Florida native Leon Washington couldn't handle the Long Island heat and humidity as he loses his meal today with Chad Pennington offering support. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
On-the-field action took precedence over off-the-field shenanigans for the Jets’ afternoon training camp session, which was highlighted by some promising play from wide receiver Chansi Stuckey.
Stuckey, an injury prone wide receiver out of Clemson that slipped to the seventh round in the draft, showcased his ability to break free with great open field speed throughout the practice. Rarely, if ever, dropping the ball, Stuckey looked anything but a final round pick in the afternoon session.
The man most pleased with Stuckey’s performance may very well have been Jets owner Woody Johnson, who made a cameo appearance late in the session. While chatting with reporters, the owner echoed the sentiments of everyone watching: barring injuries, Stuckey was a steal for the Jets.
The wideout started the practice fielding punt returns, having little trouble handling the booming kicks of Australian native Ben Graham.
As the sun began to set, Stuckey showed that the two-a-days weren’t decreasing the rookie’s stamina. In the closing two-minute drill, No. 83 made a nice catch from Clemens and turned up field, leaving a path of smoke behind him, nearing the endzone. (Mike Nugent came on to make the kick and give New York the “win.”)
Of course, common with the preseason theme of Soprano-like drama with the Jets’ organization, the attendance of Pete Kendall was a question many had for the afternoon session.
The offensive lineman showed up and continued to play with the second line in the afternoon session, removing the doubt from anyone’s mind that Coach Eric Mangini would cave under the pressure Kendall put on him through his earlier statements.
A face noticeably absent from the latter practice was running back Leon Washington. After having some issues, perhaps with dehydration, in the earlier practice, Washington presumably received the 5:45 practice off. Taking his place as the team’s second-string lineup were Alvin Banks and Danny Ware.
With these two backs moving up to the second string, the Jets needed to find someone to take over the third string roll, once held by Cedric Houston. They turned to Tony Fisher for the roll, who was signed by the Jets in between the two practices.
On the subject of first and second string players, the battle for the starting wide receiver corps made some ground on the first day, with a few front runners standing out from the rest. The usual suspects, Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery, were on the first team early in the practice, with Justin McCareins and Brad Smith performing backup duties.
Regarding Smith, the utility man did take some snaps later in the practice, drawing some praise from quarterbacks Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens. Smith withstood the pass rush on his second play, showing some serious poise in the pocket, and hit backup tight end Jason Pociask running toward the sideline. Pociask continued to take the ball up field and rack up some yards after the catch for what turned out to be a big gain.
Amongst all the positives of the afternoon practice were some disappointments, including the continued absence of first round pick Darrelle Revis. As mentioned earlier, in a dispute due to contractual reasons, (specifically as to the length of his contract being five or six years), Revis apparently made no ground in between the sessions, and still failed to make his way to the field. Inferred from Mangini’s comments in the earlier press conference, Revis’ attendance, or lack thereof, will definitely not benefit the first year player out of Pittsburgh.
Elsewhere around practice, Marques Tuiasosopo and Clemens continued to look a little shaky in the offensive drills, throwing some passes off target. Clemens, however, buckled down in his final play, hitting Stuckey for the long aforementioned catch.
As for Danny Ware, the backup running back slipped a little early in the afternoon session, but picked up his game toward the end. The Georgia rookie dropped a pass and was stuffed at the line a few times at the start of the practice, but by the final drive, was managing to break open some rushes for big games.
Thomas Jones, on the other hand, looked strong throughout the entire practice. Seemingly untouched a majority of the time, every handoff Jones received from Pennington ended up going for a decent gain, sometimes even twenty or thirty yards.
With distractions minimized, and in front of Woody Johnson, the Jets looked stronger than ever in the afternoon practice. As long as Revis takes care of his contract in timely fashion, the team looks to be as succinct as a midseason team on just the first day of training camp.
A Pair of Signings
In addition to Tony Fisher, the Jets also signed linebacker Mark Zalewski prior the afternoon session. Some statistics on the two players:
Fisher is a Notre Dame graduate entering his sixth year in the NFL. The running back played four years for the Packers and one year for the Rams, accumulating 889 yards rushing and 1059 yards receiving in his five previous years. Fisher was a receiving specialist for the Packers in his four years with the team, and received limited playing time in his one year with the Rams.
Zalewski is a rookie out of the University of Wisconsin. The inside or outside linebacker registered 237 tackles, including 30 for a loss, and eight sacks in his career as a Badger.
Move Over Mozart; Make Way for Michael
Classical music succumbed to some corny eighties pop in the afternoon session. Michael Jackson’s hit while a member of the Jackson 5, ABC, was the most recognizable song played during the practice.
As expected, the eighties pop gave way for loud rap music during the final two minute drills.
Pellot-Rosa, Dwight Among Injured
Jesse Pellot-Rosa, Tim Dwight and Matt Chatham all sat out the two practices with injuries. Dwight and Chatham were both on the team’s physically unable to perform list, while Pellot-Rosa had a cast on his left wrist and road a bike most of the session.
Pellot-Rosa, an undrafted free agent wide receiver, had been a vocal leader during OTA’s, and it is yet to be seen how the injury will affect his chances of making the team.
Dwight, meanwhile, was seen helping the likes of Justin Miller, Brad Smith, Chansi Stuckey, and Chris Davis field punts.
Ratliff’s Days Numbered?
Brett Ratliff, the rookie QB out of Utah who made it through OTA’s, may be nearing the end as a member of the Jets. Ratliff received no snaps in two-minute drills, and may even be behind Smith on the training camp depth chart.
You Got Jacked Up!
A pair of huge hits rattled throughout the field today getting both the players and fans hyped up.
The first big tackle was made by linebacker Victor Hobson on running back Alvin Banks. Banks was looking to make a catch when Hobson met him with a thundering collision of pads that knocked the ball loose. The defense ensued with a frenzy of cheering.
Hobson’s hit may not have compared to the thunder DT Bobby Hamilton brought about when he knocked down Alvin Banks, though. As if meeting a brick wall, Banks cut up the middle but immediately hit the turf when met by Hamilton. The defense swarmed the 13-year-veteran after the play in congratulatory fashion.
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The team returns to action tomorrow with one practice at 2PM. Be sure to check back to JI for a full report!