Jets veteran receiver Jerricho Cotchery reaches for a Chad Pennington pass at practice. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Under the scorching Long Island heat, training camp continued on Saturday in front of an excited crowd as the New York Jets prepare for the upcoming 2007 season. Highlights were plentiful on the second day of training camp at Hofstra University, but the big headliner was the absence of first-round draft pick CB Darrelle Revis.
Whether Revis will show up during training camp is uncertain as he continues to hold out due to a contract dispute, making him the lone draft pick on the team who is yet to sign with the team. The sticking point is a dispute between Revis's agent and the organization over the length of his rookie contract. Nevertheless, Head Coach Eric Mangini and rookie LB David Harris remain optimistic that a deal will be reached.
“We’re moving along,” said Mangini. “[General Manager] Mike [Tannenbaum] has negotiated a lot of contracts and he’s working to get it done as quickly as he can.”
“I’m looking forward to him coming back and helping with the team,” said Harris.
In spite of the situation, there was a lot of work to be done Saturday as Mangini looked to reduce the number of penalties - specifically false starts and encroachments - that occurred during yesterday’s sessions.
“I wasn’t happy with things that occurred as a part of the play or at the end of the play,” he said, citing the penalties as a major factor.
Even with the added emphasis on reducing penalties, there were still some players who were guilty of false starts on Saturday. Tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and rookie-OL Jacob Bender were among those who were caught with false starts and were ordered to take a lap or two around the field.
A couple of positives came out of the day's practice session, however. During a tackling drill at the beginning of practice, LB Cody Spencer and rookie-DB James Ihedigbo both leveled their opponents, leaving the fans awe-struck at the impact of the hits. Spencer’s hit resulted in a raucous cheer from those in attendance and an encouraging celebration with the other defensive players.
Also a positive was the impact of new addition RB Thomas Jones, who was picked up in a trade with Chicago. During the session, Jones showed the crowd and his teammates why he was such an important acquisition for Gang Green, speeding and cutting through the defense, and gives offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer a lot of credit for getting him adjusted to the Jets’ scheme.
“He’s a very smart guy,” he said. “He’s kind of a perfectionist, which is going to make us better as an offense. I’m happy to be here and play for him under his offense.”
Pete Kendall, who has been vocal about his problems with the Jets this season, disturbingly distanced himself from the rest of his teammates on the offensive line. Kendall has been in a contract dispute with the Jets and yesterday reiterated previous demandeds to be either traded or released.
Even with Kendall and Revis providing the drama, the Jets remain focused on their preparation for the upcoming season, especially with a tough schedule staring down at them. If they can settle these issues in a proper fashion, Gang Green can surely concentrate on looking to build up on a memorable 2006 season.
Thoughts on recent sports news
Recently, the hot topics in sports have gone beyond the scoreboard and which team is on a hot or cold streak. Michael Vick, Tim Donaghy, Barry Bonds and those involved with doping in the Tour de France have given the fans and players alike something to talk about.
Nevertheless, Coach Mangini made it known that the only thing that matters to him is how the Jets are doing in preparation of the upcoming season.
“I don’t mean to live in a bubble, but my sports world is here,” he said.
Like Mangini, the attention of Thomas Jones is towards his presence here in Hempstead as opposed to the outside world.
“All I can do is focus on me, and that’s what I try to do,” he said.
Stuckey showing some good looks
During his years at Clemson, rookie-WR Chansi Stuckey became notorious for his proneness to injury. Yet so far in his first NFL training camp, he has shown his coaches and players that he can run with the best of them. His precision in running routes and ability to make some good catches have impressed a lot. Coach Mangini believes, though, that fans should expects more from Stuckey as camp rolls along.
“He’s got to carve out a role for himself,” he stated. “The receivers are a very competitive group and he’s got to figure out a way to, in a role, help us week in and week out. There’s a lot of work to do.”
“He’s doing pretty well, looks pretty polished,” added fellow WR Jerricho Cotchery. “Like everyone, if he continues to work hard and take in all the coaching, he’ll do a pretty good job.”
The big challenge for this year’s training camp and preseason is for Stuckey to continue his solid play and stay healthy at the same time. If he can manage to do both, Jets fans will have a pleasure seeing this former Clemson Tiger make a name for himself as an impact receiver and punt returner in the NFL.
-Along with Revis, RB Leon Washington was excused from practice Saturday, citing personal reasons, according to Mangini. Washington was forced to sit out a portion of Friday night's practice after the extreme heat and humidity made him sick to his stomach.
-Jesse Pellot-Rosa was once again sidelined because of an injured wrist and was seen riding a stationary bike for most of the session. No word on when he is expected to return to full practices with the team.
-Just like yesterday, the Jets alternated their music choices, going from classical to hip-hop. During warm-ups, CB/KR Justin Miller was doing a little dance to Will Smith’s “Summertime” that got a laugh from his teammates and some onlooking fans.
-With Brad Smith as the quarterback, the Jets attempted a reverse play to fool the defense. In his second year, Smith is expected to be an important cog to the Jets offense, whether as a quarterback or wide receiver. Listed as a quarterback on the official depth chart, Smith continues to take reps at the quarterback, wide receiver, and kick returner positions.