Jets coach Eric Mangini was all smiles despite an angry veteran lineman and his top pick still unsigned. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
A disappointing no-show and an unsurprisingly disgruntled offensive lineman stole the spotlight from year two of the Eric Mangini show at Friday morning’s opening training camp session.
First round draft pick Darrelle Revis, fresh off his impressive mini camp work, was not at the morning session due to contractual matters. The rookie cornerback, expected to anchor an ever-improving Jets secondary, missed some key action according to Coach Eric Mangini.
“Anybody that’s not here is really missing opportunities to get better, and to compete for what I’m sure they all want, which is playing time.”
The coach gave no indication as to whether they were close to inking Revis. However, sources say the dispute is in regard to the number of years the deal will be. The Jets want 6 and Revis reportedly only wants to sign a 5 year contract. The last time the Jets had a rookie holdout was a decade ago with LB James Farrior holding out while Bill Parcells was the coach and GM.
An estimated time of arrival is anybody’s guess for the cornerback, just as the departure date for aggravated guard Pete Kendall is up in the air.
In the midst of a contract dispute with the Jets’ front office, Kendall reiterated his desire to be dealt from New York to a team that will pay him.
The trouble started when Kendall reported and found he was assigned to the rookie dorm. Mangini professed that it was a mix up and has been rectified however Kendall wasn’t so sure that was true. Add the fact he was in rotation with the second squad and Kendall feels the organization is really kicking him while he is down.
“It’s seemingly dissolved into the personal,” Kendall said. “To me the writing is on the wall with where I’m taking my snaps, and whoever it was in the building who felt like they must have been pleasing Eric and Mike to stick me in the rookie dorm... it’s comical to the point of absurd at this point.”
Mangini, however, gave his usual response when dealing with the situation; the idea that the team should be professional. He also dispelled any “conspiracy” myths surrounding the placing of Kendall with the first-year players, offering some pithy remarks.
“There’s no grassy knoll, there’s no sending out secret agents. There was a mix-up that we changed.”
Believe it or not, though, betwixt all of the off-the-field drama surrounding the organization, some action did take place on the field, specifically including the much-hyped Thomas Jones’ debut to the raucous, fan-filled Hofstra facilities. As soon as Jones was sighted, the Gang Green faithful could be heard shouting “Yea, Thomas!” as the former Bear began his stretches and warm-up drills.
As excited as the fans, though, is probably the running back himself. Placed under the guidance of Mangini and targeted as the heir apparent to Curtis Martin, Jones appeared more than ready to take the task under his wing.
“To be able to play the same position he played on this team is an honor,” Jones said. “He’s one of the best backs to ever play in this league and I have a lot of respect for him.”
As usual, the topic of Mangini’s demands of the players early in camp was a common point of discussion between the media, players, and head coach himself. While the outspoken Laveranues Coles responded to the question as to whether or not he was looking forward to the rest of camp without much of an air of doubt, (“Hell no!”), most players were mum as to whether or not they felt they were being worked too hard, including No. 20.
“Coach Mangini runs practices the way they’re supposed to be done,” Jones said, “and you go through each drill, and if you don’t get it right you do it over.
“He’s the head coach, he’s in charge,” he went on to say.
It seemed as though no matter how much the players and coaches tried to divert the media’s attention away from the Kendall situation, though, the distraction brought about by the guard was just too much to overcome. Kendall was seen visibly dogging it during early drills, and never even got a chance to work with the first string.
To Coach Mangini’s credit, he called Kendall’s work with the second string commonplace, saying that the alternating between the first and second string for Kendall “is exactly the same situation as it was in the spring.”
Nonetheless, the million-dollar question as to whether or not Kendall’s presence at Hofstra would help or hurt the team was quite clearly answered when those attending the practice swarmed Kendall following the final whistle. One of the first question’s posed to Kendall was “Do you feel bitter at all toward this organization?”
His response: short, and to the point.
Hopefully, this bitterness doesn’t carry like the plague to the rest of the team. As per Coach Mangini’s desires, hopefully Gang Green exhibits some “professionalism” from here on out for the interim of training camp.
Quarterback Smith is a Quarterback
Former quarterback-turned-wide receiver Brad Smith received some more surprising news from Coach Mangini today when he turned back to quarterback. The agile University of Missouri product, who blew defenses away in the college ranks with his ability to be quick and throw the ball downfield, is back to being passer first, receiver second.
After fielding kicks and running receiving drills for the better part of the first half of practice, Smith received a nice red jersey to put on, indicative of his position as a quarterback, to take some snaps and run the offense.
“Brad is a quarterback, and you’ll see him throughout camp playing quarterback, and in preseason games he’ll be playing quarterback,” said Coach Mangini, repeatedly using the word quarterback with Smith’s name.
The coach went on to say Smith is very much in the running for the third-string or even second-string quarterback job.
Perhaps the most comical part of practice was watching a red jersey return kicks. With the quarterback threads usually denoting that the player wearing red cannot be hit, the question was posed whether or not Smith would be fair game when he returned kicks. Lucky for him, the drill was non-contact, so he never found out.
Mozart, Meet the Jets
With the music choice always a hot topic at Jets camp, Coach Mangini’s crew chose to play classical music for a better part of the morning session. Whether or not said composer was Mozart, Beethoven, or another historical figure is anybody’s guess. Either way, it seemed as though the players and fans alike were much more pumped up when the typical rap music was blaring through the speakers during 11 on 11 drills.
Take a Lap
The team policy for fumbles in 2007 is the same as it was in 2006 for New York’s offense; if the ball hits the ground, the guilty party is taking a lap.
The practice’s first offenders were running backs Thomas Jones and Leon Washington, and quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo.
While the lap treated some well, as Jones bounced back for a great session, Washington saw better days. As he completed his trip around the field, he stopped for a second, kneeled down, and – well, let’s just say he won’t be dropping too many more balls.
As for anybody being immune from the requirement, ask Chad Pennington, and he’ll let you know everybody faces the same punishment. Pennington had trouble with a snap, and before he knew it, the helmsman was on his way around the field.
Houston, We Have a Problem
The Jets’ projected third running back, Cedric Houston, left the team yesterday, according to both coach Eric Mangini and the team’s roster. Mangini addressed Houston’s departure and said he doesn’t expect the third year man to come back. At the press conference he acknowledged that the team now needs to discover a new third running back.
“We’ll do what we normally do and bring guys in to look at,” Mangini said. “We have an ongoing list of players at all positions that we bring in.”
Players up for the job probably include Danny Ware as a front-runner, a rookie out of Georgia, who received quite a few repetitions during the practice.
Life Without Curtis Begins
To the chagrin of many, fans, players, and coaches alike had to face the reality that superstar Curtis Martin would not be around camp today. Coach Mangini addressed the loss of Martin to open the press conference, and had some kind words for the league’s fourth all-time leading rusher.
“I’d like to congratulate Curtis on his retirement. He’s an amazing guy. I feel really lucky to have been apart of his career in small fashion.”
The team returns to the field for the second session later today at 5:30. Be sure to check back to JI for a complete report.
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