Chrebet, in Return to Practice, Is at Ease With Reduced Role
By JUDY BATTISTA
Published: May 1, 2004
EMPSTEAD, N.Y., April 30 — The lightheadedness still comes sometimes, a reminder of the murkiness that enveloped his mind for weeks. It was not until February that Wayne Chrebet was even sure he wanted to play football again.
Chrebet played in only seven games last season because of concussions. Now, practicing for the first time since October as part of the Jets' minicamp this weekend, he is still grappling with the lingering effects of postconcussion syndrome, effects so troublesome that he was uncertain about his future.
But Chrebet is back, listed as the Jets' third receiver behind Santana Moss and Justin McCareins. It is the first time since 1997, his third year in the league, that Chrebet is not listed as a starter.
Chrebet will still play primarily as the slot receiver, in the high-impact zone around the middle of the field. It is there that he will test his decision to extend a career defined by gritty play.
"I didn't decide on it right away," Chrebet said. "I talked to my wife and weighed the pros and cons. When I came back to work and started lifting, I told her, `It feels great to be back.' "
Chrebet said that his wife, Amy, was supportive when he told her that he wanted to keep playing. "She said, `Whatever you want to do, I'm behind you,' " he said. "So here I am."
Chrebet expects to wear a new helmet, perhaps with additional padding to reduce the risk of injury. But there are few other precautions he can take. He has likened his symptoms to the worst hangover imaginable: headaches, heightened sensitivity to noise and light, blurred vision.
After two months, the symptoms dissipated. In the perverse logic of football, Chrebet looks forward to hitting someone to see how he feels. Although he is just 5 feet 10 inches, Chrebet has been known for fearlessly going over the middle for passes and for being a willing blocker.
"I won't know until I get hit," he said. "I'm going to play the same way I have my whole career. If I couldn't play that way, I wouldn't come back."
Chrebet's return was slow. He began by walking on a treadmill and was surprised by how poor his conditioning was after the long layoff.
But Coach Herman Edwards had little doubt that Chrebet would come back to the team.
"I just figured that if the doctor says he's going to be O.K., knowing Wayne in my mind as the competitor he is, he's coming back," Edwards said.
With McCareins's arrival, Chrebet will have a reduced role. The last time Chrebet was not a starter, he sat behind Keyshawn Johnson and Jeff Graham. In recent years, Chrebet has expressed unhappiness, particularly with the offensive coordinator, Paul Hackett, when his role was cut back.
But Chrebet is at ease with his place in the offense, even after the Jets used their fourth-round draft pick to take another receiver, Jerricho Cotchery, who could eventually take Chrebet's spot in the slot.
"I thought back to my second year," Chrebet said, "and it's the kind of thing where it's not going to be so much quantity probably as quality, as far as being more productive. I just know every time I'll be on the field, I'll be fresh. If we go on a 15-play drive, maybe I'm in there 8, 10 plays. At this point, if that's what it takes, I'm completely fine with that."
Defensive end JOHN ABRAHAM spent considerable time at the morning practice working as a linebacker. . . . Quarterback VINNY TESTAVERDE has been excused from minicamp. Testaverde is deciding whether to retire or seek a job with another team after the Jets release him in June. . . . Running back LaMONT JORDAN, whose name was mentioned as part of trade scenarios and whose agent said last week that the Jets should trade Jordan if they will not give him a contract extension, declined to talk to reporters after practice. . . . Cornerback JAMIE HENDERSON, who sustained severe head injuries in a motorcycle accident last month, is expected to be released from a rehabilitation hospital in Atlanta next week. He will be an outpatient at another rehabilitation center. Henderson's football career is in doubt, but the Jets have not said whether they will honor the one-year tender of $628,000 extended to him before the accident. . . . Citing an organizational decision, the Jets announced Friday that they would no longer allow reporters to attend practices.
I was really happy to see that Wayne is feeling much better and that he is still with the team, although he is still experiencing light headiness but that will be something that will dissipate over the months.
I wore his jersey on Saturday in honor of him being back with the JETS.
Lorenzen is the man. Weighing in at 285 and still being able to move around like that is a huge undertaking. For someone who has played on the o-line his whole life imagine what it was like for me to see a guy my size step up and play QB. I was amazed.
[i]Obviously, not having Wayne last year was a big factor in our lack of success in the red zone and on third down,” Pennington said. “With him being able to come back healthy is a huge bonus for us because his quality and production are so great. Our guys complement each other well. Justin is a big physical guy at X, you have a speed guy (Moss) at Z and Wayne comes in and works the middle with his quickness, so it’s nice to see.”
I don't recall many saying the offense was faltering becuase of Wayne being out. I think Wayne may be more important to this offense then we think....
[quote][i]Originally posted by JETFAN1[/i]@May 2 2004, 10:05 PM
I don't recall many saying the offense was faltering becuase of Wayne being out. I think Wayne may be more important to this offense then we think.... [/b][/quote]
It's still just nice to have him back