Today was kind of Mark Sanchez Day, but it was Kellen Clemens Day as well.
Clemens worked with the ones during today's OTA practice and on a day when the defense was ahead of the offense, KC still came up with a few plays of note.
He dished to TE Dustin Keller on a nice timing turnaround in 11-on-11 drills. In the red zone, he got the right defense and popped a touchdown pass to Brad Smith alone in the end zone. On his two-minute drive, he threw a hard, high fastball that stuck to Chansi Stuckey's hands. "Nice catch, nice catch," Clemens told Stuckey after the ones came off the field.
"Today was tough offensively," Clemens said afterwards, turning questions about how he did into answers about how he and his unit fared. "We started out slow in the 7-on-7 red zone period. The one thing I really like is when we got in the team red zone period and two-minute, we responded well. In a game you're going to be met with some adversity, so I like how we responded. But we will have to clean up the first part of practice."
Head coach Rex Ryan wasn't asked much about Clemens at today's news conference — Sanchez dominated the Q's and the A's. But he did say about the fourth-year man's Monday, Tuesday and Thursday practices, "I think Kellen had a pretty good week. He did a lot of good things."
But one thing Rex didn't like at today's session was his receivers' hands.
"Especially the further we get going, you can't have drops in the red zone — you can't do it. The reason that those balls get intercepted is that everybody's eyes are on the receivers. You see a lot of zone coverage down there and you don't have room to throw. Those corners who should be out of the picture are suddenly in the picture. Those balls get intercepted.
"It's a lack of focus. It's just fundamental football. That'll drive you crazy as a coach. Absolutely, the No. 1 thing as a receiver, you can have all the speed in the world but if you can't catch the football, you're of no use."
The speed reference might've been to David Clowney, who continues to play well but had a drop inside the 20 as well.
"I feel he's confident. I know he knows he belongs and he can play in this league. The great speed he has, we all know about, and I think he understands the offense pretty well. So I'm expectant of big things from him," Ryan said. "But he's gotta catch the ball in the red zone. To separate from the good receivers, you need to be one of those red zone targets, and hopefully he can be one of those guys for us."
Another dropper was Kareem Brown. Ryan had a little fun with that miscue but as always was supportive of his player.
"We all saw the drop today — it was a beauty. It's too bad those numbers couldn't catch the ball for him," the coach said. "He's done well. He really has. I know you get one drop. It's unfortunate you guys were there to see that, but he's had his moments already in camp and that's another guy that really is adding to his value for this football team."
Ryan had a glowing progress report on LB Vernon Gholston: "I'm really excited about Vernon. I think he is where I thought he would be right now at this stage. He is working and getting better every day. I think we are seeing a guy now that is confident, he's right there, he knows what he is doing and you're seeing that natural talent that he has. I know one thing: He is going to be a major contributor for us."
Rex also loves how Rutgers free agent Jamaal Westerman is developing, so much so that Westerman, who was a DE at RU and started with the Jets as an outside LB, is now learning inside LB as well. "Obviously, we think a great deal of this guy," he said. "He's a quick study and I think he has a lot of upside." ... Ryan said the team's tempo for this week of practices was outstanding: "The tempo was the thing I was excited about the most."
S Kerry Rhodes was excused from today's practice for personal reasons. ... Pro Bowl RBs Thomas Jones and Leon Washington continued to stay away from the voluntary sessions, but Ryan said he heard according to Twitter the other day that Jones might show up next week. "I hope he does," Rex said. "I'm excited about that if that's the case." ... Rookie RB Shonn Greene was on the sidelines due to a hamstring injury. ... TE Bubba Franks also remains an observer, still rehabbing an injury, and isn't expected to begin practicing until training camp. We'll have a story on Bubba's return next week.