New York Jets Training Camp: Week 1 Stock Report
Even less than a week into training camp, new storylines are being formed as players emerge as stars while others disappoint after an offseason of hype.
So far, most of the New York Jets camp has gone according to what was expected: The top free agents have impressed, some younger rookies have struggled and players entering all-or-nothing seasons have shown a bit more urgency.
Here is the stock report following the first week of training camp for the Jets.
Stock Up: Eric Decker
For the most part, general manager John Idzik resisted the temptations of splurging on free agents this offseason—but he still took a sizable gamble on Eric Decker after signing him to a $36.25 million contract.
There is no doubt that Decker is a quality receiver, but it was worth questioning exactly how much playing with Peyton Manning in a historic season bloated his numbers to make him seem like a better receiver than he really is.
Even Jets receivers coach Sanjay Lal questioned Decker's ability to produce outside of a Manning-controlled environment, Darryl Slater of The Star-Ledger reports.
So far, Decker has quelled any reservations about the Jets' investment, catching pass after pass in the first weekend of camp:
Two impressive starts at Jets camp today: Eric Decker, who caught everything in sight, and Chris Johnson, who looked explosive. #nyj— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) July 25, 2014
None of this will matter if Decker does not translate this production to game day, but the Jets have to be at least a bit relieved that their prized free agent has looked the part so far.
Stock Down: The Rest of the Wide Receivers
While Decker has stood out among training camp's best, the rest of the Jets receiving corps has been anything but impressive.
Rich Cimini of ESPN New York noted that none of the Jets receivers not named Decker has stood out. Rookie Shaq Evans has been plagued by drops, while Jalen Saunders—despite drawing praise from Rex Ryan—has disappeared at times. Cimini states that none of the rookie receivers would make the roster at this point if decisions were based purely on performance.
Meanwhile, Stephen Hill has been much louder at this year's camp—but for the wrong reasons.
In reality, the fact that Decker is carrying the load for this unit already should hardly come as a surprise. He was the only proven talent brought in, along with three draftees, to improve what was one of the worst receiving corps in football last year.
The Jets are hoping that camp competition will spark development in their young players, but the process has yet to begin.
Stock Up: Chris Johnson
"Explosion" has not been in the Jets' offensive dictionary during the Rex Ryan era, but that may all change with the addition of Chris Johnson based on how he has looked in training camp so far.
Just a few days after getting cleared to practice coming off a knee injury, Johnson did not waste any time to show off his trademark speed and explosiveness.
Like an aged wine, the Jets are preserving Johnson's explosiveness for when they need it most during the regular season by putting him on a "pitch count", Dom Cosentino of NJ.com reports. For a veteran like Johnson, maintaining fresh legs—particularly after coming off an injury—takes precedent over training camp reps.
If Johnson can maintain his explosiveness all season without landing on the trainer's table, the sky is the limit for his production in 2014.
Stock Down: Top Rookies
While some of the Jets' top free agents are starting to look like tremendous investments, the same cannot be said for the Jets' top two draft picks from May's draft.
First-rounder Calvin Pryor's concussion put an abrupt halt to his start of camp. The team is now following the league's concussion protocol to determine his return, making his next availability a complete mystery.
Meanwhile, things have gone from bad to worse in a hurry for Jace Amaro. After struggling to get into any kind of rhythm in practice, as implied by the New York Post's Brian Costello, Amaro was sidelined with a knee injury on Monday's practice, according to ESPN New York's Rich Cimini.
Making the injury more worrisome is the fact that it appears to have stemmed from a past knee injury he had in the summer of 2013. Amaro appears to be set to return soon, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, but repeating injuries is never a good sign in such a young player.
Both players have plenty of time to heal up and redeem themselves before the games count, but this is not the start the Jets envisioned for their two most prized rookies who are set to have huge roles on the team in 2014.
Stock Up: Quinton Coples
Speaking of first-round picks who need to produce quickly, former first-round pick Quinton Coples has turned heads in his second season at his new outside linebacker position.
According to Rich Cimini of ESPN New York, Coples had another solid practice on Monday after two consecutive "off the charts" practices over the weekend, as Rex Ryan described it. Ryan also noted that Coples' production skyrocketed after the Jets added Jason Babin to the roster, suggesting that the added competition will continue to bring the best out of Coples moving forward.
Coples has yet to put up numbers that validate his status as a former first-round pick, but he has been slowed down by injuries and position changes. Now that he has lost enough weight to be a full-time linebacker (as opposed to a rush-only linebacker), the 270-pound Coples has a chance to reach stardom in his all-important third season.
This is a win-win situation for the Jets: Not only are they getting the most out of a supremely talented player, but they are also proving that their mantra of relentless competition does, in fact, elevate the games of underperforming players.
Stock Even: Quarterbacks
No matter how you spin it, the success of the 2014 New York Jets will come down to what they get out of the quarterback position, specifically Geno Smith.
Through a week of practice, Smith has made more headlines because of his mouth than his play. He did have a fast start with a strong opening practice, looking as good as veteran receiver David Nelson has ever seen him, per Seth Walder of the New York Daily News.
However, Smith cooled off on Monday after completing just four out of 10 passes, Rich Cimini of ESPN New York reports. Vick was also less-than-impressive, connecting on just four of seven passes.
So far, neither Vick nor Smith has done much on the field to stand out as a franchise savior, but they have been at least par for the course so far. These two players have been on track, but neither has yet to emerge as the star player the Jets have yearned for at the position.
That said, there is still plenty of time for Smith (or Vick) to take training camp by storm and ruin any chance of a "competition" brewing.