Archive for August, 2011

New look Flight Boys cleared for takeoff

Monday, August 8th, 2011

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — I think all Jet fans had a special place in their hearts for the Flight Boys last year. Each member brought in their own flare, their own style. Braylon Edwards, teaching defensive backs around the league how to properly “Dougie”. Jerricho Cotchery, providing stability and a certain stoic leadership to the team with his workman-like attitude. Brad Smith, well … there wasn’t a whole lot that Smith didn’t bring to the table. And of course Santonio Holmes, who’s big-play potential overwhelmed fans’ expectations.

But this year the Flight Boys have a new look, with the exception of Holmes, but can they pack the punch that last year’s receiving corps offered? Many fans have speculated that the Jets have made too many changes to a team that was one half away from the Super Bowl, again. The questionable signing of Plaxico Burress coming fresh off a 2-year stint in prison, followed by the release of Cotchery which opened the door to bring in former Ravers WR Derrick Mason left fans scratching their heads.

Why sign Burress, who’s fresh out of prison, for the same amount Braylon, who’s developed a rapport with Mark Sanchez? Why release a blue collar player like Cotchery for essentially the same player in Mason? These are normal questions to be asking, Jet fans, it’s OK. But Burress made a good point on Sunday regarding the transition:

Myself, Santonio and D-Mase (Derrick Mason), we’ve all played in the Super Bowl at one point and we’re veterans. We understand this game, defensive coverages, concepts and different things like that. We understand the defenses. We’ve been around. We’ve seen just about everything. We’ve played in all the big games.

Last year, the Flight Boys soared sky high for the Jets on offense. This year the Flight Boys should be renamed the Flight MEN, with all their experience. ( Photo).

From that standpoint, the moves make perfect sense. Edwards was looking for top-tier receiver money while Brad Smith wanted to be properly compensated after making a near-seamless transition from college QB to professional WR/KR. And he did. In the cases of Burress and Mason, they were willing to take a lesser role to be on a team that has the potential to be great. Both players are looking to do a little PR rehabilitation — Burress creating a good name post-prison and Mason proving to the league that he can still play at age 37.

“I have been blessed, truly. I have been fortunate enough to not have [bad] injuries, and the way I work in the off-season, I just try to do as much as I can, as hard as I can,” Mason, who signed a two-year deal with the team, said.

Mason agreed with Burress that the experience will be what differentiates this year’s Flight Boys to last year’s. He commended the job that Edwards and Cotchery did last year with this team, but added: “I think the experience is the upgrade. I have been [in the league] for 15 [years], Plax has been close to 10 [years] and ‘Tone has been at it a very long time as well so I think it’s the experience.”

And with the infusion of youth being meshed with these veteran’s is where the experience comes into play the most. Rookie WR Jeremy Kerley out of TCU has been turning heads with his on-the-field speed as well the rate he’s grasping this offense. According to the first-year wideout, Kerley gave up his number 85 to Mason without even asking for anything in return. When asked why he did that, all he replied was “he’s a veteran”.

“With [Mason] being out there, with Santonio being out there, with Plaxico being out there — for all rookies, that’s a big advantage. I think that’s [what] we have over a lot of guys in the game right now. It’s an advantage to get out there and learn and watch those guys, those guys who have put in a lot of work, and obviously, know what they’re doing,” Kerley said.

Ryan, who was the defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens when Mason was a receiver there, said he expects to use all three veteran receivers in the same sets as much as possible.

“I can see [with] Derrick’s role, you almost look at it  as if you have three starters,” Ryan said. “That three-wide package, I think, is going to be something when you have Derrick, Santonio, obviously Plaxico and then Dustin [Keller]. That’s going to be tough on anybody. It’s going to be fun to watch, that’s for sure. [Mason's] role is not to come in here as the number three receiver. He’s going to come in and build on what we already have with our first two guys and be right there with them.”

Still worried about the new look Flight Boys? Fear not Gang Green faithful, the receiving corps are jam packed with experience. Now all they have to do is turn that experience into production on the field.

HUNDREDS OF EXCLUSIVE TRAINING CAMP PICS STRAIGHT FROM FLORHAM PARK! Our photo staff is adding pics regularly throughout camp so check often for the largest gallery of exclusive Jets training camp photos on the internet: CLICK HERE

Jets re-sign S Brodney Pool to 1-year deal

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — Let’s get  the gang back together. Gang Green that is. After locking up key players to last year’s run to the AFC Championship game like Santonio Holmes, Antonio Cromartie, Eric Smith, Nick Folk and David Harris, the Jets have announced they will be bringing back safety Brodney Pool on a one year deal, per Lisa Zimmerman.

The terms of the deal have yet to be released, but it is believed to be at the terms of the Jets and not Pool. After the team signed Eric Smith to a three-year deal, many believed that Pool’s one-year tenure with the Jets would come to end as the team stated that Smith would be the starter heading into the season.

New York Daily News reporter Manish Mehta, just didn’t see Pool returning. He tweeted this on July 30th.

#Jets simply can’t afford to keep safety Brodney Pool. He will get a more lucrative deal elsewhere. #nyj

Reports have come out that the Jets have re-signed free safety Brodney Pool to a one-year deal on Wednesday, August 3, 2011. ( Photo).

And there was no reason to see why he wouldn’t have gotten a better deal elsewhere. He started out last season unable to finish a full practice and eventually missed the first game of the season against the Baltimore Ravens. But after a Week 13 season-ending injury to safety Jim Leonhard, Pool played very well in his place. It seemed he finally began to grasp the nuances of Rex Ryan’s comprehensive defensive schemes. The Cowboys and Lions were both believed to be in pursuit of Pool.

With the re-signing of Pool, that leaves only DE Shaun Ellis, S James Ihedigbo and WR Braylon Edwards the only players to not be brought back the by team. According to Mehta, Ellis’s agent Mitch Frankel said that Ellis would like to return to the team and end his career a Jet, but for now he’s contemplating his options. Frankel would go on to say that the Jets have a deal on the table for Ellis, a one-year deal at the veteran’s minimum (roughly $900K).

As for Ihedigbo, a fan favorite, and Edwards, who was pivotal down the stretch for the offense, Ryan keeps reiterating that he’d love to have everyone back, as long as it’s at the the price the Jets like. As we get further and further away from the start of training camp we’ve beginning to see numerous one-year deals where there’s just not the market there was a week or two ago. So the possibility of the two returning to the Jets could be in their favor.

HUNDREDS OF EXCLUSIVE TRAINING CAMP PICS STRAIGHT FROM FLORHAM PARK! Our photo staff is adding pics regularly throughout camp so check back often for the largest gallery of exclusive Jets training camp photos on the internet: CLICK HERE

Harris signs 4-year, $36 million extension

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum just sured up his team until 2013. By signing inside linebacker David Harris to a 4-year, $36 million with $29.5 million in guarantees, Tannenbaum has locked up all members of the “Cour Four”; offensive linemen D’Brickashaw Ferguson(6 years, $60 million) and Nick Mangold (7 years, $55 million), cornerback Darrelle Revis (4 years, $46 million) and now Harris. His deal holds the largest guarantee on a four-year deal in history for an inside linebacker according to Brian Mackler, one of Harris’ agents.

Harris told reporters that a new deal would be coming soon after the morning practice session, and sure enough by the time the second practice was over, the news had spread about a new deal being down. Feeling confident about a new deal in the near future, Harris pointed to a promise Tannenbaum made him last season.

“Last year, they pretty much gave me their word that I’d be a priority this upcoming year and they followed up on their word. I’d just like to say thank you to them. Today is a great day for me, my family and my wife, Jiali,” Harris told reporters at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, NJ.

David Harris became the last member of the "Core Four" to be re-signed by the Jets on Tuesday, August 2, 2011. The deal is for 4 years, $36 million with $29.5 million in guarantees, making him the highest paid ILB in NFL history ( Photo).

Harris was left off to the side as he watched the Jets re-sign Ferguson, Mangold and Revis last season only to be slapped with the team’s franchise tag for this season. They went on to re-sign Santonio Holmes, Antonio Cromartie, Eric Smith and bring in Plaxico Burress before tearing up the franchise tender sheet and issuing Harris a brand-new deal, good through 2014.

“Every player takes it differently. Coming from a humble background, a blue-collar [family], I knew that Mike would come through on his promise,” Harris said. “I just wanted to focus on football and not focus on the contract and the business side of it. I just wanted to go out there and help my teammates win games and I’m glad that it’s all done with.”

A model player, both on and off the field, Tannenbaum reiterated how important it was to bring back their leading tackler since 2007, despite the timing of it all. “Even though with all the madness last week and we were in on dozens of deals, signed a bunch of guys, it was still a very important priority to us and we had obviously communicated that with David’s agents. We had always budgeted for that scenario. So even though we signed Player X, Y, and Z last week, David’s deal was always the priority,” Tannenbaum said.

He would go on to gush about his defensive captain, whom Tannenabum selected in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft out of Michigan:

“He can blitz, cover, [he's] good in between the tackles. I can say all these good things now that we signed him, but he is a three-down linebacker. In our game now where so many substituted defenses are part of it, that was really important. And for me, from a team building stand point, with the intangibles, how David goes about his work, those are the people you want to reward and celebrate with. It’s such an important message to us, for Rex, Woody and I, that’s the message we are trying to send to the rest of the locker room. Do the things that David does, again, off-season conditioning, OTA’s, mini-camps, all those things are critical to us.”

Tannenbaum, perhaps best known to the Gang Green faithful as Trader Mike, has been making waves for his creative financial tricks to continually sign players to mega-deals and still stay under the year’s salary cap rather than his trading prowess. Upon hearing the news of Holmes’ $50 million deal and Cromartie’s $34 million deal, it was released that both deals would only count for roughly $7.5 million to this year’s cap. The same can be said for the Harris deal. In his first year, Harris will be paid only $4 million a year, a $6.4 million difference from the franchise tender deal he was originally signed to. This leaves more cap space to go out and bring in another guy (Shaun Ellis perhaps?), as well as the ability to franchise another player.

The “Core Four” are locked up, but just don’t use that term in front of Harris, who truly epitomizes what it means to be a leader –  not just in the locker room, but in life as well. “I’d like to say there’s really no “Core Four”, there’s a core 20. This team is built around a lot of young guys that are improving,” he said.

Well put, David. He’s already putting that winning team attitude on display. Money well spent by Mike Tannenbaum.

HUNDREDS OF EXCLUSIVE TRAINING CAMP PICS STRAIGHT FROM FLORHAM PARK! Our photo staff is adding pics regularly throughout camp so check back often for the largest gallery of exclusive Jets training camp photos on the internet: CLICK HERE

Ryan: “We drafted Mo to start at DE”

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — The last time the Jets took a defensive end in the first round of the NFL Draft he left the team without ever recording a sack. But that wasn’t Rex Ryan’s guy. Temple product Muhammed Wilkerson, however, is Ryan’s guy. And with the defense missing a mainstay in defensive end Shaun Ellis, Ryan is counting on Wilkerson to make him look like a smart man. Well, at least smarter than his predecessor.

“He belongs,” Ryan said. “He’s the starting defensive end right now. The day he walked in here. That’s why we drafted him, not to be a back-up. We need him to be a player. He’s starting right now.”

Wait did Rex Ryan just put high expectations on one of his players? No way. I don’t believe it. The fact is that this rather loud attempt at motivation has become standard operating procedure for Ryan. And his players don’t even seem to blink at the notion.

“Coming into games, if I’m truly the starter, then so be it, but I’m definitely going to work hard to be the starter,”
Wilkerson said.

Rookie DL Muhammed Wilkerson is ready to have an impactful first year with the Jets.

So far he’s showing the mental strength to match his physicals tools that made him a standout at Temple University. That’s a good sign for a man at 6′5″ 305 pounds sporting a wingspan the stretches from coast to coast (OK, it’s 85.25 inch span). There’s no need for him to have a big head about being “the first round pick guy”, Rex will do that for him, leaving Wilkerson to just solely focus on getting ahead of the learning curve.

“[The toughest thing about the transition] is probably the speed a little bit and just getting down the technique,” Wilkerson said. “It’s just pretty much getting the feel for [everything], just trying to live like a professional. I’m working on that. Like I said, I have guys like Sione [Pouha], [Mike] DeVito and Ropati [Pitoitua]. Those guys help me out a lot.”

Defensive linemates aside, Wilkerson has one of the best sparring partners in the league, Pro Bowl offensive tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson, to show him the rough and rugged ropes of life in the NFL trenches. Merely two days into training camp it has already been one of more must-see match-ups in the Jets 11-on-11 drills.

“He and [Ferguson] were going at it yesterday. It’s funny because they were getting after it, but they were four yards a part from each other because both their arms are so long. But they were getting after each other and that’s great. He’s looking good,” Ryan said.

Wilkerson seemed to be equally pleased with his performance against Ferguson. “He actually got me on one play yesterday. [He] just had me stuck on the line, but that’s going to come when you’re playing against a great player like him.” Just one play?! That’s it?

Certainly Wilkerson, Kenrick Ellis and the rest of the in-coming 2011 NFL rookie class have a major learning curve to get around after not being able to be around team facilities until last week, so starting by Week 1 of the regular season would be a huge feat for any rookie. But he made sure to spend time with linemates Pouha and DeVito in the off-season to work on conditioning as well as technique in player-organized defensive lineman camps.

With rookies being behind the eight ball on getting down the NFL routine, it may force the Jets to bring back defensive veteran Ellis –  which would help, from a mentoring standpoint, the young studs plucked from this draft. As of now, general manager Mike Tannenbaum remains ambiguous regarding the possible return of the 11-year Jet.

“I talked to Shaun the other day,” Tannenbaum said. “I had a great talk with him. He’s a free-agent, he’s assessing his options. He’s the longest tenured Jet. That means a lot to me. We’ll see what happens.”

One of the keys for the Jets in the off-season was to get younger on the defensive line and the infusion of Wilkerson and Ellis definitely filled that void. But having a savvy veteran like Shaun Ellis can only help, as Ryan stated.

“We don’t need guys to play every snap anymore. We have these young guys. We brought Trevor [Pryce] in, who has had some unbelievable years, and fill a purpose for us. Obviously, if we had Shaun, we’d play him too. But we brought this kid in to play.”

HUNDREDS OF EXCLUSIVE TRAINING CAMP PICS STRAIGHT FROM FLORHAM PARK! Our photo staff is adding pics regularly throughout camp so check back often for the largest gallery of exclusive Jets training camp photos on the internet: CLICK HERE

Plax: “I’m in a great place now”

Monday, August 1st, 2011

NY Jets 2011 Training Day 1 Recap from Manish Gosalia on Vimeo.

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – The word Plaxico Burress referenced over and over again on his first day at Jets training camp was patience. Patience towards learning a new system. Patience in regards to getting back to a football-ready level. Patience about getting back on the field after a 2-year hiatus. Just patience.

“Patience, man. One of the greatest things I’ve learned from this whole process is learning how to wait for everything to come back together. Just take it one day at a time. Be patient. I’m not in a rush,” Burress said to reporters at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on Monday.

The process he is referring to, of course, is his two-year stint in prison stemming from illegal gun possession charges after shooting himself in the leg at the New York nightclub LQ on November 28, 2008.

New Jets WR Plaxico Burress meets with the NY media on the first day of Jets Training Camp today. ( Photo)

As is the case with many ex-convicts, Burress had a lot of time for self-reflection on the mistakes he’s made in his life. During his time with the Giants, while effective on the field, Burress was problematic. He neglected to practice with his teammates during the 2008 mini-camps and training camps after not being pleased with his contract in 2008. During the season he was suspended for one game after showing up late/missing meetings and being unreachable by the team. On the field, he received $45,000 dollars in fine for the following:

  • $20,000 — For inappropriate post-game comments in reference to the officiating
  • $20,000 — For unsportsmanlike conduct (verbal abuse of a head linesman)
  • $5,000 — For throwing a ball in the stands.

But that is all in the past, and according to Burress, he is a changed man now. “I’ve went through a lot of different things emotionally during that time,” he said. “I had a lot of time to think about the things that I did. But being here now, I don’t have time to reflect. Those things that I did are just so far away from what I’m trying to do now. I just have to move on as a player and a person.”

Being a part of the Jets is one way he has moved on. He credits this team and organization as a big part of his recovery process. “I’m in a happy place right now. I’m in a great organization with a great group of guys. I couldn’t ask to be in a better position right now,” he said.

Burress cites the camaraderie of this team and the coaching staff, the collective work ethic as well as their strong belief in the unified goal of winning a championship that led him to be so excited about the upcoming season. Again we see the influence of the “Rex Ryan effect” as it drew in yet another big-name, big-play athlete.

“You [can] just see it in [Ryan's] personality in general. He supports his players like I’ve never seen in a coach before. His players respect him and they go out and play hard for him. As a player he’s everything you’d expect out of a head coach. He respects us not only as a player but as a person too,” he said.

Receiving mate, Santonio Holmes, has been a friend of Burress since he was drafted to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2004. When asked about how he feels about how Burress will perform, Holmes had this to say: “A football player is a football player, regardless of what goes on. The only thing that can stop us are injuries –  which would keep us away from the game. But I think the mental capacity he has has some much football built up inside it has no where else to go but up.”

The two quickly bonded over their Big-10 connection (Burress at Michigan State and Holmes at Ohio State) and through the mutual friendship of Holmes’ first cousin, former Patriots running back, Fred Taylor.

The bond was so strong that when general manager Mike Tannenbaum and Ryan approached Holmes about the possibility of signing Burress, all he had to do was point to his bracelet. The black bracelet fused a bond between Burress, Holmes and few other NFL receivers whom Holmes would not share. Holmes and others have worn it ever since Burress entered the Oneida Correctional Facility in Rome, New York on September 22, 2009.

A perfect example of the camaraderie Burress was talking about with this team. After patiently waiting to take his NFL career off hold, the wait is over for Plaxico Burress. And he couldn’t have asked to be surrounded by a better support group.

EXCLUSIVE TRAINING CAMP PICS STRAIGHT FROM FLORHAM PARK! Our photo staff is adding pics regularly throughout camp so check back often for the largest gallery of exclusive Jets training camp photos on the internet: CLICK HERE