Minicamp has reached its conclusion and the Jets won't work out on the field as a full unit for another seven weeks. The Jets' 2009 training camp will begin in Cortland, N.Y., and both Randy and myself will be in attendance when two-a-days commence under Rex Ryan.
But with minicamp fresh in our minds, let's just hit up a few highlights from the past three days.
S Eric Smith — Wide receiver Brad Smith also had a heck of a camp, but E. Smitty takes this award going away. On Tuesday morning, he deftly read Mark Sanchez, jumped in front of an intended target and hauled in his first pick. Then on Tuesday afternoon, he spoiled Leon Washington's pass attempt out of the Wildcat. Later during that same practice, Smith hauled in a tipped Sanchez pass during two-minute work. The veteran safety collected the Sanchez hat trick today, corralling a tip from fellow S James Ihedigbo which he would have returned to the house.
"I think I showed myself in a good light. I don't think I hurt myself," said the humble Smith when asked about his performance.
Ryan compared Smith to the prolific Ed Reed this afternoon during his press conference. I asked Smitty if he ever had recorded so many practice thefts in such a short time.
"No. Never. These three days went pretty well," said Smith, who has three career thefts.
TE Jack Simmons — The 6'4", 246-pound University of Minnesota product caught ball after ball. Now let's remember these guys were in shorts and without pads, but this kid look likes an interesting prospect. There could be a third tight end slot available on this club and let's see how Simmons does as a blocker in the heat of training camp.
"I think it's gone well, especially since I came in as a tryout guy," Simmons said. "I had to perform well enough to get a tryout and I'm excited about the opportunity here. The big key for me — as well as every other guy trying to make the team — is going to be when we put the pads on come August."
Play of Camp
There was nothing prettier than Kellen Clemens' long hookup with Brad Smith on day one. Too bad the weather didn't cooperate and the public didn't see the bomb because it was a thing of beauty. Smith did one of the most difficult things a receiver can do as he kept sprinting, found the ball in the lights, stretched out his arms and made a fingertip catch in stride.
A day after inking his name on a very, very, very lucrative deal that should take care of his family for life, Mark Sanchez led a late charge today. He got warm in a two-minute drill, repeatedly hitting David Clowney before finding Wallace Wright in the back corner of the end zone.
"Wow, what a day," said Ryan. "It's neat to see — he really came back in that last drive. Quite honestly, I wanted it to end a little early, but I'm like, 'Man, he's rolling. Let's let it go. Let's see if he can put one in there.' And he did. That was fun to watch."
The Jets used the Wildcat format frequently, even operating an entire set of plays to open up Tuesday morning's team session. Brad Smith and Leon Washington both took snaps out of the gun at quarterback and we saw Clemens moving out wide on multiple occasions.
On the other side of the ball, the Jets continue to showcase anything and everything. On one particular blitz, Bart Scott backed up from his traditional linebacker position and played deep safety as everyone else attacked the line.
Despite countless downpours and raindrops, the Jets were able to hold four of their five practices outside. We're told 2,931 people attended over the three days as the Jets opened up their facility.
"I'd like to thank our fans for attending these practices. We never had exactly ideal weather, especially today," Ryan said. "But it really is good to see our fans out here. I wasn't sure how it was going to work, but man, it was great. Yesterday it was packed. It seemed like everybody had a good time. I really want to make sure that they know how much we appreciate them coming out because it adds to our practice, it really does. It's always great to see our fans out there."
Channing Crowder, LB, Miami Dolphins — Rex Ryan has high expectations for his football team and that's refreshing in so many ways. I don't understand why that bothers some people so much but too bad. After Crowder dubbed the Jets as "OTA champions," Ryan repeated his belief in his team.
Then the 'Phins linebacker reportedly told the Miami Herald, "I'd have beat the hell out of that big, old joker. Or, if he really wants to get retro, my daddy or my uncle could have handled him." Uh, what? Ryan fired back on Wednesday with "I love it. The only thing I can say is, let's see if he can top this one: I've walked over tougher guys going to a fight than Channing Crowder."
That was an interesting exchange up and down the Eastern Seaboard. Somebody ought to tell Crowder that Rex Ryan already owns one championship ring and the Ryan family has coached in six different Super Bowls with five different teams, winning five.