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Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie not concerned about perceived struggles in camp

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FLORHAM PARK, New Jersey — Antonio Cromartie will let the fans and media think what they want.

The New York Jets cornerback has appeared to have a few issues during training camp, with receivers beating him on plays at times and his coverage not being up to par just yet this summer.

"It's practice," Cromartie said Wednesday, channeling his inner-Allen Iverson.

It's not necessarily a cop-out by Cromartie, though. This is his 10th NFL season, so he has learned to pace himself and make use of the time during camp to try things out.

"I start slow," Cromartie said. "I pick out specific things I can work on, my technique and go from there. If I get beat with me working on something else, I just get beat. I'm not worried about it. It's practice."

Cromartie was signed in March as a free agent to be reunited with Darrelle Revis in the Jets' new-look secondary after New York struggled mightily with injuries and inconsistency.

After a season in Arizona, Cromartie followed Todd Bowles — his defensive coordinator with the Cardinals — to New York. There were concerns by the Jets about a lingering hip issue in 2013, which was a factor in New York not bringing him back. Instead, he signed with the Cardinals and made the Pro Bowl, and proved he was healthy again.

Still, some fans and media have wondered if Cromartie might have lost a half-step — or, more — since they last saw him in New York.

"I'm not really worried about anything that's going on right now," Cromartie said. "I'm looking forward to when the lights turn on and you go play football."

Bowles worked with Cromartie closely last season, and he doesn't believe the cornerback has struggled during the first few weeks of camp.

"No, I don't," Bowles said. "I think he has some technical errors here and there. He's made some good plays and he's given up some plays. He's just got to hone in on his technique. He'll be fine."

Bowles also acknowledged that Cromartie is indeed constantly working on different aspects of his game, which can lead to some mistakes or misperceptions.

"Until you know what coverage he's in, you've got to see what he's working on so you can't really look at it and say he got beat here or he got beat there," Bowles said. "So we have different things that we give him to work on every day."

Cromartie said a lot of training camp now is mental work, especially after the two-a-day practices ended with the collective bargaining agreement in 2011. A lot of time is spent by the players in the classroom, trying to mentally grasp the system and prepare for opponents.

"A lot of the mistakes we're making, you can go back in and correct them because of how much classroom time we have," he said. "When you get into practice, you've got to try to go out and just work on the things you need to work on, the communication on the defensive side of the ball and try to play fast, as fast as you can."

As a whole, Bowles likes what he has seen from the defense lately, including the pace at which his players have been practicing.

"I think the last two days were the first time I've actually seen them kind of gel a little bit," Bowles said. "There's a lot of confusion as far as hesitation-wise going in early on. But right now, I think guys are starting to get the hang of it and they're starting to play a little faster."

NOTES: Bowles said he expects the starters on both sides of the ball to play "mostly an entire half" against Atlanta on Friday night. ... DE Muhammad Wilkerson, sidelined by a lingering hamstring issue, will not play against the Falcons. WR Chris Owusu (concussion) and LB Erin Henderson (MCL sprain) will also sit out. ... QB Geno Smith was with the team for morning meetings as he recovers from a broken jaw. He won't be on the sideline Friday night at MetLife Stadium, as Bowles has a policy that no injured players can stand there during preseason games. "We have too many guys right now," Bowles said. "We've already got 90 guys in camp. Everybody is in the way." ... Starting LG James Carpenter tweaked an ankle during practice, but Bowles didn't believe it was anything serious.


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