INSIDER THURSDAY TEAM REPORT
By David Fletcher
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
September 28th, 2006
Jets Head Coach Eric Mangini has developed a fairly constant schedule for game-week practices: “green and white” issues on Wednesdays, red-zone offense and defense on Thursdays, and a complete walk-through on Fridays. On this Thursday, however, a huge accomplishment by one Jet player thrust the green and white into the spotlight for the second straight day.
WR Laveranues Coles was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Month for his dominance in the Jets’ first three games. Coach Mangini complimented his star-receiver’s toughness and consistency, as well as sharing an interesting bit of trivia that he had recently learned with the media: the 331 receiving-yards amassed by Coles during the month of September was the second-most in Jets history during that period, trailing only Don Maynard’s historic output in 1968.
Mangini was especially impressed by Coles’ success on third-downs. “I love the way he plays football,” Mangini gushed, continuing to lavish on praise by stating, “I love when he’s injured, you wouldn’t even know it.” Still, quite possibly the most important thing Mangini had to say about Coles is that he “sets an example” for his teammates.
Many of Coles’ teammates were quick to confirm the example that his toughness sets for the team, including veteran OL Pete Kendall and the man who threw all of Coles’ receptions, QB Chad Pennington.
Pennington, who normally only speaks to the press on Wednesdays, took a few minutes in the locker room to talk about his favorite receiver.
“I don’t know if it was from watching him for two years before throwing to him,” Pennington said of the outstanding connection that has been forged between the two players. Pennington explained the value of having a receiver that you “don’t have to be perfect with”, adding that the connection they share as both teammates and friends has a “magical feel” to it.
Although Coles and Pennington have been cruising thus far, there are many other parts of the offense that still need work. The Jets rushing game has been the team’s biggest concern, and playing against a poor run-defense like Indy’s may be just what the team needs to get it on track. Much of that success (or lack thereof) will ultimately depend on the health of the Jets offensive line.
Offensive co-captain and veteran OL Pete Kendall has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since Week One. While Mangini stressed that Kendall’s workload had “increased this week”, in practice he continued to show difficulty completing simple stretches. OL Trey Teague looked no better, walking gingerly on his surgically-repaired ankle. Don’t expect either to play a significant role in Sunday’s game against the Colts.
Another veteran OL, Wade Smith, looked very capable of playing on Sunday. Smith was signed as a free-agent less than two weeks ago and has been sidelined in order for him to learn the playbook. Smith practiced at full speed today; not only at his natural tackle position, but also as a backup center. Smith practicing at center is just one more piece of evidence suggesting that Teague is not game-ready.
Mangini is working hard to prepare the team for what will undoubtedly be one of the season’s toughest tests, the explosive Indianapolis Colts, but he is also quick to admit that he has his concerns with his team’s readiness. When asked if he was concerned by Indy’s ability to turn big plays, especially against a Jets defense that let up over 450 total offensive yards to the Buffalo Bills last week, Mangini responded in his usual, matter-of-fact manner:
“Big plays concern me regardless of what offense or what team.”
-Mangini had a lot of good things to say about FB B.J. Askew in his morning press conference. Mangini insisted that Askew’s contributions seem to go under the radar, making sure to point out that his biggest asset has been his “outstanding” work on special teams.
-FB James Hodgins, signed to the team yesterday primarily as a blocking-fullback, told reporters today that he felt a lot like San Diego Chargers FB Lorenzo Neal because his role is to block rather than make plays with the ball. As Hodgins put it, “I’ve got to go in there and blow some guys up.”
Mangini had a different quote about Hodgins that he said was his personal favorite. A Jets scout, who Mangini declined to identify, recently told the rookie coach that “there were games when he’d [Hodgins] make linebackers quit.”
-Mangini was under fire from reporters in his press conference who were attempting to find out why LB Ryan Myers, who Mangini singled out just last week as one of the three best special teams players on the Jets, was cut just a week later. While no direct answer was offered, Mangini did mention that rookie LB Anthony Schlegel has been “improving.”
-Mangini announced that G Norm Katnik, who was cut yesterday, cleared waivers and was signed to the team's practice squad. To make room, the team waived WR Sloan Thomas.
-In a special teams drill early in Thursday’s practice, Ben Graham booted five consecutive punts over 60-yards in distance, eliciting “oohs” and “ahhs” from even his own teammates.
-Two punt-returners had to run laps after muffing catches in a span of three punts. RB Leon Washington dropped his ball, and after WR Tim Dwight hauled one in cleanly, WR Jerricho Cotchery misplayed one as well. Dwight, who played against Buffalo last week, appears fully recovered from his preseason thigh-injury.
New York Jets
The team has a walk through tomorrow for Sunday’s home-game against the Colts. Be sure to check back to JetsInsider.com for a full game preview!