The Jets hit the practice fields for the first time in full pads Saturday afternoon. Linemen clashed together, linebackers supplied bone-crushing hits and cornerbacks were finally allowed to press the receivers.
So, what’s there to take away from the practice? Here are five observations:
Linebacker I.K. Enemkpali is physical, really physical
After individual drills, the Jets team came together for the first full-contact drill of practice. In what’s a bit of a staple in training camps across the league, a coach holds the ball as a quarterback in the pocket. A pass rusher then lines up on the edge, and a running back, full back or tight end then lines up next to the coach.
When the whistle is blown, the pass rusher tries to get to the coach, while the running back, full back or tight end tries to prevent him. Essentially, there’s about a three-to-five-yard cushion from where the pass rusher starts to run, and where he meets the blocker. As a result, when the two do collide, there’s a bit of a collision.
No one caused as many ‘pops’ during this drill as Enemkpali. The linebacker was straight giddy to run into anyone that was in front of him. Unlike others that tried to make their way around with a swim move or spin, Enemkpali went through (successfully most of the time) whoever stood in front of him. It was impressive, but also fun to watch. The hits brought quite the reaction from the crowd in attendance.
Chris Owusu looking comfortable with first-team offense
With Devin Smith hospitalized with broken ribs, Owusu has been receiving the lion’s share of reps with the first team. In three-wide sets, Owusu trots on the field with Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. The impressive part? He doesn’t look out of place… at all.
Owusu looked good in the offseason, and that’s carried over into camp. The wideout catches just about everything thrown his way and is proving to be a player that needs to be worked into the offense. On Saturday, Owusu caught a 40-yard touchdown from Geno Smith on the second play of practice past Antonio Cromartie.
Who’s at guard?
Prior to Saturday’s practice, Mike Maccagnan confirmed to reporters that the team had contacted the agent of free-agent guard Evan Mathis. With that being said, Maccagnan added that the Jets preferred to see what they had on their present roster, before looking to bring in another body.
Apparently, that means everyone on the present roster.
So, it’s safe to say New York has no clue who’s going to be the team’s starting guard Week 1. At the moment, it’s anyone’s guess.
Geno Smith making strides
It’s true, New York’s highly-criticized quarterback is looking, believe or not, improved early in training camp. It’s not necessarily with long, earth-shattering throws or pin-point accuracy, but with his decision making.
Smith is working through his reads much better than in years past. He’s anticipating where a defender’s going to be, and in turn going elsewhere with the ball. On Friday, he went to throw a curl to Brandon Marshall, but pulled it back when he noticed Revis jump the route. On Saturday, he made the play of practice:
Smith dropped back in the red zone and instantly wanted to go to Marshall in the corner. When he noticed Revis lurking, he pulled the ball down and scrambled out of the pocket to extend the play. Instead of just looking to run, Smith kept his eyes down the field. He saw Owusu cut inside from the center of the field and Smith hit him perfectly in stride for a touchdown in the end zone.
It was progress. And that’s exactly what the Jets want to see.
Leonard Williams coming along
Leonard Williams isn’t the next Warren Sapp yet, but he’s flashes what led many to label him the best defensive player in this year’s draft.
At times in practice, Williams can is handled by offensive linemen. Other times, he makes them look like fools. On Saturday, he showed both sides. On one play, Williams was prevented from moving forward a yard by tight end Kellen Davis. Two plays later, Williams blew past center Dalton Freeman for a would-be sack on Ryan Fitzpatrick.
This is likely what many should expect from Williams going forward. He’s a rookie, and he’s learning. It’ll take time before he reaches his full potential.