The defense is still ahead of the offense on day two of Jets training camp, but this morning there was a twist. The D had to come from behind.
The scene was the first offense getting hot under the suddenly radiant central New York sun at SUNY Cortland. In the last period of practice, Kellen Clemens snapped off a nice intermediate out to Dustin Keller, with the tight end going high to make the crowd-pleasing snag over LB Bart Scott.
Then Clemens, under blitz pressure, let another one go for Jerricho Cotchery down the left side. J-Co split the coverage of CB Lito Sheppard and S Kerry Rhodes for another video-worthy catch to the 1-yard line. On the next play, Clemens sneaked in for the score.
Time for the defense to put on their rally caps.
"It's a battle right now between both sides of the ball," Leonhard said, "because we both are trying to set that tempo, set that attitude that we're in control and we're going to run the tempo of practice. The defense came back and responded really well, both the second and third defense and once the ones got back out there, we really got the momentum back to our side."
Leonhard was the pointman for the unit's resurgence that spoiled KC's storybook end to practice with two interceptions. The first was on a Clemens throw into coverage, and as soon as Leonhard snagged it, he turned around and threw a short jumpshot to Sheppard trailing the play, and Lito took it back the other way for a big gain.
"Lito was talking to me before I had it," Leonhard said. "I don't know if Jets fans have seen that too much in the past. We're going to be smart about that, but we're going to try to score."
Leonhard finished the comeback with a great read and pick of Clemens trying to find Keller down the middle before K Jay Feely ended the long session (the only full-team practice today, with a special teams session in the afternoon) by banging through three field goals in three tries.
Rex Ryan, during his just-concluded late-morning news conference, mused about Leonhard, his safety last season with the Ravens.
"Jim Leonhard, and I'm sure you could talk to Kellen about this, he disguises his coverages as well as anybody outside of Ed Reed in this league," Ryan said.
Other morning highlights that came before the give-and-take finish:
As the sun burned off the cool fog from the surrounding hillside, the defense remains hot. On the first play of 9-on-9 running drills, DT Marques Douglas penetrates and drops Thomas Jones for the loss. Chalk up another TFL for Douglas, one of the recent NFL leaders in that category.
The D also looks on its game in blitz pickup drills. First, LB Craig Kobel gets by Leon Washington with an outside move. Then Bryan Thomas bullrushes rookie RB Shonn Greene, knocking him backward. And Vernon Gholston maneuvers inside past FB Jehuu Caulcrick.
In early individual drills, first-year WR Paul Raymond has a few dropped passes "against air." But Raymond rebounds with a scoring bomb from Clemens against James Ihedigbo and Emanuel Cook.
In more of the odd 9-on-9 looks, with two lineman dropped out from both sides of the ball, Mark Sanchez tries to get to Wallace Wright deep, but S Eric Smith scores the first pick of the day lying in wait in the deep middle.
RB Danny Woodhead was not practicing, instead standing on the side in sweats. Head coach Rex Ryan said at his late-morning news conference that Woodhead took a blow to the head on Friday and the medical staff is being cautious about holding him out.
And DT Kris Jenkins went down on a run drill and left practice, limping off to the sidelines and then to the trainers' tent for a liedown. Ryan said Big Jenk injured his calf, didn't think it was serious but might keep No. 77 out for "a few days." We'll have more on Jenkins' situation later today.
Morning attendance: 978.