All systems were go for Antonio Cromartie on Thursday as the Jets cornerback returned to practice, four days after being taken to Eden Medical Center for a ribs injury suffered in the fourth quarter of the Jets’ loss to Oakland.
Cromartie did only fitness training on Wednesday, but was in full pads Thursday, going full speed in defensive back drills in addition to getting reps on special teams as a returner.
He wore a protective vest to keep his ribs safe. After practice he said he felt comfortable in the vest and will wear it Sunday when the Jets take on the Ravens in Baltimore. While head coach Rex Ryan said that Cromartie won’t return kicks this week, the cornerback said he won’t take himself out of special teams play.
“There’s no limitations,” Cromartie said. “I feel I can do it, my body’s feels good. If it’s not feeling well, I won’t go back [there for kickoffs]. I’m a guy that’s a competitor – always wants to be on the field at any given time.”
When asked if he was confident that he would play against Baltimore, Cromartie was persuasive in his response.
“Very. I went out today, I did some stuff. I felt good running around. It didn’t give me a problem catching the ball or doing anything else,” Cromartie said. “So, the first thing is going to be, we’ll find out how good I feel after I make the first tackle.”
It was a rough go for Cromartie against the Raiders as he had four penalties called against him, including two pass interference calls. He said his “focus is on Baltimore, that’s it. Last week is last week.” Adjustments might need to be made to play against a Ravens team that put up 37 points in Week 1 and another 35 points last weekend. Because Cromartie is taller and bigger than most defensive backs, and is the same size as most receivers he faces, he might be the victim of his own size and strength.
Head coach Rex Ryan said that Cromartie needs to use his size better, but defensive coordinator Mike Pettine sees it as more of an issue of the player limiting his lapses and individual mistakes, something that has evaded the corner back for much of his six-year career.
“That’s the key word, consistent. We need him to be more consistent. We don’t need the great game and then all the sudden it’s a clunker the next week. We need to get [Cromartie] to the point where we can be a little bit more middle of the road with him where he’s just solid,” Pettine said. “[Darrelle Revis] can, I think bounce back from a bad play. I think [Cromartie] sometimes, because he’s so competitive and he wants to please – that’s one of those things where he feels he’s letting everybody down and maybe that snowballs on him. But again, that’s key in getting him consistent.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.