The final day of the New York Jets voluntary three-day mini-camp started off slow. The special teams unit was showcased as Ben Graham boomed punts downfield and new addition Tim Dwight fielded them all cleanly. Everything was fairly uneventful. Then Chad Pennington showed up in a big way.
The camp’s last practice ended as Chad Pennington led the offense 65 yards for a touchdown in an 11-on-11 two minute drill. Though the seven year vet still looked rusty on some throws and still lacked velocity, it was clear his leadership ability was still there as the squad even overcame a 15-yard offensive pass interference penalty at the 1-yard line to punch the ball in for the score.
The highlight of the drive was a magnificent 30-yard pass and catch from Pennington to wide receiver Reggie Newhouse. Pennington laid the ball up between two defensive backs and Newhouse made a spectacular leaping grab to move the ball into the defense’s territory.
One person who certainly didn’t seemed surprised by the performance was Pennington himself.
“It’s good to work on those situations because those situations come up in the game,” Pennington said when asked how he felt about the drive. “If you can practice them then you’re not surprised when they come up in the game.”
Rookie receiver Brad Smith, who was on the field during the drive, was impressed with his new QB.
“That was great,” Smith said. “You know, I’ve watched him on TV the last couple years and then to get out here and see the type of leader he is, he’s a great player.”
Smith and his fellow rookies have enjoyed working with the veteran players throughout camp as one of the week’s themes has been older players helping the young guys make the adjustment to the NFL.
“We have great veterans here,” Smith said. “Tim (Dwight), Laverneus (Coles), Jerricho (Cotchery) and Justin (McCareins) have all helped me a lot this week.”
Rookie center Nick Mangold expressed the same sentiment about the veteran offensive linemen like guard Pete Kendall.
“You always here stories in college about the older guys in the NFL not really helping the rookies out but that hasn’t been the case here,” Mangold said. “The veterans have done a good job of helping to bring us up rather than keep us down.”
Head coach Eric Mangini has also enjoyed watching the veterans work with the rookies. On Friday he stressed that he feels advice from the veterans will be critical in bringing the rookies along.
“I think that’s a big part of being successful,” Mangini said Friday. “Having those older guys being able to give some of the younger players a mentor is important.”
The team still has a lot of work to do and after Saturday’s morning practice, Mangini insisted that it is still early in the offseason and everyone must continue to work.
“We’re green and growing,” Mangini said, quoting former Jets Superbowl Coach Weeb Ewbank. “It’s only June and everyone needs to continue to work both physically and mentally before training camp next month.”
Mangini said the players will have plenty of opportunities to do both as several coaches will be in Ewbank Hall at Hofstra between now and training camp.
The Jets will not meet again as a team until training camp convenes in late July.
Frantic Ending: Eric Mangini has brought with him a new style of conditioning to end each day of practice.
Mangini said that the last period of each practice will be a no-huddle offense versus defense drill that will allow the players to get conditioning in a football sense. It forces the players to work through fatigue as well as continuing to communicate and do all the things they must do at the end of games on Sunday.
The drill is something Mangini picked up from former Ravens head coach Ted Marchibroda while he was in Baltimore.
Injury Bug: While the Mangini regime is extremely quiet when it comes to injuries, some players did miss time during this week’s camp.
Though the team has only referred to center Trey Teague’s injury as a lower leg injury, Jets Insider.com has learned that Teague’s ankle is broken. The injury could cause him to miss some of training camp. Teague’s injury puts rookie Nick Mangold right in the fire with the starting offense.
Tackle Ed Blanton missed the last two days with a lower leg injury, Ray Mickens missed a session with an undisclosed ailment, and Justin McCareins missed Saturday morning’s practice with Mangini called a “foot situation”.
Mangini had no comment on the situation.
The team wraps up minicamp today and will return to regular team practices when training camp starts at the end of July. Be sure to check back to Jets Insider.com for all the latest NY Jets news.
PHOTO GALLERY: For exclusive Jets Insider.com Minicamp photos