The New York Jets held a mini-camp for rookies and undrafted free agents (UDFA) from May 4 thru May 6 at their Florham Park training facilities. It’s the first chance for Head Coach Rex Ryan & General Manager Mike Tannenbaum to see players like Quinton Coples, Stephen Hill, Hayden Smith, Josh Bush and others in their green & whites. Fresh off signing a deal for 4 years and nearly $5 million, camp got off to a great start for second-round draft pick Stephen Hill. The first on-field action of the 2012 season had coaches looking forward and speaking optimistically.
Hunter Smith impressed coaches in his first official football practices…ever!
It’s not as easy as it may seem to transition from rugby to football, but Smith is fully embracing the challenge and making coaches take notice. “I had better vision than I expected,” said Smith about his first time wearing a helmet, “and sure enough, soon enough you just forget you’re wearing it.” As usual, it didn’t take long for Coach Ryan to praise his player.
“This guy is studying like crazy. I see him in the facility and he’s out there by himself, running routes, going through assignments. This guy wants it.” Hayden Smith made a great catch to highlight the first day of camp…so it looks like he’s getting used to that helmet just fine.
Another impressive player on the first day was first-round pick, Quinton Coples. He’s hungry, digesting every morsel of the team’s defensive schemes, and that determination paid off on Day 1. The versatile rush end “will be used across the board…” he said, as he alternated from left side to right side of defensive formations throughout the day. Rex doesn’t exclude a little linebacker in the first-rounder’s future. “Could we stand him up from a rush position…he has that kind of ability,” says the defensive-minded head coach. Coach Ryan was so impressed with Coples’ first day of work, he was held out of team drills on the second day & only took part in individual drills. “We know what he can do. I wanted to see some other guys compete,” explained Coach Ryan.
Third-round pick Demario Davis may have waited awhile to hear his name called during the 2012 NFL Draft, but it didn’t take long for the former Arkansas State University standout to…well, stand out! His leadership qualities on the practice field have Head Coach Rex Ryan making comparisons to another motivator he coached for years, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. Davis is described as having “presence, a natural ability to lead through actions, words and force of personality,” in a recent New York Times article by Ben Shpigel. “I’m not saying he’s the leader Ray Lewis is, but there are some things even when he talks to you…,” says Rex, “Wow! He’s really an impressive person.”
Camp ended on a positive note for safety Josh Bush, the sixth-round pick from Wake Forest, signed a four- year deal. Other players the Jets considered keepers were UDFA offensive lineman Frederick Koloto from San Jose St. and an undrafted quarterback from the University of Tennessee named Matt Simms. Matt is the youngest son of former New York Giants signal-caller and Superbowl champion Phil Simms. He will compete for the job of third-string quarterback with Greg McElroy & G.J. Kinne. The Jets have also signed Royce Pollard from the University of Hawaii, a rail-thin player that might be a vertical threat…but not much else according to National Football Post.
The New York Jets Organized Team Activities (OTAs) schedule is as follows: May 22-24, May 29-31, June 4, June 6-7 and June 12-14.
I would like to take this moment to express my heartfelt condolences to all who were influenced by the drive and passion of #55, Junior Seau. He was loved by many & will be missed by all!
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