Common with the theme of afternoon practices for Gang Green this year, the sunset session started off sloppy for the Jets but ended with smiles.
For a majority of the practice, quarterbacks Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens seemed out of sync with their wide receiving corps.
Sprinkling the early evening workout was a poor route run by WR Wallace Wright with Clemens at the helm, a misdirected throw from Pennington to WR Laveranues Coles, and dropped pass on a slightly offline throw to WR Jerricho Cotchery from Pennington.
However, as the day wore on, the squad looked more sharp.
As per his usual repertoire, ending the practice for Gang Green were a pair of two-minute drills, one run by the first-teamers, and one run by the backups.
Pennington’s run-through flew very smoothly and resulted in a chip-in by K Mike Nugent from 37 yards. Set up with 1:56 to go, tied 13 apiece with the “opposition,” Pennington looked in his rhythm, hitting TE Chris Baker for a couple of first downs, nailing Coles and his fancy footwork for a couple of sideline receptions, and setting up Nugent for the game winner with only eight seconds left, meaning the opposition would only have a kickoff to score any points.
Clemens’ turn, however, was a little more dramatic. The quarterback’s first few passes failed to reach receivers on the sideline, forcing the clock to run out much quicker than it did for the starters. It appeared as though the defense was getting the better of Clemens, and the Jets’ were halted at the 38-yard line.
However, Nugent, whose knock has been his leg strength, was there to save the day. His 55-yard field goal was good, and then some, giving New York yet another win.
While excitement for the offense had to wait until the final ticks of the clock, though, the defense debuted a smattering of highlights the entire day.
One of their best plays was an interception by CB Andre Dyson. In one-on-one coverage with Coles, Dyson managed to get the better of the seasoned wide receiver, making a nice interception that excited the defensive sideline.
Erik Coleman, meanwhile, may have made the defense’s two most electrifying stops.
His first showstopper was a big hit on WR Frisman Jackson, (who was probably the MVP of the afternoon session making a bunch of big receptions), causing the Western Illinois product to fall to the turf.
Then, outdoing himself only a few plays later, Coleman made a leaping, diving deflection on a pass from Pennington, preventing a catch from being made by Cotchery or Coles.
The offense was not without a notable play itself, though. Surprisingly, the move was made by T D’Brickashaw Ferguson.
In the offensive line versus defensive line drills, Ferguson was matched up against LB Bryan Thomas. Ferguson laid a huge block on the veteran, sending him on to his backside, thus garnering congratulations from the rest of his line.
Other primetime performers for the offense included Baker who, outside from his two-minute drill catches, made a couple of nice receptions showing his hands, and WR Chansi Stuckey, who showcased his breakout speed a few times throughout the practice.
Although not entirely fluid, the Jets’ offense, defense, and special teams all got it done in one of their final run-throughs before Thursday’s preseason game with the Falcons. And with the regular season closing in, the team’s ability to step up their play late in a long day is a promising sign for the year to come.
Jets Introduce “Flight Crew”
You may have noticed last season during game day that the Jets flag boys suddenly got replaced by curvy bouncy young ladies. The team never really explained what it was all about but today all was cleared up.
The Jets officially introduced the “Flight Crew” to the media between practices. They performed two of their routines with flags in hand to local reporters. The team made it clear that this group of ten women are not cheerleaders , but a group of “flag girls” who’s goal is to enhance the gameday experience. The fight crew is coordinated by former Knicks City Dancer and Dallas Cowboy cheerleader Denise Garvey. They will debut to the public at training camp on August 12.
Barnes Not So Sharp
Perhaps the length of the early practice combined with the unbearable heat took a toll on Darian Barnes, as the usually productive fullback had a tough second practice.
Barnes’ first slip up, (pun not intended), was when the back fell down while motioning into the backfield. Pennington snapped the ball before Barnes set himself, and the fullback was whistled for an illegal formation, thus sent on a lap.
Upon returning, Barnes was thrown back into the action, this time with QB Marques Tuiasosopo. Barnes was thrown to almost immediately, and ended up dropping the catch.
Nugent Gets Own Phase
One of Mangini’s tactics in practice is to divide each session into phases, usually consisting of ten to fourteen such sections.
In the afternoon session, aside from drilling two field goals in the final two-minute drills, Nugent received about eight minutes to attempt eight field goals.
Nugent went 5 for 8 in the drill, hitting from 42, 43 and 46 yards once, and 45 yards twice.
The kicker missed from 45 yards once, and was well short on two 65-yard attempts.
Each time Nugent missed, utility man Brad Smith was in the endzone attempting to do his best Devin Hester impersonation. (Hester is the Chicago Bears cornerback that returned a missed field goal 107 yards in a game last season). On Nugent’s first miss, Smith took the return back to the 30-yard line.
The next time Nugent missed, Smith managed to go the distance, outracing the kicker down the final stretch toward the endzone.
Bowie the 2-Minute Man
This afternoon’s musical update pays tribute to rock legend David Bowie.
As with every two-minute drill, Pennington gets to orchestrate the offense to the tune of “Under Pressure,” arguably Bowie’s greatest hit.
The song title is quite fitting when Mangini expects his quarterback to go the distance with 1:56 left on the clock and no timeouts.
Nick Smith Makes Tony a Wise Guy
OL Nick Smith has drawn quite a few entertaining sound bites from offensive line coach Tony Wise this year.
Living in infamy among beat writers on the sideline for being instructed by Wise to run “all the way to Massapequa” a few practices ago, Smith was instructed to take a lap after committing a false start penalty in offensive line versus defensive line drills.
Wise’s simple way of letting Smith know he was destined for a lap?
Kowalewski and Turner Leave Field Early
Joe Kowalewski, one of New York’s reserve tight ends, and OL Robert Turner each sat out the morning practice. In the afternoon, the pair returned to the field. Each was relegated to exercise bike row shortly into practice, though, shedding pads in favor of workout regalia, perhaps re-aggravating their injuries.
The team returns again tomorrow for two practices at 8:45 AM and 5:45 PM, both open to the public. Be sure to check back to JI complete reports!
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