FLORHAM PARK- It appeared as if the Jets were transitioning to just another 11-on-11 drill, no different than they had countless other times during training camp. The horn in the background sounded, coaches yelled and players began to move from where they were, to another portion on the field.
Smith took the snap and handed the ball off to Chris Ivory who darted around the right side. Linebacker Calvin Pace came rifling in, lowered his shoulder and…
Tackled Ivory to the ground?
“Well sure,” Jets coach Todd Bowles said after practice. “You’ve gotta go full speed (sometimes) or you’re going to look bad. “
For the first time all training camp, the Jets ran back-to-back, full-contact, tackle-the-running-back-to-the-ground drills. There were no love-taps, hugs or slaps on the back. The offensive and defensive lines went full-speed. The Jets defense rocked New York’s running backs as if it was Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy taking the handoff.
It was different, certainly for a team in a league that seems so petrified of injuries.
“It really gives you a good look at the running backs,” Bowles said. “You see them slamming up in there, see guys blocking, see guys cut at full speed live and hit different holes. In non-contact, there are arm tackles and things going on so you’re not really sure.”
Bowles said he came away impressed with several of the backs on New York’s roster, namely Chris Ivory. Ivory known for his physicality, debuted his toughness, says Bowles, who added he liked his vision, too.
“We knew he was tough and we could pop him up in there,” Bowles said. “But he cuts well, he’s got good vision. He did a good job today.”
The initial full-contact drill was run from roughly the 35-yard line. After a few reps, the team transitioned to a goal line drill. The offense scored on the first four plays, followed by two consecutive stops by the defense, and then another score by the offense.
“I thought the offensive line came off the ball some,” Bowles said. “I thought defensively, technique, we need some technique work and a couple of people did the wrong assignment so it let the ball go in too easy.
“It was the first day out so we’ll look at the film, we’ll correct it and move on.”