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A Fresh Start

By Sean M. Deegan
Publisher, Jets Insider.com
April 30th, 2004
NY Jets top draft pick Jonathan Vilma. IN YOUR FACE!!
NY Jets top draft pick Jonathan Vilma. IN YOUR FACE!!
The official start of the NY Jets season is here! Minicamp started today lots of new faces and a ton of optimism and energy. Jets Insider.com was there and besides a full report, we have the first exclusive pictures of your 2004 NY Jets.

For exclusive Jets Insider.com minicamp pictures, CLICK HERE

On a dry sun drenched spring day, the “new” NY Jets took the field as a team for the first time. “New”, meaning new players, new coaches, new schemes and new gameplans. If I could describe the Jets first official practice of 2004 with one word, it would be “Energy”. The players, coaches and even owner and GM seethed energy. It’s clear that everyone associated with the organization is angry about last season and is anxious to get the NY Jets back into championship contention. This is a totally re-tooled team that includes several veteran free agents, ten draft picks and an additional 14 rookie free agent signed today. Even though top pick LB Jonathan Vilma was still wearing his orange Miami Hurricane cleats, he started his first practice like he has been on the team for years. He was all over the field and even called plays for the defense like a veteran. After watching and speaking to him, his first day gave me the impression of a very bright player and fast learner. He is also quick as lightning.

Third round pick CB Derrick Strait got a lot of reps and seemed comfortable in his environment. New Jets DC Donnie Henderson was quite vocal during his first practice and had DE/LB John Abraham roaming everywhere at LB and DE including dropping into coverage. Abraham is eager to erase the nightmare of last season and prove it was a fluke. Henderson “guarantees” a much more aggressive defense including schemes where both Abraham or Shaun Ellis could become standing rushing LB’s at any time.

The heir apparent to Vinny Testaverde (who was not in attendance), Canadian phenom Ricky Ray ran several plays along with Brooks Bollinger and starter Chad Pennington. A big question everyone was asking Chad is if he still feels pain in his wrist but he told me it feels like it never was broken. Pennington looked sharp in all passing drills. Especially to his new target, Justin McCareins.

WR Wayne Chrebet, coming off post concussion syndrome, was in full participation and told the media he feels great. He has not had any type of symptoms since February and is eager to take his first hit to see if there are any ill effects. As for now, he can’t wait to get back to it. With Santana Moss and McCareins the top two wideouts, Chrebet officially becomes #3 for the first time since 1996 and he covets his new role. “I know I’ll always be fresh as the number three guy” Said Chrebet. “It won’t change my game. In fact, with the talent around me it will likely make me a more productive receiver”.

The only negative aspect of the first practice was RB LaMont Jordan. Although he practiced, Jordan avoided the media and is obviously unhappy with his current status on the team. He knows he will never be the top RB as long as Curtis Martin is around and with his long term future as a Jet in doubt, Jordan is not a happy camper. His name has been mentioned this off-season as trade bait to the Redskins and Raiders. It’s unclear if the team is still shopping him. He becomes a free agent after this season. All-Pro center Kevin Mawae also missed practice due to an illness in his family.

The team has two a days for the rest of the weekend. Check back to Jets Insider.com for all the latest minicamp news.

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