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Welcome to the NFL, rooks

New York Jets assistant coach Anthony Lynn, third

New York Jets assistant coach Anthony Lynn, third from left, shouts as rookie Joe McKnight, center, runs with the football during rookie football mini-camp in Florham Park, N.J. (April 30, 2010) Photo Credit: AP

Rex Ryan immediately noticed things were different a bit.

"First off, I don't think there was quite the excitement of this rookie camp as last year's rookie camp for some reason," he cracked in his opening remarks following the Jets' initial practice of their three-day rookie minicamp. "Maybe it's the quarterback. I'm not sure."

Ryan smiled after that last sentence, no doubt poking fun at last year's rookie minicamp circus that engulfed ballyhooed QB Mark Sanchez. This year, it's all about the likes of CB Kyle Wilson, OL Vladimir Ducasse, RB Joe McKnight, FB John Conner and others.

They got their first taste of the NFL today and McKnight, well, tasted his breakfast -- literally -- during the morning practice. McKnight was a gaggle of nerves, throwing up near one goal post and dropping a bevy of easy passes. He also had cramps in both calves, making for an extremely unflattering pro debut.

"I was excited, probably too excited," McKnight said. "The nerves just kicking in and got kind all wound up too fast before practice even started."

Even with all that, Ryan thought he saw a few things from the rookie out of USC who fell into the Jets' hands in the fourth round.

Cracked Ryan: "Joe McKnight looked good when he wasn't throwing up."

Wilson was out there doing his thing as well, wearing Thomas Jones' old No. 20. The Piscataway, N.J. native and first-round pick, as you would expect, loved every minute of it.

"It was a lot of fun, just happy to have that first one under my belt," Wilson said. "But it was everything I expected. A little nervous, a little anxious. Just happy to be back playing football."

Vladimir Ducasse, the second-round pick expected to compete with Matt Slauson to replace the released Alan Faneca at LG, had a couple of false starts under his belt. But the cat is massive and Ryan joked that his uniform didn't do him any justice.

He's certainly going to be a project, but you can see he has some talent. He reiterated that he wants to step into Faneca's spot.

"Yeah. At first, you can’t come in and think, ‘Oh, I’m going to be the starter,’ " Ducasse said. "It doesn’t work like that. You have to prove to everybody that you deserve to be on the team first and then after that you can talk about starting."

Ryan raved about a few guys: TE Jeff Cumberland (Illinois), LB Cory Reamer (Alabama) and LB Kevin Basped (Nevada) -- "looks like he's got a great shot" Ryan said. He also thought CB Brian Jackson (Oklahoma) looked good until he hurt a hamstring.

 We'll see if Ryan still feels that way about those guys come tomorrow.

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Ryan said the Jets are interested in LB Adalius Thomas (as we wrote earlier in the week), but it appears as if the Jets will wait for Thomas to lower his asking price.

Rex was his normal unassuming self when I asked how much better Thomas could make the Jets' top-ranked defense from a season ago.

"We're pretty good," Ryan said. "I think with him, we'll end up first in the league in defense and without him, we'll end up first in the league in defense. If we get him, great. I'm not worried about him. He's not on our team."

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