Former Eagle Adrien Clarke has been filling in for the disgruntaled Pete Kendall at the starting guard spot. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
After being shut out of yesterday’s late practice due to rain and thunderstorms, today gave way to the summer sun and heat as a small crowd of enthusiastic fans braved the blistering elements watch gang green return to the practice field as the team had just one session today.
The weather may have changed, but the drama in training camp stayed the same. For starters, veteran OL Pete Kendall remains very agitated about his situation with the organization and has repeatedly made it known that his departure from the team is imminent. Also troubling to Gang Green is Darrelle Revis, who is still holding out because of a contract dispute and still is a no-show.
However, it would be futile to look for any sense of agitation from head coach Eric Mangini as he remains unfazed by the drama. He has also made it known in his press conference that what happens in practice and with the rest of his team is his primary focus.
“There’s so much going on with the rest of the group, which is a huge group of guys that are all working extremely hard for us to get better. That’s my focus,” he said.
There was however, some indication from the coach that the team may take some disciplinary action against Kendall if he doesn’t start keeping his mouth shut. The team has the right to fine a player if his actions are detrimental to the team and with daily tirades criticizing the team’s front office Kendall is straddling the line.
When asked about the possibility of fines for the cranky guard, Mangini gave the impression that the team could be close to fighting back if Kendall continues his antics.
“We have very specific rules and the players have the rules,” said the Coach. “These rules are designed to create the best possible working environment. Pete is a professional and I expect him to follow the rules like all of the other players”
All the drama aside, it was business as usual for the Jets, as they practiced in front of their supporters.
One of the highlights of Monday’s session came courtesy of running back Thomas Jones. Although he was acquired to improve the team’s running game, he surely wasn’t hesitant to show off his receiving skills. During a receiving drill for running backs and tight ends, he went up against linebacker Jonathan Vilma and shook him off in the process to make a catch along the sidelines, giving something to please those in attendance. During the same drill, linebacker Brad Kassell blocked a pass that was intended for running back Leon Washington.
Another highlight was cornerback David Barrett making two good plays consecutive plays. On the first play, he intercepted a pass that was deflected off of a receiver, which led to roars from both the crowd and his teammates. On the next play, he broke off a pass that was intended for another receiver.
However, the day did not come without some uneasiness, especially with backup quarterback Kellen Clemens. Throughout the entire session he has been shaky, botching a couple snaps in the shotgun formation, throwing too many incomplete passes and either being picked off or nearly picked off. One the final play of the session, Clemens nearly made up for his bad day as he overcame a snap that went over his head and threw the ball into the end zone, only to watch what could’ve been a touchdown slip out of Brad Smith’s hands and into the waiting arms of linebacker David Harris.
The coaches and players know that if this coming season is to be a success, they must not allow concerns like these hinder their chances at building up on an unforgettable 2006 campaign. Coach Mangini will be very observant to see if his players are up to the task.
Clarke gets reps with first team
In Sunday’s session and also today, Adrien Clarke, picked up by the Jets in free agency from Philadelphia, was seen getting reps in with the first offensive line team as Kendall remains disgruntled and keeps distancing himself from the rest of the team.
Clarke, who has been getting reps with both the first and second units since the OTAs, has garnered positive reviews from coach Mangini so far.
“I liked his progress, being new to the system and that learning curve that takes place,” he said. “He’s done a good job picking up the learning and really getting integrated into not just the second group but the first group and working with both those units.”
Alongside Clarke in the offensive line unit is another lineman he has known before. Center Nick Mangold, who is coming off a stellar rookie season, played with Clarke for two years at Ohio State and has expressed enthusiasm about playing alongside a fellow Buckeye alumnus.
“It’s tough learning a new system and getting in but he’s working hard,” said Mangold. “He keeps his head down and keeps working. You can definitely see improvements each day. The light switches on for every little thing, so it’s coming along.”
Stuckey, Miller familiar with each other
So far this training camp, rookie WR Chansi Stuckey has had a stellar week, impressing both the team and the fans with his precise route running and his ability to hold on to a catch even after a hard hit. Like a lot of rookies, though, Stuckey does feel there is work to be done.
“There’s always room for improvement,” he said. “I just try to learn from the older guys and see how they do things on certain plays. I try to watch the defense and their coverages. I try to learn something more important each day.”
If there is anyone on the Jets who knows exactly what Stuckey is capable of doing, it is none other than cornerback and return-man Justin Miller. Stuckey and Miller were both teammates at Clemson. Although the gap in experience between them is big (Stuckey is in his first year, Miller his third), the two share a bond from their Clemson years.
“It feels pretty good to have someone you know who knows how it is and knows what to expect for camp,” said Stuckey “It’s good to have a guy with whom you have a bond with.”
-Players who did not partake in today’s session were Kendall, Tim Dwight, Matt Chatham, and Andrew Wicker. Kendall and Wicker were both seen on stationary bikes, while Dwight and Chatham took part in stretches with the team’s trainer. Dwight was also seen helping out with the punt return team.
-Unlike the previous sessions, the music at today’s session was rarely played, even during the final seconds of practice.
-As it has been the first days of camp, Brad Smith has been Mr. Versatile, taking part in quarterback, wide receiver and punt-return teams.
-A reverse play involving Chad Pennington, Thomas Jones and Jerricho Cotchery was attempted in a drill with back-up offensive players performing the role of the defense.
-During the 11-on-11 drills, Jerricho Cotchery made a fantastic leaping catch and barely kept himself in-bounds to keep the drive going.
The team returns to two-a-days tomorrow with practices at 8:30 am and 5:30 pm. Both sessions open to the public. Be sure to check back to JI for complete reports!