Jets have a cornerback position open ... for now
It wasn't supposed to be like this. During the offseason, the Jets traded a draft pick to snag San Diego’s Antonio Cromartie, a highly talented cornerback with plenty of baggage. Cromartie was supposed to start opposite Revis and provide the Jets’ 3-4 defense with lockdowns at both corner positions, enabling the league’s top defense to become even more blitz crazy. Now, with the holdout, those plans are on hold.
“Right now, it’s just Cromartie,” defensive backs coach Dennis Thurman said Tuesday morning.
The Jets are fortunate to have depth in the position, but question marks still persist. In April’s draft, the team selected Boise State’s Kyle Wilson with their first round pick. The idea behind selecting Wilson was to add depth for when three cover corners were needed. The Jets were severely exposed with a lack of good secondary depth in their loss to Indianapolis in the AFC Championship Game, and Wilson was supposed to address that issue. Now, it looks like Wilson or one of the depth players will need to step in right away and contribute at a very high level.
Whoever steps into that role along with Cromartie will benefit from a secondary that's perhaps as deep as any in the league. That means players like fifth-year cornerback Drew Coleman won’t be called on to necessarily do anything but play their role.
“With the secondary we have, it’s about being in the right place at the right time,” Coleman told FOXSports.com. “It isn’t about us or any one player. It’s about what we do on the field as a collective unit.”
Wilson's raw as a player and has openly acknowledged he needs work on his technique to get ready for when the real games start in September. And like any rookie, he’s looked a bit lost on some schemes during the opening days of mini-camp. The first round pick has the right stuff, though, and perhaps the fastest feet on the team, but he remains an unproven commodity at this level. The versatile Eric Smith, who started for safety Kerry Rhodes when the disgruntled player was benched, has played as a nickleback and a dimeback and is athletic enough to perhaps be a corner replacement for Revis. Ryan, however, seems to see him as more of a safety.
Then there's Marquice Cole, who's had an impressive three sessions at training camp so far and looks to be building some confidence in the coaching staff. Thurman mentioned him as a player to watch in the position battle for Revis’ spot, along with Coleman. Whoever wins the battle, should Revis’ holdout progress through the preseason, has big shoes to fill. Revis was arguably the best cornerback in the league last year.
Coleman termed the opening created by the holdout as an “opportunity,” but said that everyone who is battling for the starting nod acknowledges the shadow Revis casts over the position.
“We all know it is Revis’ spot,” Coleman said.
For his part, Ryan's acknowledged that the team talks about Revis and his role with the team, even though the star player isn’t in camp. After the completion of Monday’s morning session, Ryan told reporters that when he returns, there's a starting spot for Revis, no matter how long it takes for a deal to get done. The same holds true, says Ryan, of when he goes over schemes with the defense while watching film and reviewing the playbook – Revis gets plenty of mentions and his role on the field gets acknowledged. Just like if he was there.
“[When] we go over goals for our team, why wouldn’t you mention that?,” Ryan said. “You’re talking about a tremendous football player and a great teammate. He’s one of the guys. He’s still a Jet, he’s just not here.”