CB David Barrett returned to action today. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
When head coach Eric Mangini addressed the media prior to Monday’s practice, he stated that the only personnel change (or “housekeeping note,” as he calls it) since Sunday was the resigning of LB Jovon Johnson. Trading Derrick Strait to the Cleveland Browns must have just slipped his mind.
Early Monday morning, the Jets sent three-year veteran CB Derrick Straight to the Browns for RB Lee Suggs. Suggs, an oft-injured running back who has never rushed for more than 750 yards in a season, was brought in to bolster the Jets backfield under fears that Curtis Martin may be near retirement.
“We’ve added more competition and depth at the running back position by acquiring Lee Suggs,” said General Manager Mike Tannenbaum. “We’re committed to continually evaluating opportunities to improve our football team. In the case of with Derrick Strait, we appreciate his contributions to our team for the past two seasons, and wish him well with his future.”
Despite low rushing numbers during the first three seasons of his career, Suggs is seen as a powerful back with great potential. He will join in the current competition for the starting spot at running back along with Cedric Houston, Derrick Blaylock, and rookie Leon Washington. Another rookie back, Nick Hartigan, has shown great progress but is not consistent enough to be considered starting material yet.
Blaylock, who had a fantastic session Monday marked by very noticeable improvements in the physicality of his running game, will have to continue to improve daily or he could easily find himself in the number three spot when the regular season begins.
On a day filled with strong, 50-yard runs by Blaylock in which he fought off tackles and made smart decisions on where to run, the defining moment for the sixth-year back came on a two-yard carry.
During a full contact 11-on-11 drill, Blaylock tried to run up the middle and ran into a wall of defenders (a good sign for the Jets run defense, which was abysmal yesterday). Blaylock lowered his head and threw his shoulder into the defender standing directly in front of him, knocking his victim backwards to pick up an extra yard on the run. Oh, and the man who got leveled by the 5’9” Blaylock was none other than star LB Jonathan Vilma, who led the NFL in tackles last season.
Cedric Houston had a good day running the ball as well, but he clearly cannot change direction like Blaylock, which has been a problem through training camp. During 11-on-11 drills today, Houston couldn’t cut out of the way of a group of defenders, leading to the ball being stripped. As should be expected, Houston was given a lap for the error.
Rookie quarterback Kellen Clemens seemed to be running laps through the entire practice, including twice having to run one alongside C Norm Katnik after fumbling the snap during scrimmage.
Basically all of the day’s highlights seemed to come from WR Tim Dwight. Dwight and QB Patrick Ramsey appeared to be on the same page all throughout practice, as the two hooked up on a number of 30+ yard passes, a few of which required Dwight to make diving grabs.
The fantastic show by Dwight was capped off by a pair of dazzling catches during two-minute drills from QB Brooks Bollinger. Dwight made phenomenal, one-handed grabs on both passes, eventually leading to a touchdown. Don’t be fooled, though – Bollinger looked awful, and it was the complete inaccuracy of his throws that made Dwight’s performance that much more interesting.
The team’s offense looked good, even without Chad Pennington throwing many passes since he was with the fourth team today, and the defense looked to improve as well. Long, hot practices may be hard on the players, but they are definitely starting to respond.
-Veteran CB David Barrett returned to the field today. While limited in full-contact drills, Barrett showed good speed and was able to effectively shut down both Justin McCareins and Laveranues Coles during two-minute drills.
-G Isaac Snell went down in an offensive drill where the team was practicing double-reverses and had to be helped off the field by two trainers. He could be seen on the sideline later in practice out of uniform and with his left leg heavily bandaged. His status is unknown.
-Punter Ben Graham was jeered by the crowd today after kicking more than ten straight punts for less than 35 yards. The wind was somewhat gusty, but the punts were bad far beyond what the wind could have done to them. Graham shook it off, sending two of his last four punts more than 50 yards.
-Jets safety Kerry Rhodes turned to the crowded bleachers during the beginning of 11-on-11 drills and screamed for the fans to show some excitement. The fans responded, and it was nice to see the players really enjoying themselves at practice.
-Brooks Bollinger continued to struggle under pressure. With the music blaring, Bollinger was unable to communicate with his offense and wound up scrambling on most of his snaps.
-G Isaac Snell (leg): day to day
-CB/KR Drew Coleman (knee): day to day
-WR Dante Ridgeway (leg): day to day
-CB Erik Coleman (illness): 1-2 weeks
-RB Curtis Martin (knee): on PUP list
-C Trey Teague (ankle): on PUP list
-DT Sione Pouha (knee): IR Out for Season
-TE Jason Pociask (shoulder): IR Out for Season
The team returns for another 2:00PM session tomorrow, and all scheduled practices are one-a-days from here on out. However, Mangini continues to stress that the schedule is “fluid”, so be sure to check back to JI for all the latest news!