- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- My takeaways on the first day of rookie minicamp:
1. Growing pains: QB Geno Smith can sling it. He threw a pretty fastball, a tight spiral with good velocity. But we already knew that, didn't we? The questions with him involve his intangibles. How quickly can he learn the offense? Can he handle adversity? Can he lead? The West Coast system is all about rhythm and timing, and there were times when Smith held the ball too long. In those instances, he seemed to hesitate as he went from his first read to his second. One time, he didn't reset his feet, resulting in an overthrow. These are the type of glitches you'd expect from a rookie on his first day. For the most part, he fared reasonably well, completing six of 10 passes (one drop) in team drills.
2. Rex in charge (of the D): Rex Ryan wasn't kidding when he said recently that he would return to an active role in the defense. During the defensive walk-through period, Ryan did all the talking and the coaching, explaining the basics of his system to a group of wide-eyed rookies. He likes the hands-on approach, the chance to teach, but it also provides fodder for his critics, those who say he's a glorified defensive coordinator. At a time in his career when he should be evolving into an all-around head coach, Ryan is reverting to his defensive roots. He feels it's necessary because the Jets are basically starting over on defense, with six or seven new starters. Maybe so, but he can't lose sight of the big picture.
3. A message to Vlad: For a change, the Jets might have some decent depth on the offensive line. Instead of operating with a bunch of undrafted free agents, the Jets lined up with three draft picks on the "starting" line -- LT Oday Aboushi, LG Brian Winters and RG Will Campbell. With better numbers on the line, it could spell trouble for former second-round pick Vladimir Ducasse, whose scholarship has expired. Ryan appreciated the improved depth, predicting the drop-off with the second unit in preseason games won't be as severe as in the past. "Hopefully, that will be a little different this preseason because I think we'll be able to block some people," he said.
4. Minding his P's and Q's: Obviously, Quinton Coples isn't participating in the camp, but his name came up in Ryan's news conference. Ryan was asked about Coples' move to outside linebacker, and he quickly used the platform to send a message to the former first-round pick, telling the world that Coples is slacking off in the weight room. It was a very Parcells-ian move by Ryan. Eventually, Ryan explained his plans for Coples at linebacker. To me, this move is a reach. A 280-pound linebacker? Why do I have the feeling we'll be reporting late in training camp that Coples is returning to the defensive line?
5. A little R&R: Fans might not appreciate this, but first-round DT Sheldon Richardson kind of reminds me of Dewayne Robertson -- just in terms of his mannerisms and physique. Relax, it's not a commentary on his talent. In his first practice, Richardson displayed fire and energy, qualities that immediately separated him from the former Jets bust. You also have to like Richardson's versatility; he can play the 1-, 3- and 5-technique positions along the line. Ryan will have some fun with Richardson, figuring out different ways to use him.