A few takeaways from the New York Jets' minicamp practice on Tuesday:
1. Oh, no, Geno: Coach Todd Bowles was asked to assess Geno Smith's practice performance, and the first words out of his mouth were, "I saw leadership." Bowles was trying to be positive; it wasn't easy. Smith struggled in the first practice, throwing three interceptions in team drills -- including two in the red zone. Anybody who watched the Jets last season knows their Achilles' heel was the red zone. In a word, they stunk. It's early, very early, but he didn't do anything to make people forget about 2014. He made two bad decisions. He threw a 50-50 ball in the corner to Jeremy Kerley that was intercepted by Dex McDougle and, a couple of minutes later, he failed to read the safety on a pass over the middle -- a ball that was picked off by rookie Durell Eskridge.
Bowles said red zone interceptions are inexcusable -- you're giving away points -- but he didn't scold Smith too harshly.
"He's been making some good decisions," said Bowles, adding, "I think his growth is coming along pretty good."
Despite 34 interceptions in his first two seasons, Smith is the presumptive starter. He will go into training camp as the No. 1 quarterback, although he hasn't been anointed yet by Bowles. If he has a couple of three-interception days in training camp, it'll complicate the decision.
2. Ryan's hope: As expected, backup Ryan Fitzpatrick didn't get nearly as many reps as Smith. Unofficially, it was 36 for Smith, 14 for Fitzpatrick. That includes all reps, not just first-team work. Fitzpatrick was relatively sharp, but he, too, committed a major no-no -- yep, an interception in the red zone. He threw a floater in the back of the end zone and it was picked off by Jaiquawn Jarrett. Clearly, Fitzpatrick doesn't have Smith's arm strength, but the ball comes out quickly. Chan Gailey's offense is designed for the quarterback to make quick throws. That's great, as long as the throws don't go to the other team.
3. Mo's back: Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, who hinted before practice he could be limited because of a lingering turf-toe injury, didn't sit out any drills. Practice started with a team drill, and there was Wilkerson, lining up in his familiar spot with the starters. His reps were monitored because he was away so long, as he skipped the first two months of the offseason, but he came through his first practice quite nicely. He was sharp mentally and physically, according to Bowles.
4. Defensive standouts: Two players jumped out -- safety Rontez Miles and rookie linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin. Miles, trying to make the team after two years on the practice squad, made a nice pass breakup and intercepted rookie Bryce Petty. Mauldin, a third-round pick, was active as a pass-rusher, showing some burst out of a three-point stance. Mauldin worked mostly with the second team, as did first-round defensive lineman Leonard Williams.
5. Busy day for Ivory: Running back Chris Ivory was a workhorse, doing a little bit of everything. He was heavily involved in the passing game, and -- not surprisingly -- dropped a couple of passes. That's the thing with Ivory: You won't find a tougher runner between the tackles, but he's not a smooth pass receiver. That makes me wonder if he'll be a good fit in Gailey's spread system, which works better with a running back that can catch and make plays in space.
6. Musical guards: Don't look now, but there's a new challenger in the right guard competition. His name is Brent Qvale, a first-year player from Nebraska. Doesn't ring a bell? He spent last season on the practice squad after getting waived in the preseason. He took most of the first-team reps, with incumbent Willie Colon (knee) resting and Oday Aboushi backing up at left guard. Brian Winters, coming back from knee surgery, also got some work at right guard. Something tells me this won't be decided until the week of the season opener.
7. Injury report: Tight end Jace Amaro (back) sat out as a precaution. There's no long-term concern, according to Bowles ... Cornerback Dee Milliner (Achilles'), safety Marcus Gilchrist (shoulder) and running back Stevan Ridley (knee) didn't participate in team drills, as expected. ... Rookie receiver Devin Smith was excused for a personal reason.