CORTLAND, N.Y. -- Observations from the press box:
1. Geno's got arm: If the quarterback battle were staged as a Punt, Pass & Kick competition, Mark Sanchez would be in trouble. Geno Smith has a strong arm, there's no doubt about it. In the first practice, he displayed the ability to throw vertical routes and deep sideline passes. He throws a tight spiral with above-average velocity. Smith's challenge is learning where to throw the ball and when to throw it. At this point, that's where Sanchez has the advantage. When Smith's brain catches up to his arm ... well, it'll be very interesting.
2. Wide-receiver alert: The much-maligned receiving corps, which drew the wrath of Rex Ryan in minicamp, came out smoking hot. Less heralded players such as Clyde Gates and Titus Ryan stole the spotlight away from players such as Braylon Edwards and Jeremy Kerley. Stephen Hill, too, showed up in the first practice, making a great adjustment on a long completion. The coaches had been waiting almost a year for Gates to have this kind of day. For a change, he actually played like a receiver with sub-4.4 speed. The trick is to maintain it.
3. The glacier is melting: The improved speed on defense was noticeable. From the early indications, the Jets no longer will be glacially slow. Ryan mentioned it afterward, saying the added speed might allow them to stay in their base defense against three-receiver packages. They could do that because LB Demario Davis and S Antonio Allen (Friday's starter) can play man-to-man and cover in space.
4. Study, study, study: Ryan changed the practice schedule, starting practice at 10 a.m. In past years, it started at 8 a.m. Does this mean the players and coaches can sleep in? Not at all. Positional meetings run from 8:20 to 10, giving them a chance to review plays and brush up mentally before hitting the practice field. This is a sound approach, considering all the new players and the new offensive system being installed.