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Jets Insider.com Monday Afternoon Training Camp Report

By James J. Parziale
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
August 1st, 2005
Newly acquired TE Doug Jolley's hands have been like velcro since camp began on Friday. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Newly acquired TE Doug Jolley's hands have been like velcro since camp began on Friday. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Opening it up. So you’re glaring at the TV and the Jets offense is facing a third down and nine at its own 42 yard-line. The possibilities run through your head. A go route? A slant? A post? A comeback? Then, Chad Pennington drops back, hands the ball to Curtis Martin for a two-yard gain and the Jets punt. Frustrated doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling seething from you.

Those scenarios were all too typical for the Jets the past four seasons with the former offensive coordinator whose name makes Jets fans shudder. But Paul Hackett is out, Mike Heimerdinger is in, and so is an entirely new offense. In theory the new formula seems simple: score more points and be aggressive. Implementing it will take most of training camp. Opening it up. So you’re glaring at the TV and the Jets offense is facing a third down and nine at its own 42 yard-line. The possibilities run through your head. A go route? A slant? A post? A comeback? Then, Chad Pennington drops back, hands the ball to Curtis Martin for a two-yard gain and the Jets punt. Frustrated doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling seething from you.

Those scenarios were all too typical for the Jets the past four seasons with the former offensive coordinator whose name makes Jets fans shudder. But Paul Hackett is out, Mike Heimerdinger is in, and so is an entirely new offense. In theory the new formula seems simple: score more points and be aggressive. Implementing it will take most of training camp.

The new wrinkles are evident. The shotgun, down-the-field passes and use of the tight end are just some of the additions seen so far during training camp.

A chunk of Pennington’s passes today in the afternoon session went to new TE Doug Jolley. The newcomer attained from the Raiders in exchange for this year’s first round pick should finally give exasperated Jets fans a receiving threat over the middle.

“It’s real similar to the offense that I had in Oakland my first year,” Jolley said of the Jets new playbook. “I think it’s a good fit for me and the other tight ends so I’m real excited.”

Jolley caught four passes today and the Jets practiced primarily with two-TE sets. Eric Baker had a small case of the drops, but he will be leaned on heavily.

“Both of our tight ends, Chris [Baker] and Dough [Jolley] have done a great job,” Pennington said. “This offense allows them to work down the field. They’re not just underneath decoys.”

Pennington, who will engineer the new system, is acclimating.

“I played in the shotgun for five years at Marshall, and it doesn’t effect me at all. I think it will benefit us,” he said. “You have to be able to make adjustments, whether it’s a pass rush that’s getting to you or whatever; you to be able to make adjustments. The shotgun allows you to make adjustments.”

Pennington even took a slight jab at Hackett on the subject, saying, “There are a few dinosaurs in the League as far as coaches that don’t want to use shotgun, Paul was one of them [and] John Gruden is one of them and you’re not going to teach an old dog new tricks.”

Pennington’s footwork in the shotgun is “perfect” and he just must learn to read coverages after getting the snap, according to Heimerdinger.

Of course even if Pennington can make adjustment, he still needs to be able to throw the ball down the field. That’s something he has yet to do successfully in camp. He has thrown an interception three straight days. He was almost intercepted a second time today but S Eric Coleman dropped the errant throw. In his own defense, Pennington said it has more to do with rust than his surgically repaired right shoulder.

“I haven’t come up short, I threw behind,” he said. “One [pass] was anticipation and one [pass] I threw behind. I’ve thrown three posts since Jan. 16. Over three months I’ve thrown three deep balls…I’ll fix the throws.”

During Hackett’s tenure, the $64-million quarterback never had to make a living with arm strength. Heimerdinger, at least with what he’s shown at practices, will be more demanding. So far, so good.

“We run the same plays in the afternoon that we run in the morning,” Heimerdinger said when asked if Pennington practicing once a day puts him behind schedule. “No less reps do not effect him because he gets most of the reps in the afternoon.”

Heimerdinger said in addition to helping Pennington’s game, Jolley may be able to get RB Curtis Martin extra yards by drawing attention from linebackers. Stretching the field might lead to “different coverages and that’s going to open some things up for Curt,” he said.

“I think Jolley brings that other element of the passing game that makes people not just have to worry about [our receivers] because he is definitely a threat,” Martin said.

Of all the moving parts in the offense, the most vital is Pennington. He must master the offense as the field general and must get his arm in shape to throw the long ball.

Right now I’m just trying to react,” Pennington said. “The best thing about these last few practices is that I’ve just reacted. I haven’t thought about how my shoulder feels, what’s going on or rehab. I just reacted and tried to play ball. When you do that, you know you’re on the right track.”

INSIDER TIDBITS

Boiling over. In the sweltering heat and constant battles during the two-a-days of August, things sometimes get testy. During today’s afternoon practice, the boiling over occurred in the trenches.

DE Shaun Ellis and G Brandon Moore locked arms and exchanged blows for a few seconds before RB BJ Askew and others pulled the two apart. It was not clear what started the scuffle and players were not available for comment after practice.

- LB Eric Barton missed a practice Saturday and sat out the afternoon session today. Nothing has been said of his health status

- Justin McCareins fumbled a punt return but caught two touchdowns during practice. The second was a pretty play where McCareins fought off double coverage.

INJURY REPORT

DB James Taylor who hurt his knee during the morning session sat out this afternoon. S Rashad Washington had headaches after a hit yesterday and was held out of practice again this afternoon. CB Pete Hunter (knee) sat out again. WR Laveranues Coles, who limped off the field yesterday after he landed hard on his heel, showed no ill effects today and was full speed in the afternoon session.

-DB James Taylor (knee): Day-to-Day
-S Rashad Washington (head): Day-to-Day
-CB Pete Hunter (knee): Day-to-Day

The Jets resume two-a days tomorrow with a morning and afternoon sessions both open to the public. Check back to Jets Insider.com often for all the latest training camp news.

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