Rex Ryan called the 2013 version of the Green & White Scrimmage on Saturday evening "our best scrimmage we've had since we've been coming here." When asked what made this year's scrimmage more impressive than years prior, the fifth-year head coach was quick to praise the running game as one of the bright spots.
"There were a lot of real positives. Bilal Powell really impressed." Rex said. "I know he impressed me."
Powell, the third-year running back, got off to a hot start at Cortland Stadium, breaking loose from several would-be tacklers for a 25-yard gain on the second play of the scrimmage. He received the majority of first-team snaps in the absence of Chris Ivory, who has been sidelined throughout camp with an ailing hamstring.
"It was good to see Bilal, and he made a couple of great plays." Ryan added. "He made an unbelievable play on a screen pass, also, but he did run the ball hard.
Powell finished the evening with 38 rushing yards on six attempts plus 8 yards on one reception, showing off his ability to elude defenders and run between the tackles. Despite coming off an impressive performance that was noted by most as one of the highlights of the annual intrasquad matchup, the always modest Powell remained humble in his postgame comments to reporters.
"I was OK. I still have room for improvement." he said. "That comes with the continuation of camp and just coming out and working hard every day."
Powell was not the only back that made noise during the scrimmage, however. The recently signed Chad Spann had 48 yards on the ground on seven carries to lead the team and added a 5-yard catch. He showcased his speed, elusiveness and wiggle in getting to the second level of the defense on several occasions.
Spann was able to take advantage of the available touches left over from Joe McKnight, who did not suit up for the scrimmage. McKnight left Friday's practice with a head injury. Ryan was unable to confirm if McKnight suffered a concussion after being hit hard on a running play by linebacker Demario Davis but said he and the trainers were just being cautious with McKnight. Neither back recorded a score however, with all three touchdowns coming by way of the pass. A holding penalty voided a 3-yard touchdown run by Powell on the opening drive. On the night the Jets' running game totaled 102 yards on 20 carries, a nice 5.1-yard average against a defense that wanted to continue its run dominance from Friday's live goal line drills.