It was a tough day for the Jets’ wide receivers, three of whom got dinged up in what head coach Rex Ryan called a “chippy” practice.
Antonio Cromartie delivered a devastating hit on wide receiver Stephen Hill that leveled the second-year player in the end zone, a play where Hill still managed to hold onto the ball. He didn’t miss any snaps due to the hit. On the same play, Clyde Gates was also dinged in another collision as he laid on the ground motionless for several moments.
“I don’t feel any type of way. I have nothing against Cro or anything,” Hill said. “I even talked to him about it and he was like, ‘I didn’t mean to do it.’ I said, ‘Look, this is football, keep playing.’ Stuff like this is going to happen.”
Hill went on to say that football “is a gladiator sport, this is what’s supposed to happen.”
Later on in practice, wide receiver Michael Campbell was shaken up on a clean bit of contact again from Cromartie. Campbell had to walk off the field with the help of training staff.
But the talk of the day was Cromartie’s hit on Hill.
“There’s thud and then there’s over-the-top thud. I was disappointed because we have to protect each other. Stephen was running full speed and Cro came off his coverage,” Ryan said. “We have to be smarter.”
Hilliard out for season
Fullback Lex Hilliard was placed on the reserve/injured list after suffering a shoulder injury on Tuesday. Hilliard, signed by the Jets early last season, was helped off the field by the training staff after writhing on the ground for several minutes in pain.
“He’s going to need a procedure for that and that’s unfortunate because Lex is a tremendous player and also a tremendous person,” Ryan said.
Hilliard is also a prominent contributor on special teams.
Still no starters
Ryan was unwilling, or perhaps unable, to name a starting quarterback for Saturday’s preseason game on a day when both Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith looked solid. Neither player hurt their stock, but Smith was especially sterling in 11-on-11 drills where he completed all 10 of his passes.
After criticizing his rookie quarterback last week, Ryan joked on Wednesday that Smith “wasn’t brutal” in practice.
“I think both guys looked good today. We’ll see how everything is tomorrow. Not ready to [name a starter] yet. We haven’t discussed anything yet,” Ryan said. “We really don’t want to put a timetable on it.”
The competition for kicker continues to heat up with incumbent starter Nick Folk and Billy Cundiff both kicking well. Folk seems to have the upper hand, especially as he kicked a 54-yard field goal on Saturday against the Jaguars.
“We’ll let it play out; we had two good kickers. It’s where we were last year,” Ryan said. “Both those guys are kicking the ball well.”
Milliner out again
For a second straight day, rookie cornerback Dee Milliner was sidelined with a calf injury. The precautionary move by the coaching staff might keep him from playing in the next preseason game.
“As I mentioned a little yesterday, we hoped that he’d be progressing better,” Ryan said. “It’s not that it’s a new injury; we’re trying to get him a little closer to 100 percent.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.