What to Watch For on the Eve of Training Camp

Training camp opens tomorrow for the New York Jets at Hofstra University, marking the last summer at their Long Island home. The Jets have trained at Hofstra since 1968, but starting in September, Gang Green will relocate team headquarters to Florham Park, N.J. However, aside from the sorrow that will fill the hearts of fans who have followed the team since its Shea Stadium days (1964-1983), there will also be excitement in the air.

Starting with the team’s first practice at 8:45 a.m. fans will get their first glimpse at prized additions such as DT Kris Jenkins, OLB Calvin Pace and G Alan Faneca. While no one is expecting Gang Green to catch the Patriots this season with the off-season moves, there will surely be less boo birds filling Giants Stadium.

Alongside the aforementioned players, one theme to watch for in training camp will be the position battles. Obviously the competition that will receive most of the attention will be the fight for the starting quarterback job. Neither Kellen Clemens nor Chad Pennington grabbed the lead while splitting duties last month during OTA’s. Fifth-round pick Erik Ainge (Tennessee) should finally be on display after sitting out most of the preseason workouts with a surgically repaired pinky on his throwing hand.

The fight for the third wide receiver spot will also pick up steam, as Brad Smith and Chansi Stuckey are in competition. Smith’s offseason got off to a slow start because of a back injury, but he should be back and raring to go. After spending most of the offseason workouts on the exercise bike, Smith returned to practice on June 5 and looked crisp in drills. Stuckey, who is entering his second professional season after missing his rookie year with a knee injury, showed off his soft hands in passing drills. It will also be important to keep an eye on David Clowney, who received praise from Eric Mangini. “I like the progress that David Clowney has made. He’s a guy that has excellent deep speed, he’s got a head for special teams production,” said Mangini last month.

It will also be intriguing to see how the Chris Baker situation plays out. Baker was placed on the PUP list on Monday, meaning he won’t be practicing tomorrow. Last season, Pete Kendall lasted until training camp while voicing similar complaints but was dealt to the Washington Redskins shortly after. Perhaps only time will tell.

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