NFL.com has dispatched several writers to report on the 32 training camps over the next few weeks. Kimberly Jones details her visit with the New York Jets. (Click here for the complete archive of Training Camp Reports.)
WHERE IS NFL.COM?
SUNY Cortland, site of Jets training camp for the third time (camp was held at the team's headquarters in 2011). Following their first two camps here, Gang Green ended the season in the AFC Championship Game. And that's been mentioned, oh, just a few times so far.
1. Mark Sanchez seems secure. He's in great shape, sounds confident and is easily the best quarterback during practices (as he was all offseason). Entering his fourth season, Sanchez noted that he's researched the career paths of championship signal-callers, including Eli Manning, who won the first of his two Super Bowls after just four years with the New York Giants.
2. The case of the rapidly shrinking Jets. It's not just coach Rex Ryan and his weight loss (he's dropped more than 100 pounds) that stand out. Veterans, including linebacker Bart Scott (235 pounds) and center Nick Mangold (308), are also noticeably leaner. An emphasis on quickness across the board and playing at a fast tempo has had an obvious effect on this roster.
3. Tony Sparano is showing an early commitment to the ground attack. At one point during Sunday's practice, the Jets ran the ball 22 straight times. Ryan called that a "tremendous" development, one that he hadn't planned. Perhaps that illustrates, as well as anything could (especially in July), that the Jets will be committed to a ground-and-pound philosophy in Sparano's first year as offensive coordinator.
THE NEW GUYS
Quinton Coples: Ryan said Coples is on the right track and has been "impressive" -- at times. At other times, the defensive end has looked lost. No doubt, the rookie's head could be swimming, with the Jets employing 3-4 and 4-3 looks, base fronts and their self-titled "taco" look, which features an extra tackle on the field. The bottom line: Coples was taken 16th overall in the 2012 NFL Draft to significantly improve the Jets' pass rush. Anything less, and he'll be viewed as a bust.
Stephen Hill: The rookie receiver caught a Darrelle Revis-tipped pass on the first play of team drills, and he's getting plenty of tips from Santonio Holmes. After playing in Georgia Tech's run-heavy offense -- his 28 catches were the most on the team last season -- Hill looks ready to start immediately.
LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell: A weakness last season could become a strength for the Jets in 2012. The veteran safeties -- both free-agent signings -- could platoon with Eric Smith to provide a playmaking and physical back end to the defense. Or the Jets could use a three-safety look. The oft-injured Landry is healthy right now; the Jets have their fingers crossed.
Tim Tebow: Perhaps you think you've heard enough about this guy, a backup QB who is working as personal protector on the punt team. But there's more. The unfailingly affable Tebow, who is working on a quicker release, says his celebrity won't allow him to go to a movie on Tuesday's day off in Cortland. He also says he's still awaiting the installation of a Wildcat package. As are we all.
"We're still holding the ball a little too long. We have to get that ball out. I talked to Tony (Sparano) about doing that. We did it last year a little. It was a little thing that drove everyone crazy, (but) we're going to go back to it."
-- Rex Ryan, on putting a clock on his QBs.
- Revis continues to talk about his contract, which has two years left and will be addressed -- one way or another -- by this time next year. But no one expects the issue to affect his play, or his participation in practice, this season.
- Beginning Aug. 1, Ryan will delay the start of practice by 30 minutes, pushing it to 8:30 a.m. to give his players adequate time to warm up and stretch. The coach is wary of soft-tissue injuries, such as the tight hamstring that caused Revis to miss team drills Sunday.
- How about some love for nickel corner Kyle Wilson? He's put in a lot of time in the film room and on the physical parts of the game. Ryan said he sees "huge improvement."
- Yes, Tebow ran shirtless through the rain. And yes, he took some ribbing from teammates. But does Sanchez, who has a GQ spread on his résumé, feel any pressure? "I've been doing some extra abs lately, so I feel good," Sanchez said with a laugh. "I'll probably buy a Bowflex or something."
Last season was very disappointing, and this is a pivotal year for Ryan, Sanchez and Co. So the Jets have no choice but to be good.
They're playing fast, they're leaner overall and they seem highly motivated. But if Sanchez struggles or the defense can't generate a consistent pass rush up front, all bets are off.