Florham Park, N.J.: As I settled in my area on the sideline to watch practice and everything looked bigger. The spacious grounds of the practice facility, large open areas everywhere I turned. Something felt different—less intensity, less volume, less everything.
The big name players on the Jets were missing. Nowhere to be seen. No Mark Sanchez, no Tim Tebow, no Nick Mangold, no Darrelle Revis…anyone who assumes a large role on this team wasn’t there
The confusion ended when Rex Ryan approached the media on the sideline and let us in on what was going on.
The leaders of the New York Jets were off on a leadership experience from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m., ran by professionals at an undisclosed location. The 19 players on the trip were told as they arrived at the team building this morning.
“This Spring we did a leadership thing [with the coaches] and had a blast,” said Ryan. “I had this planned all season—since the Spring, I wanted to get a group of our leaders on the team and have them go through a similar experience.”
“We just had such a great experience as a coaching staff, I’m hoping the players have the same type of experience we had,” continued Ryan. “It’s just some different little exercises that you do, it was really a heck of a deal. I’m not getting into the specifics of it but, I thought it was fantastic and thought it would be good for our players.”
No need for the injured leaders—Dustin Keller, Mike DeVito and David Harris—to feel left out, they weren’t allowed to go.
Hopefully Ryan didn’t leave anyone out who would hold a grudge against him for doing so.
Team Updates: Ryan named players in the first groups who would see snaps tomorrow night against the Philadelphia Eagles. The most notable being rookie defensive end Quinton Coples and recently anointed starter Austin Howard. Newly acquired lineman Jason Smith is expected to be on the field for approximately 10 snaps.
“I want to see him for 10 plays but I don’t even know if that’s a possibility,” said Ryan. “He’s supposed to be a sharp, young man. Let’s see what he can do.”
Ryan also plans to play John Connor and Nick Bellore at the fullback spot, while lining up Terrance Ganaway at multiple positions.
An interesting nugget from Ryan’s presser was the hypothetical scenario of Mark Sanchez having an injury where here were to miss a bulk of the regular season. Two schools of thought are Greg McElroy becoming the starting, more conventional quarterback, while leaving Tim Tebow in the same role he would have if Sanchez were on the field. The second scenario would be Tebow receiving most of the snaps and having an expanded role.
“I think Tebow would expand his role,” said Ryan. “I think with Tim, we feel good about what Time can do. But you would have to go in and be confident in McElroy.”
Injury Update: Ryan said at his press conference before Wednesday’s practice that he expects Harris, Keller, Chaz Schilens, DeVito, Sione Po’uha and Jeff Cumberland to all be ready for the opener. Keller, DeVito, Harris, Ellis Lankster and Ricky Sapp were in the rehab group at today’s practice.
Eric Smith is the biggest question mark heading into Week 1, it doesn’t sound as if he will be ready.
Ryan noted DeVito wouldn’t play Thursday if it were a regular season game but will have enough time to recover for their game against the Buffalo Bills.
Sapp will not play tomorrow still bothered by a high ankle sprain.
Wayne Hunter for Jason Smith Trade: “I think it’s going to be good for both teams,” said Ryan. “With Wayne being familiar with Shotty’s system, I’m sure that’s going to help Wayne when he goes there. I think he needed a fresh start and I think the same can be said for Jason. Sometimes when you’re that high of a pick automatically they assume you’re Orlando Pace. Orlando Pace is a Hall of Fame Tackle.”
Ryan continued, “Certainly Jason has the athleticism that you look for. Were going to put him in a similar role we had pegged for Wayne. Ryan re-emphasized the largest upgrade between the two is plainly, athleticism.