FB Darian Barnes and the rest of the team got a little relief from the heat as they had an evening practice on Thursday night. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
The Jets returned to the field for an early evening practice under the lights that was closed to the public. For a change, they were not under the blistering sun and oppressive heat. After a nice long rest following the marathon morning session, the players looked refreshed and invigorated for the 7:30 PM start.
At first sight, this scene was similar to a Monday night atmosphere only in the fact that the team was playing under the lights. It was only later on in the session that the energy of all the Jets players matched that of any given team getting pumped up before any game that is played under the lights and on national television, even before they began their warm-up stretches and drills and their highly anticipated game simulations.
Tonight’s practice consisted primarily of game simulations, which mainly took place during the fourth quarter, between the green team and the white team, with players and even coaches donning the colors of their respective teams.
Part of the theme so far in this year’s training camp is for head coach Eric Mangini to see how well his team can handle certain elements. Throughout camp, it’s been the heat and humidity, as well as simulated crowd noise and music, from rap and classical to rock and country. During Sunday’s sessions, it was the heavy rainstorm. Tonight, it was the crazy surroundings of a nationally-broadcast night game. And just like in the last few days, Gang Green appeared not to let those elements get the best of them.
There was an abundance of highlights that have occurred in the game simulations as the night wore on. On the offensive side of the ball, running back Leon Washington for the white squad ran down the field for a long gain into the red zone in the first simulation. During the green team’s possession in that simulation, Chad Pennington threw a long pass that Laveranues Coles caught at the one yard line. Thomas Jones ran it in for the touchdown on the next play.
Another offensive highlight occurred during the second simulated scrimmage, when white team receiver Brad Smith caught a touchdown reception from Kellen Clemens. The catch was highly reminiscent to Willie Mays’ famous catch. What made it even more impressive is that Smith was covered by two green defenders.
Plays of interest were also on defense. In the first simulation green team safety Rashad Washington leveled Leon Washington, no relation, on a 3rd down and 1 running play. Manny Collins, who was signed earlier today, made a nice play in the second simulated game by breaking a pass off on a crucial 3rd down play.
Perhaps the biggest defensive highlight of the night proved to be an error made by the green team offense. Nick Mangold made such a bad snap that Pennington had trouble getting the grip on the ball. That allowed the white team defense to jump on the ball and score a touchdown.
The night was not without some concerns, however. Penalties were abundant. From offsides to pass interference to unsportsmanlike conduct. The most head-turning penalty came in the second simulation as a fight occurred between Joe Kowalewski and linebacker Cody Spencer. Kowalewski was issued an unsportsmanlike conduct and was benched on the next play, while Spencer stayed in the game. The first team offense was also flagged for an offensive pass interference that kept them out of the red zone and a bad Nick Mangold snap that gave the white team a touchdown.
Disappointments notwithstanding, this kind of excitement, energy and production are what Coach Mangini and his staff are hoping will carry into the regular season, which by no means will be a cakewalk. Nevertheless, if that momentum remains in the players once the season starts, it will result in something much more than just a playoff berth.
Active Roster Coaches
Although his participation as a player may be limited due to injury, Tim Dwight still finds a way to help the rest of the players on the roster.
Throughout training camp, Dwight, who is currently on the PUP list with linebacker Matt Chatham, has been seen helping the special teams, specifically with both return teams. Along with wide receiver, Dwight has been an accomplished return specialist in his entire football career, and it is only fitting that Dwight, with such accomplishments, would lend his expertise to his fellow players in the return teams.
The same can be said for veteran defensive end Bobby Hamilton. Although he was unable to partake in tonight’s practice because of an injury he suffered in yesterday’s session, his presence was still felt during team stretches as he slapped shoulder pads and gave high-fives to his teammates, encouraging them to perform well in the session.
Kapinos, Blanton released; Smith and Collins signed
Punter Jeremy Kapinos was released by the Jets in between the morning and afternoon sessions, along with tackle Ed Blanton. Kapinos was picked up by the Jets as a rookie free agent this off-season.
Blanton was a member of the Jets practice squad for all of 2006 before being part of the active roster for the team’s wild card playoff game against the Patriots.
The Jets have re-signed offensive lineman Nick Smith and also signed cornerback Manny Collins. Collins was one of the defensive leaders for Rutgers this past season. Smith, from San Diego State, was once waived by the Jets after he was picked up as a rookie free agent.
Tim Dwight and Matt Chatham, who are listed as “physically unable to perform”, remained sidelined from this evening’s session. Bobby Hamilton was also sidelined due to injury. Cornerback Drew Coleman, who had appeared to injure his hip near the end of this morning’s session, was back out on the field this evening, actively taking a part in the special teams drills.
Revis, Kendall update
Nothing new on the front.
Other Obscurities & Oddities of the Day
-Joe Beningo and Evan Roberts of WFAN were on site during this morning’s session broadcasting a show live on the premises. The popular midday duo are both huge Jets fans.
-In his press conference after the morning session, Mangini did not rule out the possibility of having the multi-tasking Brad Smith play on the defensive side of the ball:
“I’m not opposed to it. We’ve worked some offensive guys on defense last year. They just didn’t get a chance to showcase their ability.”
-Prior to the start of practice, Chad Pennington was seen strumming an air guitar to a country song of his choice. Other Jets were seen grooving to the rap music that was selected before the start of the session, especially Justin Miller, who had his own freestyle dance to go with the song.
-One defensive line drill consisted of punching away assistant defensive line coach Bryan Cox’s hands, which were wearing boxing gloves.
-During the first simulation, the white team attempted a trick play which had Clemens at wide receiver and Smith at quarterback.
-No word has officially been given on whether Coach Mangini will give the players tomorrow off. Officially they are scheduled to practice at 2PM. If any changes occur, JI will report it.