Jets Insider.com Tuesday Afternoon Training Camp Report
By Justin Paley
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
August 23rd, 2005
Cross arrived at Queens Borough Hall and was greeted by J-E-T-S chants by a large group of Jets fans on the building steps supporting the project. The fan rally was organized by Patrick Curry and John Puccio, who run “Bring Our Jets Home”, a grass roots organization dedicated to bringing the Jets back to NY.
The meeting between Marshall and Cross lasted almost an hour and a half and at a press conference following, both sides agreed that the meeting was very productive.
Although no financial aspects of the project were discussed both sides agreed that the best place for the new stadium is in Flushing Meadow Corona Park, at the current site of the “Fountain of Planets” which is currently a murky garbage ridden eyesore. The site at Willets Point, which had been discussed as a possible location was rejected. Marshall said the city already had plans for that site.
In the plan, the Jets would take 13 acres of the 1200+ acre park and in return, replace the used acreage with parkland somewhere else in the borough. The exact location of the replaced parkland would be determined at a later date. The Jets also would upgrade and add several soccer fields to the park.
Both sides agreed to work closely for the next several weeks to get more details together including a design and financials. Although the project is far from approval, Cross told the media that the team’s desire has always been to have their own stadium and return to NY.
With NJ in the mix and reportedly offering a lucrative deal for a shared stadium with the Giants, Cross noted that the financial rewards of a new stadium is not the team’s sole motivation. They want the best situation for the team and know the next commitment they make will affect the team for the next 30-40 years.
At camp this afternoon, QB Chad Pennington completed 15-20 passes this afternoon, continuing his progress as he prepares for Friday’s preseason game against the Giants. Pennington and the rest of the starters are expected to play into the third quarter as Pennington moves towards his ultimate goal of being ready for opening day in Kansas City on Sept. 11.
Among the highlights this afternoon were two touchdown passes to WR Justin McCareins. The first a 40-yard hook-up on a go route as McCareins beat CB David Barrett. A little later, rookie S Atari Bigby was burned by McCareins for a 60-yard score.
Pennington showed nice touch on a completion to WR Wayne Chrebet in double coverage as Chrebet leaped to make the catch.
WR Laveranues Coles jumped to catch a 25-yard pass from Pennington early in practice. Pennington struggled finding Coles the rest of practice. Fans shouldn’t be too worried as the two showed great chemistry in the win against the Vikings on Friday.
Pennington looked sharp on Friday against the Vikings. After going three-and-out on the first two series, Pennington was 6-of-7 for 74 yards culminating in a 20-yard TD to Coles. Pennington finished the evening 9-of-10 for 86 yards and a score. The one incomplete pass was a long ball that sailed over McCareins head and has had the offensive linemen joking that it is the most talked about incomplete pass ever. Pennington proved to everyone that his arm strength is not an issue and talked about the next step.
“It’s important to keep making progress and going forward. I’m not looking at stats as much as I am trying to learn the offense,” the starting QB said. “I’m just being smooth with everything, making the right reads and seeing the whole field.”
Pennington will make the most of the time left until opening day. “I still have 10 practices left before Kansas City and I’m going to take full advantage of those and not waste a practice,” Pennington said. “I’ll do the things I need to do to make sure I can help our team and help our offense be successful.”
The $64-million QB said practice will make perfect. “I just have to keep learning,” Pennington said. “It’s a little bit different than the last four years and presents some different challenges, but I feel like I’m making progress. I just need more and more reps. The more I get, the better I’ll be.”
While CB Ty Law did not practice today, as he sat out with a stomach virus, having him here will help Pennington. “He’s a great DB,” Pennington said. “He’s going to make me better as a QB because he forces me to make the throws and be accurate. He also helps our receivers because he’s very physical. It’s a good thing for our offense to be able to face a DB like that in practice every day.”
Last year one of the main focuses coming into camp was how the offense was going to be explosive and put up big numbers on the scoreboard. While the talk was great, it never materialized on the field. Gone is Paul Hackett and in is Mike Heimerdinger, who will not be afraid to call on Pennington to throw deep.
“As a QB, you still have to manage the game and when your shots are there, you have to be able to take them,” Pennington said. “In this offense, you have the green light to take those shots. I think you can take calculated shots and shots that make sense like the throws that are down field that give you a chance to make a play instead of throwing it into double coverage because you want to throw it deep. There is a difference.”
NO HARD FEELINGS In 2003 against Indianapolis, WR Jonathan Carter caught a 62-yard TD pass from Pennington and scored on a 90-yard kickoff return. Besides that game, Carter never really did much as a Jet and had just returned to practice this week after struggling with a hamstring injury, before being cut yesterday. “We had a good talk yesterday,” Edwards said. “…He understood that it wasn’t due to talent and there have been a couple of situations like his already here. Ray Mickens has fallen into that category.”
PENALTIES A CONCERN Under Edwards, the Jets have been one of the least penalized teams in the NFL. But through the first two games, they have been called for numerous penalties including eight last Friday. “I think we have young players who play in the second half, and that’s where it’s been alarming for us in the second half,” Edwards said. “The first half in the first two games we had four penalties; that’s one in the first game and three in the last one. That was our first group generally in there. Our young guys have to understand that they have to play in a manner where you don’t beat yourself with foolish fouls. That’s what we’ve always preached around here. We’ve been the number one least penalized team in the National Football League for the last four years, it’s not even close.”
-WR Justin McCareins and rookie RB Decori Birmingham both had drops during punt returns at the beginning of practice.
-C Kevin Mawae was given the afternoon practice off.
-QB Jay Fiedler hooked up with WR Chas Gessner for a 35-yard score and TE Joel Dressen for a 20-yard TD during full team drills.
-Fourth-string QB Kevin Eakin got extended reps today and struggled, under throwing balls numerous times and ended practice by being picked off by LB Eric Barton and S Kerry Rhodes.
-Rookie S Kerry Rhodes and S Oliver Celestin are competing for the starting strong safety spot and both took the majority of the reps with the first-team defense today. With both on the field at the same time, Erik Coleman, who has the starting free safety job locked up, moved to the second-team.
CANNIZZARO FAN CHAT Join Jets Insider/NY Post Jets beat writer Mark Cannizzaro Wednesday 8/24 at 8 PM EST for his exclusive weekly fan chat in the Jets Insider.com chatroom. Mark will give you the skinny on all happenings at Hofstra. Chat is open to all Jets Insider Club Members. To join the Jets Insider club and take advantage of all club benefits, CLICK HERE.
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Rookie RB Cedric Houston returned to practice today after injuring his shoulder during yesterday’s afternoon practice and is doubtful for Friday’s game against the Giants. Rookie S Kerry Rhodes also showed no signs of being hampered by a collision with CB Atari Bigby. DT Dewayne Robertson was rested this morning and returned in the afternoon. S Rashad Washington did not practice and will be held out Friday. CB Ty Law has “a stomach virus,” according to Edwards and did not participate in either practice today. When asked if Law’s illness this morning will affect his status for Friday’s game, Edwards said: “I would hope not. Friday is a long way a ways. I’d think he’d be ready to go by then.”
-WR Harry Williams Jr. (knee): 2-5 weeks
The Jets have their final two-a-day practice tomorrow with a full team practice set for 8:45 a.m. and a special-teams only practice. Both practices are open to the public. Check back to Jets Insider.com for all the latest training camp news.
**Sean Deegan contributed to this article.