Jets Training Camp Day 5: What to Watch For

What you should watch for as the Jets return to training camp

After a day off Monday, the Jets return to the practice fields for training camp workout No. 5 on Tuesday. While the practice won’t be open to the public, here’s a few storylines worth following as camp unfolds:

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Continued progression of Geno Smith
One of the more pleasant surprises from Jets camp has been the apparent progress made by quarterback Geno Smith. The third-year pro is making better reads, better throws, is being careful with the football and working through his progressions better than ever before.

Granted, it has been just four practices against a defense that Bowles said is only about “35-40 percent” installed.

Week No. 2 will be a big one for Smith as it’ll show if he’ll continue to move forward and improve his play, or if he’ll even out and come back to reality.

Where’s Wilkerson?
The biggest developing storyline the last time New York took the field was the sudden disappearance of Muhammad Wilkerson. Midway through practice, the defensive end took himself out and walked back to the locker room.

After practice, Jets coach Todd Bowles confirmed Wilkerson suffered a hamstring injury, but didn’t seem too worried about the severity. Actually, he hinted towards him being back for when the team returned to the field after the day off.

The thing with hamstrings is you don’t normally know the severity of them right away. Last year, Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. suffered a hamstring injury early in camp, was expected to be day-to-day, and instead ended up missing weeks of practice as the injury simply didn’t improve. It’ll be interesting to see if Wilkerson is back on the field, and in what capacity, on Tuesday.

Who’s at guard?
Prior to last Saturday’s practice, the Jets had been working out in basketball shorts and jerseys. As a result, the ‘play’ of offensive and defensive linemen was near impossible to evaluate. After all, how can you judge how a player has developed when his sole job is hitting people, and in practice he can’t hit people?

The Jets now officially have two full-contact practices (Saturday and Sunday) under their belts and as a result two full film reels to review on the big men up front. Through the large portion of the offseason, it’s been a four-man rotation working in-and-out at right guard with Brent Qvale, Oday Aboushi, Brian Winters and Willie Colon all getting first-team reps. Now that the Jets can do some actual evaluating of the group, we’ll see if that rotation slims down a bit.

Last week, Jets GM Mike Maccagnan hinted that he wanted to see what the Jets had on the roster before exploring options in free agency (Evan Mathis). If he and Bowles didn’t see much they liked last week, and it continues this week, another call to Mathis’ agent may be made sooner, rather than later.

Bryce Petty turning the corner?
The first few training camp practices weren’t pretty for Bryce Petty. He wasn’t accurate, wasn’t putting much zip on the ball and just looked out of place. Which, granted, is to be expected from a rookie.

With that being said, towards the end of practice on Sunday, Petty flashed for the first time with back-to-back beautiful touch, touchdown passes. On the first, the Baylor product looked the safety off before coming back with a deep bomb down the seam to Quincy Enunwa. One play later, Petty climbed the pocket and fired a pass that hit Walter Powell perfectly in stride as he made his way across the field to the near sideline on a deep-in. Bowles called practice after the strike.

Earlier in the week, Bowles made a comment that Petty’s upper and lower body weren’t moving in sync, something he credited to the quarterback being too amped up and excited in his first training camp. If the end of Sunday’s practice was an indication that Petty is beginning to get comfortable, it’ll be fun to watch the rookie the rest of the way.

Connor Hughes is the New York Jets beat writer for The Journal Inquirer and Scout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@Connor_J_Hughes), or via email ( connor_j_hughes@yahoo.com).


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