With all the talk about the first and second offensive units so far during training camp, it was the third offense that orchestrated the only scoring drive during Thursday night's Green and White Scrimmage at SUNY Cortland.
Wide receiver Paul Raymond took the ball from RB Danny Woodhead on a reverse, received a great late block by receiver Britt Davis on the outside, and was able to use his speed to get in the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown.
Before that, third-string quarterback Erik Ainge heaved a 38-yard pass to wide receiver Marcus Henry, who adjusted and then outjumped cornerback Drew Coleman for the catch.
“I kind of figured he was going to throw it to me because I had a smaller corner on me,” said the 6'4", 212-pound Henry after the scrimmage. “I kind of anticipated the jump ball. I try to be bigger than the other guy and go up and get the ball at its highest point.”
Ainge not only gave a lot of credit to Henry for making the grab but also praised wide receivers coach Henry Ellard. During a fabulous 16-year playing career, Ellard made a lot of catches utilizing his jumping ability.
“Henry does a really good job of teaching all the receivers to use all of their strengths,” said Ainge, the second-year passer from Tennessee. “Marcus, one of his strengths is his size. There was a smaller corner out there guarding him and I just gave him a chance. I give a lot of credit to Henry. Obviously, Marcus made the catch, but Henry Ellard does a good job of teaching those guys to use what they have."
The third offense stood out and gave the crowd something to cheer about as the ones and twos showed flashes but never finished drives, failing to covert on third and fourth downs. It never hurts to have depth, though, as some young players came out to play.
“I thought Erik Ainge did a nice job,” said head coach Rex Ryan after the scrimmage. “He got in there with that third group and Marcus Henry did a great job of giving his quarterback a chance when he went over Drew. Coleman was in good position, but Henry went up and took the ball from him. It was a great catch. Raymond got the reverse for the touchdown and it was set up perfectly. Defense had a miscommunication with a young safety and when you do that, bad things happen."
“That third O-line is really coming together. They’re doing a great job just getting everybody orchestrated,” added Ainge, who finished 2-for-3 for 46 yards. “We had the reverse to Paul Raymond — he got in the end zone and was in on some other short passes — and Danny Woodhead running the ball. Our threes have a lot of good players. It’s pretty easy for the QB to get the ball to those guys and let them do their thing.”
Ainge, who was on the active roster for seven games his rookie season and starred in last year’s preseason finale vs. Philadelphia (10-for-16, 131 yards, his first pro TD), is improving his game. A veteran now, he's worked with Brett Favre, Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens, picking up a lot along the way.
“Kellen Clemens does a real good job. He’s a real cerebral guy and he sees a lot of stuff. He does it by the book, he knows where to go with the football. He takes what Schotty [Brian Schottenheimer] and Coach Cav [QBs coach Matt Cavanaugh] give him and he can apply it from one meeting right up to practice," said Ainge. "How he studies film and his approach to the game — I think he got a lot of that from Chad. And I was able to see some of that from Chad while I was here, too, not to take anything away from Kellen, but he did a really good job with that.”
And when the season starts, Ainge feels that as a team the Jets will be in a good situation at QB no matter who gets the starting nod.
“I think we have four good QBs on this team and whichever one of those two guys starts, they are going to play really good football," he said. "It’d be a shot in the dark and I’d just be giving buzz if I said a name, but whichever one of those guys does start, I have all the confidence in the world that they will play really good football with the guys that they have around them and the coaching that we have.”