Practice Heats Up as Temp Cools Down
With Damon "Snacks" Harrison playing for the crosstown Giants, the Jets have different options at nose tackle in 2016. And one of them includes second-year DL Leonard Williams, who has racked up a sack in each of the team's first two preseason contests.
"We talked about it in the offseason and he was ready for it," said DL coach Pepper Johnson of Williams. "He's the ultimate team guy. It doesn't bother him. He's not selfish. That was a position we talked about him playing. We wanted to get him a couple, few of reps at it. Todd wanted him out there a few more plays, so he played some nose."
While Williams has played a new spot at times in the preseason, DL Sheldon Richardson will remain in the trenches for the foreseeable future after being forced into an OLB role at times last season.
"He's getting more confidence in me," Johnson said of Richardson, who amassed five sacks in 12 games. "He's asking me questions and he's kind of referring to me now more than what he did last year and trying to get some things accomplished himself. I just try to relate to him that I'm here to help."
Veteran CB Buster Skrine has had a fair amount of action on the outside in base as the competition continues for the No. 2 spot across from Darrelle Revis. Skrine, who shifts inside in sub packages, is one of the most competitive players on the practice field day in and day out.
"Buster is a joy to coach, really a coach's dream," said DB coach Joe Danna. "He goes hard every day, likes coaching, wants to be coached, wants to find ways he can get better. And a guy who has his ability, who can play inside and out, is really a luxury."
Meanwhile at safety, Marcus Gilchrist and Calvin Pryor are entering their second year together.
"It's definitely been nice to see those guys as a group, the communication, kind of understanding each other, that feel on the field that they have," Danna said. "Just continued improvement like everybody, but they have high standards for themselves, high lofty goals so we're just trying to help them get there."
Rookie inside linebacker Darron Lee, who outran most safeties at the Combine with a 4.43 time, is starting to play faster.
"The thing about game speed in my opinion, it comes with reps. The more you see things, the faster you are able to react and then your natural speed takes over," said assistant head coach/inside linebackers coach Mike Caldwell of Lee. "He's getting better at that and he can run. With the more time he sees things, he'll just continue to improve."
Rookie CB Juston Burris, a fourth-round pick from NC State, has had his share of ups and downs in his first professional training camp. But assistant defensive backs coach Daylon McCutcheon is excited about the talented corner and one of the reasons is his mental strength.
"Definitely one of the things that stands out about him is he competes. He'll get beat. He's going to line up, go back there and he's the same player," McCutcheon said. "He's going to be physical, he likes to get his hands on people at the line of scrimmage and that's what you want. A lot of times when you play in the secondary, guys get beat and then you have to push them to get back up in there and want to get in somebody's face and press. And he doesn't have that characteristic at all. He's going to get up there and compete, and I love that about him."