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Jets Insider.com Sunday Afternoon Training Camp Report

By Justin Paley
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
August 1st, 2004

The Jets have traditionally not practiced on Sunday during training camp under head coach Herman Edwards but the Coach has talked about making changes and one of them was to hold an afternoon practice today. Also: Jets to make Klecko’s #73 the third retired number in team history.

The Jets have traditionally not practiced on Sunday during training camp under head coach Herman Edwards but the Coach has talked about making changes and one of them was to hold an afternoon practice today. Also: Jets to make Klecko’s #73 the third retired number in team history.

The Jets took the field at 3:30 p.m. this Sunday under sunny skies as the rain from the morning had dissipated and the field dried up.

Second-string QB Brooks Bollinger continues to have problems running the offense, despite now being here two years. Bollinger scrambled on numerous occasions during 7 on 7 drills after not being able to find a receiver. “He’s pressing a little bit. The defense is coming, and they’re humming right now, and if those guys up front don’t hold them off long enough it’s tough to step back and throw. He’s going to be okay, but he’s got to go through some growing pains too of learning how to be a quarterback. He’s got to get some timing with the receivers. This guy hasn’t played in a lot of football in games, so I think him going to practice every day and getting there in with the first line is going to help,” Edwards said of Bollinger.

FB Jerald Sowell made a number of nice catches on short passes and middle of the field passes during the afternoon while RB Curtis Martin continues to impress, busting through a hole created by new starting RG Brandon Moore. Moore will be taking over for the retired Dave Szott who re-joined the Jets front office this week in the player development department.

WR Santana Moss may have had the offensive catch of the day. Moss caught a 25 yard pass from QB Chad Pennington off CB Donnie Abraham’s hand.

“I think we have some explosive guys and the thing that we like about it is that we have four guys that we feel pretty good about, that have played in some games. Jonathan Carter has gotten better. We know that Wayne Chrebet is going to be a solid guy; we know that Santana Moss is still doing his thing. Justin McCareins has really progressed from the first mini-camp until now. He’s starting to understand what to do and how to do it, and I think Pennington is starting to get a feel for him. The guy that has to get healthy for us is Ken-Yon Rambo (day-to-day strained hamstring). We would like for him to get healthy because that put a little more into the mix. Jerricho Cotchery is a guy we drafted that we think has some toughness and can be a good player for us. That’s a pretty solid group; we just have to keep them healthy and that’s what you always get nervous about in training camp. That will be the balancing act that we have to go through in the preseason,” Edwards said about the wide receivers.

Chrebet, now in his 10th season, feels the offense is coming together. “It can be real special. We have a lot of talent, a lot of young talent and experience where it is needed. I think we have jelled together real well during OTA’s (off-season workouts) and the off season. We are pretty much picking up where we left off in the OTA’s. That is good that we aren’t starting from scratch in training camp.” It’s clear that Rambo needs to get healthy quickly if he has any aspirations of being on the roster in September.

The defense continues to improve including rookie LB Jonathan Vilma, who had a solid practice, intercepting a Bollinger pass and also breaking up another that was intended for RB Lamont Jordan. After practice, I asked Edwards about Vilma’s progress so far. “ I think he’ showing his ability now and learning what we want him to do. He’s going to play because that’s the type of player he is. He has excellent athletic ability where he can make plays and he’s demonstrating that. That’s good because we want young players to make plays and when they can make plays, they gain confidence,” Edwards said.

Vilma’s teammate at the University of Miami, UDFA S Jarrell Weaver looks to move his way up the depth chart after a good practice highlighted by the rookie breaking up a Bollinger pass.

FS Jon McGraw struggled a bit under the sun, getting beat by Chrebet and McCareins. McCareins is starting to find his timing with Pennington. One of the longer pass plays was a 25 yard reception to McCareins, who uses his long arms to his advantage, grabbing jump balls away from defensive backs and reaching out to haul in passes.

While much has been said about the Jets secondary being young, some of the veterans stepped up in practice. CB Donnie Abraham was all over McCareins on a missed pass and CB Ray Mickens deflected a Pennington pass intended for Chrebet and also had an interception on a pass intended for WR Jonathan Carter.

Edwards talked about the Jets new defensive system under defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson. “It’s a defense we’re going to put in and start from ground zero. The great thing about young guys is like when you go to algebra and don’t know it, you go in the first day and learn from scratch. Same thing when you start a new defense and you have a young football team, it really doesn’t matter…I think they all have done a good job.”

Newly promoted secondary coach Corwin Brown, who took over for the departed Doug Graber, was a safety in the NFL from 1993-2000, including two years with the Jets from 97-98. Edwards feels Brown is doing a nice job so far as assistant defensive backs coach. “The first thing is his knowledge of the game, he was a player. He’s going to have some things that he brings to the table right away because he’s been in the line of fire. He was a guy that made it with intelligence and toughness. He’s a very smart player and that’s what he brought to the game. Players know the history of a player and they know he has certain traits that he’s going to bring to the table; I think they respect that. He’s a very good teacher and communicator and I think he’s fair to the players. With all that being said, it’s just a matter of him going through the stages of coaching and how he’s going to react when the game starts. That’s the next thing the players are going to want to see; I think he’s going to be good under pressure on game day.”

K Doug Brien continues to have a solid start to training camp. Brien was four for four on his field goal attempts this afternoon, all from about 35 yards. the NFL journeyman is in his second year with the jets and last year was 27-32 on his field goal attempts.

On the injury front, Edwards reported that SS Reggie Tongue has a little strain on his calf and is day-to-day. Tongue suffered the injury in yesterday’s afternoon practice. CB David Barrett sat out of practice for the second straight day with flu-like symptoms.

In other team news, the Jets have announced that they will retire # 73 in honor of former All-Pro defensive lineman Joe Klecko. After being drafted in the sixth round out of Temple University in 1977, Klecko played 11 seasons for the Jets and collected 77.5 sacks during that period. He was the cornerstone of the legendary “NY Sack Exchange” and played in four Pro Bowls during his Jets tenure. Klecko is also the only player in NFL history to be selected to the Pro Bowl at three different positions (defensive tackle, nose tackle and defensive end). Klecko’s best season was in 1981 when he led the NFL in sacks (20.5) and was named to the All-Pro team and crowned the NFL’s Defensive player of the year.

Surprisingly, to the irritation of Jets fans worldwide, Klecko was never named to Pro Football’s Hall of Fame despite his impressive resume. The Fans have been lobbying the team to retire his number for quite a while (including an online petition right here on Jets Insider.com) and obviously the Jets brass listened. QB Joe Namath (#12) and WR Don Maynard (#13) are the only other players in Jets history to have their numbers retired. The team’s policy had been to only retire a player’s number if he was named to the Hall of Fame but they are obviously making an exception for the popular Klecko. The team will have an official ceremony during a home game (to be announced) this upcoming season.

The Jets resume two a days tomorrow with practices at 9:15AM and 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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