FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Practice makes perfect. But sprints get a coach's message across, too. Todd Bowles resorted to making his entire Jets team run gassers Monday after what he repeatedly described as a "sluggish" practice on the heels of a day off.
Typically, sprints are reserved for the unit -- offense or defense -- that gets beaten during the competition period of team drills. But there was nothing pretty about the group's performance Monday.
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"We were a little sluggish today. A little average. We can't be average," Bowles said. "[It's the] first day since camp started that we looked a little sluggish, so it's a wake-up call . . . The whole practice was dragging. Both sides of the ball, coaching, everything. Players, coaches, everything was dragging."
After nine straight practices without an interception, quarterback Geno Smith threw two pick-6s. The first, which came before the gassers, was hauled in near the left sideline by Marcus Williams and the second was snagged by Darrelle Revis. Both cornerbacks appeared to jump the route.
Heading into practice No. 10, Smith had committed only two turnovers, both strip-sack fumbles.
"DBs made good plays," Bowles said when asked about Smith's two interceptions. "They get paid money, too. Hopefully, they'll make some more. I was starting to think they couldn't catch. You got to give them credit. Somebody's got to win or lose every day. It happened today."
The players likely were fatigued after Saturday night's scrimmage-like practice at MetLife Stadium and Bowles' high-tempo sessions in the middle of the day. Plus, Monday marked the first non-padded Jets practice since Aug. 1. In all, players were asked to run three gassers in the middle of practice before resuming their 11-on-11 team drills. But Bowles' point was heard.
"You can't practice average if you want to be great," the first-time head coach said. "You can have very few of those days, and today was the first time. I don't think it was a big deal, but at the same time, they got to understand where they are, and today we didn't have a good day."
The Jets have one more practice before Thursday's preseason opener in Detroit. Perhaps playing a different team will inject some energy into Bowles' squad.
"Playing somebody else will help the mind-set at any time," he said, "but I would like to see a different team [Tuesday] and not Thursday."
Notes & quotes: After missing five straight practices, Muhammad Wilkerson (hamstring) did some individual drills but was kept out of team drills. Bowles said he doesn't have a timetable for Wilkerson's return. That means his status for Thursday night's game is up in the air. "We'll see what happens [Tuesday],'' Bowles said. "If he doesn't do anything [Tuesday], I'll probably say yes [he'll be out].'' . . . Asked about playing time for his starters against the Lions, Bowles said he has a "play count in my head" but "they won't go very long." One thing is certain: Smith will work solely with the first-team offense. "They're not going to be out there very long, so we probably won't have time to switch it up," Bowles said . . . Defensive lineman Kevin Vickerson was activated off the active/PUP list . . . Safety Antonio Allen cleared waivers and was placed on the Jets' injured reserve list . . . Receiver Eric Decker and cornerback Antonio Cromartie were the latest veterans to get a rest day . . . Receiver Chris Owusu, who has a concussion, still is going through the testing protocol but is getting better, Bowles said.