With Kendall gone, can Nick Mangold step up as a leader on the offensive line? (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Training camp may be over and done with, but the workload never ends for the Jets as they prepare for their preseason showdown with the cross-town rival Giants on Saturday. The front office has been busy as well, dealing disgruntled G Pete Kendall to the Redskins on Thursday.
Prior to practice, Head Coach Eric Mangini fielded questions about the hot topic of the day, which was the trade of Kendall to the Washington Redskins, a team the Jets will face on November 4. Details of the trade were not specified by Mangini in his presser, however sources have confirmed that the Jets will get a fourth-round draft pick, and possibly a fifth-round selection, from the Redskins in return. Both Mangini and General Manager Mike Tannenbaum expect the deal to be finalized before the end of the day.
“We were really comfortable with the trade and the value we got in the trade,” said Mangini. “We thought this was a good opportunity and we try to make the best decisions to help the team win.”
The departure of Kendall, who had gone public about his displeasure with how he was treated by the team, now means that it will be time for either OL Adrien Clarke or rookie-OL Jacob Bender to step up and try to fill the hole at left guard. As of right now, Mangini isn't set on who will get the nod, but he doesn’t seem to be overly worried. Starting-QB Chad Pennington isn't worried either and is just hoping for the best for both players.
“Guys have worked with the first group and the second group, inside and outside,” he said. “That’s a standard part of what we do. We have to get guys working with different combinations of people. We have to evaluate them with different combinations of people.
“You have two guys that have an opportunity to really contribute to our team,” said Pennington. “Both Adrien (Clarke) and Jacob (Bender)are really excited about their opportunity and what they can do. It’s a good situation for both of them and hopefully it works out.”
Although excited by this new opportunity, Bender prefers to remain focused in order to do everything right and hopefully get his chance to play with the big boys on opening day.
“I feel blessed to have this opportunity and I’m just going to keep working my hardest and do what I can,” Bender said. “Wherever coach feels fit to put me, that’s where I’m going to play.”
Pennington also spoke to the media regarding the departure of Kendall, who helped protect his blind side for the past three seasons.
“It’s the business side of the NFL and things like this always happen,” he said. “I hope it works out for him and he feels good about the situation, and that everyone can move on.”
Mangini also fielded questions about the performances of Pennington and the first-team defense, both of whom have under-performed so far this preseason. Mangini made it known that regardless of the result of last Friday’s game and the performance of both first-team units - be it on offense or defense - the preparation would have remained steadfast anyway.
“If we had won by 40 or had the situation that we had, I would expect everybody to come back and prepare the same way because that game is in the books,” said the second-year coach of Gang Green. “We try to maintain the positive things and try to correct the negative things, and that’s been our focus and it won’t change.”
Mangini also spoke about the positives of his starting quarterback, in spite of his preseason struggles.
“Chad to me is such a consistent guy,” he said. “His approach and his work ethic stay the same, and he’s just very focused at having everything as precise as possible.”
As for any positives from the defense from training camp?
“I think the way these guys worked throughout camp, there are a lot of new things that we were able to put in,” coach Mangini said. “Some things that we were able to adjust, and even though you have the base, when you put in the new stuff there’s going to be a learning curve. All I’m looking for is progress, and that’s what I look for each week.”
As for today’s practice itself, media availability was limited to a mere half-hour, meaning that the amount of significant on-field highlights was strongly lacking. The scout team was back out on the field as the Jets prepared for their date with the G-Men.
With training camp now over, the Jets can finally focus on their preparation for the long and difficult road ahead of them, not to mention the lofty expectations after an impressive 2006 season.
-CB Justin Miller, who had been out for most of training camp with an injury, was seen in half-pads in the beginning of practice working with the rest of the secondary in the opening drills. Afterwards, he returned to the stationary bike to continue his conditioning.
-RB Thomas Jones and S Eric Smith were on the stationary bikes for the beginning of practice. In regard to Jones' and Miller's availability to play in Saturday’s game, Mangini said he will simply see when the time comes.
-“We really treat this and all these preseason games very similar to the regular season games, so we go through the same time-table with injuries as we would there, and we’ve got some time here before the game, and we’ll look at it as it gets later in the week.”
-Along with the regular punt-return men - CB Darrelle Revis, WRs Brad Smith and Chansi Stuckey, and RB Leon Washington - other players were back in the end zone fielding kickoffs as well during special teams drills. The unorthodox members of the return squad included WR Laveranues Coles, WR Wallace Wright, and RBs Alvin Banks and Danny Ware. Possibly the biggest surprise of the bunch was Wright, who has already distinguished himself on special teams by being one of the units' best flyers on kickoffs.
-During the same kickoff drills, K Mike Nugent mixed in some squib kicks as well as deep ones into the end zone.
-When speaking to the media after practice, Bender mentioned that his family will be in attendance for Saturday’s preseason game, jokingly mentioning that his father will bike up to the Meadowlands.