Newly signed CB Darrelle Revis fields a punt at his first offical training camp practice today. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
It started with a muff, and ended with a laugh. In between, it was just a typical day at the office for rookie first round draft pick Darrelle Revis in his first NFL training camp session.
In Revis’ first unofficial touch as a New York Jet, the rookie dropped a punt from P Ben Graham prior to the official 2:00 p.m. start time.
The drop, however, was the only mistake in what was an uneventful, (in a good way), first day for the cornerback.
“Just coming out here, getting rid of the cobwebs, learning new stuff… I did good today,” Revis said.
Following his miscue, Revis moved on to not drop another kick from Graham for the remainder of practice, as well as to play some stringent defense on his opposing wide receivers in 11-on-11 drills.
His first turn in the full time drills, playing with the second team, was a success. With the rest of the backup secondary, Revis managed to force QB Kellen Clemens, who had a rough day at practice, to throw the ball away.
Obviously, the somewhat successful first day for the rookie is just the beginning of a long stretch that will include severe learning curves for Revis.
“He’s behind,” Coach Eric Mangini said. “These other guys have been here, through the initial training camp soreness, and getting used to running with the helmet on and covering. Those things take a little bit of time to get used to.”
Revis, who echoed the coach’s statements, said that “getting in pads and getting used to [them]” will take time.
Jesting from teammates was an aspect “rook” had to deal with on the field as well. Safety Kerry Rhodes said that Revis had to endure a brief time when the secondary acted like they didn’t know him, and withstand the birdcalls that included calling Revis by the name “rookie” all practice.
Teammates were not the only one to lightly joke with No. 24, though. After practice, the most common question asked of Revis regarded his study habits and the amount of sleep he gets at night. The cornerback clearly enjoyed the loose questions, sharing a laugh when reviewing the playbook was compared to cramming for finals.
With all attention granted to the first rounder at practice, there was actually action going on elsewhere around Hofstra’s practice facilities. Less than 48 hours removed from the primetime loss to the Vikings, there was an air of anticipation as to how long Mangini would work his players after their flaws were exposed. The head coach didn’t seem too down on any one player in the press conference, though -including QB Chad Pennington - and remarked that while negatives were aplenty, positives also existed on the game tape.
“There were a lot of things that were similar to last week,” Mangini said, “in terms of some really good, smart, well executed football, punctuated by some plays that just can’t happen.”
The most common cry from Jets’ fans had been for Gang Green’s head coach to rethink his decision to name Pennington the no-holds-barred starting quarterback over Clemens, who has looked magnificent in the preseason. True to his form, though, Clemens had quite a rough practice under the coolest skies thus far this summer.
The quarterback had trouble pinpointing his passes, often throwing balls that required acrobatics from the likes of WR Chansi Stuckey (who had a fantastic practice session) and WR Wallace Wright.
Then, in the final drill which situated the Jets down eight on their own 15-yard line with 1:53 left, Clemens managed to pioneer the team to only one first down, as the defense stopped the offense well into their own territory.
Nevertheless, while Clemens continues to struggle with the practice pads on, Mangini loves what he sees from the young QB.
“I’ve been really pleased with Kellen’s progress throughout the whole offseason,” Mangini said. “He got off to a bit of a slow start in OTAs, and he’s made progress [since then].”
Under center for the backup QB was, as expected, G Pete Kendall. Kendall, fresh off showing on Friday night that playing center is not his forte with two bad snaps, did not seem too happy to be back at the position, especially in light of G Adrien Clarke’s weak performance against Minnesota.
“I thought this experiment’s been tried and the results were in,” Kendall said, referring to previous attempts that didn’t work out well to move the lineman to center.
In drills, Kendall also practiced at center, having a rough time. He appeared to be looking to block the incoming defender before snapping the ball, leading to a few errant snaps to the coach that stood in at quarterback.
It appears as though while Kendall has the backup center job tied down for now, competing for the starting guard position along with Clarke and Kendall is rookie T Jacob Bender. Bender had a solid practice with no noticeable mistakes during the session.
While Clemens’ two-minute-drill ended in a loss, Pennington orchestrated quite an impressive run down the field which culminated in a successful two point conversion. From a great catch by WR Justin McCareins in traffic over the middle, to the play-of-the-day, a diving reception made by WR Laveranues Coles on the sideline, and finally ending in a Leon Washington touchdown catch, Pennington looked very fluid, and more importantly, very confident during the drive.
Revis ruled the spotlight on Sunday’s afternoon practice as the rookie made his much anticipated return to the practice field for the first time since OTAs. Wearing pads for the first time since last November, the rookie, along with the rest of the Jets, looked calm, cool, collected, and most importantly, sharp, ready to move past the loss Friday night, and on to this week’s much hyped contest with the Giants.
Cotchery MIA; Miller Steps Up Conditioning
Absent from the playing field with no word from Mangini was WR Jerricho Cotchery. The star was not seen on the exercise bikes, though, so pure speculation suggests he missed the session due to personal reasons.
Back in pads, though, were a few injured players. TE Joe Kowalewski left the exercise bike, albeit with two wrapped hamstrings, to practice with the team in pads. FB Stacy Tutt also returned to work with the running backs.
In a promising sign, Justin Miller had pads on for the first part of practice, working one on one with a trainer in a conditioning drill. From what could be seen, Miller looked quick and agile.
RB Thomas Jones and S Eric Smith remained relegated to riding the bikes.
Harris Gets Shot with Starters
Rookie LB David Harris has apparently made an impression on Mangini already; one good enough to earn him some repetitions with the starters.
Working in packages with fellow linebackers Eric Barton and Jonathan Vilma, Harris has moved onto the first team at times, getting about half of his repetitions with them.
“I think [Harris] has done a good job there,” Mangini said.
The coach went on to say that with the alleviation of some rookie mistakes, Harris should be well on his way to becoming an impact player.
Smith Distancing Himself
The true position battle of camp may be resolving itself. The Jets’ wide receiving corps, already notoriously deep, features three big-name starters, (Coles, McCareins and Cotchery), and three small-name role receivers (Brad Smith, Wright and Frisman Jackson).
Prior to practice, Mangini noted that Smith has separated himself as the favorite to emerge as the coach’s third or fourth favorite wide receiver, noting that he has worked in the first string three-wide receiver and four-wide receiver sets.
Don’t rule out WR Chris Davis yet, either. The 5’10 return specialist made some nice catches in practice today, refusing to be relegated to special teams without a fight.
Watching practice, some people may mistake big RB Tony Hollings for Jerome Bettis, Jr. The mid-training camp acquisition has been receiving more repetitions lately, perhaps to attempt to exploit his big 5’10, 218 lb. frame.
As of now, it appears RB Danny Ware is the frontrunner for the No. 3 spot on the depth chart, with Hollings and RB Alvin Banks looking to gain ground.
A noticeable quirk with the setup of the practice field today was the way one of the uprights was situated.
On the turf half of Hofstra’s field, K Mike Nugent’s aiming sticks weren’t as wide as NFL standards, but rather set up like Arena Football League goal posts.
Nugent didn’t attempt any kicks on the specialty uprights today; perhaps Mangini has something up his sleeve for later this week, though.
Leon Looks Like Barry
Looking better than ever, RB Leon Washington had a bunch of impressive rushes at practice today, reminding onlookers of Hall of Famer Barry Sanders.
Moving with great agility, a quick first step, and a small size, Washington repeatedly ran behind the offensive lineman, shielded by their prominent size, to evade the defense and run for long gains.
If Washington is needed in a starting role come opening day, his performance suggests he is up for the challenge.
Drexler Makes a Cameo
Speaking of Hall of Famers, NBA legend Clyde Drexler made an appearance at Jets’ camp with his son to watch Gang Green in action.
The jersey of choice for the younger Drexler? Laveranues Coles.
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