CORTLAND – The defense was the star of the day, registering five total interceptions against Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow.
It was a bittersweet performance for Rex Ryan – a defensive-minded guy, who had started to worry that his secondary wasn’t finding the ball.
Sanchez was picked off by rookie safety Josh Bush (who, as a fill-in for starter LaRon Landry, came up with an interception off a tipped pass to tight end Jeff Cumberland), cornerback (and occasional wide receiver) Antonio Cromartie and rookie linebacker Demario Davis each picked off Sanchez during Wednesday’s practice.
Cornerback Ellis Lankster and linebacker Garrett McIntyre each intercepted Tebow.
It was the most interceptions Ryan has seen at training camp this year.
“It’s always good news and bad news,” the coach said of the five interceptions. “I’m extremely happy with the way the defense got the football today. …Up until this point, I was a little concerned because we hadn’t been getting any. Offensively, we’ve done such a tremendous job protecting the football. Sometimes the defense made great plays.”
Sanchez finished 9-for-13 with three “sacks” during 11-on-11s, while Tebow went 4-for-9 with a sack.
WR Stephen Hill returned to the practice field with his right ring finger still wrapped. But he showed no significant signs of discomfort as he participated in team drills.
Sanchez targeted the rookie right off the bat, throwing an incompletion to Hill near the left sideline on the first play of 11-on-11 drills. When it was Tebow’s turn, he hit Hill on a 35-plus reception.
Hill said he was “not at all” nervous about catching passes with his injured finger. But he did say he purposely “caught a couple with my body.”
“I wasn’t going to let it stop me,” he said of his finger, which now is able to bend. “Just making sure I concentrate on the ball a little bit more.”
At the start of practice, Hill was off the side in the rehab area, jogging and doing other agility drills. Asked if he was suffering a hamstring or leg issue, the rookie divulged that his right knee felt “loose” – but he insisted it wasn’t a big deal.
“That’s the only reason why I had the sleeve on,” he said. “It just didn’t feel correct (on Tuesday).”
After he injured his ring finger playing going up against Darrelle Revis during Tuesday’s team drills, Hill said his right knee started bothering him.
“It’s nothing serious,” he said, adding that he’s never suffered a knee issue before.
He decided to warm it up before Wednesday’s practice to prevent any further issues.
Cromartie made his presence felt on both sides of the ball Wednesday. Before he intercepted Sanchez during the first set of 11-on-11 drills, the Jets cornerback lined up at receiver for a snap with Tebow at quarterback.
Cromartie caught the short pass from Tebow on the play, but the completion was negated by an illegal procedure penalty flag on the offense.
Rookie WR Jordan White continues to shine in training camp. One of his more impressive catches Wednesday came on a deep pass (at least 35 yards) from Sanchez during team drills.
“I saw he had a couple of deep balls with unbelievable coverage,” Ryan said of White. “…He has great hands and concentration and he’ll fight for contested balls.”
…WR Jeremy Kerley caught punts for the second day in a row. …Ryan said he expects RT Wayne Hunter (back stiffness) to play against the Giants Saturday. WR Chaz Schilens (ankle) will be out. WR Santonio Holmes (rib/back) and NT Sione Po'uha (back) already have been ruled out for Saturday.