INSIDER TUESDAY CAMP REPORT
By Bob Bonett
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
August 14th, 2007
Six members of Gang Green were forced to sit out the afternoon practice due to the whirlwind of injuries that have hit New York hard in the past few weeks.
The notable faces on the sideline, continued to be RB Thomas Jones, CB Justin Miller, and S Eric Smith.
Jones, the story of training camp for Jets’ fans, still has not spoke with the media due to Coach Mangini’s policy of keeping injury news under the radar.
This policy offers a nice segway to RB Alvin Banks, the James Madison product who is fighting for the third slot on the depth chart, (and currently the No. 2 role behind RB Leon Washington), with fellow back Danny Ware.
No, don’t worry, Banks isn’t hurt. While speaking with him, though, he did mention an injury he sustained his senior year at JMU, remaining mum on what the injury was. (Further research turned up evidence that the said injury was to his left leg). However, when asked about opportunities arising from injuries to starters, Banks mentioned that jumping at any chance he was offered was essential.
“You have to do whatever you can as best you can, and if your best isn’t good enough, you won’t be on the team,” Banks said.
Practice was a shaky one for Banks, whose greatest disappointment came on a botched catch during special teams practice off the foot of K Mike Nugent.
While Banks may have been a little off his game in the return game, though, the combination of WR Jerricho Cotchery and fellow wideout Chansi Stuckey were just as on theirs. The duo was flawless when returning kicks, with Stuckey acting as the lead blocker, breaking open a couple of returns for big gains.
Back to the running back conundrum, though, Ware, a Georgia native, is chomping at the bit to keep fighting for a running back position, or even a special teams spot, as long as he’s on the team. The big gain he had against the Atlanta Falcons in the preseason opener certainly isn’t on the back’s mind, though.
“Oh man I just put it behind me and got ready for the next run and the next play,” Ware said.
Humility is something that the roster hopefuls will have to practice if they hope to have a shot at making the team. Over confidence can only result in poor results, and perhaps lead to an inevitable cut from the 53-man opening day roster.
Perhaps the epitome of a humble character is fullback Darian Barnes. Tagged by head coach Eric Mangini as a powerful blocker, Barnes is happy to be on the field, and has even impressed himself with the advances he has made in the receiving game.
“I can catch. It’s something I’ve worked on all my career, and when they put me in there and my number is called, I’ll just try to make the catch and make the play,” Barnes said.
While the fullback did get flagged on a holding penalty during practice, he had a good session, paving the way for a number of big gains by RB Leon Washington.
No. 29 himself may have had the greatest practice of any Jets’ contributor. The speedy off-tackle runner had run after run of over ten yards, tiring out the defensive line to the dismay of Assistant Defensive Line coach Bryan Cox. Cox, a former NFL defensive standout, urged his defense to “finish the play” on more occasions than one, as they were repeatedly beaten by the likes of Washington, Ware, and Banks.
With New York counting down to their August 17 match-up with the Minnesota Vikings, the Jets looked sharp at times, and sloppy at times, in Tuesday’s single session. With one more day of media-accessible practice for the Jets between now and then, it will be interesting to see what small-name players are ready to make an impact on Gang Green’s success.
21 practices into camp and top pick CB Darrelle Revis is still unsigned. However, after several days with no apparent action, sources confirm that the team and Revis’ agent Neil Schwartz have been working diligently to get a deal done and were in contact for a good part of the day. Tannenbaum, who was on WFAN radio late today said he was optimistic that Revis could be signed by tonight. Stay tuned for more on this breaking news.
Even if Revis is signed today, it’s unlikely he’ll see any action this Friday against Minnesota.
Unhappy offensive lineman Pete Kendall actually avoided the media circus today as he was not asked any questions after practice.
The team’s outspoken guard, still in search of extra money on an already lucrative deal, once again worked as the team’s backup center during 11 on 11 drills.
Moreover, Kendall did not participate in many of Tony Wise’s drills, and remained distanced from the offense during full team scrimmages, standing 10 feet back from other players.
Living up to his mantra as a player that puts it all together on the field, QB Kellen Clemens had a rough time in Tuesday’s session.
Clemens, under pressure often from the team’s second team defense, had a sloppy one-minute drill at the end of practice, heaving a pass to Frisman Jackson on the sideline to barely keep the drive going.
The QB was also sent on a lap by Mangini after fumbling a snap during practice.
As an aside, QB Chad Pennington had a great practice. He and WR Laveranues Coles were on the same page the entire time, hooking up for nice gains on more than a few occasions. Pennington placed the ball in spots were the defense couldn’t get their hands in the way when throwing to the likes of Coles and WR Jerricho Cotchery, threading the needle with ease.
Rhodes Gets Beat, Then Does the Beating
Play of the day belonged to S Kerry Rhodes, but not before No. 25 was on the wrong end of a few highlight reels.
During WR versus DB drills, Rhodes was twice taken for a long gain by his opposing receiver, including one time while covering famed practice squad member WR Juan Wong.
However, Rhodes was able to cash in on some revenge by the end of the practice. Covering Cotchery, Pennington heaved a ball to the wideout. Rhodes managed to deflect the pass, juggle it, and while diving, make the incredible interception.
The packed crowd offered some “oo’s” and “ahh’s” to Rhodes after the play, who celebrated with the defense after making the catch.
Wide Receiver Battle, Too
The backfield does not hold New York’s only positional battle. Out wide, a number of wide receivers are vying for the opportunity to move from special-teamers to full-timers.
WR Wallace Wright, who made his mark on the Jets last year working with the special teams, mentioned that his route running has “definitely improved” while with Gang Green, and that he has high hopes for the season.
Utility man Brad Smith, meanwhile, will fill whatever niche is necessary to get on the field, and is watching the starters to learn and grow as a receiver.
“I watch everyone,” Smith said. “Justin is really good at a lot of things, LC (Coles) is good at different things, and Jerricho and (WR) Tim (Dwight) and all those guys have different things they are good at.”
Don’t count out WR Frisman Jackson, either. Jackson made some nice catches in practice during the 2:00 practice, seemingly towering over the defense with his imposing 6’3” size.
Wise is Pleased
The always animated Tony Wise was very pleased with the offensive line’s work in early-practice drills today, and was excited to get them into the offense versus defense scrimmages.
At the completion of their blocking work, Wise yelled to the line “Now we’re off; let’s go,” with great enthusiasm.
Baker, Pennington Work Together
One of the Jets’ secret weapons, TE Chris Baker, was seen working with Pennington alone for a session of practice.
The tall, big player, who is expected to be a great threat for the Jets’ down the line, worked on route running the Jets’ starting helmsman.
Wednesday the team has only one practice which will take place at 2 p.m. and open to the public. Thursday, the Jets will have walk-through which is closed to fans and media. And then Friday the Jets will have their second preseason game as they host the Minnesota Vikings at the Meadowlands.
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