NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — While many of the fans continue to freak out over the Jets’ well-documented problems at cornerback, head coach Rex Ryan tried something different at practice on Monday.
It’s obviously too early to tell if the experiment will work, but if it does it might just solve a big problem.
Third-year safety Antonio Allen took a bunch of spins at corner and had arguably the best day of any member of the Jets’ secondary during the team’s first two weeks of training camp up in Cortland.
Allen and Ellis Lankster got shots with the first team on Monday after the Jets lost third-round pick Dexter McDougle to an ACL tear and last year’s first-round pick, Dee Milliner, to a high-ankle sprain on Sunday. Those injuries coincided with a number of ailments plaguing largely underwhelming free agent signing Dimitri Patterson and they all came on the heels of the Jets largely ignoring the position during free agency.
A former linebacker, Allen had several moments last season before the Jets picked up veteran safety Ed Reed. Allen was in a battle with first-round pick Calvin Pryor and veteran Dawan Landry at safety prior to getting a shot out wide. He responded by picking off both Geno Smith and Michael Vick during drills on Monday, prompting the media to circle and Ryan to wax poetic about what could be.
“I never said I had to have the best corner in football,” Ryan said. “That’s not it. My defenses work, period. I don’t care what it is. We take what we have, and then we work around it.
“One thing we know for a fact is that the defense is going to be an outstanding defense,” Ryan added.
General manager John Idzik has received a lot of criticism for not addressing corner, especially considering the Jets recently had Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie anchoring the position. He chose to let Cromartie walk during free agency and refused to go all in on several of the top names on the market, including Vontae Davis, Alterraun Verner and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, despite having plenty of salary cap space to do so.
So with already gaping holes at corner, the Jets appeared to be ill equipped to handle serious injuries, which is exactly what they suffered on Sunday when McDougle was lost for the season and Milliner knocked out of commission for perhaps up to a month, though his ankle was still too swollen Monday to have an MRI.
Idzik, however, told reporters Monday he’s not overly concerned.
The second-year GM said he would look for help at the position, but added the first priority is to see what kind of depth the Jets have.
“It’s not a panic situation. It’s an opportunity,” Ryan added.
Hence trying Allen at corner. Where the Jets go from here is anybody’s guess.
“We’re not a one-trick pony thing,” Ryan said. “We’re not a team that tries to stick a square peg into a round hole. We’ll take what we have and we’ll make it work.”
The Jets’ next preseason game is Saturday at Cincinnati.
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