Practice report: Dimitri Patterson returns

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- A few takeaways from Tuesday's New York Jets practice:

Training-camp approach: The Jets conducted practice as if they were in Cortland, New York, splitting offense and defense and using two fields. In other words, it was a training camp-style practice in pads -- a departure from Monday, which had a regular-season feel. Rex Ryan explained the change by saying they wanted to "take advantage of the numbers," meaning a 90-man roster. On Tuesday, it'll be slashed to 75.

One thing they haven't done since leaving Cortland is pit starters versus starters in team drills. As a result, the intensity is toned down and the focus has shifted to mental preparation. That's why you haven't been seeing our unofficial quarterback stats the last two days. They closed practice with a full period of third team versus third team in contact drills.

Injury news: A few key players returned from injuries, so that's the big news here. Cornerbacks Dimitri Patterson (leg) and Ras-I Dowling (groin), center Nick Mangold (toe) and Chris Ivory (ribs) returned on a limited basis. Patterson, who sat for more than a week, said he hopes to play Friday night against the New York Giants, adding that he's a definite for Week 1. He's a projected starter, so, yeah, the depleted secondary needs him. ... One player not all the way back is tight end Jeff Cumberland (Achilles tendon), who returned to positional drills, but that's it. ... Rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders, four days removed from his car accident, came out late and watched from the sideline. He won't play against the Giants. Once again, Rex Ryan declined to comment on the "medical event" that led to his accident. Saunders is expected to speak Wednesday with the media. ... Rookie wide receiver Shaq Evans underwent shoulder surgery, Ryan confirmed. ... Cornerback Dee Milliner (high-ankle sprain) was spotted without his walking boot. That's a good sign.

Quarterback rotation: After practice, Ryan confirmed the obvious, saying Geno Smith start will against the Giants. He's slated to play two-plus quarters, followed by Michael Vick. There's a chance Matt Simms could get mop-up duty. Ryan said he's not married to the idea of keeping three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, as he has done in the past.

Catch a rising receiver: This was a terrific practice for David Nelson, who caught everything and made an arms-extended, fingertips catch on a pass from Vick. Nelson is competing for a prominent role, along with Stephen Hill. After Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley, the competition is wide open, according to Ryan. Removing Decker and Kerley from the equation, the most consistent receivers on a day-to-day basis are Nelson and Greg Salas. Hill has good days and bad days. On Tuesday, he dropped a long pass from Vick, causing the crowd to groan. Hill isn't a fan favorite.

Odds and ends: Rookie tight end Jace Amaro drops an inordinate number of balls in one-on-none drills -- against air. Midway through practice, he suffered a finger injury, requiring a tape job from the trainers. He kept practicing. ... Antonio Allen and Ellis Lankster continued to work as the starting corners. Ryan said Darrin Walls will get more reps after an impressive showing against the Cincinnati Bengals. ... Andrew Furney ended practice with a 55-yard field goal. ... Wide receiver Jacoby Ford made a couple of nice grabs, as did Kerley and Clyde Gates.