After arriving in Cortland, NY to a downpour on Wednesday, the New York Jets were treated to partly cloudy skies and cool temperatures for their first practice of training camp on Thursday.
With the perfect weather came optimism for this 2014 Jets team, as Rex Ryan was beaming after practice, singing the praises of his team after the first day.
"We're further along with this team than I have been with any other team," Ryan, who's been with the Jets since 2009, said. "This is the kind of team that I want. It's not just me, pumping it out and sending a message out there. It's each other, they're pushing each other...they're communication is phenomenal, on both sides of the ball."
In 2010, Ryan's Jets went 11-5, advancing all the way to the AFC Championship game, so this is high praise coming from Ryan. He also compared it to last year's 8-8 squad, saying this group is much farther ahead of that younger team.
Once again though, there's a quarterback controversy in Jets camp, as second-year QB Geno Smith, who started every game in his rookie season, returns as the incumbent starter. But, in the off season, in a way, the Jets traded Mark Sanchez to the Philadelphia Eagles for Michael Vick. They released Sanchez and aquired Vick from the Eagles, while Sanchez was aquired by the Eagles after that. Vick has struggled with injuries recently in his career but is healthy and ready to challenge Smith for the starting job.
During their first practice, Smith took most of the repetitions with the first-stringers, while Vick went with the second string guys. Smith's teammates said he looked much more confident and in command of the huddle on Day 1, and were impressed with his maturity after just one year. Vick took the day to get his bearings, and get acclimated to his new teammates. He did throw one interception during the team period, but his receiver stopped running the route, so not entirely his fault. The Jets have not officially named a starter yet.
As for the other new weapons to watch, former Denver Broncos receiver Eric Decker and former Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson each join the Smith/Vick-led offense as well.
The Jets will continue to practice in Cortland for the next few weeks, with their next important date coming on August 2nd for their annual Green vs. White intersquad scrimmage, taking place at SUNY Cortland.