Jets WR/KR Chansi Stuckey is one of several rookies that hope to make an immediate impact on the team. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
With two days until their season kicks off, the New York Jets took the field at Hofstra to walk through a lot of things before an early and highly anticipated intra-divisional showdown with the archrival Patriots.
At first sight, today’s practice had the makings of an easy one as the players were in half-pads, not to mention that they were going over the game plan with Sunday’s game just around the corner.
Mangini, though, stressed in his press conference that Friday practices were highly important in order to prepare for what is arguably their biggest test yet.
“Fridays are usually lighter days in a sense that you don’t have pads on, but it is an important mental day,” he said. “They are key days and being able to practice with the right tempo is so important. That’s a skill set you develop like any other skill set.”
In terms of big tests, a keen eye will be kept on certain players who have had tremendous success this past preseason, especially with Leon Washington and Chansi Stuckey. Washington performed tremendously in the absence of starting running back Thomas Jones, who was hampered by a leg injury for most of the preseason. Stuckey, the Jets’ seventh round pick from Clemson, had a strong showing in the summer as both a receiver and return specialist. Mangini is hopeful that their performances will transfer over to the regular season, but at the same time, aware that early success doesn’t necessarily equal overall success.
“You always hope that it’s going to be the case but I’ve seen a lot of players who have had very good preseasons but don’t translate, and guys who haven’t had great preseasons and had outstanding regular seasons,” he said. “To me the preseason is just an extension of practice. It’s a preparation of the regular season.”
Both Washington and Stuckey are very aware that their preseason performances bear no meaning anymore.
“You always want to do well, but the preseason is the preseason and it don’t count really,” said Washington. “You want to work hard throughout the preseason to prepare yourself for the regular season.”
“I just have to build on everything that I have done and get better,” said Stuckey. “I need to soak up all the knowledge I can from the other guys and get better each day.”
With the Patriots coming in to East Rutherford, the Jets will need nothing but the best not just from Washington or Stuckey, but from every other player donning the green and white in order to come away with a game in the “W” column and a bright outlook for the season.
Business as Usual
The Jets’ practice went on as planned as it was held with limited media access. The team went through some stretches and drills in both special teams and individual positions.
The half-hour span was not without some noticeable highlights. P Ben Graham punted a ball sky high sideways, with the ball making impact on the roof of David Bowen’s pickup truck before hitting the pavement. Bowens screamed in anger after the ball hit his truck while the other players had a good laugh.
Speaking of a good laugh, at the end of positional drills, the linebackers gathered around in a small circle and danced around to the rap music that was blaring out of the team’s sound system.
The defense decided to have a little fun with those in attendance by switching each other’s numbers in hopes to arouse some confusion. For example, Darrelle Revis donned #50 while Eric Barton wore Revis’ #24.
Graham and K Mike Nugent were spotted with the wide receivers catching passes before going off to perform their kicking drills.
During special teams drills, a fake field goal play was attempted as Nugent carried the ball up the middle.
The mission of all the NFL teams is to be the one raising the Lombardi Trophy at the Super Bowl. That mission is what gets the hundreds of football players hungry. And the first game of the new regular season is the first step into making that mission become possible. The Jets are no different from everyone else, especially when they came away from last season’s playoffs empty handed.
Said Chansi Stuckey, “You just got to want it. You have to take it upon yourself to get better every day and be the best.”
“Last year we had a taste of what it feels like to get in the playoffs and play against good teams, and I don’t think it will go away,” said Leon Washington. “Having that taste, we will remain hungry.”
Chemistry on the O-Line
Since the release of Pete Kendall, the Jets have given rookie Jacob Bender and veteran Adrien Clarke a look at the left guard position. The experiment has given the Jets mixed results at best. In Mangini’s eyes, he has been proud of the way Bender and Clarke worked together in yesterday’s session.
“I was really happy yesterday with the level of communication that I saw from those guys,” Mangini said. “The communication aspect is so important and critical.”
Don’t Be Fooled
Many of the internal question marks facing the Jets are menial compared to those facing their rivals in Foxboro. Rodney Harrison will miss the game as he is serving a suspension for his use of HGH. Randy Moss missed most of training camp and the preseason due to an injured hamstring, and we won’t even mention the copious amounts of controversy he’s faced in his career. Richard Seymour will start the season on injured reserve.
In spite of these issues, the players on Gang Green know a lot better than to misjudge their AFC East brethren, who have been an embodiment of success for the early part of this decade in the NFL.
“No matter who you play, you can’t underestimate any one at any level of competition that you are in,” said Stuckey.
Washington replied, “You can never underestimate those guys. They are arguably one of the best teams of all time. You don’t underestimate any other team, especially the Patriots.”
New York Jets
Full Participation in Practice: TE Joe Kowalewski (finger), QB Chad Pennington (pelvis), DL Dewayne Robertson (knee), WR Chansi Stuckey (knee), FB Stacy Tutt (foot)
Limited Participation in Practice: CB Andre Dyson (foot), RB Thomas Jones (calf), CB Justin Miller (thigh), OL Brandon Moore (shoulder), S Eric Smith (thigh)
New England Patriots
Full Participation in Practice: QB Tom Brady (right shoulder)
Limited Participation in Practice: S Rashad Baker (hand), TE Dave Thomas (foot), DL Mike Wright (knee).
Game time is at 1:00PM on Sunday, local TV on CBS 2 and local radio on 1050 ESPN radio and WCRN 104.3 on Long Island. Be sure to check back to JetsInsider.com after the game for a complete recap!