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Jets Insider.com Monday Morning Training Camp Report

By John Melillo
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
August 2nd, 2004

On a humid, sunny Monday morning, the Jets special teams units took the field and started the practice session. RBs Ian Smart and Josh Davis along with WR/KR Jonathan Carter took turns fielding kick returns. Carter displayed his speed and quickness, breaking loose for a nice return during the non-contact drill. Smart benefited from stellar wedge blocking and showed elusiveness in the open field. Both PK Doug Brien and P Toby Gowin handled kickoff duties and showed solid leg strength to reach inside the 5-yard line.

On a humid, sunny Monday morning, the Jets special teams units took the field and started the practice session. RBs Ian Smart and Josh Davis along with WR/KR Jonathan Carter took turns fielding kick returns. Carter displayed his speed and quickness, breaking loose for a nice return during the non-contact drill. Smart benefited from stellar wedge blocking and showed elusiveness in the open field. Both PK Doug Brien and P Toby Gowin handled kickoff duties and showed solid leg strength to reach inside the 5-yard line.

Following the special teams practice was the seven-on-seven drills, as QB Chad Pennington and QB Brooks Bollinger alternated practice reps. Both quarterbacks showed solid accuracy on short to intermediate throws, but misfired on some deeper throws and were forced to scramble due to tight coverage downfield. Lining up in his usual slot position, WR Wayne Chrebet appeared to be in midseason form, catching everything thrown to him. UDFA WR Derek Lee from Tennessee Tech made a nice grab along the sidelines of a Bollinger pass, keeping his feet in bounds for the completion. FB Jerald Sowell, TE Chris Baker and TE Mikhael Ricks also got in the act, catching shorter routes over the middle.

There were several young players that helped their cause during the morning session, flashing their ability and impressing the coaching staff. WR Terrence Stubbs, an UDFA from Temple University, showed excellent hands by hauling in two touchdown passes. On one throw, Bollinger found Stubbs across the middle for the score in a red-zone drill, while Pennington hit Stubbs for a leaping catch in the back of the end zone. Head coach Herman Edwards stressed that while Stubbs certainly flashed his skills, he will need to continue making plays to find a spot on the final roster.

He’s being pressed, Edwards said of Stubbs. The more you make plays, the more chances you will have to make the team.”

During a red-zone drill, Pennington was victimized by S Erik Coleman, who darted in front of the intended receiver for a interception in the end zone. Due to a Reggie Tongue injury, Coleman worked with the first-team defense during the morning session and Coach Edwards believes the Washington State alum has a good chance of seeing some playing time this year.

”Absolutely”, Edwards said of Coleman’s chance to start. “He is beginning to learn the system and is gaining confidence. When a player gains confidence, they become a better player and he has flashed during camp.”

Another player who shined during the morning practice was DT Alan Harper, who darted through the line and tackled rookie RB Derrick Ward for a loss on one drill. Harper also provided stout run-defense along the interior front of the defensive line. Harper, who has been a classic under achiever since he was drafted out of Fresno State three years ago needs to have a good camp to make this roster again.

Following practice, the coaches discussed the prominent issues and concerns surrounding this year’s team and the off season changes made. Offensive coordinator Paul Hackett has high expectations in 2005 now that some players are entering their fourth year in the system.

”We’re able to start at an entirely different level than we’ve been able to start at before” Hackett said. “This is the second year that Chad (Pennington) has come in as a starter, but those other guys have been around us - FB Jerald Sowell, TE Anthony Becht and that whole group - for four years. We’re able to begin at a higher level in terms of what we’re doing.”

Hackett also shared his view on the potential conflict in regards to splitting playing time between RB Curtis Martin and RB Lamont Jordan. “We’re going to fight like crazy to be creative and get (Martin and Jordan) the football” Hackett said. “They’re both explosive; Lamont has a great future ahead of him and Curtis is going to the Hall of Fame. That’s a priority in the offense, the ability to run the football and give the ball to the tailback”

Hackett also realizes that a strong running game can be highly beneficial late in the year.

“We have to be balanced” Hackett said. “We have to be a strong running football team. If you play in our division and think you’re going to throw the ball to beat Miami and New England, it isn’t going to happen”

Balancing the offense this season will be impacted by the addition of WR Justin McCareins. The former Tennessee Titans star believes he will benefit from a pocket QB in Pennington. “Pennington’s passes are easy to catch” McCareins said. (Steve) McNair and Pennington are two physically different quarterbacks, but I’m starting to feel comfortable with this offense and the terminology.”

Coach Edwards emphasized that there are many young players auditioning this summer, which will result in plenty of open roster spots. “I felt it was a pretty good practice.” Edwards said. “We wanted to make sure our younger players get enough practice reps because there are a lot of players battling for open jobs. They’re pushing the veterans right now.”

Edwards believes the tumultuous experience of last season’s 6-10 record has benefited the players and coaching staff alike. “You gain a lot as a coach,” Edwards said. “And realize what you need to change. You learn from (last year) and grow from it. That’s what we’re going to do this year.”

The Jets will practice again today at 3:30PM. Jets Insider.com will be there so be sure to check back for the latest training camp reports.

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