Coach Mangini has been impressed with the development of rookie RB Leon Washington. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
There was no Labor Day holiday at Weeb Ewbank Hall on Monday as the Jets returned to practice. Coach Eric Mangini and the team wasted no time in shifting its focus toward the upcoming game with Tennessee.
Mangini told reporters that the team will start working on the Titans game plan on Monday, rather than waiting until Wednesday like normal.
“I want the team to get a really good exposure to the Titans,” Mangini said in his press conference. “We’ll start off working on early down situations today, then as the week progress we’ll move on to third down stuff and some red zone and two-minute situations.”
The Coach's message to the team has remained the same. Everybody must be focused on the task at hand and this week that is the Tennessee Titans.
“Everyone has to focus on the game plan first then they have to prepare for the game within the game,” Mangini said. “They all must study the individual or individuals that they will be facing in the game this weekend.”
Several spots on the roster remain as in flux as they were in training camp. Mangini is yet to announce a starting running back and it is unclear when some of the team’s new additions will be ready to play.
The coach has not ruled out using a rotation of running backs. He said there is a chance that the running back that starts the game will not be the guy that sees the most carries.
“We’re going to work out of different packages,” Mangini said. “We’re going to try to do things to play to our strengths and their weaknesses.”
Mangini did have strong praise for rookie tailback Leon Washington. He has enjoyed the way Washington has worked on some of the problem areas that the coaching staff pinpointed in his game such as blocking in the passing game and taking care of the ball. Mangini made it clear that Washington is very much still in the mix at running back.
“He has done well with the opportunities he has had,” Mangini said. “He has carved out a role for himself on special teams and sometimes when you get to go in the game, that can lead to something more.”
Rookie wide receiver Brad Smith is another guy who will have a chance to play because of the flexibility he provides to the team. As Mangini and his staff decides on the 45 of 53 players they will bring into the game on Sunday, being able to contribute in a number of ways will help players earn time, the head coach said.
The new head coach is also confident that rookie offensive linemen Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson will be ready to play at a high level by the time Sunday rolls around. The two have worked well with veterans like guard Pete Kendall and center Trey Teague to learn what it takes to play in the NFL.
“I’ve been learning from the older guys about what needs to be done and hopefully I took the teachings to heart,” Mangold said. “Trey has helped out a lot, he brings up things in meetings that you should look for as a center.”
Perhaps the most difficult part of preparing for Sunday’s game will come on the defensive side of the ball as the Jets could see any one of three quarterbacks starting for the Titans. Tennessee is yet to announce whether it will start veteran journeyman Kerry Collins, long-time back-up Billy Volek, or first round draft pick Vince Young under center.
“It’s a challenge for us because now we have to defend all three quarterbacks,” veteran middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma said. “They all have their own styles, they’re all good quarterbacks, so it may make practice a little longer for us but better safe than sorry.”
-Although they don’t know who Tennessee will play under center Sunday, the Jets are very familiar with the man who will play at center for the Titans. Veteran Kevin Mawae spent his last eight seasons in Green and White before leaving to join the Titans this past offseason.
“It’s going to be interesting,” Vilma said with a smile. “We had some ‘good times’ in practices.”
-Mangini said center Trey Teague has progressed nicely in returning from his injury. The team will make an official announcement on Teague’s status on Wednesday but Mangini said the center has come a long way.
-WR/KR Tim Dwight has returned from his leg injury. Today was his first day back, but Dwight said he’s ready to go.
“Looking forward to our first game on Sunday,” Dwight said. “I’m hoping to be ready to go.”
-Veteran defensive lineman Bobby Hamilton is excited about coming back to the Jets after two seasons with the Raiders. Hamilton is looking to find success after tough times in Oakland.
“I haven’t won nine games in two years,” Hamilton said. “I’m ready to get back down here and get it started and get this going in the right direction.”
-RB Curtis Martin (knee): on PUP list
-DT Tui Alailefaleula (leg): IR Out for Season
-DT Sione Pouha (knee): IR Out for Season
-TE Jason Pociask (shoulder): IR Out for Season
The team has an off day tomorrow and returns to practice on Wednesday to continue preparation for the Titans. Be sure to check back to Jets Insider.com often for all the information leading up to opening day!