The last workout of a long training camp was a short (by Head Coach Eric Mangini's standards), successful one under overcast skies in Hempstead.
The offense was clearly in sync all throughout practice, except for an interception by CB David Barrett on the last play of training camp, suggesting good news for the team’s upcoming match-up with the rival New York Giants.
The outstanding play by the offense was highlighted by the play of veteran-WRs Laveranues Coles and Justin McCareins, both of whom had extremely productive training camps.
McCareins made close to a half-dozen catches in the session, often breaking free from his opposing cornerback to get open for an easy reception from QB Chad Pennington.
Coles, meanwhile, continued his role as the team's human highlight reel. From diving catches on the sidelines to leaping catches over the middle, Coles continuously impressed onlookers with his athleticism and intensity on the field.
Gang Green's star receiver is just happy that training camp is over, however, preferring regular season practices that consist of shorter days.
“I feel like I survived Coach's camp, but again it’s a testament to the guys,” Coles said. “Anybody that can make it through this can pretty much make it through anything.”
The superstar, who spent the day laughing and dancing with teammates, even jokingly commented on the one thing he will look forward to most in standard practices: less time around coaches.
“You don’t have to look at any of your coaches as much because it’s a shorter day,” Coles said. “Now (the coaches) only get a half day to fuss at me instead of a full day.”
Mangini mentioned, however, that he hasn’t been hiding anything during training camp, and that practices will be virtually the same, albeit out of the public’s eye and in singular installments each day.
“We’ve put everything out there,” Mangini said, while at the same time, acknowledging that there are a few new things that will be worked on. The coach said that there may have been certain looks that haven’t been covered, and they will be addressed in the future practices.
The most noticeable face at practice was rookie CB Darrelle Revis, in action for the third consecutive day, playing with the first-string defense in place of injured CB Andre Dyson and looking as if he was at full speed.
Revis broke up a few passes in coverage, including one thrown at fellow rookie Chansi Stuckey, showing that he may have gained back the step he lost while missing a majority of training camp. As sharp as he may have looked though, Revis did mention that “learning curves” still exist due to the missed time.
The rookie did receive some nice words from Coles, as the veteran compared Revis to the likes of two of the NFL's best cornerbacks of the last decade, former-Jet Ty Law and the Broncos' Champ Bailey.
“Our young guy that we have, he has all the qualities of being a great corner in this league,” the wide receiver said. “I think that he’s something that can really, truly help this ball club.”
Before Revis makes the leap to a Pro Bowler, it is clear, according to Mangini, that he has to make up for lost time and be a fast learner.
“There’s some backtracking we have to do with him and make sure we do with him,” Mangini said. “He’s really got to add some extra time to his prep, as well.”
Two days away from a meeting with the Giants that pits “the big bad Giants (against) the step-brothers, the Jets,” according to S Kerry Rhodes, the offense looked sharp as ever, while Revis and the secondary appeared to be meshing. What remains to be seen is whether this success on the practice field will translate to big improvements against Big Blue on Saturday.
A solid practice, followed by a full-team autograph session, signifies the successful end of a productive, entertaining, and thoroughly eventful 2007 training camp.
Kendall’s Bike Bound
Déjà vu hit onlookers at Hofstra today as G Pete Kendall was on the exercise bike for the third practice this preseason, including the second time in as many days.
There was no announcement or word as to why Kendall was off the field, so speculation is all that exists. He did seem to hobble a bit when getting off the bike at the end of practice, but it may have simply been due to fatigue.
Away from the bike area was CB Justin Miller. Although not taking part in practice with the rest of the squad, Miller was working on agility drills with a trainer, practicing going back on the ball and side-to-side as if in coverage. He was moving at full speed.
S Eric Smith and RB Thomas Jones were each on the bike for a portion of practice. Jones left the bikes for a while to move his legs some more, while Smith took some laps around the field at one point.
Bad news also found its way over to the sidelines as CB Andre Dyson - scheduled to start against the Giants on Saturday - initially suited up after suffering an apparent leg injury on Tuesday but then returned to the bikes early in practice, limping over to the training area almost immediately after stretches. The injury could result in more repetitions in the preseason game for Revis, with speculation suggesting a starting role opposite either one of the Giants’ starting WRs, Amani Toomer and Plaxico Burress.
Graham’s the Man
Perhaps the NFL’s most popular punter is Australian native Ben Graham. He loves the status.
“I love having (the Jets’ fans) support,” Graham said. “My first camp here I got a lot of support, and I love having a relationship with the fans.”
Scouted ten years ago by Mangini (oddly enough), Graham left Australian rules football for the United States.
Graham explained that in the Australian version of the game, all players kick the ball, (although not in the same motion as NFL punting), and that specialty positions such as quarterback and running back don’t exist.
The punter’s relationship with K Mike Nugent and LS James Dearth has really blossomed this year, especially since the recent move to make Dearth a full-time specialist.
“We’re really comfortable with the operation,” Graham said. “We’ve always got confidence in the snap, the hold and the kick, and there’s nothing more you can ask for."
During practice, Nugent was seen teaching Graham how to throw a football, specifically on the run, in the event that a snap is botched on an extra point or field goal try.
Davis AKA Plaxico?
One method brought out recently by Mangini has been placing jerseys on the scout team that mirror the numbers of key players coming up on the Jets’ schedule. At Wednesday’s practice, WR Chris Davis was given No. 17, the jersey of Burress, the Giants’ go-to wideout.
Davis, whose role has primarily been with the special teams, did partake in kick returning while in college at Wake Forest, using his “speed and quickness” to his advantage.
The young wide receiver also exudes tremendous confidence, refusing to acknowledge that his height (5' 10") is a handicap.
“Height has never been a factor because my quickness makes up for it,” Davis said.
A rookie in the NFL, Davis also acknowledged his CFL playing days, remarking on how it was fun to get a chance to play football as a professional, even if it wasn't in the NFL.
Minaya Makes Appearance
A familiar face to New Yorkers came down to watch the Jets’ final training camp session: New York Mets GM Omar Minaya.
Minaya followed Jets' owner Woody Johnson around for most of practice, watching the likes of Pennington and Coles instead of SS Jose Reyes and 3B David Wright for a change.
Brett “Brad Smith” Ratliff
Brett Ratliff got his name into the highlight reel at practice, running the ball during a broken play for a long gain.
Ratliff looked downfield for a few seconds, then saw a big hole open on the line, and headed toward it.
Ratliff wasn’t stopped until he had gained more than 20 yards, mirroring the playmaking ability of QB-turned-WR Brad Smith.
Tutt Puts on Show
FB Darian Barnes has looked great in the preseason, appearing to be the clear-cut favorite to be Thomas Jones’ and Leon Washington’s lead blocker for the season.
Barnes’ back-up, Stacy Tutt, meanwhile, looked nothing short of a Pro Bowl-caliber at camp today.
Tutt made back-to-back great catches over the middle, both on the run, showcasing his speed and good hands.
Should Barnes falter or go down with an injury, Tutt looks like a more-than-viable option.
Titans Day Announced
During the pre-practice press conference, Mangini announced that the Jets will, in fact, have a throwback day featuring uniforms from when the team was called the New York Titans.
The game will take place against the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 14.
The head coach jokingly said that he hopes that Philadelphia Head Coach Andy Reid prepares his team for the Titans instead of the Jets on game day.
“I’ll be happy to send them (some tape) of Don Maynard running or Curly Johnson,” Mangini said. “(Johnson) played a couple different spots, so he’d be hard to prepare for.”