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NFL Team Report - New York Jets - INSIDE SLANT
It wouldn't be the New York Jets without a controversy at quarterback. At Friday's rookie minicamp, coach Rex Ryan said quarterback Geno Smith looked fine. Smith gave himself an F.
Ryan's assessment of Smith's first practice: "He can really spin it," Ryan said of Smith's tight spirals to open the Jets' minicamp. The second-round pick, drafted 39th overall, wasn't quite as positive.
"I'm going to be tough on myself," said Smith, surrounded by multiple rows of reporters. "I'll let the coaches do the grading. But if I say it, it's an F because I want to be an A-plus ... that's just the way I do things."
After Saturday's practice Smith seemed happier with himself, but refused to give a grade, perhaps showing that he realized what a commotion his remark caused the previous day.
So, it seems, he is learning.
"It felt good. I was able to get in and out of the huddle a lot smoother than yesterday," Smith said after the Saturday workout. "Overall, I think as an offense we had some good moments and some not so good moments. But it's still a work in progress. Every single one of us is out there learning, just trying to better ourselves and just trying to make the team."
What about that grade?
"I'll leave the grading to the coaches, but I think today was another good day, " he said. "I think I did that today. . . No mental mistakes, I try not to make mental mistakes in practice. I try to be sound in the huddle, saying the cadence, going out there (with) proper footwork (and) proper depth on my drops (and) knowing my reads. Just trying not to make mental mistakes and that's the biggest thing, execution and operation."
Smith was projected as a first-round pick but was bypassed by every team but the New Orleans Saints before the Jets used their third pick in the 2013 draft to add Smith to a depth chart that includes five quarterbacks. Smith threw the ball with authority in a workout open to media.
He's been under tight scrutiny from media and the study of his behavior, published reports citing unnamed scouts who labeled him a "diva" and self-important prospect have made national headlines and kept airwaves lively in the New York sportstalk circuit.
"Maybe I don't know what the diva behavior looks like," Ryan said. "I never saw that at all."
From Friday's reviews, it's hard to fathom the level of venom in some pre-draft scouting reports. Smith said he's studying West Coast offense quarterbacks on film, including Joe Montana, Steve Young and Donovan McNabb. Thursday night, he organized a playbook review with other skill position players at the team's hotel.
"The fact he's already telling guys (directions) ... that's pretty sharp," Ryan said.
Smith will compete in training camp with another highly criticized quarterback, Mark Sanchez.
At one point Friday, Smith got an earful from offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, who felt Smith was slow to pull the trigger at times. He's the new fish in the pond with veteran starters Sanchez, David Garrard and third-year backup Greg McElroy. Matt Simms is also in camp.
"I know Mark is a competitor, and I understand Mark wants to win the job," Smith said. "We all do. But at the same time, I'm going to learn from him and David and Greg."
There is no doubt that one the most underwhelming quarterback battles in the NFL got a whole lot more interesting when Smith was selected.
The presence of the polarizing Smith interjects drama -- something that owner Woody Johnson surely enjoys -- into what was a two-man derby between the beleaguered Sanchez and the injury-prone Garrard.
And while Smith seems to be in place to be the future at quarterback for the Jets, Sanchez and Garrard made it clear they're eager to prove they belong behind center for the season opener against Tampa Bay on Sept. 8.
"As long as I'm healthy and able to continue to work with the team and don't have setbacks with my knee or my back or anything like that, then I know that I have the ability to (start)," said Garrard, who missed the last two years following back and knee surgeries.
"But I can't talk about it. I've still got to go out on the field and do it. I've been trying to be the No. 1 guy for the last two years and it's one thing after the other that hasn't allowed that."
Sanchez, as always, said all the right things about how the Jets were still his team -- just as he did last year, when he ended up distracted by the Tim Tebow circus.
"No doubt," Sanchez said when asked if he expected to remain the starter. "Sure. Of course."
But last year, Sanchez had the support of his head coach and ownership. Now, head coach Rex Ryan is out of patience with Sanchez -- based on the icy death stare he gave Sanchez after the five-turnover game against Tennessee officially extinguished the Jets' playoff hopes -- and fighting to keep his own job under new general manager John Idzik, whose favorite talking point is competition, which is something Sanchez didn't face in his first four seasons.
"They said. 'We're going to compete' and that's what we're doing," Sanchez said of Jets management. "They drafted a quarterback, so let's compete."
While Smith waits to grab attention on the field, he already seems amenable to causing a commotion off the field. He is considering Jay-Z's Roc Nation agency to work with the CAA Football group in representing his interests in a high profile manner in the New York market.
Roc Nation is the marketing-focused group but is not certified by the NFLPA to represent players, so it would need to work with CAA Football, which would need be Smith's primary contact.
Smith already fired Select Sports Group as his representative after being disappointed that he was not drafted in the first round.
Smith is also considering other agents and agencies, including Eugene Parker of Relatively Sports.
NFL Team Report - New York Jets - NOTES, QUOTES
---Former Jets wide receiver George Sauer died on Tuesday of Alzheimer's disease in Westerville, Ohio, according to the New York Daily News. He was 69.
Sauer helped the Jets win Super Bowl III over the Baltimore Colts with eight catches for 133 yards, even though the Jets were heavy underdogs.
"I just found out today," Jets coach Rex Ryan said Saturday. "He had Alzheimer's. Obviously, that's a terrible disease. My stepmom suffers from that, so (our) thoughts go out to his family and everyone affected from that.
"The thing I remember about George Sauer going back, I was a young kid when my dad was coaching with the Jets, and everybody knew about Don Maynard obviously, a great receiver (and) a Hall of Fame receiver, but the thing (is) George Sauer stepped up in the biggest moment. I think he caught eight balls in the Super Bowl. So, that's what I remember about George Sauer, but obviously he was a tremendous player."
Sauer starred collegiately at Texas and played six seasons with the Jets. He had at least 1,000 yards receiving three times. He led the AFL with 75 receptions in the 1967-68 season. After retiring from the NFL at age 27, he spent the 1974 season with the New York Stars and Charlotte Hornets of the World Football League.
--During Friday's rookie minicamp, coach Rex Ryan voiced his displeasure over 2012 first-round pick Quinton Coples, who Ryan said at the end of last season would be one of the team's breakout players in 2013. Apparently Ryan wants to see more commitment to conditioning from the massive defensive lineman after observing him Thursday.
"If Quinton doesn't do a better job in the weight room, he'll have to compete like anyone else for a job," Ryan said.
--The Jets announced Friday that they signed four draft choices: third-round guard Brian Winters, fifth-round offensive lineman Oday Aboushi, sixth-round guard Will Campbell and seventh-round fullback Tommy Bohanon.
The team also signed 14 undrafted free agents
--The Jets added depth along the offensive line when they signed guard Steven Peterman, who spent the last seven years with the Lions. Peterman started all 16 games last year and should compete for a starting job with fellow free-agent signing Willie Colon and rookie Brian Winters.
--Running back Chris Ivory, whom the Jets acquired from the Saints in exchange for a fourth-round pick during the second day of the draft, signed a three-year extension on Monday. Ivory, who averaged 5.1 yards per carry in three seasons with the Saints, enters the season as the heavy favorite to serve as the Jets' No. 1 running back.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "You're just professional and you're cool, and if the guy has a flat tire on the side of the road, I'm going to stop, I'm not just going to blow by him. But at the same time, I'm not sending him gifts on his birthday or anything." -- Jets QB Mark Sanchez on the awkward relationship he shared with Tim Tebow as they competed for playing time last year.
NFL Team Report - New York Jets - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
A closer look at the Jets' picks:
Round 1/9 - Dee Milliner, CB, 6-0, 201, Alabama
Milliner was one of the most decorated cornerbacks in the draft, as well as perhaps its most banged-up. He's already had five surgeries, including a recent shoulder operation to repair a torn labrum, but the Jets are confident in his medical records and believe he can perform in the NFL as he did at Alabama, where he led the nation with 21 pass breakups last year. Not drafted to replace Darrelle Revis, but will likely anchor the secondary for years to come.
Round 1/13 - Sheldon Richardson, DT, 6-3, 294, Missouri
Viewed as a bit of a reach by many draftniks, but Richardson fills a glaring need for a team that lost its two starting nose tackles and whose rush defense fell to 26th in the NFL last season. Richardson only played two years at Missouri but led the SEC with 75 tackles last year and recorded 30 tackles on third or fourth down.
Round 2/39 -- Geno Smith, QB, 6-3, 218, West Virginia
One way or the other, he'll likely be the defining pick of the John Idzik Era. Jets were thrilled he fell from a potential No. 1 overall pick all the way into their laps in the second round, but is it a good idea to draft a quarterback when the head coach is very likely entering a lame-duck season? Smith's struggles in the second half of his senior season - and in the wintry conditions of the Pinstripe Bowl, located just a few miles from MetLife Stadium - are cause for concern, but his upside was too good to pass up. May not be an immediate starter, but Mark Sanchez's days in green and white are surely numbered.
Round 3/72 - Brian Winters, G, 6-4, 320, Kent State
Another pick who will contribute right away. Winters played left tackle at Kent State but is expected to move to guard for the Jets, who lost guards Matt Slauson and Brandon Moore via free agency. A tough (he was a wrestler in high school) and experienced (50 starts in college) player, Winters should fit right in with the Jets' lunch-pail offensive line.
Round 5/141 - Oday Aboushi, T, 6-6, 308, Virginia
Aboushi, a Brooklyn native, is more of a project, especially with Austin Howard ahead of him on the depth chart. Like Winters, he played guard at the Senior Bowl and could end up becoming a versatile utilityman along the line.
Round 6/178 - William Campbell, DT, 6-5, 311, Michigan
Yet another player who will switch positions as a pro. Campbell played in 51 straight games, mostly at defensive tackle, for the Wolverines but is expected to move to the offensive line. He's more of a long-term project than Aboushi and may not see much action as a rookie.
Round 7/215 - Tommy Bohanon, RB, 6-1 246, Wake Forest
Bohanon was a do-everything type at Wake Forest who played four years of special teams and has experience at both tight end and H-back, so he has the potential to be a useful late-round find. With Lex Hilliard atop the depth chart at fullback, Bohanon should have a chance to compete for the starting job immediately.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (4)
--WR Braylon Edwards made an unlikely return to the Jets after he was cut by the Seahawks last December and became an unlikely contributor with 10 catches in the final three games. Of course, he was a contributor solely because the Jets had the worst wide receiver corps in the league. Edwards is clearly on the downside at 30, and the fact that new Jets GM John Idzik was with the Seahawks last year surely doesn't help his chances of returning.
--G Brandon Moore is one of the Jets' two longest-tenured players and he showed no signs of slowing down in his 11th season and would likely be welcomed back. He did appear worn out by the constant drama surrounding the Jets, though, and could seek a deal with a contender.
--WR Chaz Schilens played in 15 games, his most since his rookie year in 2008, but Schilens proved to be nothing more than a replacement-level talent. Won't likely be pursued by Idzik and might have a hard time finding a deal anywhere.
--LB Bryan Thomas is the lone remaining signee from 2002. He fared pretty well as a rotational player before suffering a torn pectoral muscle in December. That's just the latest injury in a litany of ailments suffered by Thomas over the years and more proof there's little left in the tank. His chances of returning may have further diminished when it was revealed he was arrested on domestic violence and drug possession charges in October.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
--TE Dedrick Epps (not tendered as ERFA).
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
--TE Jeff Cumberland: RFA tendered at $1.323M with no compensation; $1.323M/1 yr.
--K Nick Folk: UFA; $780,000/1 yr, $65,000 SB.
--RB Lex Hilliard: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--T Austin Howard: RFA tendered at $2.023M with second-round pick as compensation); terms unknown.
--LB Josh Mauga: Potential RFA; terms unknown.
--LB Calvin Pace: FA, had been released by Jets; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--LS Tanner Purdum: Not tendered as RFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--LB Antwan Barnes: UFA Chargers; $4M/3 yrs, $900,000 SB.
--G Willie Colon: FA Steelers; $1.2M/1 yr.
--NT Antonio Garay: FA Chargers; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--QB David Garrard: FA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--RB Mike Goodson: UFA Raiders; $6.9M/3 yrs.
--RB Chris Ivory (trade Saints).
--S Jaiquawn Jarrett: FA; terms unknown.
--S Dawan Landry: FA Jaguars; terms unknown.
--G Stephen Peterman: FA Lions; terms unknown.
--FB/TE Josh Baker (released).
--S Yeremiah Bell: UFA Cardinals; 1 yr, $905,000/1 yr, $65,000 SB.
--DE Mike DeVito: UFA Chiefs; $12.6M/3 yrs, $6.2M guaranteed.
--RB Shonn Greene: UFA Titans; $10M/3 yrs, $2.5M guaranteed.
--TE Dustin Keller: UFA Dolphins; $4.25M/1 yr, $2.25M guaranteed.
--S LaRon Landry: UFA Colts; $24M/4 yrs, $14M guaranteed.
--NT Sione Po'uha (released).
--CB Darrelle Revis (traded Buccaneers).
--LB Bart Scott (released).
--G Matt Slauson: UFA Jets; $815,000/1 yr, $100,000 SB/$200,000 guaranteed.
--S Eric Smith (released).
--T Jason Smith (released).
--QB Tim Tebow (released).