After spending the first two days of training camp in a love-fest with wide receiver Santonio Holmes, head coach Rex Ryan went after a wide receiver on his team on Saturday afternoon. But it wasn’t the much maligned ‘Tone.’ Instead it was injured second-year wideout Jeremy Kerley.
The speedy Kerley did not practice on Saturday, the result of a hamstring injury that also plagued the player during OTAs in late May. Kerley did well for the Jets during his rookie season last year, stepping into the starting lineup in Week 5 and catching 29 balls for 314 yards and a touchdown.
But Ryan, usually a cheerleader for his team, went after Kerley on Saturday morning.
“Jeremy needs to step it up, because quite honestly, I was a little disappointed in Jeremy this offseason. He’s got to pick up this system, this new system. You have to put the time in it. Jeremy’s one of the hardest working guys I’ve seen. Last year, [general manager] Mike Tannenbaum challenged him to catch 250 balls a day and he does. Then he’ll go back and catch 100 punts,” Ryan said. “We have to make sure we dial in, make sure the mental part of its there, and then it’s unfortunate, he had a setback, we have to be careful with it because we don’t need this to be a re-occurring thing so we have to get healthy and then move on.”
The rest of the receiving corps excites Ryan. Free agent acquisition Chaz Schillens impressed in minicamp and continues to show well in training camp. The development of Stephen Hill continues to be on pace, with the second-round pick displaying flashes of a unique blend of size and speed.
Then there is Holmes, perhaps the most dangerous piece of the Jets’ offense, who continued to get a heaping of praise from his head coach. Holmes made a tremendous diving grab on Friday, leaping high to catch a ball from quarterback Mark Sanchez, tapping it to himself and then collecting it as he fell to the ground. On Saturday, Holmes fought off safety Yeremiah Bell to snag another Sanchez pass over the middle.
Holmes, who had a rocky 2011 season both on the field and in the locker room, appears to have shed the difficulties of a year ago.
“It obviously starts with Santonio. As much as everyone dislikes him, I’m glad he’s on our team. He’s got great talent and just doing a good job,” Ryan said. “Now he dropped a couple today and I think the presence of a 230-pound safety might have had something to do with it, but he’s a big time receiver [and] can run all the routes. We’ve seen it. The bigger the moment, the better he plays so obviously it starts with him.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer for lives updates from training camp in Cortland.