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Questions Remain at WR & TE

Posted Jun 13, 2013

With Santonio Holmes continuing to rehab his left foot and Dustin Keller working down in South Florida with the Dolphins, there will be opportunities at both the Jets’ wide receiver position and tight end positions at SUNY Cortland.  After a sometimes forgettable minicamp, many Jets’ pass catchers will be in rebound mode when players report to training camp on July 25.

“We actually had a couple of drops in the walk-through yesterday which was interesting,” said a miffed Rex Ryan on Thursday.  “And again, it has to get better. You guys see it — you’ve seen the drops as well as I have… In the NFL, it’s a pressure game. You should catch the football. That’s your job.”

Holmes, who told me he is targeting a training camp return, would make the landscape look a whole lot different.  He is a tremendous route runner who rarely lets the ball touch the turf.   The Jets had an anemic pass offense in 2012 (ranking 30th in yards per game – 180.7) and sorely missed Holmes after No. 10 went down in Week 4.

“We need Santonio Holmes. I don’t think there’s any doubt,” Ryan said.  “He is a tremendous football player. The first year we had him, he won like four games in critical times. He’s an MVP of a Super Bowl, making clutch catches.  There’s probably no bigger time than that. I mean, that’s been his history. Obviously, that would be a big shot in the arm for us to get him back out there and healthy.”

Normally sure-handed Jeremy Kerley fought off a heel injury this spring and dropped more passes than Ryan is accustomed to seeing.  Still the Jets have to feel solid with JK, a player who led them in both receptions (56) and yards (827) in 2012. 

But regardless of when Holmes returns to the lineup, the Green & White need Stephen Hill to develop into a consistent contributor.  After experiencing some swelling in his surgically repaired knee early in OTAs, Hill also did not corral a bunch of catchable balls this offseason.  Hill has the size and speed you want in a prototypical vertical wideout and that was on display Thursday when he caught a long pass from rookie Geno Smith in a team drill.

The Jets like Clyde Gates’ ability, but the speedy WR didn’t participate in team drills in minicamp due to a hamstring issue. 

“We’re relatively young. And we had some soft tissues type stuff, some minor stuff, that kept guys out,” said GM John Idzik.  “So it limited their reps a little bit. I think all things considered, there’s a lot going on. Like I said, we’ve filled their heads to the brim with that and you may miss a little time, some may miss a little time with a strain here or there, that factors in. But is that a concern? That may be a little strong.”

Idzik recently signed former Seahawks WR Ben Obomanu and the Jets had former Jags wideout Mike Sims-Walker in for a tryout.  Rookies Zach Rogers (Tennessee) and Ryan Spadola (Lehigh) both had their moments, but the group as a whole did not have a stellar camp showing while making the transition to Marty Mornhinweg’s West Coast attack.

If the Jets elect to add another veteran WR, Braylon Edwards remains on the free agent market and is a fan favorite.  New York’s AFC representative needed to add competition at the tight end position and they invited Kellen Winslow Jr. in for a tryout.  The soon to be 30-year-old Winslow Jr. arrived and flashed his athleticism immediately, showcasing his speed and hands.

“We thought Kellen did a nice job given the fact that you get off a plane, you get into a meeting and a couple hours later you’re out on the field,” Idzik said.  “I think all things considered, he did a pretty good job.”

Did Winslow do enough to earn a contract and join the likes of Cumberland, Konrad Reuland and Hayden Smith?  We will soon find out.

And hopefully the case of the dropsies for the Jets doesn’t return.

“We’ll have to try to fix that one way or the other. If that’s with other players, so be it,” Ryan said. 

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