Florham Park, NJ - This is the last week of training camp schedule practices, where the media actually gets to watch the entire practice, next week we start the regular season schedule and the media only gets to watch the first 20-30 minutes of practice. So, basically just stretching and some special teams drills. Today's practice ended about 45 minutes early but there was plenty to talk about, I now present today's three observations.
1) Leonard Williams and Sheldon Richardson absolutely abused the offensive line today. Which offensive linemen? All of them. Todd Bowles has his assistant coaches mixing and matching players in-and-out of first, second and third-teams and has been sending out the starting defensive line against first, second, and third-team offensive lineman and today Williams and Richardson toyed and destroyed any linemen that dared to get in their way. With charges of straight power and quick side-steps of finesse, the two star defensive linemen constantly applied pressure on the quarterbacks and got into the backfield to stop running backs behind the line of scrimmage.
Muhammad Wilkerson continues to do more with each day, and as Bowles says is "still working to get his legs under him," but today was about Richardson and Williams as they did whatever they wanted against the offense.
2) I'll preface this with the obligatory "of course it's only training camp" and I know many of you won't care until you see it happen in an actual game, but Dee Milliner continues to turn in one strong practice after another and not only that, he continues to look better as camp goes on. Yesterday Milliner broke up multiple would be completions, through excellent coverage and technique, as he consistently turned his head around to see the ball and swat it away just at the right time. And he was doing this while matched up with Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker (even on a completion Marshall had on him Milliner had excellent coverage it was just a perfect pass from Geno Smith and of course Marshall is really good at football.
Today Milliner, who has been at the top of the cornerback board for passes broken up all camp, got to add two more interceptions to his camp tally. Sure, they both came against rookie quarterback Christian Hackenberg but they were phenomenal plays nonetheless. Milliner made great reads, got himself in perfect position and showed amazing concentration on the first pick as he had to bobble the ball to himself a couple of times to ensure he made the pick that he really had no business making.
Again, we all have to see if Milliner can stay healthy and actually transfer this play into actual games but it's not a stretch at all to say Milliner has had the most consistently impressive training camp of all the cornerbacks and don't go reading into that thinking I'm saying that means he'll never get beat in games.
3) While Milliner was busy picking off the Jets second-round draft pick, the first-round pick was busy making plays and picking off Ryan Fitzpatrick and Bryce Petty. Lee made two spectacular interceptions today, one leaping backwards near the sidelines off of Fitzpatrick and the other jumping up in the end zone to pick off Petty. Lee had a slow start to camp, as he was clearly adjusting to the speed and physicality of the NFL, but ever since that first preseason game against the Jaguars he has continued to showcase his ability.
It's obvious to everyone (reporters, Bowles, and Lee) that the game is starting to "slow down" for the rookie linebacker and his confidence just continues to grow with each passing day. Lee has continued to see more and more first-team reps, this week filling in for a banged up Erin Henderson, and his coach is clearly happy with the progress he sees in the fast rookie.
Bowles was asked if he'd feel comfortable with Lee starting at inside linebacker if they needed him to and Bowles simply said, "yes." It was as emphatic a yes as you'll hear from Bowles. No hedging, no down playing what we are witnessing, just a simple and direct, "yes."
Chris Nimbley is the editor-in-chief of JetsInsider.com/NYJScout.com. He can be reached on Twiiter (@cnimbley), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org)