Jeremy Kerley was a willing recipient of more than his fair share of passes from both Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez during this morning's practice. Rotating snaps with the first team, both starting quarterback hopefuls looked to the reliable hands of Kerley during red zone drills under a clear blue Cortland sky.
Smith found Kerley in the back corner of the end zone with an impressive ball that he was just able to sneak through a small window in the defense. Sanchez matched the feat with an accurate touchdown pass over the middle of the field, once again into the waiting hands of a well-covered Kerley. Sanchez found Kerley a second time in a similar fashion after the third-year receiver found an opening in the middle of the secondary.
Kerley is not worrying himself about the quarterback competition that has captivated fans and media alike since the team arrived at training camp last week. He understands that it is the receiver's job to make plays regardless of who is under center.
"I think the good thing is you don't have to worry about who is throwing to you," he said. "Both guys throw a great ball so we just have to worry about winning reps."
The 24-year-old Kerley, who led the Jets with 56 receptions and 827 receiving yards last season, feels the West Coast offense brought in by new coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will enable him to use his skillset to create separation and find holes in the opponents' secondary.
"The West Coast offense allows wide receivers to do a lot of things. It gives us a lot of room to work and make plays," he said after the Jets' second practice in full pads. "Being a slot receiver, I get a chance to wiggle a little more and create separation."
Kerley, the fifth-round pick in 2011 out of TCU, has shown that he can be dynamic in areas outside of his normal wide receiver position. His continued use on special teams, particularly as a punt returner has allowed him to showcase his ability as a downfield ball carrier. The Texas native snapped a team streak of 119 consecutive games without a punt-return touchdown when he weaved his way down the field for a 68-yard score against the Bills in Week 1 last season. Success in the return game is something that Kerley hopes to carry over into the 2013 regular season.
"I hope so. Everything I do, I try to be effective," he said. "I try to be an asset to the team, whether it is special teams or running routes. Whatever they want me to do, I feel I can be successful."
Kerley will accent a receiving corps that features second-year man Stephen Hill and returning veteran Braylon Edwards, who was signed last week before the team was scheduled to report to camp. Kerley feels that bringing back Edwards for a third tour of duty with the Green & White "brings a lot of experience." Kerley will look to build on his penchant for the big pass play, which can be summed up in this statistic: In the Jets' last 17 games dating to the 2011 season finale at Miami, Kerley was involved in all seven of the Jets' 40-yard pass plays in that span, five as the receiver and two as the passer.