Offensive linemen Anthony Clement and Pete Kendall brave the continued heat during a popsicle break at Thursday's early session. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
With almost a week of training camp under their belt, the Jets returned to the practice field Thursday morning as the weather continued to feel like South Florida than Long Island. Despite tropical-like conditions, Head Coach Eric Mangini conducted another long practice session that lasted well over two hours.
A small crowd of loyal fans gathered under the blazing sun Thursday to see their beloved Jets perform their daily drills and routines. Early on it appeared the elements had taken a toll on the players, especially on the offensive side as they looked sluggish during drills at the beginning of the session. Fortunately, they collected themselves and got going during 11-on-11 drills and the 2-minute drill toward the tail end of practice.
Despite the hot weather, the players have made it known that they are sticking through it and going out there to impress those in attendance.
“We’re holding up,” said back-up QB Kellen Clemens. “But it would be a distraction if we let it be. We just battle through it and just get ready for the first game.”
Even so, it did look as though the offense was sluggish in the beginning, and Clemens was no exception. Tthey overcame it, however, and went full throttle during the final drills. Some of the highlights included Chad Pennington’s long touchdown bomb to WR Justin McCareins and, during the two-minute drill, a long pass to WR Laveranues Coles to get the team into field goal range. Also during the two-minute sessions, with Kellen Clemens behind center, the offense completed a short passing route to WR Frisman Jackson, who converted it into a long run to get the offense into the end zone. Jackson also impressed the coaches with his precise route-running as he caught the ball.
On special teams, K Mike Nugent wowed his teammates and fans by kicking a 57-yard field goal during a special teams drill. He also kicked another good field goal into a scaffold where a cameraman filming the training camp action was sitting.
On defense, S Raymond Ventrone made an impressive interception during the 11-on-11 drills.
No new info on the Revis situation as the first round-CB has missed nearly a week of camp and is falling far behind. The Kendall situation remained status quo. However, JI has learned that Kendall is not the only Jets' starting guard that is unhappy about his contract. Brandon Moore, who protects Pennington's right side, sat out yesterday's early session for "personal reasons" but reports surfaced today that he actually sat out in protest to his contract.
Moore is scheduled to make $800K this year, a bargain for a starting right guard. He has two years left on a six year $8MM deal with another $800K due next season.
Moore returned for yesterday's late session and practiced today but this is clearly a situation to keep an eye on.
Miller starting off strong
Last season, CB/KR Justin Miller was seen as a threat more on special teams than in his cornerback position. This training camp, it looks as though Miller has made a tremendous improvement in trying to become a nuisance to opposing offenses.
Coach Mangini likes what he has seen in Miller so far and hopes that it will carry on into the regular season.
“Justin’s having a very good camp,” said coach Mangini. “I like his consistency and he’s been very physical at the line of scrimmage, and that’s a strength of his.”
One might wonder what has been his secret for such improvement. Miller, however, prefers to keep it simple.
“I just dedicate myself to getting better,” he said. “No one is going to settle for mediocrity. After all, we want to be the best at what we do.”
Prall enjoying his moment in camp
Sometimes people get the idea that the players from the smaller colleges are always the ones going into training camp with a chip on their shoulder; that they are out to prove everyone that they can run with the guys from the big schools.
Wideout Evan Prall, who was a recent free agent pickup by the Jets this offseason, prefers just to go out on the field and enjoy the moment, even as he plays for a position that is considered to be very competitive.
“I’m just thankful for the opportunity to be here,” Prall said. “Just coming out here and trying to give 110 percent everyday. I’m out here to have fun.”
So far Prall, a Scranton, Pa. native and a graduate of small East Stroudsburg University, has made quite an impression on the team, especially in the eyes of Coach Mangini.
“Evan’s done a good job,” he said. “He’s got some toughness in the running game which is what we like to see. He’s also done a good job learning multiple positions.”
Prall is one player that Gang Green should keep their eyes on. With the talent that he possesses, he has the potentional to become an invaluable cog on their receiving corps.
Clemens still an asset to Jets
In his second training camp, QB Kellen Clemens has already had some moments that he wished he could take back. However, Jets fans should not be fooled by his problems on the practice field. Last preseason Clemens struggled in practices as well, but during preseason games he showed that when given the chance, he has the ability to work wonders for the offense.
Even as Jets fans grow very skeptical about Clemens, Coach Mangini has made it known in his press conference that he has improved on himself during the course of this camp.
“He made some good plays in the two-minute drives,” Mangini said. “They haven’t been pretty but they’ve been effective. That’s a sign of improvement when you have the awareness that you need to keep this play alive, and scramble around and wait for the receivers to be open.”
Even with the good amount of praise Mangini has for his back-up, Clemens is very aware that he has his work cut out for him and that he wants to give the best chances for his team out on the field.
“Being in my second year, I’m trying looking into the intricacies of the offense,” said Clemens. “Mentally I’ve been trying to expand my knowledge of the offense in that aspect. I’m going out to improve each day and put my team in a good spot out there.”
CB Drew Coleman appeared to injure his hip after he broke off a pass intended for WR Chansi Stuckey during 11-on-11 drills this morning. Coleman slowly left the field after the play and was tended to by the team trainer. No more info on this was available at press time.
Also sidelined from today’s session were WR/KR Tim Dwight and LB Matt Chatham, who are on the PUP list, and DE Bobby Hamilton, who appeared to injure his leg or hip during yesterday’s late session. Hamilton was on the practice field and in uniform on Thursday but was limited to running with a trainer off on the sideline.
And on the seventh day….rest?
Rumor around the complex today is that Mangini may give the players a day off tomorrow after an excruciatingly hot first week of camp. Nothing, however, was confirmed at press time. The team is scheduled for single practices tomorrow and Saturday at Hofstra and will go on the road Sunday for a private session only open to the media.
Tonight’s practice has been moved to 7:30 pm and is closed to the public. Check back this evening for a complete update.