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INSIDER SATURDAY CAMP REPORT

By David Fletcher
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
July 29th, 2006
Jets WR Justin McCareins was back in action today after successfully passing the team's conditioning test. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Jets WR Justin McCareins was back in action today after successfully passing the team's conditioning test. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Day two of Jets training camp began with the news that veteran WR Justin McCareins was out of the Coach’s doghouse by passing the mandated conditioning test. He rejoined the team practicing but was limited in action.

Saturday started in the same fashion of yesterday’s opening practice: running drills. The simple drill saw RB’s Cedric Houston, Derrick Blaylock, and rookie Leon Washington taking handoffs from the each of the four quarterbacks currently battling for the three available roster spots at their position. With star running back Curtis Martin on the PUP (physically unable to perform), coach Mangini is clearly making a concerted effort to fully evaluate his three other starting-caliber backs, on the off chance that Martin may not be completely rehabbed from his off-season knee surgery in time to start opening day.

All three running backs looked solid for the second straight day. Leon Washington continued to showcase his outstanding speed in early running drills and really turned heads returning kickoffs later in the afternoon, using his speed and small stature to cut apart defenders and take the kick back the full length of the field on more than one occasion. Washington returns kicks similarly to newly-acquired WR-KR Tim Dwight, so it will be interesting to follow their progress in competing for the job.

Houston and Blaylock didn’t disappoint by flawlessly performing the same feats, though with starkly different styles. Houston moved through running drills with surprising quickness for his size, seeing as he’s built a lot more like LaMont Jordan than he is Curtis Martin. His pass-catching ability is quickly improving and he’s terrific at breaking tackles, an ability that is essential since he seems to have much more difficulty changing directions than fellow-backup Blaylock. However, despite how hard these men are working, Curtis Martin is working hard to return to the team and is yet to concede his starting role.

He spoke to reporters after the session.

“I would not be working this hard if I did not want to play,” said Martin of his future in the NFL. “The hours that I am putting in when I am not out here on this field; yesterday I watched two hours of film. I am working out for hours at a time. I’m working just as much as everyone who is on the field,” adding “I am working hard.”

Whether Martin will be back anytime soon or even at all this season was a question that was not answered. It's unclear if Martin really doesn't know or if he is just implementing Mangini's iron wall regarding information on injuries. Stay tuned for more on this story.

Curtis isn’t the only Jet who is currently working hard; for the second straight day, Coach Mangini extended practice by over a half-hour in over-90-degree heat to repeat drills that the team hadn’t performed quickly enough. In addition, Mangini had players running laps for failing to hustle on plays in what was described by one journalist as “similar to a high-school football team”. There is already much buzz about how players will respond to these grueling workouts, which is a 180 degree difference from the prior regime.

Although Coach Mangini boasted in yesterday’s afternoon press conference that every Jets player reported to camp under his maximum allowable weight, the weight alone of some players is clearly not a measure of good conditioning. For the second straight day, four-year veteran DT Dewayne Robertson looked winded during practice, including struggling mightily in performing pre-practice stretches. Robertson has been a lightning rod for criticism over past seasons; criticisms which focus primarily on how his underachievement has kept him from living up to his rather lofty contract. Robertson looked increasingly tired throughout the day, culminating in his walking of a Mangini-mandated lap near the end of practice. Other notable players receiving laps included Pete Kendell and Lavernaeus Coles.

Coles’ lack of burst may have been partially caused by the right leg that he mildly tweaked during Friday’s morning practice. While Coles was not added to the injury report yesterday and claimed to be fine, he looked slow early in Saturday’s practice and had trouble completing footwork drills at his usual speed. Coles did appear to pick up his game throughout the day.

Once again, QB Patrick Ramsey looked both strong and extremely accurate throughout practice. QB Kellen Clemens continues to show great poise and a strong arm, but his accuracy was not as impressive today, as he often overthrew his receivers. Bollinger continued to fly under the radar with his mediocre performances, and although Pennington struggled early, his accuracy and arm strength seemed to improve mightily as the day moved on. His most exciting pass took place in an 11-on-11 drill where he threw a perfect over-the-shoulder bomb to WR prospect Jovan Witherspoon for a touchdown, arousing a huge roar from the crowd of onlookers. That’s right, Jets fans: Chad might still have what it takes.

INSIDER TIDBITS:

-As mentioned above WR Justin McCareins was taken off the PUP. Rookie FA CB Rayshun Reed was also take off the list and practiced.

-Most of today’s practice was held on the grass field ajacent to the FieldTurf, due to the sweltering afternoon temperatures on the turf.

-DT Shaun Ellis and DL Alonzo Jackson stood out in pass-rushing drills, a good sign for the Jets after the loss of DE John Abraham to Atlanta.

-Rumors circulated in the crowd that Joe Namath was spotted chatting with Woody Johnson on the practice field. No evidence backed these rumors at all, but it riled up the crowd of onlookers nonetheless.

INJURY REPORT

-RB Curtis Martin (knee) on PUP list
-C Trey Teague (ankle) on PUP list

The Jets go back to two-a-days tomorrow with sessions at 8:30AM and 5:30PM. Be sure to check back to JI for all the latest camp reports.

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