FLORHAM PARK, NJ - Life is so much better with football and with training camp now officially underway life is back to being awesome again.
The practice got off to a good start with a nice cool breeze as the storm clouds slowly gathered around the the facilities. They managed to get a solid hour and a half of practice in, outside, before the storms sent everyone scattering inside.
The quarterbacks all got off to a slow start, there were no problems during positional drills or with short to intermediate passes but both Geno Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick were missing badly, overthrows, on deep sideline passes before they were both able to settle into a rhythm later in practice. Bryce Petty, on the other hand, continued to struggle throughout the entire practice.
Fitzpatrick found his rhythm quicker than Smith, making a couple of beautiful deep throws. Two about 40 yards down the sideline and one on a 30 yard post route to T.J. Graham. Smith finally found some success on the sidelines but his best pass of the day was a 25 yard curl to the newly acquire Austin Hill. Hill did a great job of finding an open soft spot to sit in and Smith made a great read and did a nice job of threading the pass through traffic into Hill’s hands.
On the other side of the ball, the defense was of course flying around but Antonio Cromartie got burnt badly twice. The first was by Shaq Evans as Cromartie fell for a double move and Evans was able to coast down the sidelines to make one of those 40 yard catches from Fitzpatrick. The second time Cromartie got victimized was by Jonathon Rumph who beat him with a short little hook route. Cromartie’s ankle seemed to get jammed in the turf and he immediately clutched the ankle as Rumph was making the catch but Cromartie immediately shook it off and didn’t miss a snap the rest of practice.
Dexter McDougle made the defensive play of the day when he was covering Rumph on a intermediate hook route. McDougle stayed stuck on Rumph’s hip, anticipated the turn perfectly and jumped the route and made a diving interception. McDougle was flying around, getting physical with receivers and jamming them and making plays throughout practice but none were executed nearly as perfectly as that interception.
The most exciting play of the day on offense was a run by Bilal Powell. It’s extremely rare that a running play, on the first day of training camp, would receive that honor since they aren’t in full pads but while it was a really nice run the exciting part was the five defender pile up Powell caused. Jason Babin and Trevor Reilly were two of the victims as Powell split the defenders and the media watched as they ran into each other and fell to the ground as Powell scooted past them unscathed.
For any fans that may have been wondering, or maybe it was only the self-centered media that was wondering, about the later start to practice, Rex Ryan used to start practices in the morning to avoid the heat, new coach Todd Bowles elected to go with a later time ensuring each practice would begin at the hottest part of the day. Bowles confirmed he did this for conditioning purposes, although that confirmation was hardly necessary after the practice moved indoors to the field house with the air conditioning turned off.
“It’s hot. It’s not Cortland (NY), guys have to get in shape. Some guys ran indoors all summer. You need to get in heat shape,” Bowles said. “You practice in 70 degrees and then go play a preseason game and it is 90 degrees, you’re in trouble. It helps get guys in shape.”
But Bowles also added the caveat of having another motive for the later practices, other than making the media sweat more.
“It helps better with the curfew at night so guys have nothing to do but go to sleep,” Bowles said. “It’s really getting guys in shape and getting them in football shape.”