinweg, Mike Devlin, Rex Ryan, rookie minicamp, Trent Dilfer, Will Campbell
Posted in Randy Lange | 176 Comments »
Rex Ryan seems to enjoy this time of the NFL year quite a bit. The first practice of rookie minicamp gives the Jets head coach a chance to impress on his young charges the adaptations that will have to take place for them all too succeed at the pro level, while at the same time allowing him to admire some of the skills of the individual players who have taken the Jets practice field for the first time.
Today’s first practice of the 2013 rookie minicamp was no different.
“I always like to challenge guys mentally when they get here,” Rex opened his news conference this afternoon, “to let them know the process speeds up quite a bit. Wow! We made a few busts today on both sides of the ball. Either way, we’ve got a long way to go.”
But as far as the talent on hand? Wow again. Ryan was first asked about second-round QB Geno Smith.
“I liked the way Geno threw the ball. He looked pretty impressive to me,” the coach said. “He can really spin it, no surprise there. … But you kind of listen to the huddle and all that kind of stuff. Some guys can’t spit it out. He certainly can. The way he conducts himself, eyes up and all that stuff. And you want to see the ball come out with some kind of rhythm.
“Obviously a lot of things have to get better, but for the most part I thought he did throw the ball on rhythm pretty well and he was fairly accurate with it, so it was good.”
Smith spoke in the locker room earlier (we’ll provide a transcript of his remarks later this afternoon) and wasn’t saying he aced his first exam.
“My first goal is to prove myself to the team here,” he said before a large group of pads and pens, microphones and cameras. “I’ll let the coaches do the grading. If I was giving myself a mark, I’m a tough grader so I’d say an F. I need to get better every day.”
The Jets’ pair of first-rounders were also around. The top pick of the draft, CB Dee Milliner, stayed on the sideline or on the stationary bike due to his shoulder.
“It’s not all the way, 100 percent, healed,” he said. “It’s a couple of months’ process before you get back to normal. I just know to listen to what the trainers tell me, go out there and do what they tell me to do. Until they clear me to get out there, I’m going to be over there doing rehab.”
But. he was adamant that he’d be on the field in full pads sooner rather than later. Will he be ready to roll by the start of training camp? “Yeah,” he said, “I’ll be ready.”
Ryan wasn’t worried that the player considered the top corner on most everyone’s draft big board might fall behind.
“Dee’s got to nail down the mental part of it because he’s not going to get out there right away physically and do it,” the coach said. “Clearly he showed in college that he’s familiar with a lot of coverages. Several of the coverages Alabama plays are our coverages, too.”
The other first-rounder is Missouri DT Sheldon Richardson, and here Ryan’s eyes lit up.
“Sheldon was good. I don’t want to put expectations to high, but he was impressive, to say the least,” Ryan said. “We move them around, we can have a guy at nose, 3-technique, 5-technique, but there’s several different things he can do. One thing we saw today was his explosiveness, another is his effort to the football. He loves to play, you can already tell that. You could’ve doubled that practice and he’d've been fine.”
Richardson explained that his 6’3″, 294-pound size helped turn him into the football personality he is today.
“I was always the chubby kid in class that everybody picked on,” he said, “and I played with a chip on my shoulder. I still feel like I’m the same kid. I like to do what skinny guys do. Dunk a basketball? I want to jump as high as him and dunk a basketball. I happen to be able to dunk a basketball because of it. I have fun. I’m a kid out there.”
Ryan will have more comments on all his players over the coming weeks and months, but he singled out a few more players today for different reasons.
“One guy who stood out was the receiver from Tennessee, Zach Rogers,” the coach said of the undrafted FA. “He caught a lot of balls out there, he was a slot receiver, you saw him return punts. And he did a good job in the special teams drills.”
Ryan also gave some kudos to free-agent center Dalton Freeman — “That All-American from Clemson looked really impressive to me” — and even touted a tryout player, former Rutgers CB Mason Robinson — “He was playing some nickel. The coaches at Rutgers said nobody wanted to fight this guy. That’s pretty good for a little [5'10", 185] corner.”
The Jets rookies will conduct the second day of their “swimming lessons” on Saturday with a schedule very similar to today’s before conducting a closed third and final day of camp on Sunday and then heading home or to the phones to call home and wish their moms Happy Mother’s Day.
Tags: Dalton Freeman, Dee Milliner, Geno Smith, Mason Robinson, Rex Ryan, rookie minicamp, Sheldon Richardson, Zach Rogers
Posted in Randy Lange | 59 Comments »
The next chapter of the Jets’ 2013 offseason is being written beginning this week. The Green & White rookie class arrived at the Atlantic Health Training Center on Thursday, and today’s first practice of the camp is under way on the grass fields in Florham Park, N.J.
The arrivals couldn’t begin until noon Thursday, and by early evening everyone was checked in, had gone through the indoctrination process as a new Jet, and rested up in their hotel rooms for this morning’s breakfast, their first team meeting with head coach Rex Ryan and staff, and their first practice set to start around 10 a.m.
The stations each player stopped at included a visit to the doctor for a physical, equipment manager Gus Granneman’s equipment room to be fitted for a helmet and receive his initial jersey and new number, a stop with head strength and conditioning coach Justus Galac’s weightroom, a chat with director of player development Dave Szott, a stay with the media relations team, and a quick couple of headshots with the always ebullient team photographer, Al Pereira.
Among the earliest to run this pro pigskin gauntlet was second-round quarterback Geno Smith. He came through the double glass doors of the players’ entrance at 12:01 p.m. and began his check-in process. On his way to the locker room, Smith was greeted by a couple of veteran Jets WRs: Santonio Holmes, recently returned from his degree work at Ohio State, and Stephen Hill, last year’s second-rounder. Holmes, Hill and the rest of the Jets’ established pass catchers will begin to catch Geno’s passes at the June, when Smith joins the rest of the team’s quarterbacks at the full-squad minicamp.
The other five draft choices arrived in short order. In rough order of appearance they were seventh-round FB Tommy Bohanon and fifth-round OL Oday Aboushi came in the next wave, followed by first-round CB Dee Milliner, sixth-round OL Will Campbell, third-round G Brian Winters and first-round DL Sheldon Richardson.
The 15-member band of undrafted free agents, plus some minicamp invitees, were also among the new Jets on hand. Among those registering in the early afternoon were TEs Mike Shanahan of Pitt and Chris Pantale of Boston College, wideouts Zach Rogers of Tennessee and KJ Stroud from Bethune-Cookman and C Dalton Freeman from Clemson.
Shanahan, who confirms for any who doubted it that he’s not related to Washington head coach Mike Shanahan, was stopped between stations for a hallway chat with senior personnel executive Terry Bradway and pro scout Aaron Glenn.
This is not an all-inclusive list. We’ll have a report on all the rookies and first-year players who are at the camp plus new uniform numbers when everything becomes official on Friday.
Speaking of new unis, the drafted Jets are reported to have received their initial numbers. These could still change but at the moment Granneman and his staff have distributed the following numbers to the draftees:
27 — Dee Milliner
91 — Sheldon Richardson
7 — Geno Smith
67 — Brian Winters
75 — Oday Aboushi
65 — Will Campbell
40 — Tommy Bohanon
The minicamp is closed to the public. A more complete list of the participants in this camp, which includes all the Jets draft choices, 2013 undrafted free agents, 2012 first-year free agents signed prior to the draft, and tryout candidates, will be available later today. The minicamp will continue through Sunday, with media availability on Friday and Saturday, including open locker room and Rex Ryan news conferences both days.
Tags: Aaron Glenn, Brian Winters, Dee Milliner, Geno Smith, Rex Ryan, rookie minicamp, Sheldon Richardson, Terry Bradway
Posted in Randy Lange | 24 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 »
The Jets’ rookie minicamp begins Friday with a morning practice and then we invite you to join us for a special live video broadcast at 1 p.m. ET. You will be able to view exclusive footage of the first session and also hear and interact with some of the new Jets as we’ll take questions on facebook.com/Jets, Twitter @nyjets and right here on newyorkjets.com.
You can also watch head coach Rex Ryan’s Friday and Saturday news conferences scheduled to be streamed live on newyorkjets.com at 3 p.m. both days.
In addition to their eight draft selections, the Jets’ have agreed in principle with 10 undrafted free agents and have scheduled 23 players for tryouts. Friday will mark the first professional workout for dozens of talented players.
“We got some really good players who we think can contribute to us winning some football games,” said VP of scouting Joey Clinkscales.
Four months remain before the season commences for New York’s AFC representative with a visit from the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium on Sept. 9. But players will put their cleats on, button up their chinstraps and hit the field this weekend. While the youngsters will arrive shortly, the veterans have already begun training under strength coach Bill Hughan at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, and a soft May rain didn’t force them inside this morning.
Spring is here, but fall is around the corner. It’s time for a little football so stay tuned to newyorkjets.com throughout the weekend for complete coverage of rookie camp.
Tags: Joey Clinkscales, live video broadcast, Rex Ryan, rookie minicamp
Posted in Eric Allen | 36 Comments »
The Jets have announced they have signed two linebackers among the 20 tryout players who attended this past weekend’s rookie minicamp — Cory Reamer from Alabama and Brashton Satele from Hawaii.
The team has also released one undrafted free agent linebacker signed immediately after the draft, Broderick Stewart from Vanderbilt.
"I’m officially a Jet," Reamer (6’3", 231) told the Mobile Press-Register. "This weekend has just been crazy, wondering whether you’re going to make the team or not. You go out there and you’ve got all these guys that are free agents and draft picks and all these guys that are working out, too, that you’re competing against for a spot. So to come out of it with a deal was pretty exciting."
Satele (6’0½", 241), whose cousin is Samson Satele, former Miami center now with Oakland, sat out all of last season due to a shoulder injury. In fact, Brashton thought he had signed with the Raiders as an undrafted FA right after the draft, but the Silver & Black withdrew the offer, making him free again and able to try out with the Jets.
As Satele told the Honolulu Advertiser, "I haven’t played for a year, but I didn’t lose a step. Coming into the situation, I knew I was ready for the physical part. The mental part, I was wondering if I still had it."
Apparently so. He and Reamer will be returning later this month to join the rest of the Jets rookies and veterans at OTA practices.
Tags: Cory Reamer, Rex Ryan, rookie minicamp
Posted in Randy Lange | 47 Comments »
This weekend’s rookie minicamp concludes with a closed practice, so I can’t tell you anything about what happened today at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. But I can wrap up our coverage of the camp with a little riff on something that my and your good friend Ira brought up in a question to the Radar this morning.
"Is it me," Ira asks, "or is it the media that covers all NFL teams around the country making too much of a big deal how players perform, especially the ones that were drafted in rookie minicamp/tryout weekend? Or is it just like anything else in today’s world how the media blows things out of proportion?"
My response to Ira would be "all of the above." The spotlight on the NFL and its various teams is burning larger and hotter and is turned on longer than ever before. That’s only natural. It’s a measure of how important the Jets, the 31 other teams and the NFL at large are to people.
In that way it’s a good thing. It’s good to be the king, to have a property that everyone wants a piece of, wants to know all about. The players involved, if they didn’t already know from their major college days, find this out early, and maybe that’s not such a bad thing, either. They know early on that this game is important to lots of people who pay the freight and it has to be important to them as well.
But then there’s the dark side to the white, hot spotlight. Everything is measured, and every measurement is instantly weighed to see whether it is a good development or a bad development, a sign of good character or bad character. And that’s even when the activity is not really designed for such a purpose.
Such as this minicamp. Head coach Rex Ryan and his staff staged a camp that is professional and whose first four practices were conducted in front of the Jets media, so the rooks needed to be on their toes, ready to go. But it was not a high-intensity deal. No pads allowed, no tackling in any drills. It was more of a this-is-the-NFL, this-is-how-we-do-things-here event.
Yet at last year’s rookie minicamp, for example, reporters were charting Mark Sanchez’s 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 passing accuracy. And this year Joe McKnight’s dropped passes and tossed cookies were totaled up.
Is this fair? It doesn’t matter. The reporting on all NFL events will be what it will be. And to be sure, reporters weren’t the only ones charting every player’s drops and fumbles and missed assignments at this camp. Even though Ryan insists that his players have fun, the assistant coaches were also compiling their statistics off of video review after each practice.
But too often many fans and reporters make a rush to judgment based on the numbers and on the first things that come out of a player’s mouth. They are of the "You never get a second chance to make a first opinion" school. Coaches, on the other hand, are usually from the school of Abe Lincoln, who once said, "I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better."
I thought Rex captured the issue well when he was asked if he was upset about McKnight’s conditioning.
"No," the coach replied. "Just go back to last year. Remember when you guys were telling me, ‘Shonn looks terrible’? Remember he couldn’t catch anything? Shonn Greene pulls up in the first special teams part of practice. And I think he ended up working out really well."
Another issue with McKnight is that he seems like an honest 22-year-old who answers all questions, but sometimes he says something quickly that he then amends to give a truer, more complex answer about his thoughts.
For instance, you may recall just one sentence from McKnight’s informal post-practice news conference Saturday — "I’m not in good shape right now" — and that made up your mind about him. But that was one sentence in a fuller explanation of where the kid from Louisiana by way of Southern California has been the past several weeks.
"No, it’s not a conditioning situation," he said. "I’m not in good shape right now. I’m in OK shape, but it could be better. I’m probably going to stay out here [at the Jets' complex] a couple of more days. I went on a couple of trips, visited a couple of teams, and I didn’t get a chance to work out. I worked out, but not like I did for the combine."
Now, do you want to see a fourth-round pick with a chance to make an important contribution to the Jets cause as an NFL rookie come to camp with any dropped passes or conditioning questions? No, but there’s good reason to think that’s not the kind of pro McKnight will be. And it’s good he has the desire to stick around if he can when all his fellow rookies are going back home or back to school tonight.
"I don’t think we need to overreact with this. He still does some great things out there," said Ryan. "The thing I appreciate about him is he’s trying to fight through it, albeit on a knee most of the time. But he’s fighting through it."
I can’t wait to see the Joe McKnight who shows up as a fighter Jet in June and August and September. I could be wrong in my optimism, but I don’t think so.
Two Brothers, a Wedding and a Minicamp
Nice job by Associated Press Jets beatwriter Dennis Waszak in unveiling the human interest story of Keith Buckman, the tryout guard from North Dakota State who had the tough choice this weekend of serving as a groomsman at his kid brother’s wedding or trying to make the Jets’ roster. You may have seen the story on our Clippings page, but here’s the link to Big D’s AP story on yahoo.com.
Tags: joe McKnight, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan, rookie minicamp, Shonn Greene
Posted in Randy Lange | 28 Comments »
At the conclusion of today’s second minicamp workout, Jets rookie RB Joe McKnight told a small gathering of reporters that his second day as a pro was better than a tough day one.
“It was better than yesterday’s,” he said. “I made it through OK. I didn’t give it up today.”
Although McKnight didn’t vomit, he did labor through the morning session and at one point walked over to a goalpost to receive treatment from the training staff. Admitting to nerves Friday, it was also revealed by head coach Rex Ryan and McKnight that the Jets’ fourth-round pick is battling a stomach virus.
“It was certain nerves and a stomach virus. Nerves was a part of it, but it wasn’t the whole part of it,” he said. “I was real sick when I came out but that’s no excuse. I should come out and practice.”
On numerous occasions the past two days, you’ve seen the burst and shiftiness that made McKnight a top-flight college running back his junior season at USC. But he’s also dropped a few passes and has had difficulty adjusting to the NFL pace.
“I’m just trying to get used to this process, the tempo of practice and the whole practice in general, meetings and everything,” he said. “I’m trying to get used to it. Once I get used to it, everything should be easy.”
Running backs coach Anthony Lynn wants McKnight to realize the opportunity he has in front of him and for the rookie to take advantage of it.
“Just being a pro, that’s basically what he tells me every day. He didn’t like the way I was throwing up and everything,” he said. “Professionals don’t do that. Once you’re here, there are a lot of people in the world dying to be in this position and I just have to take full advantage of it.”
Saying he’s just in “OK shape,” McKnight said he might extend his stay in Florham Park past Sunday when camp concludes.
“Tomorrow I just want to accomplish that I proved something to the coaches,” he said. “That’s the only thing I’m worrying about, just proving myself.”
Tags: Anthony Lynn, joe McKnight, Rex Ryan, rookie minicamp
Posted in Eric Allen | 38 Comments »