Rookie tight end Jace Amaro has some work to do in training camp. Credit: Getty Images
The Jets entered training camp two weeks ago with some new faces, but not a lot of position battles.
Thankfully, camp has been pretty quiet — in other words, there have been no major injuries. Head coach Rex Ryan has shown his old bravado, but has been reluctant to discuss much in the way of progress for big names like Chris Johnson and Mike Vick.
Metro breaks down some of the players who are making a name for themselves so far in camp — good and bad.
Stock down: Jace Amaro
The rookie tight end entered camp with the expectations of being a game-changing receiver in the mold of Jimmy Graham or Jordan Cameron. The blocking would come later, but the explosiveness on offense would be immediate. It’s been a tough dose of reality for Amaro — and the Jets. He’s not only had trouble with the playbook, he’s simply had trouble catching balls period. His small hands were criticized after the NFL Combine, and now Jets fans know why. It does matter. Consider this a dose of rookie reality more than a measure of where the Texas Tech star will end up.
Stock down: Calvin Pryor
It’s hard to criticize a guy for getting hurt, but let me take the lead. Pryor has sat out much of the first two weeks of camp with a concussion. Injuries happen, and he’ll be back, but the first-round pick out of Louisville was known as a hard-hitter in college. It’s one of the reasons head coach Rex Ryan loved the safety. But you can’t lead with your head in the pros, even more so than college. Not only are you risking a 15-yard personal foul, you’re also putting your own health at risk. At the moment, Pryor is just losing time in the playbook.
Stock up: Brian Winters
The second-year guard struggled at times last season, even though he ended up starting 12 games on a banged-up offense line. It was a learning experience for a lineman who didn’t face the same level of competition at Kent State. Most fans are probably just happy Vlad Ducasse is a distant memory, but Winters needs to be more than just “anybody but Vlad Ducasse” if Geno Smith is going to properly develop as a signal caller. Winters has mostly been taking reps with the first team in camp and looking more like he did in the second half of last season than the first.
Stock up: Eric Decker
Maybe Decker’s camp could be more accurately graded as “Stock Legit.” After whispers all offseason of Decker being a Peyton Manning creation with the Broncos, he’s been impressive early in camp. Smith’s accuracy is still questionable at times, but Decker is the type of receiver who can snag inaccurate passes. General manager John Idzik’s gamble to pay Decker $15 million in guaranteed money is paying off so far.
Stock down: Michael Vick
You can probably forget about the supposed QB competition between Smith and Vick. The veteran never appeared to have much of a chance of unseating Smith, but he’s done nothing in the first couple weeks to show that’s changed. Smith was pretty lousy in the team’s first scrimmage Saturday night, but so was Vick. (Neither QB scored a touchdown.) He needs to be much better than Smith to unseat the incumbent.
Stock up: Stephen Hill
One of the biggest reasons the Jets went out and signed Decker was because former second-round pick Stephen Hill was quickly approaching bust status. But the 6-foot-4 receiver who developed a reputation for drops as a rookie and nagging injuries as a second-year pro is excelling in camp. There were some in the media wondering Hill would even make the roster with the additions of Decker and Jacoby Ford, but he’s made that a non-issue. He improved the drop issue last season and Rex Ryan blamed his down year last season almost exclusively on the nagging knee injury. If he’s healthy, he gives the Jets a legitimate downfield threat with size to match.
Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter@MetroNYSports.