INSIDER THURSDAY TEAM REPORT
By David Fletcher
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
November 23rd, 2006
Jets’ owner Woody Johnson, who was expected to speak with reporters this morning, had to reschedule at the last minute in order to make a flight so he could spend Thanksgiving with his family. However, the rest of the Jets organization spent Thursday morning on the practice field, getting in some routine maintenance before taking off themselves.
Eric Mangini, the straight-shooting rookie-head coach of the Jets, began his daily presser by wishing the half-dozen reporters who showed up on the cold and wet holiday a “Happy Thanksgiving.” Then, wasting no time, he dove right into the day’s agenda.
”Today is a typical Thursday,” the head coach began, meaning the primary focus of the practice session was to work on third-down situations – an area that the team excelled at earlier in the season but has struggled with lately. A “typical” practice under Mangini has also come to mean practicing outside, regardless of the weather.
Mangini was asked whether the team would be practicing in the driving rain and frigid temperatures, considering that the forecast for Sunday’s home game against the Houston Texans is for clear skies and temperatures in the mid-60s. As always, Mangini – who is yet to hold a full practice in the practice bubble – said the Jets would bear the elements and practice outdoors.
”I respect weathermen inherently,” Mangini muttered with a smirk, “but I’ve had plenty of times where I’ve planned to go to the beach… and they said ‘Hey, it’s gonna be a great day’ and then it rains or it’s windy.” He then added that “the weather changes pretty dramatically, especially in this area.”
Jets P Ben Graham is hoping the forecast doesn’t change one bit. Graham, who has established himself as one of the league’s top punters this season, had a horrendous practice in the inclement weather on Thursday.
In a standard punting drill, Graham shanked literally every punt he took. Apparently very thrown off by the strong wind and rain on the practice field, Graham failed to kick a ball over 40 yards in more than 20 attempts.
Despite the off-day by Graham, the Jets’ special teams unit has been phenomenal overall this season. The highlight of the unit has been the explosive play of CB-KR Justin Miller, but Mangini stressed that Miller’s amazing numbers on kickoff-returns are, like all other successes, a product of many people working together.
”That whole group, I think collectively, has done an outstanding job,” said Mangini of his team’s kickoff-return squad. “It’s a combination of his (Miller’s) ability and then the blocking.”
Mangini also pointed out that good work on special teams has served as a stepping-stone for a number of players to earn more playing time. One player who really exemplifies this point is S Rashad Washington, whose excellent work on special teams earned him an increased workload on the defense last week.
”At practice he’d been making more plays – he’d been coming along defensively – so I thought it would be important for him to get the opportunity to contribute on defense,” Mangini said about the decision to play Washington on the defensive unit last week.
Mangini compared Washington’s progression to that of rookie-LB Anthony Schlegel, whose ability to rise to new challenges in practices on a daily basis finally earned him a spot on the active roster against the Bears.
-The Jets finally filled the empty spot on their roster (which was freed up when OL Trey Teague went on IR), claiming DB Guss Scott off of waivers from the Houston Texans. Scott, who was a member of the New England Patriots when Mangini was with them, is primarily a safety but has played cornerback as well.
Mangini said that the decision to sign Scott had no relation to the Jets playing the Texans this week but admitted that “it doesn’t hurt that he has some familiarity.” He also insisted that the signing was not in any way related to CB Andre Dyson’s questionable status for this Sunday’s game.
-During Thursday’s practice session, a few reporters spent a good five minutes trying to figure out why all the players were wearing black jerseys – a color of jersey that, in the past, had been reserved for the practice player of the day.
Finally, one reporter asked a member of the Jets organization about the meaning of the black jerseys. “Those aren’t black,” she answered. “Those are just wet green ones.”
-Rather than playing music related to their upcoming-opponent’s hometown (Houston) during stretches, the unofficial Jets-DJ decided to get a few laughs by playing Adam Sandler’s “Thanksgiving Song” in honor of the holiday.
The music didn’t shift over to Houston-related music right after that, either. As freezing rain whipped across the practice field, the next song began: a slow song about being outside during an intense thunderstorm.
New York Jets
The team continues its preparation for Sunday’s game against the Texans with a full walk through tomorrow. Be sure to check back to JetsInsider.com for a full game preview!