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Utah QB's Under the Gun -And Loving It


Ratliff dropping back at Jets minicamp

The New York Jets had only one quarterback on the field when their rookie minicamp began a few weeks ago. Brett Ratliff wasn't complaining.

"It is nice to learn from somebody else. You learn from their mistakes and then try not to go out and make the same mistakes as them," Ratliff said. "But I was able to learn a lot more because I was the guy taking all the reps and all the attention was on me. That was nice. I'll take all the reps I can get."

Ratliff, a 6'4", 224-pound passer from Utah, was one of the Jets' 14 priority rookie free agent signings. He acknowledged the team's offensive playbook has a lot of volume but both quarterbacks coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer have assisted the rookie in his transition.

"They both have helped me a lot in dealing with a lot, including how you break down a film," he said. "They show us how you can learn from each clip, what you can pick up and what you can't."

Schottenheimer, a former quarterback who was acclaimed for his work during his first season at the Jets' offensive helm, coaches with great enthusiasm and intensity. He continually preaches the importance of rhythm to his young pupil.

"He works with enthusiasm and talks about the tempo of the game," Ratliff said. "You have to get up and get set. You have to get going. You can't wait for the receivers to get set and mess with their gloves and play with their towel. That tempo goes with enthusiasm."

Ratliff played in a spread option with the Utes, attacking through the air and on the ground. Last season he passed for 2,796 yards and added 260 rushing yards.

"I didn't have blazing speed," he said of his run skills. "I wasn't going to run past anybody, but I got the job done and teams had to worry about me tucking the ball away and running. It was a pretty good fit for me. It would have been nice to have been a little bit faster, but you have to go with what you got."

In the spread formation, the native of Chico, Calif., operated the majority of the time out of the shotgun. Conversely, even though the Jets' quarterbacks lined up in the shotgun more than in previous seasons, it was still for only about 20 percent of their offensive snaps.

"At Utah, we were in the 'gun a lot more. We were in it 60 percent of the time or maybe more," he said. "That's a lot different here. You're taking more snaps from center here. I did that in junior college [Butte College], but it's a lot different from Utah."

Instead of handling the snap 5 yards from the line of scrimmage, he is now required to take the ball from center and start his drop.

"A drop is a drop. You're always working on drops," he said. "You just have to be faster here. You can't be slow with your drop. The faster you get back, the better, because you have more time to make a decision."

With the veterans back in town for OTAs, it's safe to assume Ratliff won't receive quite the number of reps he got at minicamp.

"There are a bunch of vets out here now," he said. "It's nice to be out here with guys who have been around and know the system. I'm learning from both Kellen [Clemens] and Marques [Tuiasosopo]. Kellen is a year ahead of me and Marques is six years ahead of me, so they know a lot more about the game. It will be nice to get around Chad [Pennington] because he's been in the system. It's nice to be able to learn from other people and have them share their experiences with me."

Ratliff and Clemens, the Jets' second-round draft selection from Oregon in 2006, share the same college tutor. Utah offensive coordinator Jeff Ludwig held a parallel post with the Ducks from 2002-04.

"I knew who Kellen was from Coach Ludwig, and Coach Lud talked about him a little bit," Ratliff said. "I had never met Kellen or talked to him, but it's been fun kind of sharing stories and stuff."

Ratliff, who for his Utes career had a 10-5 starting record and threw 31 touchdown passes against 11 interceptions, will watch closely at summer practice. Pennington is obviously the starter, but the rookie knows he can learn from all three veterans in front of him.

"I haven't really been around him too much, but I kind of have watched him," he said of Pennington. "He helps out Kellen a lot. He is pretty much like another coach. If you have a question, you can go to him and he'll tell you. I'm excited to be around him and all three of the quarterbacks — it's a good situation."

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