Jets veteran WR Laveranues Coles had a great early practice on Tuesday and has been a daily standout at camp so far this summer. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
After having Monday off, blazing heat at the Jets’ practice facility may have scared away a cast of the usual onlookers, but sure as anything, Coach Eric Mangini and his team endured the first half of what should be a long, brutal two-a-day.
Despite the sky-high temperatures, though, the squad turned in quite an impressive practice that ended with the best play seen in training camp.
Inspired by Jerry Rice’s 49ers, Mangini wrapped up the final practice with a 101-yard challenge to the offense. Down 26-20 with 3:15 left on the clock, Chad Pennington needed to carry the team to a touchdown against the starting defense.
Throughout the entire length of the field, the theme remained the same: Pennington to Laveranues Coles.
Running a sampling of outs, Pennington continuously hit Coles on the sideline, as the Jets’ star receiver would, without fail, make the catch and head out of bounds to stop the clock.
The strategy worked for a while for the Gang Green offense. However, once in the red zone, LB Jonathan Vilma, S Kerry Rhodes, and the rest of the Jets’ defense began to step up, batting away a few of Pennington’s pass, and preventing any downfield plays to the likes of WR Jerricho Cotchery and Coles.
When all was said and done, the “game” came down to a 2nd and goal from the 9-yard line with two seconds left on the clock. Pennington called for an empty backfield with Frisman Jackson, Wallace Wright, Coles, Cotchery, and Chris Baker all out wide.
After snapping the ball, Pennington rolled back and found himself in trouble. Off his back foot with the defense closing a ball, the QB heaved a ball from the 20-yard line to the left corner of the touchdown.
In jaw-dropping fashion, Coles leaped in the air in triple coverage, and while seemingly falling out of bounds, pulled down the ball, somehow managing to get both feet down inbounds to tie the game at 26.
Kicker Mike Nugent would then come on the field and chip in the extra point, giving the Jets’ offense the win.
With all the excitement late in practice, it would appear easy to forget about all the action that took place in the first two hours of the session. The first notable observation was lineman Pete Kendall in full pads; and as usual, distanced from the team.
Kendall’s sourness was one of only a few negatives from the practice, though. Rookie lineman Jacob Bender impressed Tony Wise with his work on line drills, getting an emphatic “that’s a repetition” remark from the line coach.
Danny Ware also got some serious looks from both Mike Westhoff and Mangini in the return game. Working as the No. 2 man alongside both Chansi Stuckey and Chris Baker, Ware is excited with the chance to block for the “faster” guys.
“I’m their personal protector,” Ware said. “I’m just going out there to make sure there is a hole out there so they can break a long one.
Ware, as followed throughout camp, is in a fierce competition with Alvin Banks for the third RB slot on the depth chart. Despite going head to head, though, Ware and Banks have seen their relationship blossom.
“Oh man, me and Alvin are cool,” Ware said. “We’re look brothers out there. If he’s got a question and I can answer it I answer it for him, and vice versa.”
“Competition just makes us better,” the rookie Georgia product added.
The two backs have found leadership in the team’s veteran starter, Thomas Jones. Jones is aware that the two backs are looking up to him, and the star is doing best to lead by example.
“All of our young backs have been doing well at camp. It’s a lot to learn and they’ve done a great job picking up the offense.”
One of the more entertaining drills of practice featured receivers working on getting around contact within five yards. In the first repletion, Cotchery made a great jumping catch, continuing to show that last year was anything but a fluke.
On the opposite side of the receiving game, with Miller on the sidelines and Darrelle Revis still the only non-QB first round draft pick unsigned, backup cornerbacks needed to step up at practice today. A pair of faces each stood out with some great play on the field.
CB Drew Coleman, in one on one drills with the WR corps, was able to deflect more than a few passes away from the man he was covering.
CB Alphonso Hodge, meanwhile, made the best play of the afternoon on the defensive side of the ball, recovering from a fall to knock a strike away from Kellen Clemens to Brad Smith along the sideline.
The other fight taking place at camp is for the job as the team’s No. 4 WR. As of now, it seems as though the tandem of teens, No. 16 Brad Smith, No. 15 Wallace Wright, and No. 18 Frisman Jackson have the upper leg on the competition. Chris Davis had a rough time catching the ball, (although he looked phenomenal on the kick return game), and Jesse Pellot-Rosa dropped a few passes.
Smith, Wright and Jackson, meanwhile, all looked flawless both with their hands and while running routes.
Outside of two holdouts, not much negative news in the morning edition of training camp for the Jets. Whether or not the heat will catch up with most of the team, (Leon Washington is absent due to personal reasons while Justin McCareins is expected to use his free practice pass in the afternoon), will be seen later.
Either way, it is certainly nice to see the second and third string players step it up big time at Hofstra.
Vilma and Pennington Turn Coordinators
In the Jerry Rice drill at the end of practice, Mangini turned the playcalling over to Chad Pennington and Jonathan Vilma for their respective sides. Mangini felt that using a different “fingerprint” would cause the opposing team to not be prepared for the play on the field.
“That’s always a good thing to have because a lot of times, Chad goes in with multiple calls anyway,” Mangini said. “By giving a series or two to the quarterback, now, when your looking at it from the other team’s perspective the fingerprint is different.”
“It looks like breaks in the tendencies (of play calling by Brian Schottenheimer),” he added.
Pennington began calling plays on the field more often last year, and may continue to build upon that role this season.
Justin Miller was again relegated to the sidelines today, using the workout bike to stretch out his arms, oddly enough. Mangini said that he thinks that “it’s just enough step in the process” in Miller’s improvement as a player.
Rhodes Continues Improvements
Coming off of perhaps the best season for a Jets’ defender, Rhodes has sights set high for 2007, both for himself and the team.
“I’m just trying to get better every game, everyday,” Rhodes said. “I’m just trying to draw on last year, keeping my confidence up this year.”
Mangini is optimistic that Rhodes will not only maintain his gains from last year, but improve upon them as well, expecting “continued overall development” from the safety.
Depth Chart Released
The Jets’ depth chart, as of preseason game No. 1 with the Atlanta Falcons, was released.
On offense, all of the usual suspects, Coles, Cotchery, Pennington, Jones, Barnes, and Chris Baker were included in their starting roles. The line included the disgruntled Kendall at LG, along with Brandon Moore at RG, Mangold at C, Ferguson at LT, and Clement at RT. Backup receivers, as of now, are listed as Brad Smith and Justin McCareins, with Kellen Clemens earning the backup QB role, and Alvin Banks currently slotted in as the No. 3 RB.
The Jets’ defense, from inside out, is as follows: NT Dewayne Robertson, LE Shaun Ellis, RE Kimo von Oelhoffen, ILB Eric Barton and Jonathan Vilma, OLB Victor Hobson and Bryan Thomas, LCB Andre Dyson, RCB David Barrett, and S Erik Coleman and Kerry Rhodes. Darrelle Revis is the last CB on the chart.
Finally, for special teams, Mike Nugent and Ben Graham are in their usual spots, James Dearth, as expected, is listed as the LS, Justin Miller and Jerricho Cotchery are the one-two kick returners, and Leon Washington is the punt returner. Revis is listed just ahead of Tim Dwight as a punt returner. Dwight, of course, is on the physically unable to perform list.
Fan Jumps on Kendall
Symbolic of the frustration of fans with disgruntled Jets, (see: Darrelle Revis, Pete Kendall), one fan finally had a message for Pete Kendall, yelling to the offensive lineman that it is time for him quit bellyaching.
While the line was with Tony Wise working on staying low as they burst off the line, an agitated fan heckled Kendall, quite audibly.
Kendall made no reaction toward the fan, but the remarks certainly turned the heads of all in attendance.
As always when dealing with the Jets, an update on Mangini’s musical selection is imperative. This morning’s practice revealed that one song has gotten under the skin of plenty of Gang Green.
During stretches, a rap remix of the unique song by Daft Punk, “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger,” blared through the speakers. The immediate reaction from players across the field:
We’ll see how long the techno rendition remains in the rotation.
The team returns for the second session at 5:45, be sure to check back to JI for a complete report!
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