The Jets are struggling at the spot, since starter Dee Milliner has a high ankle sprain that will likely keep him out for a few more weeks.
McDougle, 5-foot-10, 195 pounds, was drafted in the third round. He played for Maryland last year, but missed most of last season with a shoulder injury.
- Don't try to define Geno Smith. The Jets' don't-call-him-starting quarterback said he doesn't appreciate the limitations of quarterback labels. "I hate the fact that people always say, 'Pocket passer versus running,'" Smith said. "I understand why they say it, but a quarterback is a quarterback. You've got to do what it takes to win, whether it's run or pass."
- Marty Mornhinweg was happy to discuss how great a quarterback competition is to make everyone better. But when he was asked if having Smith start meant that somehow Michael Vick lost the starting job in the competition. "No. No," Mornhinweg said. "Mike has done a beautiful job, and he has played at a high level. Mike can still play at a real high level."
- It's never too early to talk smack, and Rex Ryan took Andre Williams' bait. When the Giants rookie running back from Boston College said the Giants were the real New York team, Ryan countered with: "Last time I saw him he was getting smoked by Clemson." Zing!
- Cornerback Darrin Walls is the latest defensive back to get reps with the first team as a tryout of sorts. Ryan isn't sure if Walls will stick. "I always call him my outstanding middle [reliever]. He's a guy you can put in there and you don't lose much. But [can he] prove that he can be the starter, go out there and it's different. Sometimes, for whatever reason, there are some guys that would rather come off the bench than be the starter. I don't understand it, but sometimes that happens. Whether Darrin is that guy or not, I'm not sure."
“I’m doing better today than I was last week,” Saunders said.
Saying there were no preexisting conditions that caused the event. Saunders was released from the hospital on Sunday and was on the Jets sideline in his jersey and a wide-brimmed white hat Wednesday.
Saunders said he is still waiting to hear back from the doctors and neurologists for more insight into what happened. He said he didn’t lose consciousness. He declined to get into most of the details about the incident by saying he didn’t want to “relive that moment again,” or get into specifics.
“When I find out what’s really going on with my body I’ll be happy to share what’s going on,” Saunders said.
Meanwhile the Jets rookie wide receiver’s football career is on temporary hold until he has more information.
“You have to make sure the doctors and the trainers and obviously, it’s not going to be a, ‘Oh he looks fine,’” Ryan said. “We’ll make darn sure this young man is ok, and then put him back out there. Hopefully he will be ready to go sooner than later.”
Saunders acknowledged that this was a tough time to have a medical issue given competition for roster spots, but that he expected to be back on the field “shortly.”
“Whoever they pick to be on the active roster, I’m for,” Saunders said. “If I’m not a part of that, I’m still going to (support) my teammates that I made here.”
Without a lot of answers, Saunders said he was glad it was over.
“It was a shocking situation and very unusual but I’m alive and happy,” Saunders said.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Geno Smith is going to be the New York Jets' starting quarterback when the regular season arrives, unless he goes out and injures himself in Friday's preseason game against the New York Giants that seems to be growing in hype by the minute because of each team's concerns. But there's no need to play along with the silly charade that anything else is up.
Even Michael Vick grew a little tired of it Wednesday when reporters descended on his locker and started asking questions as if he had a realistic chance of being anything other than Smith's backup when opening day arrives. Vick finally said, "I thought we already settled this. ... Where are these questions coming from?"
The answer precedes the arrival of Smith or Vick with the Jets.
It's happening this way because Smith is Rex Ryan's mulligan as a head coach.
Smith is Ryan's second chance to develop the first-rate franchise quarterback the Jets thought they were drafting when they moved up to get Mark Sanchez. If you remember, Ryan even joked with Sanchez about it back then, pointing out they were both rookies at their new jobs and that if Sanchez didn't turn into the quarterback he was supposed to be, they'd both be gone.
As it turned out, only Sanchez is. Rex has so far avoided the axe. But everything Rex was told from inside and outside his own locker room that he didn't do with Sanchez -- such as bring in a backup more threatening than Mark Brunnell, or make Sanchez feel he had to earn the job rather than having it handed to him -- is now in play for Smith and Vick.
Jets coach Rex Ryan picked up on Giants running back Andre Williams' comments that the Giants were the "real New York team," and then Ryan shot back at the rookie. The teams square off on Friday night.
"I will say that kid's a good back, though. He is," Ryan said. "I was like, 'Is anybody going to tackle him?' It's great. I have a funny feeling he's going to get some Riddells [helmets] on him, but we'll see. I have a feeling he's going to be pumped up and trust me, our guys are going to be pumped up, too."
Ryan said the back and forth just shows once again that the matchup between the two New York teams means a little more than other preseason games.
"This is the only time you get to play each other," Ryan said, "and I think it amps up a little bit. I really do."
As if to back his coach up, Jets defensive lineman Damon Harrison called out Williams via social media.
"See you Friday Mr. Williams...#JetLifeeeeee," Harrison tweeted.
Now for the regret.
Last year, Ryan put likely starter Mark Sanchez in during the fourth quarter of the Jets-Giants game. The quarterback took a hit from Marvin Austin that resulted in a season-ending shoulder injury.
During his postgame news conference, Ryan got so frustrated by one persistent line of questioning that he turned sideways to answer.
"I got a lot of flak from you guys," Ryan said Wednesday. "Let's face it, they [wanted to] run me out of here. Was that my proudest moment? Probably not. It's kind of funny, I forget who I was sideways with. But you know what? I think I just got a little tired of [the questions]."
The question that got to Ryan that night: Was he ready to name Geno Smith as the starting quarterback, given the injury to Sanchez? Ryan said then he wasn't going to answer.
"Sometimes after games," the coach said Wednesday, "we tell our players to cool off a little bit, but sometimes I need to cool off, too."
Ultimately, the Jets put Sanchez on the reserve/injured list as the one player designated to return. Now he's playing backup for the Eagles, and looking a lot better.
Given an opportunity to redo the news conference, Ryan said he would do it differently.
"There's a lot of things you'd take back in life," he said. "That's probably one of them."
Lewis had one against QB Michael Vick on a pass intended for WR Greg Salas, and the other off QB Matt Simms.
"My mindset is just to make plays when my number is called,” said Lewis, who trains in the summer with Arizona Cardinals' receiver Larry Fitzgerald in Minnesota.
The first set of roster cuts comes on Saturday, so time is of the essence.
- WR Jalen Saunders, who isn't practicing after a medical incident, was on the sideline, and LB Antwan Barnes is still on the physically unable to perform list. CB Dex McDougle said via Twitter that he was having surgery on a torn ACL Wednesday, and coach Rex Ryan said he would likely land on the reserve/injured list afterwards.
- Dee Milliner, with a high ankle sprain, was also out. RB Chris Ivory was limited, and RB Chris Johnson didn't practice, but it was a planned day off.
- The Jets got several injured players back, including C Nick Mangold (toe), CB Dimitri Patterson (leg), CB Ras-I Dowling (groin), WR Eric Decker and TE Jeff Cumberland. "We're starting to get healthy and that's a good thing,” Ryan said.
- The Jets weren't in pads for their final training camp practice in Florham Park. On Thursday the team moves to Hofstra, site of their former headquarters.
- Rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders, he of the mysterious, one-car accident last Friday, is expected to address the media. The Jets have said very little about the so-called "medical event" that apparently caused his accident. But as Rex Ryan said, "You'll hear it from the horse's mouth." Saunders is out indefintely.
- The quarterbacks, Geno Smith and Michael Vick, are scheduled to speak with reporters. Maybe they can talk about playing Friday night for the coveted Snoopy Trophy. Until Smith is officially named the starting quarterback, there isn't much else to ask them about.
- On the injury front, the players to watch are cornerback Dimitri Patterson (leg) and tight end Jeff Cumberland (Achilles' tendon). Cumberland did some positional work Tuesday after sitting for more than a week, so that's progress. Patterson is further ahead than Cumberland and he could play against the New York Giants.
- Rookie cornerback Dexter McDougle is scheduled to have surgery to repair a torn ACL.
- The battle at wide receiver is heating up. Veterans David Nelson and Greg Salas have stepped up nicely, as have Jacoby Ford and Clyde Gates. Tough roster decisions are ahead.
- Rookie wide receiver Shaq Evans was placed on injured reserve Tuesday after having surgery to repair a torn labrum, ending his season. No surprise. On Wednesday, rookie cornerback Dexter McDougle will have season-ending knee surgery. He, too, will be put on IR. This means the Jets will have two less players to cut by Tuesday, when rosters must be pared from 90 to 75. Tough week for the Jets' draft picks. Wide receiver Jalen Saunders is scheduled to address the media Wednesday, an opportunity to clarify the mysterious "medical event" that apparently caused his car accident last week. Rex Ryan hasn't provided any details, except to say it was "an isolated incident" and not due to a pre-existing condition. Saunders is out indefinitely.
- Cornerback Dimitri Patterson, who returned to practice on a limited basis, said he hopes to play Friday night against the New York Giants. He said there's "no doubt" he will play the season opener. Patterson, who spent more than a week on the sideline with various leg ailments, talks a good game. Asked about the beleaguered secondary, a lighting rod for criticism, he said, "It's OK. That's the good thing about professional sports. You have the opportunity to go out and shut people up." Patterson is one of the reasons why the secondary is taking so much heat. Let's just say he wasn't a popular free-agent signing. That, coupled with his inactivity, has put him under the microscope.
- Speaking of cornerbacks, Antonio Allen received a mixed review from Ryan on his debut at the position. From a technique standpoint, there was good and bad, but it was a great learning experience, according to Ryan. The experiment continues, Allen lined up with the starters in practice.
- Geno Smith will start against the Giants. In other news, Woody Johnson is rich.
- Ryan dismissed comments by Cincinnati Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander, who said he was surprised the Jets were blitzing so much late in last week's game. Ryan said the bigger surprise should've been that he didn't blitz much at all early in the game. He said he relied on "coverage" schemes as a way to test his unproven secondary. He added, "I don't know why they'd be shocked (by the blitzing), but it doesn't matter. I don't worry about their team. We're just trying to focus on our team and what's best for us."
- The new practice-squad rules, announced Tuesday by the NFL, could have an impact on the Jets' quarterback depth chart. Under the new rules, Matt Simms (active for 16 games last season) is practice-squad eligible. Previously, a player who had earned one or more accrued seasons wouldn't have been eligible unless the player spent fewer than nine games on a club’s 46-player active list in each of his accrued seasons. Now, the Jets might be more apt to keep only two quarterbacks, knowing they could re-sign Simms to the practice squad, assuming he clears waivers. Ryan said he's not married to keeping three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster.
"I don't want to pick sides or nothing like that, but it's crazy. I've seen both sides of it. I've seen my folk act a certain way and I've seen the police get beside themselves with their badges. I've seen both sides of it.
"I've been racially profiled before and all that, just being young and in a car and in an area I'm not supposed to be in. In high school, you don't know too much about the law. If they don't have a reason to pull you out of the car, you don't have to get out of the car. I came across some good guys, too. I was speeding and they wouldn't give me a ticket.
"Like I said, I play both sides of the fence. It's dangerous and all that, people telling me the police officer [Darren Wilson] might end up getting off free. I hope that doesn't happen."
Wilson allegedly shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, fueling riots in the streets.
Richardson's ultimate hope is that "it dies down." His parents still live in St. Louis and he has friends all over the city, he said.
"Pretty serious, man," he said. "Just keeping the faith, praying, hoping my family is OK and hoping those protestors are doing just that -- protesting and not trying to loot or nothing like that. I don't know too much. Whatever CNN has on is pretty much what I'm getting."
He, of course, is Geno Smith. Barring an injury, he will be the Jets' opening-day quarterback, but the team isn't willing to anoint him just yet. Rex Ryan confirmed the obvious, saying Smith will start Friday night against the New York Giants, but he didn't want to make a commitment beyond then.
"When we think it's the right time, we'll tell you," said Ryan, who was peppered with questions.
Smith is expected to play two-plus quarters with the starters, meaning he will end the preseason with about 5 1/2 quarters with the first team. (Traditionally, Ryan doesn't play starters in the preseason finale.) So far, Michael Vick has played only one series with the starters. Do the math.
Why haven't the Jets made the announcement? A couple of reasons. John Idzik's mantra is competition, and he probably believes it would contradict his philosophy if they were to declare a winner at quarterback before the most important preseason game -- even though we all know it's a faux competition.
Secondly, there's the injury factor. Without using the word "injury" -- hey, the man is superstitious -- Ryan alluded to that as the reason for holding off. When asked what could happen that would affect his decision, he said, "I don't even want to think of the negative thing or whatever. Let's just let it play out. I'd rather not answer that question because there's an obvious scenario that I don't like to think about."
Can't blame him. After all, Ryan lost Mark Sanchez to a season-ending shoulder injury last preseason against the Giants.
The coach acknowledged that the third preseason game is the closest thing to the real thing, and that his starters usually end up starting the season. But he stopped short of saying the words everyone in the building, from the players to the cafeteria staff, expects to hear: Geno is our starter.
"I'm not going to name it right now, no matter how many times you ask me," he said. "Somebody fire another one at me. 'I'm going to get it out of him.' No, you're not. I've given in to you guys before. I'm not giving in on this one."
Training-camp approach: The Jets conducted practice as if they were in Cortland, New York, splitting offense and defense and using two fields. In other words, it was a training camp-style practice in pads -- a departure from Monday, which had a regular-season feel. Rex Ryan explained the change by saying they wanted to "take advantage of the numbers," meaning a 90-man roster. On Tuesday, it'll be slashed to 75.
One thing they haven't done since leaving Cortland is pit starters versus starters in team drills. As a result, the intensity is toned down and the focus has shifted to mental preparation. That's why you haven't been seeing our unofficial quarterback stats the last two days. They closed practice with a full period of third team versus third team in contact drills.
Injury news: A few key players returned from injuries, so that's the big news here. Cornerbacks Dimitri Patterson (leg) and Ras-I Dowling (groin), center Nick Mangold (toe) and Chris Ivory (ribs) returned on a limited basis. Patterson, who sat for more than a week, said he hopes to play Friday night against the New York Giants, adding that he's a definite for Week 1. He's a projected starter, so, yeah, the depleted secondary needs him. ... One player not all the way back is tight end Jeff Cumberland (Achilles tendon), who returned to positional drills, but that's it. ... Rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders, four days removed from his car accident, came out late and watched from the sideline. He won't play against the Giants. Once again, Rex Ryan declined to comment on the "medical event" that led to his accident. Saunders is expected to speak Wednesday with the media. ... Rookie wide receiver Shaq Evans underwent shoulder surgery, Ryan confirmed. ... Cornerback Dee Milliner (high-ankle sprain) was spotted without his walking boot. That's a good sign.
Quarterback rotation: After practice, Ryan confirmed the obvious, saying Geno Smith start will against the Giants. He's slated to play two-plus quarters, followed by Michael Vick. There's a chance Matt Simms could get mop-up duty. Ryan said he's not married to the idea of keeping three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, as he has done in the past.
Catch a rising receiver: This was a terrific practice for David Nelson, who caught everything and made an arms-extended, fingertips catch on a pass from Vick. Nelson is competing for a prominent role, along with Stephen Hill. After Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley, the competition is wide open, according to Ryan. Removing Decker and Kerley from the equation, the most consistent receivers on a day-to-day basis are Nelson and Greg Salas. Hill has good days and bad days. On Tuesday, he dropped a long pass from Vick, causing the crowd to groan. Hill isn't a fan favorite.
Odds and ends: Rookie tight end Jace Amaro drops an inordinate number of balls in one-on-none drills -- against air. Midway through practice, he suffered a finger injury, requiring a tape job from the trainers. He kept practicing. ... Antonio Allen and Ellis Lankster continued to work as the starting corners. Ryan said Darrin Walls will get more reps after an impressive showing against the Cincinnati Bengals. ... Andrew Furney ended practice with a 55-yard field goal. ... Wide receiver Jacoby Ford made a couple of nice grabs, as did Kerley and Clyde Gates.
New York Jets rookie wide receiver Shaq Evans, who suffered a significant shoulder injury during the first week of training camp, tweeted Tuesday morning that he will have surgery later in the day.
Evans, a fourth-round draft pick from UCLA, will be placed on injured reserve, ending his season.
Head coach Rex Ryan indicated recently that he expected Evans to wind up on IR. He becomes the second draft pick to have a season-ending injury. Third-round cornerback Dexter McDougle tore an ACL in practice and is awaiting surgery.
"Notice he didn't bring that stuff when our starters were out there," Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander said, according to Cincinnati.com. "We'd have scored quicker. If he wants to put his starting defense out there and blitz all that garbage against our third-stringers, if he feels good about it, then all the power to him.''
Backup quarterback Jason Campbell, who didn't play because of an injury, said: "Some of it was a little extreme. I remember back in the day, preseason games you didn't see any blitzes. Everyone was so vanilla all the way to the regular season. Now it's a different day and age and teams really just throw it all out there."
The Jets won 25-17, playing with an aggressive mentality from start to finish. They went for a home run on the first play, but Geno Smith overthrew an open David Nelson on a deep post. The Jets incurred 12 penalties, including six personal fouls, but as Ryan said Monday, "We weren't going to be a punching bag."
Storylines we'll be following:
- Rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders may address reporters for the first time since his one-car accident Friday. Maybe he will shed some light on the "medical event" that caused him to spend two nights in a hospital. As of Monday, he still hadn't been cleared to practice. He won't play Friday night against the New York Giants.
- Tight end Jeff Cumberland hasn't practiced in a week because of tightness in his Achilles' tendon. The Jets have downplayed the injury, yet he doesn't seem any closer to returning. Is it time to be concerned?
- Speaking of injuries, maybe cornerback Dimitri Patterson (calf, quadriceps, ankle) will return to team drills. It's been awhile.
- How 'bout some Jets-Giants buzz? After all, it's a battle of undefeated teams. Interesting matchup: One team can't pass, the other can't stop the pass.