CORTLAND, N.Y. -- Finally, it looked and sounded like training camp, as the Jets practiced for the first time in pads. Observations:
GENO'S TURN: As per the quarterback rotation, rookie Geno Smith led the first-team offense in an abbreviated afternoon practice. For now, the plan is to have Smith and Mark Sanchez alternate every third practice. So far, they've responded well to the competition. Three days, no lousy practices. In fact, they've yet to throw an interception in team drills.
Smith said he will benefit from practicing against the starting defense.
"Going against the first-team defense is a lot different because there are a lot of veterans on that side and they know how to disguise things, so that makes it a bit tougher," he said after practice.
Smith was sharp, completing four of six passes (one drop). He was sacked twice. He made the best throw of the day, a 50-yard strike to WR Stephen Hill, who is having a nice camp. Because of his athleticism, Smith brings a different dimension to the offense. It showed up in this practice on a couple of running plays.
Smith said he's "pretty comfortable" on designed runs, claiming he's up for anything. At West Virginia, he wasn't particularly effective. You get the impression that he'd rather be known as a pocket passer, but he said, "I've always been the same quarterback. I hate the label that people try to put on quarterbacks. I do whatever it takes to win."
Sanchez (5-for-7, one sack) was consistent, if not spectacular. One trend that already is emerging in camp: Sanchez can handle the basic stuff better than Smith, but Smith has the ability to make the "wow" plays. Sanchez's best throw was a deep out to rookie WR Ryan Spadola.
ATTENDANCE REPORT: The offense was without four key players -- RB Mike Goodson (not in camp), RB Chris Ivory (hamstring), TE Kellen Winslow and WR Braylon Edwards. It was a rest day for Winslow and Edwards, both of whom are on a pitch count. Winslow, he of the chronic knee problems, was spotted afterward with a heavy wrap on his knee. Presumably, it was just precautionary. Ivory is expected to return in the coming days, perhaps as soon as Monday. RB Joe McKnight, who experienced dehydration at the start of camp, struggled through practice.
REAL CONTACT: They opened practice with a 9-on-9 drill, a run-only session. McKnight, Bilal Powell and John Griffin were the primary ball carriers, but the running game featured an array of runs. Smith put a nice open-field move on a would-be tackler. OC Marty Mornhinweg is known as a passing coach, but the Jets absolutely must be able to run the ball to have success. They have to reduce the burden on the quarterback.
HIGHS AND LOWS: WR Jeremy Kerley, yet to hit his stride in camp, had a bad drop. Ditto, TE Konrad Reuland. ... TE Jeff Cumberland, having a quiet camp, made a leaping grab on a deep sideline route from Sanchez. ... Rookie DT Sheldon Richardson blew up a blocker and tackled McKnight for a loss. ... OLB Ricky Sapp notched a sack. ... A few penalty flags were thrown with the Sanchez-led offense on the field. ... Newly-signed RB Chad Spann broke a long run. ... QB Greg McElroy uncorked his daily duck.