By Conor Orr/The Star-Ledger
Mark Sanchez got the attention of his receivers, tight ends, running backs and fellow quarterbacks after a practice before the preseason game with Carolina last week and told them all to gather in the meeting room in 10 minutes.
He’d secured the film from the practice they just completed and put it on the projector screen, stealing away the first few moments of freedom players use to soak in the cold tub or stop off at the cafeteria.
As the reps scrolled by, he pointed out when the passing game was out of sync. What a perfect play should look like. When a route was cut too short.
Jordan White, a rookie receiver, had seen the struggles caused by an unhealthy core of wide receivers this camp. He knew that to replace the time spent from missed reps, these meetings would become crucial.
“Nobody is saying no to him,” said White who was waived tonight at the Jets cut down to their 53-man roster. “He commanded us on where he wanted to be. He got us all on the same page, and I think I paid off.”
For another year, the cram sessions — a reoccurring fixture that took place during the regular season last year — have become a necessity to help the passing game sustain itself through a series of injuries.
Santonio Holmes, the returning playmaker, injured his ribs in the preseason Green and White game and made a limited debut against Carolina.
Jeremy Kerley, the team’s slot receiver, hurt his hamstring early in a camp practice and played in one preseason game as well.
Chaz Schilens, brought in this offseason from Oakland, injured his ankle against the Cincinnati Bengals in the preseason opener and has not been in a game since.
In some ways, it’s no different than Sanchez’s experience in last year’s preseason, when it was a struggle to get Holmes, Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason on the field at the same time. Now there is also a new offense to learn.
From that experience, Sanchez said he learned only “that you need reps during training camp. Other than that,…there’s nothing really to do, other than prepare, study and use this time as best you can,” he said. “So we can’t use that as an excuse, and no one is going to feel bad for us.”
White said that in separate wide receiver meetings, some have privately discussed the need to increase conditioning workouts to ensure that there was no lag once they returned to the field and that the timing stays the same so Sanchez and the receivers don’t have to forge a relationship all over again.
“We have to do a better job for him,” White said. “A lot of us have been down, a lot of us have been injured and coming back at different times. So obviously it’s tough for a guy like him who’s been there this whole time and he’s getting mixed reviews from the receivers.”
Schilens, who said today that his ankle will be healthy enough to allow him to play against Buffalo in the opener, opted to take some extra sessions with Sanchez following practice.
Kerley, who feels 100 percent for the first time in more than a month and plans to play next Sunday, opted for side conversations throughout practice.
“We stayed talking to him,” Kerley said. “We stayed communicating, so I think the timing is right where it needs to be.”
White got some extra time in today. After practice, he ran a route slightly off, causing Sanchez to overthrow a pass. When the ball arrived, still in a catchable range, White dropped it. Sanchez turned to him and said, “Let’s get that after practice” and tracked him down a short while later, making White run it five more times.
“We fixed that right there,” White said. “I can tell any little detail he’s willing to fix. This guy obviously cares about it more than anything else going on.”