Archive for June, 2010

Finally showtime

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

On a day when over 12,000 Gang Green faithful packed into the lower bowl of the box-fresh New Meadowlands Stadium for the Jets final minicamp workout, a unique feeling filled the air.  A feeling of change.

A new era had officially begun in New York Jets football.  An era of great fanfare.  An era of HD screens and digital play clocks.  An era of promise.

“The new stadium is great man,” said linebacker Bart Scott.  “It’s top-notch, how could you not love it?  I think the fans will be excited and be happy that they can come here and watch games in this type of top-notch facility.”

Big Chris Jenkins is feeling great and can't wait to make is 2010 debut in the Jets new beautiful building. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

The Jets’ new digs are very much in the same mold of the new Yankee Stadium, not architecturally but conceptually.  Much like the recently opened Bronx ballpark, the New Meadowlands doesn’t start over from scratch but expands and upgrades on an older idea.  The inside of the 82,500 seat arena bares a striking resemblance to it’s predecessor with a few noticeable improvements.

One of the major complaints of the old Giants Stadium was the scoreboard, or lack thereof.  Fans would struggle to view replays and game action on two ancient, 32-by-24-foot, Sony video boards.  That issue has been resolved with the placement of four 30-by-113-foot, high- definition scoreboards in each corner of the upper deck of the stadium.

Another noticeable upgrade is the shortened perimeter around the field.  Fans are now closer to the action than ever before, literally.  The front row of the 50-yard line seats measures only 46 feet from the sideline, the shortest distance in the National Football League by almost ten feet.  There also does not appear to be one bad seat in the house, as the arena is free of obstructed views.

The infamous red seats have been replaced by neutral gray seats which give the arena an almost retro look.  From afar the gray seats almost appear as concrete benches or metal bleachers of the stadiums of yesteryear.  Drastically wider concourses also aid the fan experience, making it easier to get around the stadium for both handicapped and non-handicapped fans.

The improved viewing experience is not however limited to fans.  Members of the media will be in for a real treat as the location of the press box and media workrooms have been lowered to the middle level of the stadium, a far cry from the sky-high press area at the old Giants Stadium.

As if following the game from the press box without binoculars at the old stadium wasnt hard enough, functioning televisions were few and far between.  This issue has also been resolved with the removal of the barriers between the press box windows which obstructed views and the installation of wide-screen high-definition screens throughout press row.

Taking the cake though, in terms of x-to-y upgrades is the new and improved press conference room.  Gone are the days of reporters and cameramen cramming into a room no bigger than a walk-in closet.  The new room is glass-enclosed, about 10x the size of the old one and offers seating for about 200 people.  That’s right, seating.  The days of leg cramps and back pain from standing are officially over.

From top to bottom, the stadium boasts a certain swanky elegance which perfect mirrors its Gang Green inhabitants.  It is a new building for a new era where new memories and new history will be made.  And there seems to be no better emcee than the gregarious Rex Ryan, a true leader with titanic dreams.

Jet fans…it’s finally showtime.

Ahead of the curve

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

First round pick Wilson continues to impress with strong Mini Camp performance

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – The sun beat down mercilessly on the practice field at the Jets’ facility Tuesday morning in Florham Park as players, coaches, media members and public onlookers were treated to vexatious 80-degree temperatures.

But no mercury bulb could accurately gauge the play of rookie cornerback Kyle Wilson.  The boy was sweltering out there on the turf, effectively melting each veteran receiver and incoming pass that entered his realm.

Kyle Wilson runs back an interception during 11-on-11 drills at this morning's Mini-camp session. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

David Clowney, Jerricho Cotchery..who’s next?  Then came the big play.

Quarterback Kellen Clemens launched a deepball which hung up in the middle of the field.  Wilson, doing his best Ken Griffey Jr. impression appeared out of nowhere to track down the ball and haul the pigskin into his outstretched arms.  It was off to the races from there as the former Boise State Bronco galloped down the sideline and weaved in and out of defenders.

With nearly 60 yards of ground already covered and only one defender to beat, the 23-year-old stumbled out of bounds.  But not before the ball was knocked out of his hands by Jets receiver Brad Smith.  Live ball.

“Gotta hold on to it,” says Wilson.  Just a learning experience.   I’ve got to learn from that and keep my hands on the ball.”

So goes the trials and tribulations of an NFL rookie.  Kyle Wilson is no exception to the rule, though he sure seems like it to his veteran teammates.

Jets receiver Santonio Holmes first met Wilson before either were members of Gang Green.  Wilson prepared for the draft at famed trainer Tom Shaw’s facility in Florida, where Holmes works out regularly during the offseason.

That was where the education of Kyle Wilson began.  According to Holmes, it’s Wilson’s strong will to learn which has been the biggest factor in his quick progression at the NFL level.

“He always comes around just standing there and I start talking to him,” says Holmes.  “Just teaching him some of the little techniques we use as receivers to beat DBs.  He picked up on these keys and he steals them.”

Jets head coach Rex Ryan agrees with Holmes’ assessment of the team’s first-round pick.  “His study habits and all that,” said Ryan.  “That’s why you’re seeing him progress, a steady climb.  We think he’s got a chance to be a really good one.”

Wilson believes that four years in the Western Athletic Conference prepared him invaluably for the offenses of the NFL.  Going up against the likes of Hawaii and Fresno State’s powerful offensive attacks on an regular basis was the perfect pretest for the rookie.

“The WAC is a passing league so I’ve played many styles of offenses,” said Wilson. “Run-n-Shoot to power run.  You name it, I saw it.”

“I think just playing defensive back, as long as you do your job and stop what’s coming at you, you should be in position to make plays.  Yeah in the NFL, guys are a lot bigger and faster and stronger but it’s still the same for your game.  As long as you excel at your game, you’ll be in position to make some plays.”

Jets slot receiver Jerricho Cotchery, Wilson’s usual sparring partner in practice is a first-hand witness to the rookie’s transformation.  After having his way with Wilson during the early portions of OTAs, the playing field has begun to level off.  The fact that Wilson has adjusted so well to Cotchery, one of the NFL’s premier slot receivers is a very encouraging sign.  Assuming he is able to hold the starting nickelback spot through training camp, Wilson will reguarly be matched up with slot and inside receivers.

“Legit man, he’s legit,” beams Cotchery. ” When he puts it all together, he’s going to be something special. The thing that impresses me the most is how he gets in and out of his breaks.  It’s impressive.”

“He’s ready to go now.  I’ve given him every look possible right now up until this point.  He’s just been soaking it in.  The toughest thing for a cornerback coming into the league as far as technique is being able to see different routes.  We run a variety of routes in the NFL and if you haven’t seem them, it’s going to take a while for you to get a good feel for the routes.  I’ve been running every route possible.  I’ve been giving him every move, every different type of look and release.  I’ve been giving it all to him and he’s been responding pretty well to them.”

“Everything’s starting to slow down a little bit, just getting more comfortable, says Wilson.   “I’m definitely trying to get better each day.”

For now, he just has to remember to put that ball away.

Following his practice fumble this morning, it was Holmes who was the first veteran to get in the rookie’s ear.

“I ran up to him and I tapped him on the shoulder,” recalls Holmes. “I said ‘You’re a punt returner. In the instincts of being in a crowd of people, what are you going to do? (Expletive) why didn’t you do it just then? You cost us the game just now.’  Even though it’s coming from a guy on the other side of the ball, he’s willing to listen and learn.”

Clearly.

Rumor Roundup: June 11

Friday, June 11th, 2010

Conner on board

Friday, the Jets agreed to terms with fullback John Conner, their fifth round selection in April’s draft out of the University of Kentucky.  According to Manish Mehta of The Daily News, the rookie signed a four-year deal worth just under $2 million.  The deal also includes a $199,000 signing bonus and an escalator in the fourth year which raise the deal’s value to $2.73 million.

The team has big plans for the 5-foot-11, 245 pound Conner, who they believe to be the long-term answer at the fullback position.  Veteran fullback Tony Richardson is 38 and will be entering his 16th season in 2010, which figures to also be his last.

Conner is built in the same mold as Richardson, a throwback bruiser who isn’t afraid to take on a pass rusher or two in the backfield.

Sweet Folk music

Maybe the Jets have found their answer at the kicker position, after all.  It sure seemed that way Thursday as incumbent Nick Folk went an impressive 7-for-7 in the afternoon’s OTA session, according to ESPN New York’s Rich Cimini. Folk’s suprising performance included boots from 51 and 53 yards out.

“He made that 51-yarder and that 53-yarder that he nailed right down the middle,” said a relieved Rex Ryan.  “Yeah, that made me feel a little better… I’m sure it made the entire New York Jet fan base feel better today.”

“He was impressive.  In all fairness, he’s got a new holder (and) a new snapper. Now, the great thing is, he’s just lining up and kicking.  There’s no problem.”

If Folk can return to his 2007 Pro Bowl form, it would be a huge lift for a Jets team whose one question mark going into training camp is the kicking game.  Many believed that the team would pursue an established veteran before the regular season based on Folk’s erratic past.

That may not be the case now.   “It looked like an extra point the way he kicked them,” boasted Ryan.

Sanchez impresses in team drills

Quarterback Mark Sanchez, coming off of arthroscopic knee surgery, participated in team drills Tuesday for the first time this offseason.  You could hardly notice.

Mark Sanchez is back on the practice field and feelin' good (JetsInsider.com Photo)

According to Jenny Vrentas of The Star-Ledger, Sanchez showed no signs of rust, appearing comfortable and mobile in 11-on-11 drills.  The former Trojan finished the day 4-f0r-6, including three consecutive completions to Jerricho Cotchery and an impressive roll-out to the newest Jet receiver, Santonio Holmes.

“It’s great, said Rex Ryan. “You don’t even worry about him.  That’s how confident we are right now with where Mark is.”

“That’s just Sanchez out there.  Let him go.  If he gets a little close, we’ll blow the whistle. Seriously, being on the move and doing all those things, you feel great.  I feel super about him.”

To say Sanchez is amped up about his return to the gridiron would be a severe understatement.  After two days of real practice Sanchez says his knee is fine as wine.

“It’s felt great,” the second-year quarterback said Thursday.  “Like we said during this whole rehab process, the big thing is that next day after you try something new, after you really push it one day.  How’s it going to feel on Wednesday after Tuesday’s full practice?  It was awesome.  I hopped out of bed, came in, got my treatment, and I feel great.  Now, the mental side is catching up to the physical side and I feel a lot sharper out there (with) X’s and O’s, calling plays, feeling comfortable in the huddle and really going, so I thought we had a great day today.”

Guess who’s back

Less than a week after causing quite a stir in Florham Park by skipping out on OTAs, cornerback Darrelle Revis was back on the practice field Thursday.

The 24-year-old Revis is still unhappy that an agreement on long-term contract extension hasn’t been reached, but is taking the professional approach.  At least for now.

The All-Pro corner stated Thursday that he will be in attendance for next week’s three-day Mini-Camp.  He wouldn’t make any assurances beyond that, according to Manish Mehta.

Revis says that there will be “changes” if a new deal isn’t worked out soon.  This could include a training camp holdout.

“You’ll know. It’s not going to be hidden,” he said. “This is the time where I need to look at what I did here for three years. If things are not the right way, I need to sit back and view my career and see where I need to go from here and move on.”

“The season I had last year was crazy…So this is a lot of leverage that I do have right now to get to that second contract and get the money that you deserve. I don’t know how long I’m going to play. I could have broken an ankle out there or tore a knee up and my career could have been over.”


Rumor Roundup: June 4

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Hot corner

In what has been an offseason of non-stop positivity and good news around Florham, everything is not well in Jetland after all.

All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis skipped out on Thursday’s OTA session in Florham Park, a clear indication that league’s most dominant defensive back is upset with the state of his negotiations for a new contract.

With contract renegotiations at a stalemate, Revis Island has temporarily closed down. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

The 24-year-old Revis is entering the fourth year of the six-year contract he signed as a rookie in 2007.  Coming off of his most impressive season as a pro, Revis is set to make $1 million in 2010.

Last month, Revis told ESPN New York’s Rich Cimini that the Jets had promised him a new contract before the beginning of the regular season.

“That’s their word. That’s what they said,” said Revis, standing by his locker. “If you go back on your word, it’s a problem.”

“I don’t know,” he said. “I guess we’ll figure it out when July 31 comes. As of right now, we have a bunch of months to get things done. We’ll see. I trust those guys. But I also know this is a business as well. [But] we believe them at their word. If you go back on your word, in general, in world society, when you go back on your word, it’s a problem. It’s just a problem.”

According to multiple reports, Revis and his agent Neil Schwartz are seeking a new deal that would top that of  Nnamdi Asomugha of the Oakland Raiders ($15.2 million per year).  Any such deal would make the fourth-year pro the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL.

Jets head coach Rex Ryan effectively brushed off Revis’ absence at today’s workouts.  “It’s just part of the business,” said Ryan.  “We’ll see what happens.  When there’s time to react or be frustrated, I’ll react.”

“With Darrelle, he’s been here every day up until this.  He volunteered to be here every single day and now he wasn’t here today.  These are voluntary camps, just like there are voluntary workouts, and he’s made every one up until today. I’ve been impressed with him, to say the least, the way he’s worked.”

Manish Mehta of The Daily News reports that the general consensus amongst the Jet players is that both sides will come to an agreement before the start of the season.

“He was here yesterday, so I’m concerned he wasn’t here today,” Tony Richardson said. “That’s the business side of it. It doesn’t concern me at all. Right now, it doesn’t concern me because it’s June. So, we’ll see how this thing progresses.”

Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum acknowledged Thursday that Revis’ contact situation is certainly of high priority to the organization.

“Darrelle is everything we believe in on and off the field,” said Tannenbaum. “We told him that shortly after the season. We remained committed to that.  He’s a foundation for this organization.  He’s a role model for our players.  He’s really been great.  I’m really proud to be the GM that traded up for him.  Within reason, we want to sign him to an extension that will keep him here long term.”

Mangold not opposed to holdout

Apparently, Darrelle Revis isn’t the only Jet upset with his current contract situation.

Jets’ Pro Bowl center Nick Mangold is entering the final year of a five-year deal and is slated to make $3.3 million in 2010.  Mangold has made it clear all offseason that he would prefer to get an extension done before the start of the season.

Thursday, the 26-year-old center made it clear that he is not playing games and could possibly holdout if a deal isn’t reached in time for training camp.

“You show you have no problem missing time,” said Mangold. “It’s still voluntary. I wouldn’t say it’s a warning shot, but it’s a flash of morse code that, ‘Hey, we’re aware of what’s going on.’”

Mangold added that he is taking things on a “week to week” basis, not jumping to any conclusions yet.

“As each little step in the schedule goes along, we make decisions…When the time comes, we’ll make another decision. We’ll keep going with a fluid (plan). I’m not going to say rigidly that this is going to happen or that’s going to happen. Because things change. I don’t want to put my foot in my mouth.”

While OTAs are voluntary for all players, next week begins mandatory mini-camp.  Missing mini-camp or training camp would subject Mangold to a fine, something he definitely takes into the equation.
“You’ve got to look at the pros and cons of dropping 16,000 dollars per day, and you’ve got to look, realistically, is it going to change anything?” he said.  “Is it going to light a fire under anybody?  You’ve got to try to judge the best you can because you don’t really know, and you hope to make the best-informed decision that you can.”
“As of right now, it appears Revis is the priority on the list, which I don’t care either way who is the priority and what not, as long as my timeline gets fulfilled.”
For the organization’s sake, hopefully both are fulfilled in a timely manner.