Today the Jets held their last practice of their mandatory full-squad minicamp. The players have packed up and headed for parts known and unknown" for the next six weeks. Head coach Todd Bowles held his final news conference during which he answered some questions, didn't answer some others, and couldn't answer still others.
What do we know now about the Jets before things get "hot and heated," in Bowles' phrase, beginning in late July? Here are seven points:
1. No QB Rotation Change...Yet
We know the QB depth chart at least for day one of camp. It's no news flash that Bowles isn't changing the rotation yet. "Josh [McCown] will start training camp" at No. 1, the coach said. "Teddy [Bridgewater] will line up No. 2. It'll be no different than the spring going in."
At some point this summer, he and OC Jeremy Bates will discuss "the plan," which will include reps and a timetable for possibly rearranging the depth chart. "And we'll see what happens at the end of training camp."
2. And Then There's Sam
Left unsaid in that reply is that third pick of the draft Sam Darnold will start out No. 3 in the rotation. But many were impressed with Darnold's camp, from Bowles and coaches to his fellow QBs and players on both sides of the ball. Said Leonard Williams, the fellow Southern Cal product, "He just looks like a pro already."
Sam's take: "I think I’ve done pretty good, just coming in here and learning every single day. That’s a credit to the coaches around me and the players as well, just helping me grow." Is it within the realm of possibility that the rookie could win the starting job out of training camp? "Yeah, I would say anything is possible. I think I’m capable of a lot of things," Darnold said. "But that’s not up for me to decide at the end of the day."
Green & White Wrapped Up Minicamp on Thursday
3. Leo Loaded for Bear
Speaking of Williams, he's aware of his different emerging role on the Jets' defense and team. "I'm already in my fourth year. It's definitely been rolling fast but it's been rolling in a positive way," Leo said. "I'm just more comfortable. I'm one of the leaders on the defense and I just naturally have a different mindset."
One thing Bowles noticed: "Leonard came back in a lot better shape than he was in last year. Again, it's spring, but he moved around well."
4. Pryor: Boot Off, Determination On
Football, thy name is injury. Bridgewater's knee injury and his improvement this spring has been well-documented. One other offensive player who hasn't been completely healthy in a while is WR Terrelle Pryor, who was injured before Washington's opener last year, eventually went on IR, came to the Jets, tweaked the ankle again, and was in a boot until this week.
"I was scared, but it was nowhere near as bad as I thought," Pryor said today about his ankle. He's planning to be ready from the start of camp, God, Bowles and head trainer John Mellody willing. "I want to come out here, hit the field fast, hard, being a leader on the field to the offense and doing whatever I can to be the best teammate I can be."
5. Injury Prognoses
As gung-ho as Pryor is, he's one of several players who've been coming along slowly. Rontez Miles' knee injury will keep him out for a while. CB Morris Claiborne has the bruised wrist. LB Jordan Jenkins has a "nicked-up" shoulder." Cairo Santos (groin from last season) didn't do any serious kicking. But Bowles wasn't divulging much on who might miss some camp and who'll be ready from day one.
"All of them [besides Miles] can be ready depending on the time, or they could miss a day or two or a week," he said. "I could sit here and tell you one thing and it changes into another, so we'll let it play out."
6. Eyes on Returners
Among the questions on special teams is who will be returning kicks. Rookie Trenton Cannon, second-year man Elijah McGuire and veterans Lucky Whitehead and Andre Roberts did a lot of dropping back this spring and minicamp.
One of coach Brant Boyer's top goals for his specialists, he said, is "really, improving in the return game. That's something that has really hurt us the last few years."
7. Competition All Around
One thing that bodes well for the Jets in 2018 is that no matter what the position, the competition is through the roof.
"The good thing is, can't nobody take a break," Bowles said. "We're two or three deep, from a competitive standpoint, at more positions than we've ever had. So it's going to be a good training camp."