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Jets Insider.com Sunday Afternoon Training Camp Report

By James J. Parziale
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
July 31st, 2005
After 10 years on the Jets, CB Ray Mickens is finally the Jets starting CB....Wait, not so fast. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
After 10 years on the Jets, CB Ray Mickens is finally the Jets starting CB....Wait, not so fast. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Defensive backfield battles. Donnie Henderson’s voice boomed over the practice field, revealing his displeasure with the offense getting the better of his squad during a routine drill.

“You better finish [the play],” the Jets defensive coordinator said. “You better finish or you’re going to be gone.”

Rookie CB James Taylor probably was not enthused about encountering Henderson’s wrath for not running down the wide receiver that beat him on the play, but at least it is evident second-year coach’s intensity isn’t waning. Defensive backfield battles. Donnie Henderson’s voice boomed over the practice field, revealing his displeasure with the offense getting the better of his squad during a routine drill.

“You better finish [the play],” the Jets defensive coordinator said. “You better finish or you’re going to be gone.”

Rookie CB James Taylor probably was not enthused about encountering Henderson’s wrath for not running down the wide receiver that beat him on the play, but at least it is evident second-year coach’s intensity isn’t waning.

He solidified the Jets defensive unit last season, and with much of the core in tact, has a few chores to take care of during the 2005 training camp.

“We’ve got a lot of competition going on and guys are competing at it, so I’m happy with it. It’ll work itself out. It will,” he said.

The most glaring competitions are developing in the secondary at cornerback and safety. A log jam exists on the side opposite David Barrett, where Ray Mickens, rookie Justin Miller and recently acquired Pete Hunter.

The Jets gave up a conditional pick for Hunter, who was traded from the Cowboys last week, and at this point could be the odd man out. During yesterday’s afternoon session, Hunter was too physical during one-on-one drills, clutching and grabbing the WRs after the 5-yard cushion allotted to the defense. He was flagged on one play and burned by WR Laveranues Coles on another during full-squad practice.

Miller has looked good during practice, blanketing the speedy Coles since the start of camp. Yesterday Miller broke up a pass intended for WR Justin McCareins and continues to impress the coaching staff.

“As much as he can eat. I’m going to feed him,” head coach Herman Edwards said about Miller’s workload. However, Miller is expected to return kicks on special teams, a trait he had a flare for at Clemson.

If the Jets decide to go with experience, Mickens, who has started 36 career games but missed all of last season with an ACL tear in his left knee, is the obvious choice.

Mickens performed well in today’s afternoon practice at Hofstra, by breaking up a pass intended for McCareins. Mickens, who started 14 games in 2003, was not as fortunate later during practice when WR Wayne Chrebet beat him on a curl route for a touchdown. Still, he thinks is best suited to fill the need.

“I’d be mad if they gave it to someone else…I think it’s a wide open competition,” he said. “Pete Hunter is a very solid cornerback. I know a lot about him from Dallas and I think Justin Miller is coming along. It’s a good competition and that’s what I feed off of.”

The kink which could bring the entire free-for-all to a halt is the potential signing of Ty Law. The rumors of the Jets interest have swirled since minicamp in April and several sources are reporting that the Jets and the former New England Patriot have begun negotiations.

“I can’t worry about things I can’t control,” Mickens said. “Ty is a great cornerback and I don’t know one team who wouldn’t want him when he is available.”

With all the uncertainty at cornerback, the safety slot may be more up in the air. Erik Coleman started all 16 games as a rookie (fifth round in 2004) last year at free safety, but a battle for playing time is going on alongside the incumbent starter.

Oliver Celestin and Jon McGraw, who is recovering from offseason abdominal surgery, are listed 1-2 on the depth chart while rookies Kerry Rhodes (fourth round) and Andre Maddox (fifth round) jockey for playing time.

“It’s wide open right now and that’s what you like about it,” said Mickens. “Two spots you can hang your hat on: free safety (Eric Coleman) and David Barrett. Everybody else is competing for a spot which is great.”

The players may think agree. During today’s afternoon practice Henderson constantly barked at Maddox and Rhodes, telling each the proper placement in the secondary.

“Young guys don’t understand anything but one thing: go fast,” Henderson said. “We have a young defense and I’m excited for those guys because if we do it right, we could be together a long time and I think they understand that.”

CHAD MAKING PROGRESS

Chad Pennington’s third consecutive day of throwing during the afternoon session of training camp revealed the same thing the other two did: he is not 100 percent, but he is fine. Coach Herman Edwards is not babying Pennington, merely coddling him and guaranteeing the road to recovery is at the very least paved.

Pennington needs to get “his bearings back,” said Edwards, and stressed that his quarterback needs his reps.

Pennington said yesterday in a discussion with Edwards that he was fine and backup QB Jay Fielder could have a day off from practices. The quarterback and his coach are in constant communication about his progress, which is ahead of schedule.

Asked when he would hold Pennington out, Edwards said: “If he was really soar. I mean we’ll talk about that, but now he feels OK.”

During full-squad drills Barrett intercepted Pennington for the second consecutive day on an under thrown ball.

MISCELLANEOUS TIDBITS

All out blitz? During the afternoon practice the Jets defense went up against maybe its toughest opponent yet: the Kips Bay Mustangs. The pop Warner team from the Bronx, NY, ran onto the field on Edwards request.

“That’s what training camp is about – having fun and when you get kids out here you want to let them experience some of those things,” Edwards said.

The Mustangs first play from scrimmage was a pass that LB Victor Hobson intercepted. DE Shaun Ellis provided the pressure. Edwards noted his defensive coordinator never lets up.

“Donnie [Henderson] said: we ain’t letting them score,” Edwards said. “Victor was trying to intercept balls and Shawn Ellis was trying to sack the kid.”

- In addition to resting Fiedler, Edwards kept CB Pete Hunter, WR Jonathan Carter and DT Dewayne Robertson out of practice, none of whom are hurt. Edwards said he is trying to get RB Curtis Martin to sit out, but has been stonewalled with a “not today” retort from his 34-year-old running back.

- Edwards stressed tomorrow will be a day where he will grind the players with a “heavy” full-pad practice in the morning and just uppers in the afternoon. Pennington is penciled in for just the afternoon practice.

- Kickers Mike Nugent and Xavier Beitia combined to make all seven field goal tries.

- The Jets continue to utilize the shotgun during camp, but also ran about 10 WR screens.

INJURY REPORT

The team reported no injuries in the afternoon session.

Two-a-days continue on Monday with a morning and afternoon practice. Both sessions are open to the public. Check back to Jets Insider.com for all of the latest training camp news.

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