FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets coach Rex Ryan threatened the job security of the team's wide receivers on Thursday as they continue to drop passes during the team's minicamp.
"It has to get better. The fact that I've told everybody about it, is it putting pressure on them? Well, the NFL is a pressure game. You should catch the football," Ryan said, adding that there were even a pair of drops during the team's walk-through Wednesday.
"That's your job, and certainly we know we have to do a better job, but I expect it to happen immediately and it never happened yesterday, either," Ryan said. "We'll have to try to fix that one way or the other. If that's with other players, so be it. If that's guys stepping up and focusing and concentrating more on doing something that should be natural to them, that's a possibility also."
The pass-catchers had a rough day on Wednesday as Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley and even tight end Jeff Cumberland were among those who dropped passes. Hill, the team's second-round pick in the 2012 draft, has particularly struggled to keep his hands on passes, a problem that plagued him last season.
Ryan said the team stresses and teaches all the fundamentals of catching passes and couldn't single out one reason for the multitude of drops. He added that it hasn't been a case of one player contributing most of the drops, but it's been spread across the receivers.
"Whether it's a lack of focus, whether it's a technique thing with hands in different positions, it's probably all of the above," Ryan said. "To me, if you're a receiver, it's hard to expect to make a football team or have a huge contribution if you can't catch the football or you're not consistently catching the football."
Ryan said the team will examine all possibilities when it comes to potentially bringing in a veteran free agent, such as former Jet Braylon Edwards, but the struggles of the receivers showcases how much the Jets need veteran Santonio Holmes to be a factor this season.The team is currently hosting veteran receiver Mike Sims-Walker for a tryout during minicamp.
Jets general manager John Idzik acknowledged it's been a rough few weeks for the team's receivers, but didn't seem too concerned. Injuries have slowed down the unit this spring, as Hill, Kerley and Clyde Gates have all been limited.
"There were a couple of factors. One, we have a new offensive system. Practically the entire side of the ball, save the receivers coach, are new coaches on the staff. There's a lot of newness that way and just the installation. We're relatively young," Idzik said.
"And we had some soft-tissue-type stuff, minor stuff, that kept guys out and limited their reps a little bit. I think all things considered, there's a long of things going on. We filled their heads to the brink with that, and someone may miss some time with a strain here or there that factors in."
Holmes, recovering after a pair of surgeries because of a Lisfranc injury in his left foot he suffered last September, didn't comment Wednesday about whether he would be ready for the team's opener. Ryan previously said Holmes might begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list.
Last year, Holmes was on his way to having perhaps the best season of his career catching 20 passes for 272 yards and one touchdown in the first four games. He suffered his injury against the 49ers on Sept. 30 and underwent surgery in October. He had a second surgery in February to remove plates from his left foot. He's been working off to the side during minicamp.
Ryan said he's confident in Holmes returning but said the team will not rush him back.
"We need Santonio Holmes. I don't think there's any doubt," Ryan said. "[He's] a tremendous football player. First year we had him he won like four games in critical times. He's an MVP of a Super Bowl, making clutch catches, and probably no bigger time than that. That's been his history. Obviously that would be a big shot in the arm for us to get him back out there and healthy."
Holmes has been helping out the receivers during minicamp and has noticed the team's inability to hold on to the football. When asked about Hill, Holmes said: "Stephen, Stephen, Stephen."
"It's been a struggle," Holmes said on Wednesday about the drops. "It's been something that we as receivers really rely on is catching the ball."