Jets QB Chad Pennington was back at practice today. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
In the first practice after Friday night’s preseason loss to Tampa Bay, all eyes were on Chad Pennington. After taking a few shots to his twice surgically-repaired shoulder, the air was abuzz with rumors of possible injuries.
Pennington put those rumors to rest quickly.
Coach Eric Mangini decided to give the team a little longer rest after their first pre-season game and changed today’s scheduled two-a-day into one practice at 2PM. During his pre-practice press conference, Mangini assured reporters that Pennington was suffering from mere “normal football soreness” in his shoulder. He emphatically denied any serious setbacks and claimed that the soreness would not affect the amount of reps Pennington will see in practices.
Pennington began Sunday’s session by throwing mid-length routes to the Jets’ first team receivers. While his passes lacked any real velocity early on, Pennington regained both his strength and confidence as the day progressed.
After practice, Pennington was asked about how he felt about the day’s performance.
“I expected to be able to come back and bounce back, but I really wasn’t for sure. You know, you really don’t know how your body’s going to respond, and it responded nicely. I was pleased to see what happened; you know, to come back not have to have to sit out any reps or miss practice just because I took a hit, so I think that’s a positive and a step in the right direction.”
Pennington didn’t miss many targets during the session, but his greatest achievement was undoubtedly how well he got his team to play behind him. Yes, he connected on the obligatory over-the-shoulder pass to Laveranues Coles in the corner of the end-zone once or twice, but his strong leadership ability caused some less likely stars to step up their game as well.
A major issue that was addressed in today’s practice was the failure of the Jets running game and run defense in Friday’s game. Running backs Derrick Blaylock and Leon Washington saw a lot of handoffs today in an attempt to fix their inability to break tackles versus the Bucs. Blaylock seemed to improve greatly throughout practice, taking numerous runs through the middle for long touchdowns.
The Jets defensive line, on the other hand, showed very little improvement today in guarding against the rush. NT Dewayne Robertson looked solid in the middle of the line, but the Jets other DT’s and basically all of their DE’s seemed to get pushed into the middle or spread out to the sides at the will of the offensive line. The O-line did a very nice job, but the run defense in the 3-4 looked just as sad as on Friday.
Patrick Ramsey also had a nice day, hitting the majority of his receivers and showing a great ability to scramble to get out of trouble. Twice today Ramsey’s offensive line collapsed in front of him, and both times he managed to scramble and avoid any negative yardage. He also was involved in the play of the day, a twenty yard pass down the sideline to TE Doug Jolley, who made a diving catch, rolled over, and maintained possession to move the chains. Jolley had a very impressive session overall.
There seems to be no doubt that the team’s offense is running fairly well, and the defense should gain a large boost whenever star CB’s David Barrett and Erik Coleman return from their ailments.
-As mentioned above, today’s practice was changed from a two-a-day to a single, 2:00PM practice at the last minute. Coach Mangini said that he made the change because he “wanted the coaches to have the change to go through the corrections.”
-Rookie QB Kellen Clemens struggled in the session today. However, Brooks Bollinger looked surprisingly sharp and drew a few rounds of applause from the crowd for completing very difficult passes.
-A new drill was introduced to practice today. The focus of it was to improve the ability of receivers to make important blocks when they aren’t directly involved in a play. WR Justin McCareins looked slow and very sloppy in the drill, but WR Laveranues Coles was excellent, getting low and fully committing to his blocks. Coles put the skills to use in 11-on-11 drills later on, blocking CB Andre Dyson out-of-bounds to free up WR Tim Dwight to score a long touchdown.
-Rookie DT Tui Alailefaleula, who had sat out all of last week’s practices before appearing in Friday’s preseason game, was in uniform today. He was a big contributor on the defensive line throughout the day.
-The team announced that WR Jovan Witherspoon was waived today.
-CB/KR Drew Coleman (knee): day to day
-TE Jason Pociask (shoulder): IR Out for Season
-RB Curtis Martin (knee): on PUP list
-C Trey Teague (ankle): on PUP list
-WR Dante Ridgeway (leg): day to day
-DT Sione Pouha (knee): IR Out for Season
-CB Erik Coleman (illness): 1-2 weeks
-CB David Barrett (leg): day to day
The Jets return to the field for another 2:00PM session tomorrow, but Mangini has shown lately that the schedule is flexible, so be sure to check back to JI for all the latest news!