CORTLAND, N.Y. – Dwight Lowery figures the New York Jets might be waiting a while for Darrelle Revis to show up.
So, the third-year cornerback approached secondary coach Dennis Thurman a few days ago and told him to give rookie Kyle Wilson the bulk of the work with the first-team defense instead of him.
"I just think the more that he can get out there and be exposed to that kind of stuff, the better his progression is going to be," Lowery said Tuesday between practices.
Forget the fact that Lowery is in the mix for a starting job if Revis' holdout drags into the regular season. If the Jets are going to prepare for life without Revis, Lowery thought, Wilson needs the experience.
"When Dennis told me, I was like, 'What?'" coach Rex Ryan said. "I had never heard that before in my life. This kid loves to compete, yet it's just another example of an unselfish act by a teammate."
Wilson has been working with Antonio Cromartie in the starting secondary lately, while Lowery mixes in at safety, cornerback and nickel back.
"Like I say, don't feel sorry for us," Ryan said. "We have everything we need here on defense. The addition of Cromartie was enormous for our football team, and the fact we drafted Kyle Wilson, who's an outstanding player. That helps us a great deal."
Ryan said Wilson would start the preseason opener against the Giants on Monday night.
"I talked to Dwight and he told me, 'You'll probably be playing a lot for us and you need to keep going out there and competing against some of the top guys,'" Wilson said. "D.T. has just been telling me to get in there and I jumped in."
Added Ryan: "Right now, he's obviously in a much bigger role than maybe we even anticipated."
Reality is starting to set in for the Jets, who aren't sure when — or if — their All-Pro cornerback will join them this season.
"You hope that one day you're in a meeting and he walks in," Lowery said, "but the more time that passes, the more it hits home a little bit and you realize there's a possibility he won't be here."
Revis has missed 10 days, including Tuesday, since the team reported for training camp at SUNY Cortland. He's scheduled to make $1 million in the fourth year of his six-year rookie deal, but wants to become the league's highest-paid cornerback.
The Jets turned down the latest contract proposal from Revis' agents after a sit-down meeting last Friday, and general manager Mike Tannenbaum said it was "hard to say" when the sides would talk again. Owner Woody Johnson said Monday he was not optimistic a deal could get done before the season, and told 1050 ESPN New York on Tuesday that the gap between the sides is "insurmountable."
Johnson also told the radio station that he was "rebuffed" by Revis' agents when he asked to be part of that meeting. Agent Neil Schwartz told The Associated Press: "That's a blatant lie. Whoever gave him that information is incorrect. I wanted Mr. Johnson's thoughts on the proposal, so why would I not want him there?" Schwartz added that he would meet with Johnson "any time, any place."
Meanwhile, Ryan indicated he probably wouldn't reach out to Revis.
"I don't know what I would tell him," Ryan said. "I don't know if he'd take my call. ... We'd say hello to each other, I guess."
For a team with Super Bowl hopes, the thought of perhaps their best player sitting out an entire season could be scary. The Jets insist life will go on if that happens.
"We're still going to be good," Thurman said. "Trust me."
That's because of the depth at the position the Jets entered camp with. Not only did they draft Wilson with the 29th overall pick, they traded for Cromartie, a former Pro Bowl cornerback.
"I think I'm getting a lot of extra reps, obviously, versus some quality guys on offense," Wilson said. "It's definitely speeding up my learning curve."
Lowery, who started 10 games in his rookie season, knows the value of playing immediately.
"There's a chance that Revis won't be here at all, anytime," Lowery said. "We all need to be ready to step up to the plate, so to speak."
Wilson has been leaning on some of the veterans, such as Cromartie and safety Jim Leonhard, and Thurman — a former NFL defensive back — to help him pick up on things quicker.
"It's coming," Wilson said. "I feel like I'm doing OK, but obviously, I want to be a lot better. I feel like I'm on that steady path to getting better."
NOTES: Ryan said Matt Slauson, competing with second-round pick Vladimir Ducasse for the LG job, will start against the Giants. ... LB-DE Jason Taylor (groin) didn't participate in team drills. ... Ryan said QB Mark Brunell is "a lock" for the backup job to Mark Sanchez, leaving Kellen Clemens and Kevin O'Connell to compete for the No. 3 spot.