INSIDER TUESDAY CAMP REPORT
By Douglas Bonjour
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
August 19th, 2008
As Kellen Clemens’ pass sailed into the turf at Weeb Ewbank Hall, the third-year quarterback dropped his head in frustration and hopes for a go-ahead touchdown sailed away. With the offense trailing by three with just seconds left in a two-minute drill, Mike Nugent lined up for a potential game-tying field goal. It was a situation Nugent had found himself in before. On Saturday, with the Jets trailing 13-10 to the Redskins with just five seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Nugent booted his kick off the left upright, ending any chance of a comeback. Unfortunately for Nugent, similar scenario, same result today. His 52-yard attempt sailed wide right, and just like the loss to the Redskins, football for the day had concluded.
As such is life in the NFL, developing a short memory for mistakes is key, but Saturday’s miss still stands out in Nugent’s mind.
“It was a situation where I think I took for granted all the things that I know about kicking and just thought that maybe since it was pretty short that it was automatic,” Nugent explained.
As both Nugent and his teammates rudely found out, no kick in the NFL is automatic, even when all else is perfectly executed.
“Snap great, hold great, great protection, on every other end of the aspect, everything went right, but I need to do a better job of just focusing on no matter what the distance is,” Nugent said.
While Mangini felt that James Dearth’s snap to holder Ben Graham was “a little off” on Nugent’s miss, he explained that such attempts are successful about “98 percent” of the time. Mangini discussed the failed kick with Nugent yesterday.
“I did talk to [Nugent] about it and just said, look, we’ve got to move forward, and I don’t anticipate that happening again in the future,” Mangini said.
Although Nugent admitted that putting game-deciding mistakes behind is “easier said than done,” having a shot at redemption comes with the job of being a kicker. Nugent will have that opportunity this Saturday, as the Jets battle the Giants at Giants Stadium.
“What’s good about being a kicker is coming into a situation, you realize you’re going to be put in a lot of situations like that, your job is to come through on stuff like that,” Nugent said.
Last season Nugent had few troubles when countering his mistakes, as he nailed 29 of 36 field goal attempts. In just three seasons with Gang Green, Nugent has been successful on 82.4 percent (75-for-91) of his kicks. Mangini knows his kicker works hard at what he does.
“Mike is such a conscientious guy, nobody is going to be harder on Mike than Mike is, and that’s because he’s a perfectionist. He’s always trying to improve his strokes, his mechanics, all those things,” Mangini noted. “He doesn’t miss very often from that distance.”
Nugent's poor performance Saturday came as a surprise, not just because of the difficulty of his kicks, but because the kicker's performance in training camp had been anything but poor. Even though most attempts have been successful in practice, the crucial part of the job is being successful on gameday.
"I think at this level, whether you can get all 32 kickers together, maybe on a day like today practicing everyone would be hitting field goals, but I think the difference is what you can do when it actually counts," Nugent explained.
Nugent did hit a 53-yard attempt following Brett Favre's two-minute drill, but consistency surely remains a key.
Aside from Nugent, all eyes were again on the man under center. After quarterback Brett Favre admitted last week that his legendary arm was “dragging” and “fatigued," Favre was back in top form today.
Jerricho Cotchery, who is slowly developing into Favre's top target, continued to make an impact on the field. During an 11-on-11 drill, Favre faced heavy pressure off the right end from Bryan Thomas, but Favre did not get frazzled and threw a 20-yard bullet to Cotchery. A few plays later, Favre snuck a pass to Cotchery along the left sidelines.
While Favre has looked solid both in game action and during practice, he knows the chemistry with his recievers is still developing.
"I think we're making strides," Favre said. "For me, it gets worse before it gets better. There will be some mistakes."
Favre knows he still has room for improvement.
"I made a couple of checks in practice today. Some run checks that were okay, it wasn't the best check. I have to get better at that. We have to get on the same page and the only way we're going to do that is by practicing and going about it like it's a game and game-type situations," he said.
Favre was welcomed today by the return of wide receiver Laveranues Coles, who has not worked much with Favre due to a nagging leg injury. Coles is one receiver who the 18-year veteran has the highest regards for.
“He’s a lot like [Green Bay wide receiver Donald] Driver. I mean that with the highest confidence. First and foremost, his experience. There's no substitute for experience” Favre said. “I’ve seen a lot of guys come and go that had tremendous speed, who could jump high, who could bench press more than anyone in the locker room, but could they play football? When it’s all said and done, that’s the most important thing, can you play?”
Favre will hope to continue to develop that chemistry Saturday. Although he admits that his mentality is to play the entirety of each game, he knows that will not be an option in the preseason. For Favre, the best lesson is dealt during games.
"Two-minute drills, red-zone situations, third-down situations; you can't do them all in one day. We're trying to throw those in. It's goods against goods. Dealing the cards is important, but there's no substitute for live action," Favre said.
As has become a daily ritual with Mangini, Favre ended today's practice with a two-minute drill. Favre received a mulligan on the drive, as cornerback Darrelle Revis took advantage of an apparent mis-communication between Favre and wide receiver Brad Smith. Although Smith ran a go-route, Favre threw the pass well behind his target, appearing as if he expected Smith to stop his route. However, one delay-of-game penalty later, Favre had the ball back. The drive stalled just two plays later, as Favre's pass to Smith fell incomplete.
The Jets signed wide receiver Larry Brackins. Brackins (6-foot-4, 225 pounds), was originally drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the fifth round (155th overall) of the 2005 NFL Draft out of Pearl River CC in Mississippi. After being cut by Tampa Bay in both 2005 and 2006, Brackins signed with the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena League, where he caught 163 passes in two years.
A spot for Brackins on the 80-man roster was opened last night after Gang Green waived cornerback Nate Lyles. Lyles originally signed with the Jets as an undrafted free agent on May 2, was waived on July 22 and was re-signed on July 31.
Coles, Ellis Return
Coles and defensive end Shaun Ellis returned to practice today, but both were limited in drills. Neither player participated in 11-on-11 drills, with Smith replacing Coles and Mike DeVito replacing Ellis among the starters.
Although Coles practiced, he continued his silence with the media. The nine-year veteran still has not spoken with reporters since his good friend Chad Pennington was released by Gang Green two weeks ago. Mangini offered his view on Coles’ silence during his pre-practice press conference.
“You know, everybody is different and everybody makes their own decisions. Like I said, he’s been great in terms of our conversations and with the team, with the guys,” Mangini said.
Miller Shows Off Arm
Following today’s practice, cornerback Justin Miller threw passes to a few Jets ball boys. Surprisingly, the cornerback’s throwing abilities were nothing to joke about. Miller threw multiple passes that traveled 40 yards in the air and hit his targets.
Henry Learns a Lesson
If there’s one aspect of Favre’s passes that have become distinct, it’s his ability to throw bullets. If that was not already known by rookie wide receiver Marcus Henry, he learned first-hand today. Shortly after catching a pass from Favre, Henry walked over to the sidelines to get his fingers taped together.
Cornerback Shows the Burst
After 11-on-11 drills, the Jets moved into special teams drills. During kickoff returns, cornerback Ahmad Carroll displayed an impressive burst of speed as he maneuvered around blockers. Sharing return duties with Carroll were Cotchery, Miller and Revis.
Ainge Endures Tough Afternoon
Rookie quarterback Erik Ainge's practice was certainly painful to the eye for any Jets fan. Ainge was intercepted three times in 11-on-11 drills (Drew Coleman, Dwight Lowery and Revis) and floated passes into no-man's land on several occasions.
Wide receiver David Clowney, who has eight catches for 222 yards and two touchdowns in the Jets’ first two preseason games, was held out of practice with what Mangini labeled as a “shoulder” injury.
“David won’t be out [practicing] for a little while. We’ll just take it day-by-day and kind of gauge it,” Mangini said.
Linebacker Jason Trusnik (leg) remains on the PUP List and did not practice. His lower left leg remains in a cast.