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Jets Insider.com Saturday Afternoon Training Camp Report

By Justin Paley
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
July 31st, 2004

The Jets defense is young, talented, and speedy and it showed as they completed the second full day of training camp during a very warm windy Saturday afternoon.

The Jets defense is young, talented, and speedy and it showed as they completed the second full day of training camp during a very warm windy Saturday afternoon.

Defensive Coordinator Donnie Henderson worked with the defensive backs early in the afternoon session on covering techniques.

Hendersonís work paid off a little later on during offense vs. defense drills.

Fifth round draft pick Safety Erik Coleman broke up a pass intended for WR Wayne Chrebet while third round draft pick CB Derrick Strait and LB Sam Cowart were all over WR Santana Moss. Undrafted rookie free agents CB Art Thomas of Virginia and WR Carl Kearney of Georgia Southern are certainly fighting for spots on the Jets roster and Thomas earned the upper hand breaking up a pass intended for Kearney from former CFL phenom QB Ricky Ray.

Veteran CB Donnie Abraham showed why he survived the off-season defensive back purge by having an excellent session. He showed great coverage throughout the practice and on one instance read a QB Chad Pennington pass perfectly picked it off.

The DBís still showed their youth however as Pennington later connected with veteran WR Wayne Chrebet on a 40 yard bomb, that drew the loudest cheers from the fans.

There was a lot of hard hitting this afternoon as the players were in pads for both sessions today for the first time in camp.

Head Coach Herman Edwards talked about what the objective was this afternoon. ďWhat we want to do is have the ability during the afternoon session to play lower with our pads, play more physical and strike guys. By striking, I mean to strike them but not take guys to the ground. That has always been my belief here. You want to play physically, especially when you put the pads on because that is what a pad practice is for; a physical practice.Ē

Henderson agrees with Edwards. ďI talked to our defense about our swagger and not to be afraid to make mistakes but donít be afraid to be physical. With that being said you still have to carry your pads. One thing that happened this spring, in my opinion, is that when you donít have any pads on, you can go hit the guy. Once you put those pads on, the same guy who you have been running around and hitting-heís going to hit you back. So you have just got to make sure that right now we are playing like we do not have any pads on. Thatís what Iím looking for: making sure we have bend in our knees, put our pads on and get our fundamentals right and hit people,Ē Henderson said.

While the secondary will have to do their job, so will the defensive line. Last year, the Jets were 28th in the league in run defense and will have step up their play significantly if they have expectations of success.

One of the reasons for the Jets poor run defense was the suspension of DE Josh Evans. As every Jets fan knows, Evans was suspended for the first 10 games of the season last year. DT DeWayne Robertson, was the fourth overall pick in last yearís NFL Draft, and there was high hopes for the big man out of the University Kentucky. Robertson was forced into Evanís role which he was not ready for. Despite starting all 16 games, Robertson finished with just 69 tackles. ďIt was very frustrating not to be around here, having to go through the growing pains. That put a lot of pressure on Robertson and it got to him. I felt responsible for not being there to help him through it but when I got back, I told him I would be there,Ē Evans said.

Robertson, with a year in the NFL under his belt, feels confident. ďThis year I am more confident. Thatís part of the ropes of learning the NFL. Last year, I didnít know what to expect. This year Iím more confident. This year may be harder because everyone will be saying that I have had on year to learn. Iím just going to go at it and play to my expectations. Last year wasnít that bad. Being around those guys on the defensive line I feel I did alright, just not as good as everybody expected,Ē Robertson said.

Robertson, who was hindered by his weight last year is listed as 317 pounds and hopes to be 305 pounds by opening day.

Many of the defensive players have talked about how Henderson lets them know when they make a mistake and how to correct it. ďHe stays on you. You definitely are held accountable for your mistakes when you are supposed to be out there on the field. Guys are afraid to make mistakes, not that we werenít last year, but we know if we make a mistake we are going to hear about it. People are just trying their best to execute their assignment and not make mistakes,Ē Evans said.

The young secondary will have to step up as FA SS Reggie Tongue has a strained calf and is day to day.

Special teams is a big part of every Jets practice and today was no different as punt returns were practiced. Due to windy conditions there seemed to be a lot of airtime on the punts by FA P Toby Gowin and FA P Brian Simnjanovski. Simnjanovski is a long shot to make the team but was signed in Jan. Ď04 from San Diego State, the same alma mater of Head Coach Herman Edwards. Justin McCareins and Jonathan Carter both had trouble handling the punts, as there were several drops between the two of them.

Edwards said he will have a meeting on Monday with his coaches to evaluate players and determine where they stand at that point. He will then talk to the media about the young players and their chances of making this team.

The Jets will have only one practice tomorrow starting at 3:30 p.m. Jets Insider.com will be there so be sure to check back for the latest training camp reports.

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