Jets Insider.com Friday Evening Training Camp Report
By James J. Parziale
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
August 6th, 2005
ALSO: The Jets reportedly have Ty Law nearly locked up. He’s the man no one sees but everyone talks about, everyone but the Jets players and coaches, of course. Out of sight, but not out of mind. When players hear his name they immediately claw for their how-to-deal-with-the-media handbook, and search for all the different ways to say not comment.
“In my mind he’s here,” DE Shaun Ellis said.
He is holdout DE John Abraham, who has missed the first eight days of camp. That’s 15 practices with no sign of reconciliation on the horizon.
“No it’s not a distraction; not at all because it’s business,” head coach Herman Edwards said.
Surely everyone wants Abraham back, but certainly DE Bryan Thomas doesn’t mind getting a healthy portion of his reps. Abraham’s extended vacation has given Thomas a chance to flourish on a defensive line where Ellis is the only guaranteed starter.
Thomas started the last six games of the season (including postseason) in place of Abraham, whose knee injury kept him off the field. It was believed in some circles Abraham did not want to further injure the knee to damage a potential long-term contract in the off-season, so Thomas stepped in. Now he’s stepping up in training camp.
Defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson can see Thomas coming of age.
“Maturity,” Henderson said when asked about Thomas’ biggest improvement. “He understands the position. He knows it’s his job and he’s excited again. Just like when he was a rookie, he thinks he’s a you-know-what and I think right now he believes he’s a you-know-what.”
The bush Henderson is beating around involves proclaiming Thomas an official starter because for now he is keeping the seat warm for Abraham. Yet with each day and each practice, he is scoring points, especially after stepping in for Abraham in the playoffs against San Diego and Pittsburgh. Though his sack numbers are not in the same realm as Abraham’s, the first-rounder entering his fourth season is here, and his teammate, and positional adversary, isn’t at camp.
“You got a guy like Bryan Thomas who was a number one draft pick,” Henderson said. “Now it’s time for him to show it.”
At the time Thomas was drafted, it was a puzzling selection for the Jets. Ellis and Abraham combined to be a dynamic duo, but Abraham’s durability has gone out the window since. The sixth-year pass rushing guru started 31 of the Jets’ 32 games through 2001-02, but started just five games in 2003 and finished the season on injured reserve. His desire to stay with the Jets looked questionable after he chose not to play in the season finale at St. Louis.
A Buffalo victory would have knocked the Jets out of the playoffs after Jeff Wilkins nailed a game-winning field goal in overtime, but the Bills choked against the Steelers. In the off-season he refused to sign the one-year tender offered that came with the franchise tag, which brings us to today. No sign of Abraham, so Thomas is prospering.
“He’s playing great,” DT Lance Legree said. “From what I’ve seen he’s playing great.”
Just as Thomas hopes for his break, so do the rest of the players on the defensive line. With the loss of DT Jason Ferguson to the Cowboys, there is no clear-cut starter in place. DT Dewayne Robertson, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2003 Draft, still has a lot to prove and the other slot looks like a rendition of musical chairs. James Reed, Lance Legree, Alan Harper and rookie Sione Pouha battle for playing time.
“I’ve seen James Reed doing a great job for us,” LB John Vilma said. “He’s cutting down on the mental errors and really helping us out on defense…Sione Pouha, he’s coming along fine. Lance [Legree] is coming around fine too. They’re all doing a great job for us.”
Henderson stated how much Ferguson will be missed off the field as a leader in the locker room and filling the vacancy will be difficult.
“You never know what the locker room will be like. That locker room changes every year. No doubt [Jason Ferguson] was the guy who controlled the tempo,” Henderson said. “You can’t put someone in charge to say, ‘Hey you have to dictate what happens in that locker room.’ It has to be natural at that point.”
Maybe this is Thomas’ shot to take charge on and off the field.
Law deal Done? According to several sources, the Jets are very close to finally inking CB Ty Law. Law’s agent Carl Poston met with Jets assistant GM Mike Tannenbaum on Thursday and reportedly came to an agreement in principal on a multi-year contract. The only thing that needs to be finished is the exact structure of the deal regarding signing bonus and incentive issues. Hopefully both sides can wrap it up in the next few days.
Coming Home Again: Two players actually – and admittedly – looking forward to trekking to Albany at DT Lance Legree and RB Delvin Joyce. Both played on the Giants last year, and one is looking for redemption. Joyce felt slighted because of an unceremonious departure from the Giants, who he said he left on “bad terms” because of how his injury was handled. He harbors no ill will toward players, though, and looks forward to seeing an old friend. “My man Amani Toomer. He’s one of my best friends. I still talk to him,” Joyce said.
Joyce wants to show he can still hack it. “You always feel you have something to prove when you’re not somewhere anymore,” he said. “I’m pretty much going to try and run on top of those guys.”
Legree also reflected on his time with big blue.
“I had a great time over there and I was there for four years,” he said. “I still know everybody and I have a lot of good friends over there, so it’s a little different.”
Legree said the adjustment has been virtually seamless.
“I think it’s just getting to know the defense and learning what the coaches expect from them. I have faith in myself knowing I can play, but it’s basically just doing what the coaches ask of you and giving them what they need on the field,” he said. Legree is virtually assured a spot on the roster while Joyce must compete with RBs Curtis Martin (a Hall of Famer), Derrick Blaylock (a free-agent signing from KC) and Cedric Houston (a sixth round pick in April’s draft).
No Slouch: Herm Edwards likes to put his team through the grind to get them ready for the season. That’s one of the reasons he decided last year the Jets would never host the Giants.
“We’ll always be the road team,” the fourth-year head coach said. “It’ just the way I want to do things. It’s just the mindset and I just believe in that.”
Edwards believes in challenging his team, but today flip-flopped the team meetings and the second practice because of rain. The reversal ended up shortening the team’s practice and the players seemingly went through the motions.
The only time the players went all-out was during a two-minute drill that ended the today’s only full-team session. WR Harry Williams Jr. caught the winning score for the offense from 26 yards out and 14 seconds remaining.
- K Mike Nugent was 4-for-6 kicking field goals. His two misses were wide left.
QB Chad Pennington and LB Victor Hobson, DT Dewayne Robertson and WR Jonathan Carter were given the day off.
CB Pete Hunter is still nursing a sore knee.
The Jets travel to Albany on Saturday for two practices with the Giants, have Sunday off and return to two-a-days again on Monday at Hofstra. Check back to Jets Insider.com for all the latest training camp reports.