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Jets Saturday Afternoon Training Camp Report

By James J. Parziale
Jets Staff Writer
July 30th, 2005
It's like he never left. (Jets Photo)
It's like he never left. (Jets Photo)
Coles back in the fire. The first days of training camp are generally devoted to eyeing the resurgence of returning players or the noting the progress of new additions. Today, at the Jets second day of training camp at Hofstra, some of the attention centered around Laveranues Coles, the old new guy. Or is it new old guy? Coles back in the fire. The first days of training camp are generally devoted to eyeing the resurgence of returning players or the noting the progress of new additions. Today, at the Jets second day of training camp at Hofstra, some of the attention centered around Laveranues Coles, the old new guy. Or is it new old guy?

Whatever the label is, Coles’ has returned to dawn the green and white two years after departing to the Redskins for a blockbuster free-agent contract. The Jets were awarded a first round pick as compensation, but it fell short of making up for the loss. Likewise, Coles never quite lived up to the billing after leaving the Jets, though he averaged 86 catches in two seasons away from New York.

The Jets offense never really regrouped, either. The offense plummeted, dropping 31 yards per game in ’02 and QB Chad Pennington’s prodigy status went with it. The boy wonder simply made people wonder what happened to him after his 22-touchdown performance in ’02 (in which he had a passer rating of 104.2) was followed by two injury-plagued seasons in which the Jets constant search for a No. 1 receiver was more than glaring.

So when the trade winds brought the possibility of a Coles-Pennington reunion was made evident after the Pro Bowl, who do you think was politicking to get Coles back?

“After everything went down in D.C. I called Chad and I talked to Chad and I was like there’s a real possibility that I could be leaving. He was like, ‘Are you kidding?’” Coles said. “I told him that I was for real.”

So Pennington told Coles to hang on and he’d call back after dialing a few numbers of his own.

“From there I don’t know who he called or what he did but that’s when it all took off,” Coles explained.

Pennington, who is still recovering from off-season shoulder surgery, talked to the right people, one of which was head coach Herman Edwards. Pennington phoned his coach at home and that’s how the “wheels got rolling” on the deal, Edwards said.

But Pennington also put his money where his mouth was…by giving some of it back. The $64-million dollar quarterback scaled back some of his salary so Coles’ contract could be more salary cap friendly.

“Anytime somebody does that it shows the amount of respect they have for me as a player, but also the type of person he is,” Coles said.

Coles added explained how the gesture translates to trust on game day.

“Anytime you get into a situation, whether you’re in a game and you’re in a tight squeeze, and he throws to you over the middle and he needs something to happen, you’re going to be the guy to make it happen for him,” he said.

Now the dynamic duo is reunited and the expectations for the new look offense are sky high. With new offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger’s new playbook in place, the offense will have a more cut-throat feel to it.

That’s where Coles plugs in as a primary weapon. Coles’ physical nature, despite being 5-foot-11, makes him a threat anywhere on the field. If he’s bumped at the line of scrimmage, he can handle it. If defenders play off and give him a cushion, he can light them up with his speed.

Coles’ talent will ripple throughout the offense, especially to other receivers Justin McCareins and Wayne Chrebet, who said he was impacted by Coles’ departure. Even when Coles told Chrebet he could be leaving for Washington, the Hofstra graduate supported him.

“I told him if that’s where you want to be, I don’t want you to go, but I was what is best for [you],” Chrebet said.

So what about when he heard Coles might be returning?

“Your ears just perk up a little bit. It’s like I said earlier, there is so much more to it then just having a great receiver to play alongside with. It’s that much easier with meetings and the monotony of the day,” he said.

Coles is also building a foundation with McCareins, who provides a near-perfect complement as a big receiver. The two are rooming together throughout camp and look cohesive on the field, providing a new persona for the Jets offense. Coles sees the growing chemistry, but it might take all of camp to get to where it needs to be

Said Coles: “The main thing is for me and Chad is to get on the same page…We’re basically still getting out communication lines back open and that’s what pretty much got us going in our first couple of years here.”

Coles was held out of morning practice but took part during all afternoon drills. A toe injury slowed him last season with the Redskins, but it is no longer a hindrance according to Coles.

Generally wary and tense around the media, Coles was candid on his return to the team that drafted him.

“It’s a different feeling, being away for a while and then coming back,” he said. “It’s all natural after the first practice everything just started comeback to me. It’s all good, football is football, you love playing football, and you love the game.”


- The Jets signed RB Terry Butler (Villanova) to replace Vick King, who retired yesterday.

- Punters Ben Graham and Micah Knorr are the epitome in contrasting styles. Graham, the Austrial trying to kick-start his NFL career, boots the ball a good 5-to-10 yards further than Knorr. However, Knorr hangs the ball and rarely out kicks the coverage team. We’ll see who wins.

-The Chad Pennington watch arm watch continues. He looks to be recovering fine, but underthrew what looked to be his longest pass of the day – a 35-yarder that was intened for Coles which was intercepted by CB David Barrett.

Sunday will consist of a special teams practice in the morning and regular full squad practice in the afternoon. Both practices are open to the public. Check back to Jets for all of the latest training camp news.

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