The symbolism was appropriate. On a beautiful moonlit North Jersey evening, before a crowd of diehard fans that included about 60 Green & White Legends from seasons past, the 2017 edition of the Jets took the MetLife Stadium field for the annual Green & White Practice.
And while it was a practice, with only the last half of the two-hour session a scrimmage-like series of 11-on-11 drives, there were a few plays that got the assembled Jets faithful cheering — a few sacks to warm the heart of Joe Klecko, one of the Ring of Honor Legends in attendance, and several big wideout plays to fire up Wesley Walker, the other ROH member watching from the sidelines.
Here are seven noteworthy items from tonight's two-hour practice:
1. Defense Ahead of OffenseThe Jets' defenders started out the 11-on-11 period fairly impenetrable by the offenses led by QBs Josh McCown, Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty. On the first five series, the offense picked up just one first down. The pass rush had a lot to do with that as Hackenberg was sacked twice, once on a free blitz by LB Spencer Paysinger, and Leonard Williams and the first D got a takedown of McCown. And Buster Skrine got a corner blitz strip-sack on the last play of the night.
Best Images from Saturday Night's Scrimmage/Practice at MetLife Stadium
2. McCown to HarperBut the O got off the schneid in a big way as WR Chris Harper, who stood out at practices earlier this week, broke free behind Skrine, was wide open for McCown's leading toss, and took it the rest of the way for a 55-yard play and the night's first touchdown. In position drills, Harper also sprung free from Morris Claiborne's coverage for a score from Petty.
3. Maye DayWith first-round rookie safety Jamal Adams in the building but sidelined by an ankle injury, second-round rookie safety Marcus Maye rose up. Maye had nice back-to-back breakups of passes in position drills. Then midway through 11-on-11s, he read McCown's eyes, went sprawling for the interception, got up and tore down the right sideline for a long return. Was he touched down way back up from the pick? The officials said no: touchdown for the defense.
4. Tight Ends Come Up BigLate in the practice, McCown drove the offense 45 yards to his 5-yard strike to TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who grabbed the pass at the goal line and muscled across for the score. Then Hackenberg took over from the plus-35 and, stepping up nicely from outside pressure, fired a strike to rookie TE Jordan Leggett, who dived in the end zone for the scoring reception.
5. Backs to the FutureThere was a running game in tonight's practice, but with Matt Forte and Bilal Powell sitting the festivities out, the carries were split up among rookie Elijah McGuire, Jordan Todman and Romar Morris. McGuire showed some flashes on slashes and a late sweep, but Todman had the long carry of the night, some 30 yards up the middle, to fuel the Petty field goal drive.
6. Q Takes a HitQuincy Enunwa went down during 7-on-7s, bringing the trainers out to the field. The veteran wideout stayed on his stomach for a few minutes, then kneeled, then got to his feet and walked off to the locker room to applause from the fans. Head coach Todd Bowles said afterward he injured his neck on the play. No word on how serious.
7. A Few Other NotablesIn the early portions of practice, CB Juston Burris had a couple of nice end zone breakups. WR Charone Peake had two strong red zone grabs, including using all his length on a fade from Petty. Robby Anderson had some key receptions on the night, including one to set up the ASJ score.
And the kickers looked solid. Chandler Catanzaro and Ross Martin hit their kicks in the 11-on-11s. And Lachlan Edwards at times looked outstanding, with a few 4.9-second hang times and a few outstanding long-ball placements inside the 10.