SMITH vs. SMITH: Jets S Eric Smith makes a nice play on QB/WR Brad Smith. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Just a few hours removed from a physical practice that saw a late offensive resurgence, the Jets’ donned shorts and shoulder pads for a lively afternoon session.
Walking out to the field, classical music could be heard clearer than ever. Mozart and Beethoven soon gave way to the Sugarhill Gang, though, with their hit “Apache”, (perhaps better known by some as “Tonto, Jump on it, jump on it, jump on it”).
The music clearly pleased some, specifically rookie running back Danny Ware and Bryan Thomas.
Ware did his best Carleton from the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” impression, moving his hips to the beat of the song.
Thomas, meanwhile, opted for a freestyle dance he probably choreographed himself.
However, the dancing not only brought about laughs from the fans in attendance, but also revved up the Jets team into a lively atmosphere. The team was yelling to one another, smiling, and eager to be on the field after a long, harsh morning session.
The greatest difference in the afternoon session was the state of the offense, specifically how vocal they were. In the first offensive drill after stretches, the entire team would, as if in harmony, shout the assignments of players to ensure communication was in top form. The called on players would then promptly report to their position to ensure a fluid transition into the play.
Although the intensity was up for the offense, though, it seemed as though the defensive unit may have gotten the better of the afternoon practice. Specifically in the final one-minute drills run by Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens, the offensive charge was halted each time at the 31-yard-line, culminating in missed field goals from kicker Mike Nugent. (Nugent had a rough day, missing a plethora of kicks from inside 50 yards, both in the morning and afternoon sessions).
That being said, it was not all negatives for the offense throughout practice. In the first one-minute drill, Pennington hit Laveranues Coles on a timing pattern to the sideline that worked to perfection, gaining the offense 20 yards.
Another pleasant surprise was Sean Ryan on the offensive end. Deep in the depth chart fighting for the second tight end position, Ryan made a few great catches in traffic, exhibiting that he has good hands.
Also bidding for the backup tight end position was Joe Kowalewski, a second year player from Syracuse. Mangini noted that Kowalewski has been a surprise considering his intensity and talent in camp, never happy unless he performed his duty to perfection.
Chris Davis, a rookie wide receiver, also seemed to be on his game in the second practice. Starting on kick return drills, the Wake Forest product did not drop any balls, and exhibited a great first step, perhaps gaining him some points in the race for the third kick returner. Davis also ran the wide receiver position well, making a bunch of nice catches throughout the afternoon practice.
A surprise face on the kick returning squad was Jerricho Cotchery. Cotchery returned one boot from Nugent during practice, and was seemingly untouched.
Undoubtedly, the class of the kick return team for Gang Green is Justin Miller. The cornerback’s speed turned the heads of all at practice, as he clearly was head and shoulders faster than those on the coverage teams.
Regarding fellow cornerback Darrelle Revis and guard Pete Kendall, news stayed the same with the two. Revis was once again a no-show due to his holdout, while Kendall stayed on the exercise bike and remained distanced from the team; in the final huddle after practice, Kendall was a few feet behind the group of players, a singular white jersey among the green defensive jerseys.
With big names still making off-the-field noise, some younger players stepped up nicely at camp today. The best-case scenario for the team is to have the stars back as soon as possible; however, having a great supporting cast is something that should certainly excite Mangini and fans alike.
Bag of Tricks
Mangini pulled out all the stops in the afternoon practice, running about half a dozen trick plays against the second team defense.
While reporting on the details of the plays has been prohibited, it is no surprise the super utility man Brad Smith has been the helmsman for many of them.
Smith noted earlier that while he has always been a mobile quarterback, trick plays were never his forte at Missouri. From the looks of how successful some of the plays were, though, he is certainly catching on quick.
The late-practice music clearly served as a theme for the Jets players, as songs about pressure blared through the speakers in the one-minute drills.
When the first team was on, lyrics from the song included “You have to learn to pace yourself,” and “You’ll have to deal with pressure.”
When Clemens was on the field, the more recognizable David Bowie was played through Mangini’s iPod with the appropriate song “Under Pressure” his choice.
After missing the morning session due to personal reasons, offensive guard Brandon Moore returned to practice in the afternoon to participate in drills. Clearly the personal reasons did not include injury, as Moore did not sit out any plays and partook in all full contact drills.
Tony Fisher was cut in between the morning and afternoon practices, with his shoes quickly being filled by NFL veteran Tony Hollings.
Hollings, who played a few years with the Texans, has 49 total rushes for 149 yards and 7 receptions for 71 yards in his career. He has also returned a handful of kicks, averaging slightly less than 20 yards.
Hollings participated with the Indianapolis Colts’ training camp team in 2006.
Wise Is Always Vocal
Anybody who visits Jets camp will agree that the most vocal of the Jets’ coaches is probably offensive line specialist Tony Wise.
Whether it be running drills with Nick Mangold and Anthony Clemens, or overseeing 11 on 11 practice, Wise is always one of the first to congratulate players for good plays – and of course, to criticize them when they fall short of expectations.