The day after veteran running back Kevan Barlow joined the Jets at Hofstra, the team found holes in the backfield again on Tuesday. However, this time it was only for the day, as Barlow and veteran running back Curtis Martin were both excused from practice for personal reasons.
Whenever Jets fans here Curtis Martin and personal reasons in the same breath this season, they have to fear the worst. But head coach Eric Mangini quickly clarified that Martin’s absence from practice was something the back had mentioned to Mangini a long time ago and nothing bigger than that.
“Curtis told me a long time ago that he had something he had to take care of today and I told him I was O.K. with that,” Mangini said. “He’ll be back with us later tonight.”
Martin’s status has not changed and he remains on the physically unable to perform list. Still, Mangini remains optimistic that the back will return at some point.
“I’m always optimistic about anyone that has the work ethic that Curtis has,” Mangini said.
The head coach also told Barlow to take the day off because he felt his new running back needed rest after a whirlwind couple of days.
“I know that just Sunday he was in Oakland then he took the red-eye here and he didn’t sleep on the plane then he had a long day yesterday as he started to work with us, so I just told him to go back and catch up on some sleep,” Mangini said. “He’s in bed which I’m sure a lot of guys would like to be, but he’ll be back tomorrow.”
The Jets that were on the field Tuesday began preparation for this week’s game against the New York Giants. Some players so much increased reps as Mangini has begun to stress getting more concentrated repetitions across the board.
The defense looked strong throughout the practice. Cornerback Drew Coleman, defensive end Dave Ball, and safety Erik Coleman each had acrobatic interceptions. The linebackers and secondary were also able to deflect several passes, breaking up possible completions.
The offensive line also looked strong as the team worked on the running game early in practice. The line opened up gaping holes for the backs to run through. Even with a sparkling performance in last Saturday’s preseason game against Washington, it will be tough to tell how far the line has come until the opening day against Tennessee.
“It’s only a preseason game so it’s tough to take anything from it,” veteran guard Pete Kendall said. “We’ve got another stiff test this week. It’s another strong front this week and they’ll present different looks than Tampa and Washington did so hopefully we can just keep working to get better.”
The highlight of the practice was two straight circus catches from wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery. The third year receiver first made a tremendous leaping catch between two defenders and on the next play made a nice catch on a ball behind him along the sideline.
-The move to acquire Barlow was to improve the team and is in no way an indication that Curtis Martin’s Hall of Fame career is over, Mangini said. The team still sees Curtis as a valuable asset.
“You cannot find better leadership, a better example of how to be a professional football player, and a better person than Curtis Martin,” Mangini said.
-Defensive lineman Tui Alailefaleula missed the end of yesterday’s practice session because he “got his bell rung” according to Mangini. You have to know the blocking schemes you are facing because when you don’t you can get hit hard and you will get some bumps and bruises, Mangini said Tuesday.
-There is a flu bug going around at Jets camp. Mangini said it is nothing serious and they have briefed the team on staying healthy to avoid the illness from spreading beyond the three or four guys it has already effected.
-Mangini expressed tremendous respect for the Giants, who the Jets will take on Friday night, during his Tuesday press conference.
“Growing up my dad was a huge Giants fan, and he controlled what was on the TV on Sundays,” Mangini said. “So I saw a lot of them when I was young, I appreciate their history and I have a lot of respect for the organization, the team, and the job Tom (Coughlin) does there.”
-WR/KR Tim Dwight was mysteriously missing from Tuesday’s practice. There has been no word on the veteran’s status.
G Isaac Snell (leg): day to day
WR Dante Ridgeway (leg): day to day
RB Curtis Martin (knee): on PUP list
C Trey Teague (ankle): on PUP list
TE Jason Pociask (shoulder): IR out for season
DT Sione Pouha (knee): IR out for season