Newly-acquired offensive tackle Brent Smith finally started limited work this week. Coming off two consecutive season-ending knee injuries, the Jets are taking baby-steps with the former Dolphin.
"We are bringing him a long slowly," said Edwards. "We don't want to rush him into anything. Mentally he is starting to understand what we are asking him to do and when training camp starts he is going to compete."
Smith is about 90 percent recovered from his second knee reconstruction. If Smith can get back to his pre-knee injury form, he will give the Jets a heck of an insurance policy at both offensive tackle positions. With Jumbo Elliott's departure the Jets were in dire need of veteran backup tackle and Smith could be just what they need. Chris Smith and Willie Ofenheusle are good prospects, but the Jets need a little more experience at swing tackle and a healthy Brent Smith can provide that . . .
In a surprising move, the Jets released defensive tackle Alonzo Shuler a couple of weeks ago. Remember Shuler caught the Jets eye in the first minicamp, showing excellent athleticism for a 320-pounder? The Jets seem to really like him. So why was he cut before training camp? Well unfortunately for Shuler he blew out his knee during a workout in South Carolina. Since he hurt his knee working out on his own, the Jets aren't responsible for his rehab. The Jets did tell him that once he's healthy they would consider bringing him back . . .
Rookie cornerback Will Hunter (Syracuse) suffered a high ankle sprain in practice and will be out for a while. He should be ready for training camp . . ..
Punter Dan Strazinski has looked good in practice. He seems to have put his poor 2002 season in Kansas City behind him. From what we hear, he didn't get along with his special team's coach last year and was forced to do things he wasn't comfortable doing. Because of this dysfunctional relationship, he struggled. The Jets feel Mike Westhoff is just what he needs after last year .. . .
From what we hear, quarterback Akili Smith had a good visit with the Jets and is very interested in signing with the team. The most important thing for Smith is to go to a stable environment. He wants to sit back the next couple of years and get some good coaching after his four-year debacle with the Bengals. A starting opportunity isn't what he is looking for right now . . .
"Basically, our position all along has been, if we have the opportunity to get the proper tutoring and proper coaching, we believe everything else will take care of itself," said Smith's agent Kennard McGuire. Between Paul Hackett's coaching and Herman Edwards amazing motivational skills, the Jets situation is tailor-made for Smith . . .
Chad Pennington is tired about hearing people rave about the team's potential. "Potential is another word for you haven't done anything yet," said Pennington . . .
The team's deep passing has improved in recent OTA practices.