Although the Jets ultimately fell to the Lions, 26-17, Friday night in Detroit, like most preseason games the score is rarely indicative of the overall play of the team. Each team had a few mental errors and miscues throughout the contest. And like most games, there were certain players that just could not avoid the spotlight.
Quinton Coples is a name that Jets fans have often seen but will never get tired of hearing. In practice it is not uncommon to see the freakishly athletic Coples break into a steady gallop and chase down a scrambling quarterback or running back looking for the outside edge. His talent is evident and he put on a bit of a sneak preview Friday night.
"I think I played OK. I definitely saw things on film that I can get better at," Coples assessed after today's practice at SUNY Cortland. "There's always room for improvement, but overall I think it was a good game; something to put on film to criticize myself going into next week."
Coples finished the night with four tackles and recorded a sack on backup Shaun Hill after Antwan Barnes grabbed hold of Hill's jersey in the backfield.
"Sometimes you get those quarterbacks that break," Coples said. "It was great pressure by Barnes so he scrambled out and I was there to cover up."
While Coples was one of the top performers on defense, the former first-round pick was more interested in dissecting what plagued him throughout the game rather than what had earned him praise.
"I think my play on the line was good. Sometimes I got a little high with my pad level and my leverage," he said. "That's something I've been working on and will continue to work on. As far as the defense overall, I think we played pretty well. There were some mental errors that gave them the opportunity to score."
Friday's game marked the first Quinton Coples has played without the "rookie" label next to his name, something that made this year's opening game a little easier to handle. He noted some obvious differences in his game now compared to last year's preseason opener.
"Overall, I think it's all about knowing the system, knowing the plays and understanding the defense better now that I'm two years in," he said. "I think that takes a lot of pressure off you. You can just go out there and play your game and know what you're doing."
Coples has been playing with a full array of confidence, using his athleticism to overwhelm offensive linemen and lock opposing runners in his powerful grasp.
"I'm more physical," he said, "I react faster, I see things a lot quicker and mostly I've caught up with the speed of the game."
He showed no signs of any postgame hangover during today's practice, using his closing speed to run down Geno Smith (who admittedly was practicing on a sore ankle) on a bootleg to Coples' side of the field. The UNC product was animated after the play, politely informing Geno that that play would not work on his side of the field. Coples, while confident in his speed, wasn't able to confirm if he was faster than the first-year quarterback but he has no problem letting his legs do the talking, "We'll probably race in the offseason," he said, "and we'll see who's got it then."