There were many things to like about the Jets' first defense, which was the high-profile unit in the White Team's 24-21 triumph over the Green Team on Sunday afternoon.
The White defense piled up seven sacks of Chad Pennington and nine total, although head coach Eric Mangini admitted "they may have gotten a few more sacks than they should've because the rules of engagement were you couldn't get too close to the quarterback."
And the unit held the Green offense to 238 yards in the full-game simulation.
But one of the nicest developments was the play of starting cornerbacks David Barrett and Justin Miller. They were both "on" Sunday to the point where starting wide receivers Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery were limited to five catches for 37 yards. Cotchery's one TD catch in the fourth quarter came against safety Erik Coleman.
"They're both doing a good job," safety Kerry Rhodes said. "Justin has a lot more focus. I think he understands what we need from him. And David's doing a great job. He's been healthy and he's a veteran. He knows what it takes to get this job done."
Barrett smiles when asked about how his summer has been going after last year's struggles.
"I'd say I'm having a decent camp," he said. "You can always do better at things, but right now I think I'm doing pretty decent. I feel good. I feel like I'm 100 percent. I'm ready to go out there, have fun and do what I need to do to help my team."
He supplied some of that help with strong first-half coverage and nearly two interceptions in a span of eight defensive snaps.
"Yeah, I had two in my hands," he said, "but one was called back and the other was knocked out of my hands."
It was even more dramatic than that. Because of those liberal sack rules Mangini spoke of, Barrett's excellent tiptoe sideline pick was nullified. And the ball knocked out of his hands when Coleman was also trying for the ball and knocked them both over.
And Miller has said, "I've just dedicated myself to getting better. And it's not only me. All the guys feel that way. Nobody's going to settle for mediocrity. We're pushing each other to be better and just go as hard as we can."
"Barrett, especially the last four or five days of camp, has really continued to improve and has been extremely competitive," Mangini said. "And I've been extremely happy with Justin Miller's progress. His finish on plays, the way he's using his strength, all those things. I looked at his notebook last night and he had very detailed notes. All those things I'm happy with."
And the coach seemed happy with the defense's overall performance. The run was definitely not featured in this practice, but the White run unit allowed 17 rushing yards. The two DTs, Dewayne Robertson and the Greens' Sione Pouha, split four of the day's 15 sacks, and Rhodes nearly had an INT-return TD except that Bryan Thomas, had he not run by "Tui," probably would've executed a strip sack.
The first D was in on the last drive as the Whites tried to prevent the Greens from getting close enough to force that overtime that everyone except perhaps Mangini was trying to avoid. The unit succeeded as Mike Nugent's only missed kick of the day came from 65 yards out.
"Oh, yeah, it got pretty close," Barrett said of the simulation somehow producing a Fordham fantastic finish. "It came down to the last two minutes of deciding a game. A lot of games in the NFL end up like that. So you've got to be prepared, bring your 'A' game, and be ready to go out there and get the job done."
Lately, Barrett's been taking those words to heart.