By Douglas Bonjour
Jets Staff Writer
August 1st, 2008
After being mistake-free the first week of camp, veteran QB Chad Pennington had a rough practice today. (Jets Photo)
After being mistake-free the first week of camp, veteran QB Chad Pennington had a rough practice today. (Jets Photo)
To get ready for the Green and White practice tomorrow, the Jets held a closed practice at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium where they played a simulated game. With all eyes on the starting quarterback battle, today's session was one that Chad Pennington would like to forget.

Coming off a sluggish Thursday two-a-day, Head Coach Eric Mangini did not hide his emotions from his players following yesterday’s practices.

“They know I wasn’t happy,” Mangini said in today’s pre-practice press conference. “You just can’t waste days, you can’t waste reps, you can’t waste periods because it’s finite.”

Mangini’s players agreed.

“We definitely knew we needed to pick the practice up and he let us know that. We can’t take steps back,” safety Eric Smith said. “We just weren’t progressing.”

So after yesterday’s sluggish performance, Gang Green looked to take a step forward as they returned to practice today. For the first time during training camp, the Jets practiced in Hofstra University’s Shuart Stadium.

After opening the afternoon with a light walkthrough, the Jets split into teams (green and white) for a non-contact simulated game. For the first time during training camp, Pennington struggled mightily. Pennington entered the session interception-free over the team’s first ten practices, but that all changed as he was picked off twice today.

The trouble started early for Pennington. After a short completion on his first throw, Pennington tried forcing a ball to wide receiver Brad Smith on an out-pattern, but cornerback Darrelle Revis jumped the route, deflected the pass and nearly intercepted Pennington for a would-be easy touchdown. On Pennington’s next throw, the quarterback intended to hit wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery on a crossing route, but his pass was easily intercepted by safety Kerry Rhodes. Later in the session, with the ball inside the nine-yard line, Pennington tried hitting an open wide receiver Chansi Stuckey on a quick crossing pattern, but his pass was tipped at the line and intercepted by cornerback Justin Miller.

The afternoon proved to be a role reversal for the quarterbacks, as Kellen Clemens played turnover-free football. The third-year quarterback entered the session with six interceptions in just ten practices, but made several nice throws today. One of Clemens’ finest passes came with his offense inside the 15-yard line, as he lobbed a perfect spiral into the arms of wide reciever Wallace Wright for a touchdown. On the next drive, Clemens showed poise in the pocket. With heavy pressure from linebacker Vernon Gholston on the left edge, Clemens scanned the field, moved up in the pocket and fired a pass to running back Leon Washington for a first down.

While both quarterbacks have faced their share of ups and downs throughout training camp, Mangini reiterated this morning that the quarterback battle is a “marathon and not a sprint.”

“It’s a process with training camp,” Mangini said. “You’ve got to look at it day-to-day, look at the progress, look at where you are at the end of it.”

Despite Clemens’ struggles throughout camp, he continually reminds himself of Mangini’s message.

“It’s important to keep it all in perspective. As a quarterback, whether it’s a bad play or a bad read or an interception or something, it’s important for us to be able to learn from it but to not let it affect your next throw,” Clemens said.

Mangini knows it is important just to improve each day.

“It’s not about being perfect today, it’s about being better than we were yesterday. And as long as individually and collectively you’re a little bit better each day, then that’s how things build, and eventually you get so much momentum that it hits,” Mangini said.

Even with reports emanating late Thursday night out of Wisconsin that talks between the Packers and Jets for Brett Favre were heating up, Clemens insists he does not pay attention to the rumors.

“I don’t even think about it. I really don’t. It does me no good to think about any of that,” Clemens said. “We’ve got enough stuff going on here with the guys in the locker room.”

The white team, led by Clemens, won today’s simulated game 20-17. Kicker Mike Nugent drilled a 54-yard field goal as time expired for the victory.

The Jets will hold their annual Green and White practice tomorrow at Hofstra’s James Shuart Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.


Hawkins Retires

Safety Artrell Hawkins, who has not practiced during training camp because of undisclosed injuries, has decided to retire. “He just felt like it was time for him to move on with the next phase of his life,” Mangini said. Hawkins, 31, played nine seasons in the NFL and totaled 482 tackles and 11 interceptions.

Mangini, who served as Hawkins' defensive coordinator with the New England Patriots, has nothing but respect for the safety.

“I have a ton of respect for him and really wish him well in the next phase of his life,” he said.

Now that Hawkins’ football days are over, the Jets' head coach sees a fit for Hawkins in another area.

“He’s got that deep Barry White voice, so he’s talking about going into broadcasting, which I think he’ll be good at. He’s knowledgable and he’s very determined,” Mangini said.

Roster Moves

The Jets waived linebacker Jerry Mackey, who previously signed with Gang Green last Tuesday. The Jets signed cornerback Nate Lyles (originally signed with the team as an undrafted free agent on May 2) and running back Rodney Kinlaw. Kinlaw (5-foot-9, 210 pounds) went undrafted out of Penn State, where he rushed for 1,655 yards and 12 touchdowns in 45 career games.

Mangini on Favre Talk

Mangini again stayed mum on any Favre talk during his pre-practice press conference. When asked if the Favre speculation was becoming tiring, Mangini said, “There’s so many scenarios that I’ve been tired of a lot of different scenarios over time. I’m tired in general right now. That’s where I’m at.”

As far as the latest buzz in the media, reports say that Favre is leaning towards taking the Packers' offer of a $20 million marketing deal that would keep him retired. Despite talk last night that the Jets were in heavy negotiations with Favre's agent, ESPN is reporting that Favre has no interest in playing for New York. Oh, the drama.

Shaky Day for Raymond

Wide receiver Paul Raymond, who has surprised coaches with his soft hands and quick speed, had a tough day. Raymond dropped two throws during individual passing drills and one during a 7-on-7 drill.

Clowney’s on a Rise

Wide receiver David Clowney’s impressive training camp continues to grab Mangini’s attention. “Suddenly you don’t know a guy and he pops one day, you look a little closer at the next play and then he’s popping a couple other days, now suddenly he gets in the conversation,” Mangini said.

Vernon a Wolverine?

For several scouts, Vernon Gholston’s finest collegiate game came in Ohio State’s 14-3 win over arch-rival Michigan on Nov. 17. He dominated offensive tackle Jake Long and sacked quarterback Chad Henne three times. But perhaps the Jets’ first-round selection needs to look in the team’s media guide. Under his career collegiate statistics, it lists: 2004/Michigan, 2005/Michigan, 2006/Michigan, 2007/Michigan.

Pre-Green & White Practice Notes

Time: 1PM open to the public (free admission)
Place: Shuart Stadium on the campus of Hoftra
Teams: 2 teams picked among the roster drafted by Terry Bradway and Mike Tannenbaum. (Mangini noted there have been trades during the week.)
Coaches: Bob Sutton vs. Jimmy Raye
The Prize: Bragging rights.

Additional Notes: The Jets are also hosting a food drive, so fans are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item to donate.

Injury Report

Wide receiver Laveranues Coles and linebacker David Harris were held out of practice again with “leg” injuries. Both players ran windsprints along the sidelines. Mangini did say that he believes Coles and Harris are “both on a relatively short timeline,” but he also did not give a timetable for either player’s return.

“I get my update each day, and it looks like it’s heading one way and it heads another way, and you just don’t know,” Mangini said. You don’t know how it’s going to respond, you don’t know how an injury is going to test.”

Cornerback David Barrett had his ankle heavily wrapped after getting his feet tangled up in an 11-on-11 drill. However nothing appeared serious as the cornerback slowly walked over to the sidelines and joked with cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Justin Miller.

Tight end Chris Baker and linebacker Jason Trusnik remain on the PUP List and both did not practice.

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