The New York Jets held their longest practice of camp -- 2 1/2 hours -- and by the time it was over in Cortland, there was little doubt that the best player on the field was CB Antonio Cromartie.
The former San Diego Charger intercepted two passes (both from Mark Sanchez), wowing teammates, spectators and coaches with his rare ball skills. His arms are so long that he has the ability to snatch passes away from receivers, passes that most corners couldn't reach. As Cromartie likes to say, "You can't escape Alcrotraz."
"I don't know how to describe him," Rex Ryan said. "I've never seen anything like him."
Other thoughts and observations from practice No. 5:
1. Sanchez struggled. Quite frankly, he hasn't been particularly sharp in camp. His second interception, a throw to TE Dustin Keller, was admittedly a poor pass. He almost got picked off in a 7-on-7 drill, with Cromartie almost coming down with a pass in the end zone. Sanchez did make some sharp throws in a red-zone drill, hitting WR Braylon Edwards on a 20-yard post. But, for the most part, he missed a couple of open receivers.
Sanchez took pride in his improved cadence, which drew NT Kris Jenkins offsides. Sanchez said he's working on that facet of his game, and he credited recently-signed backup Mark Brunell with helping him in that area.
2. Sanchez did have a light moment during a water break. Standing near the sideline, he was eating something (perhaps an energy bar) when a fan from the crowd yelled out, "Better than a hot dog?" The crowd erupted with laughter. Sanchez laughed, too. That, of course, was a reference to his infamous hot-dog eating moment near the end of the Jets' win in Oakland.
3. Matt Slauson worked with the starters at left guard.
4. It's hard to predict how much of his once-magical running ability he still has left, but there's no doubt that LaDainian Tomlinson can catch the ball. He ran a skinny on LB David Harris, snatched Sanchez's pass in stride and took it to the house -- about 70 yards.
5. Rookie RB Joe McKnight seemed tentative on an inside run during a 9-on-7 drill. The 9-on-7 is the closest thing to "real" football, except for a live goal-line drill. One assistant yelled, "Hit the hole, Joe." Inside running never was his forte at USC.
6. Rookie FB John Conner -- aka The Terminator -- already has delivered a few crushing blows. In a 9-on-7, he made OLB Calvin Pace pay the price for jumping offsides. Pace swooped into the backfield, prompting Conner to rise from his stance and blast the charging Pace. The crowd loved that hit. Conner got some reps with the starters, ahead of Tony Richardson. Let's keep an eye on this situation.
7. Nice practice for Braylon (the Beard) Edwards. He beat CB Dwight Lowery like a drum on a 20-yard post in the end zone, and he made a highlight-film catch toward the end of practice. With Cromartie draped over him, he made a juggling, falling-to-the-ground, one-handed catch near the end zone. He can make the acrobatic catches; it's the easy ones that sometimes give him trouble.
8. Lowery, CB Drew Coleman and rookie S Donovan Warren made interceptions.
9. WR David Clowney recovered from an early drop to make two touch catches on underneath routes in a two-minute drill. Ah, yes, Mr. August.
10. After a quiet couple of days, WR Laveranues Coles made his first attention-grabbing play, hauling in a deep sideline pass from Brunell. It was a great "touch" throw from the oldtimer and nice footwork on the sideline from the oldtimer who caught it. Coles still looks weird wearing No. 19. When I see 19, I still think Keyshawn Johnson.