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Under overcast skies, the New York Jets opened up training camp with their first practice this morning at Hofstra University

By Justin Paley
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
July 30th, 2004
Under overcast skies, the New York Jets opened up training camp with their first practice this morning at Hofstra University.

Under overcast skies, the New York Jets opened up training camp with their first practice this morning at Hofstra University.

Jonathan Vilma, the Jets 2004 first round draft pick, who was introduced at a press conference after signing his contract wearing #53 is now #51, which was his number at the University of Miami. Quincy Stewart, who had previously wore #51 is now #53.

A lot of eyes are on Jets wide receiver Wayne Chrebet, who is now in his 10th year with the Jets. Chrebet, was placed on injured reserve with post-concussion syndrome last November but he is back and appears healthy. Chrebet made a nice catch on one-on-one drills against Ray Mickens. “Wayne is doing a fabulous job. I think Wayne’s role this year is going to be so critical to our success. We missed him a lot last year in the red zone and on third down, those critical areas that helped to keep drives alive and win football game. We missed him and to see him back out there is a really positive thing,” said Jets quarterback Chad Pennington after practice.

Early on in the session, special teams kickoff return was practiced. WR Jonathan Carter, who will likely be the main guy on kickoff returns, looked solid, breaking through a number of times. He wore no brace on his surgically repaired knee and seemed to show no pain. RB Ian Smart, from C.W. Post, and WR UDFA Muneer Moore also broke through returning kicks. Smart and Moore’s best shot at making the team will be on special teams. Jets special teams coach Mike Westhoff chastised the coverage team for not wrapping up when tackling.

Returning kicker Doug Brien spent most of his times on the sideline watching practice but did make the lone field goal he attempted, a 33 yarder.

Pennington looked sharp in 7-on-7 drills. The QB completed most of his passes. A couple of the receivers who stood out were Jonathan Carter and Lawrence Hamilton. Pennington will be looked on for leadership this year and with Vinny Testaverde no longer around, Pennington is the veteran QB. “It’s kind of weird. I still feel like a rookie. This being my fifth year-if you think of it in college terms, you’re a fifth year senior so you’re supposed to feel experienced. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. I still have a lot to learn, but I feel good about everything. I feel comfortable and I feel like we’re taking positive steps,” Pennington said.

Acquiring Justin McCareins was one of the big moves by the Jets in the off season, but McCareins dropped a number of passes this morning, as it will take him some time to get accustomed to his new teammates. Anther new Jet, LB Eric Barton from the Raiders did a nice job covering McCareins, breaking up one of the passes.

Veteran running back Curtis Martin, did a nice job during the drills this morning, bursting through the defensive line and catching short passes during the 7-on-7’s. Martin is excited about the offense. “There is no doubt that we can have one of the most explosive offenses in this League. I believe we will. I’m going to go out on a limb and say we will because we have all the components in place. We have the coaching that we need and we’re keeping everybody healthy. I’m looking forward to Chad having a phenomenal year. He’s always stepped up, but I think we have to have him every game because he’s a leader on this team and what he brings to this team is invaluable.

Martin knows for the Jets to have success, they will have to start out fast in the running game. “There’s always a correlation between the running game and success. I’m looking forward to getting off to a fast start. I’m going to push myself harder than I ever have, especially in my 10th year. I feel great that I’ve done everything to prepare,” Martin said. Jets head coach Herman Edwards agrees with his running back. “We need to get him carries early on so he can get a feel to the offense and get that running game established early.”

Jets defensive lineman John Abraham talked about new defensive coordinator, Donnie Henderson. “Donnie’s a vocal guy. He helps out by telling people what they are doing wrong.”

Edwards feels a lot of players will get playing time on the defensive side of the ball. “On defense, 16 or 17 guys will play a lot of football. Everyone will have a role.”

Despite the hot weather, Edwards felt the players were in good shape.

There are a lot of new and young players on the team, and Edwards certainly noticed. “I carry a card with all the players numbers and names because so many new players,” Edwards joked.

The Coach was more serious though later on. “There’s a lot of young guys looking for direction and a lot of coaching on field and in classroom will help them,” Edwards said.

Certainly the youth brings speed and Edwards took note. “I thought this morning they were at ¾ speed but not dragging. I told the players to pick up their tempo and they should respond this afternoon,” Edwards said. Luckily, there were no injuries despite the humid weather.

The Jets take the field again this afternoon at 3:30. Check back to Jets Insider.com often for all the latest camp reports.

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