The New York Jets began the 2014 season the same way they ended the 2013 campaign: Bubbling with optimism.
Of course, the first day of training camp is an ebullient one throughout the NFL. But even by those standards, the Jets are off to an enthusiastic start.
The Jets reported to Cortland in upstate New York on July 23, when head coach Rex Ryan told reporters every player passed the conditioning test -- the first time Ryan's ever seen that in his NFL coaching career.
Hours later, Ryan -- apparently still energized by the successful conditioning test -- delivered an impassioned speech to Jets players.
"He just flipped the switch five minutes into the talk," rookie quarterback Tajh Boyd told ESPNNewYork.com. "You could just feel the fire burning inside the guys. He made me want to run through a brick wall."
Nobody ran through a brick wall during the opening practice of training camp July 24, but Ryan still saw enough good things during the workout to declare afterward the Jets were "... a zillion miles ahead of where we were at this time last year."
Ryan acknowledged a lot of that is a byproduct of having a relatively entrenched starting quarterback (Geno Smith) working in the same system as a year ago. Last year, of course, Mark Sanchez was hanging on to his job by a fingernail while learning Marty Mornhinweg's West Coast offense.
But Ryan said the progress wasn't just limited to the offense. Indeed, he sounded like a man almost disappointed the regular-season kickoff remains 45 days away.
"This is kind of the team that I want," Ryan said, "It's not just me pumping it out and sending the message out there. It's each other. They're pushing each other. Their communication is phenomenal on both sides of the ball and it's just great to see.
"I'm telling you, we are so much further along than I can remember (at) anytime (during) this time of year. We're further along with this team than I have been with any other team."
Rookies reported: July 22
Veterans reported: July 23
First practice: July 24
--Jets first-round safety Calvin Pryor sustained a concussion in practice, coach Rex Ryan confirmed Sunday. Ryan said the rookie was injured in a special teams drill on Saturday while blocking on a kick return.
"Pryor now will go through the protocol, so it is a concussion," Ryan said. "Apparently it was on a kick when we were doing a kick return drill and he was blocking and the returner kind of got knocked into him and kind of just hit him right. It's one of those things. One of those heavyweights hit you in the chin, the lights go out I guess."
Ryan said he wouldn't hesitate to play starters on special teams.
"When you look at it, we're going to play them all," Ryan said. "We're going to have a bunch of those guys on all our special teams. ... We think we have to get better on teams, we want to be one of the top special teams units in the league. It's really all hands on deck."
--If there's one thing head coach Rex Ryan knows how to do, it's wring value out of pass rushers. So with that in mind, the Jets added more depth -- or, in general manager John Idzik parlance, "competition -- by agreeing to terms on July 23 with former Jaguars defensive end Jason Babin on a two-year deal.
Babin, who was scheduled to join the Jets for practice on July 25, turned 34 in May, but he led the Jaguars last season with 7.5 sacks and has 62.5 sacks in 10 NFL seasons.
With Antwan Barnes (knee) still working his way back from last October's ACL surgery, Babin should team up with Calvin Pace -- who racked up a career-high 10 sacks as a 33 year old last season -- to provide the Jets another weapon off the edge.
"You can't have enough pass rushers," Ryan said July 24. "He is a relentless guy, (has) a phenomenal motor and obviously he has got a history of being able to get to the quarterback."
The Jets will be the seventh team for Babin, who was drafted by Houston in the first round in 2004.
--After one day of training camp, it's Geno Smith 1, Michael Vick 0.
Of course, the Jets' quarterback competition is a competition in name only. Smith is expected to get 75 percent of the first-team reps in training camp, and the interception Vick threw on July 24 was largely a result of the wrong route being run by rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders -- i.e. somebody Smith probably won't be throwing to a whole lot this summer.
It's an open secret that Smith merely needs to avoid face-planting over the next six weeks in order to open the season behind center when the Jets host Oakland on Sept. 7. Still, in keeping with Idzik's company line, Ryan said he was in no rush to officially name a starting quarterback.
"I love the fact that we have competition and I want to have competition at every position," Ryan said July 23. "So for us to say 'Hey, this guy specifically is going to be the quarterback' or you want to have it on a certain date and things, I don't know if that's really appropriate. I think you let this competition play out.
"I'm excited about our competition at all positions. And at the appropriate time that we think is the appropriate time to name the starting quarterback, we certainly will."
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--DE Jason Babin agreed to terms on a two-year contract with the Jets and is expected to begin practicing July 26. Babin, who led the Jaguars in sacks (7.5) and quarterback pressures (19) last season, is expected to be used as a situational pass rusher by head coach Rex Ryan.
--G Willie Colon (biceps, knee) began training camp on the active/physically unable to perform list. Colon, who tore his biceps in the 2013 season finale and suffered a knee injury while working out in the spring, is expected to return to the field while the Jets are at SUNY-Cortland and is projected to be ready for the regular-season opener.
--LB Antwan Barnes (knee) began training camp on the active/physically unable to perform list. Barnes is still recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL suffered last Oct. 7. Coach Rex Ryan said Barnes is participating in sprints and quick-step drills but that he didn't know when Barnes would be cleared for full-contact work. Barnes had two sacks last season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "When you're not in the playoffs, it gets at you, it wears at you, to where it's like 'Man, we've got to get there.' We want it more than anything for the people that have been there for us throughout this whole time. Whether it's our fan base, whether it's other people as well. That drives us. I know it drives me." - Head coach Rex Ryan on how badly he wants to break the Jets' three-season playoff drought
FRANCHISE PLAYER: K Nick Folk (tendered at $3.556M; signed 4-year contract March 11).
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
--WR Josh Cribbs (not tendered as UFA).
--QB David Garrard (not tendered as UFA).
--RB John Griffin (not tendered as ERFA).
--WR Vidal Hazelton (not tendered as ERFA).
--FB Lex Hilliard (not tendered as UFA).
--S Ed Reed (not tendered as UFA).
--TE Konrad Reuland (not tendered as ERFA).
--RB Darius Reynaud (not tendered as UFA).
--TE Kellen Winslow (not tendered as UFA).
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
DRAFT CHOICES SIGNED
--S Calvin Pryor (1/18): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--TE Jace Amaro (2/49): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--WR Jalen Saunders (4/104): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--WR Shaquelle Evans (4/115): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--G Dakota Dozier (4/137): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--LB Jeremiah George (5/154): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--CB Brandon Dixon (6/195): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--WR Quincy Enunwa (6/209): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--LB Ikemefuna Enemkpali (6/210): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--QB Tajh Boyd (6/213): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--LB Trevor Reilly (7/233): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--LB Nick Bellore: RFA tendered at $1.431M with no compensation; $1.431M/1 yr.
--G Willie Colon: UFA; $2M/1 yr.
--TE Jeff Cumberland: Potential UFA; $5.7M/3 yrs, $1M RB 2014.
--LB Jermaine Cunningham: Potential UFA; $730,000/1 yr.
--DE Leger Douzable: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--K Nick Folk: Franchise FA; $12M/4 yrs, $2.1M RB.
--CB Ellis Lankster: Potential UFA; $1.6M/2 yrs, $155,000 RB.
--LB Garrett McIntyre: Not tendered as RFA; $645,000/1 yr.
--LB Calvin Pace: UFA; $5M/2 yrs, $1M RB.
--CB Darrin Walls: Potential RFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--LB Jason Babin: FA Jaguars; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--WR Eric Decker: UFA Broncos; $36.25M/5 yrs, $7.5M SB/$15M guaranteed.
--CB Ras-I Dowling: FA; $1.23M/2 yrs.
--LB A.J. Edds: Fa; terms unknown.
--WR Jacoby Ford: UFA Raiders; $740,000/1 yr, $65,000 SB.
--T Breno Giacomini: UFA Seahawks; $18M/4 yrs, $2.5M SB/$7M guaranteed.
--RB Chris Johnson: FA Titans; $8M/2 yrs.
--CB Dimitri Patterson: FA Dolphins; $3M/1 yr, $1M SB.
--RB Daryl Richardson (waivers Rams).
--QB Michael Vick: UFA Eagles; $4M guaranteed/1 yr, $2M SB.
--T Markus Zusevics: FA Patriots; terms unknown.
--CB Aaron Berry: UFA Browns; terms unknown.
--CB Antonio Cromartie (released).
--G Vladimir Ducasse: UFA Vikings; $795,000/1 yr, $65,000 SB.
--RB Mike Goodson (released).
--WR Santonio Holmes (released).
--T Austin Howard: UFA Raiders; $30M/5 yrs, $15M guaranteed.
--LB Josh Mauga: Not tendered as UFA/Chiefs; terms unknown.
--QB Mark Sanchez (released).
--CB Isaiah Trufant: Not tendered as RFA/Browns; $1.54M/2 yrs, $1M guaranteed.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Rex Ryan
- the Jets
- Jason Babin