By Justin Paley
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
August 29th, 2005
Numerous sources reported that Abraham would be at Hofstra this morning ready to practice but when he was not there, specualtion was that he might hold out another full week.
Jets GM Terry Bradway was very pleased that Abraham was finally inked and says Abraham is excited to get back to work.
"He's interested in one thing and one thing only and that's getting back to playing football," said Bradway on Abraham. "That will be his focus and I'm excited about the tone of his voice. I know he misses his teammates. I expect him to have a real good year. We've talked to some people that knew what he was doing and I'm pretty confident that he's in the best shape he's been in physically. We understand that it's not football shape but it won't take long for him to get acclimated to that."
Abraham told the media at the end of last season that he would not mind being tagged with the franchise designation but he had been holding out since the Spring in hope of a long-term deal like teammate DE Shaun Ellis received last season.
In his first three years, Abraham played in 38 games, recording 31.5 sacks and was named to the Pro Bowl twice. But he has been plagued by injury problems the last two years. In 2003, Abraham played just seven games, recording six sacks before being placed on injury reserve in December with a groin injury. Last year, Abraham appeared in 12 games, making 7.5 sacks before spraining his knee against Houston. Abraham was inactive the rest of the season. Those injuries have made the Jets wary of locking up Abraham long-term.
The Jets have just five practices including four full workouts left before opening day. Even if Abraham reported tomorrow, the question is how effective will Abraham be with only a week or two of practice and can he get in game shape by then. “If John is here and able to play in Kansas City, he’ll be in there and have a role,” Jets head coach Herman Edwards said today. Most likely that role would be on passing downs.
Abraham has been working out with a personal trainer at his home in South Carolina but certainly will not be close to game shape.
It took CB Ty Law two weeks to begin full team practices after he signed on Aug. 8.
Even without Abraham being here, his teammates have all been supportive and anxious to see him again. “It brings back a playmaker, a great guy on defense and a leader,” LB Jonathan Vilma said. “We can’t wait to have him back. We know that when he comes back it may take him a couple practices to get ready but he’ll be fine.”
“When he shows up, we’ll welcome him with open arms and expect him to play as he can,” C Kevin Mawae said.
With Abraham holding out, DE Bryan Thomas has gotten the first team reps in his place. The Jets had high expectations for Thomas after drafting him in the first round of the 2002 NFL Draft. Thomas struggled his first two seasons, only recording 1.5 sacks in 31 games.
Thomas worked hard to improve and after Abraham suffered the knee sprain against Houston last season, Thomas filled in admirably, recording 33 tackles, including 10 in the postseason. Edwards was impressed by Thomas working with defensive line coach Denny Marcin and Thomas reminds him of Shaun Ellis. “He’s a tough, physical guy,” Edwards said.
“He’s done very, very well…He’s done a good job,” Edwards said. “He’s very physical against the run…He’s come a long way since we first drafted him.”
Edwards also said that Thomas will most likely be the starter on opening day regardless of if Abraham is here.
“Getting reps with the starters, that’s what’s going to make you better,” Thomas said.
Thomas had a touchdown on Friday against the Giants after jumping on a loose ball in the end zone after a bad exchange from QB Tim Hasselbeck to RB Mike Cloud. Thomas gave himself the nickname, “Touchdown Thomas,” after it and says his teammates and him have been joking about it.
While it remains unclear just when Abraham will show up, Thomas has shown he can get the job done.
-Upon his return, Abraham announced he has changed his jersey number from #94 to #56. He had worn #94 since he was drafted. LB Sam Cowart was the last player on the active roster to wear #56. LB Dennis Haley, who had been given #56 this training camp switched to #49.
-When asked how many carries RB Curtis Martin would receive Thursday, Edwards went to the dry-erase board and drew a big, “0.” Martin has received 21 carries this preseason, one shy of the number he received last preseason. “If you want to see him carry, watch him warm-up,” Edwards said.
-Despite only one preseason game remaining, the strong safety starter is not set yet. Edwards said rookie Kerry Rhodes and Oliver Celestin are still competing for it. And with Rashad Washington back from a concussion, he is in the mix too. “42 (Washington) had a great practice today,” Edwards said. He added that Celestin will probably start on Thursday but all three players will get a lot of playing time.
-The Jets practiced special teams and individual drills in the half-hour of practice reporters were allowed to watch. Special teams coach Mike Westhoff got on WR Harry Williams, Jr. for not rushing the punter and rookie CB Justin Miller’s struggles continued as he dropped one of the kickoffs before picking it up. Edwards said that Miller appears more comfortable returning kicks and played better against the Giants than he has in the past. Edwards also said that second-year WR Jerricho Cotchery is in the mix for returning punts.
Edwards did not give an official injury report but did say that FB Jerald Sowell practiced today but will sit out Thursday’s game as a precautionary measure. DT Dewayne Robertson (broken right knee) also will not play, although he is on course to start the season.
-DT Dewayne Robertson (hand; knee): Out
The Jets practice again tomorrow to get ready for their final pre-season match-up on Thursday against Philadelphia.