A couple of crowd-pleasing plays by several guys battling for depth chart position ended this morning's practice.
The second offense was in, and since this was Kellen Clemens' practice to work with the twos, he was in at QB. The first play was a beautiful sideline route to Brad Smith, a ball that rainbowed 30 yards and hit the fourth-year wide receiver in stride.
"Hurry up and come down so I can run with it," Smith said with a smile about his thoughts while waiting for the rainmaker. "That's the biggest thing on those passes."
A few plays later, Clemens was on the goal line for a two-point play. The shotgun snap sailed over his head, but he recovered on the bounce, kept a step ahead of some pursuing defenders, and lofted a wobbler into the end zone that undrafted WR Britt Davis leaped for and came down with.
"Britt Davis — the kid's making some plays," Clemens said. "You saw that very last one. He's doing a really good job."
Clemens is, of course, duking it out with Mark Sanchez for the starting quarterback job. Smith is in the fight for one of the backup wideout spots. Davis is fighting to make the roster and get in at the end of that WR depth chart.
But no Jet sees the negative personal side that such competitive fights can become.
Clemens was asked about how easy or hard it is to compete with Sanchez for his job and even to help the rookie get up to NFL speed. KC stayed on message, saying, "I'm not focused on the QB position or the QB competition. The goal, and Rex said it earlier, is to win the world championship. It would be taking a very micro focus to be thinking about just myself and the competition I'm in."
The same goes for Smith.
"It's a different kind of vibe you get when you're out there," he said. "The group we have, we don't approach it like that. We approach it as we want to help each other, help the team win. Some people say that as a cliché, but we mean it, and you can feel it out there."
More Morning Highlights
The players took the turf field this morning under bright, hot sunlight, less than 12 hours after severe thunderstorms finished their rumble through central New York.
One development is that CB Donald Strickland is back on the field after missing some practices with a knee bruise. In fact, in early position drills, he deftly breaks up a long ball from Chris Pizzotti intended for WR Aundrae Allison.
Sanchez, whose turn it is to work with the first offense, has some nice long completions in 7-on-7 work. First he drops a ball into Jerricho Cotchery's breadbasket. Then he finds Dustin Keller down the seam, Lito Sheppard trailing. That brings the first celebratory air punch of the morning, from the rookie QB.
Then in 11-on-11 drills, Sanchez play-actions and thinks he has Cotchery deep again. But Dwight Lowery is with J-Co step for step and swats the ball away.
Once practice is over, Sanchez and Clemens engage in another friendly competition, this time each trying to throw a football off of the crossbar from 35 yards. The two QBs are missing just low with their first several throws.
Then RB Danny Woodhead walks over, picks up a loose ball, throws — and clanks the pigskin off the crossbar. "You gotta do what you gotta do," Woodhead says with his Happy Gilmore smile as he picks up his rack and heads for the locker room.
This afternoon's final practice of the week at SUNY Cortland is a special teams session that will begin (weather permitting) at 4:15 p.m. The Jets return Sunday for their final week at Cortland with a morning full-squad practice and an afternoon special teams practice.