Jets RB Thomas Jones is looking forward to a big year in 2008. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
On the last day of practice ever at Weeb Ewbank Hall the Jets press room was buzzing as movers hauled boxes out to their trucks en route to Florham Park as a 40 year era is over.
Head Coach Eric Mangini was somewhat sentimental at his press conference before practice.
“Today is kind of a special day. It’s our last practice ever here at Hofstra. I’ve had a lot of great experiences here. My first practices ever as a defensive coach were here,” he said. “It’s a special place. I really have enjoyed Long Island and I really have enjoyed it from not just a business perspective or a professional side, but from a family side.”
Leon Washington, former running back at Florida State, is used to coming into programs when they're upgrading facilities.
"When I was at Florida State, I got there right in time for the new facilities. Now I am here and we're getting new facilities, so I'm sure I'm going to spend a lot of time in those new facilities," Washington said.
In regard to the moving possibly posing a distraction before a game, Washington said that the organization did a really good job of transitioning the team over there in a manner that gives them ample time to get ready to move.
"For the most part, most of the guys are over there already," Washington said.
Mangini added his thanks for the fans and the people he’s met on Long Island. He said that while he’s excited about the new facility, it’s hard to leave old friends.
“Hopefully it’s not really leaving, it’s just transitioning.”
Transitioning is something Brett Favre is still in the process of with his new team, and whether or not he’ll play Thursday remains to be known.
Favre being the competitor that he typically is wants to play. He's been known to lobby his coaches in Green Bay to play the last pre-season game, something most veterans would rather not do. If he plays, he realizes it won't be for long.
"I haven’t talked to him (Coach Mangini) about it. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I would assume he would probably say no. If that’s the case, then so be it. I can get some practice in today and tomorrow. We’ll be okay. I don’t know if six plays, although I would like to do it, what you get out of that," Favre said.
Mangini said that he hasn’t finalized his decision on Favre’s playing time Thursday at Philadelphia. When asked if it’s safe to say that the coach is leaning towards not playing him, Mangini said it would be safe to say that he’s leaning towards that.
While Brett Favre is likely to get minimal time Thursday, his two back ups-Kellen Clemens and Brett Ratliff-likely will see most of the time under center.
Clemens noted how Favre's back ups rarely get to play.
"I saw it last night on ESPN. It was something like 253 (consecutive games). Obviously, if you look at it historically his back ups haven’t got a lot of time, which is a testament to how tough he is both mentally and physically. If things go well I am not going to see the field too much more after Thursday night."
Clemens is just trying to take advantage of being in the shadow of a legend and learn from Favre as much as he can.
"I would love to play this year, but it's not a bad thing to sit back and learn from this guy a little bit. He has a lot of football knowledge. He has a lot of information that he can get and fortunately, he is very generous with it. We're all trying to soak in as much as we can," Clemens said.
There has been a lot of talk about the decline of Clemens since Favre's arrival, but don't be fooled. Mangini has been quick to state that Clemens is his number 2 QB, regardless of how Ratliff has been looking.
"Anytime you get positive reinforcement from the coach it's encouraging. Like I said, you keep working and try to get better at this point," Clemens said.
While a lot of light has been shined on the quarterbacks during this pre-season, the running backs have been flying somewhat off the radar. Entering his second season with the Jets offense, RB Thomas Jones said he feels "a lot more familiar with everything."
"We work really hard against each other in practice. We are very comfortable working together and we're looking to build for the Miami game," Jones said.
Jones also was positive about the looks his team saw against Washington and the Giants' defenses.
"They (Washington and New York) have great defenses. The fast run defenses have some really good players and gave us an opportunity to get a head start on some things we are trying to do. Playing those two defenses was good for us in the running game," Jones said.
The tight end position is stacked, and with the roster cut deadline approaching, Mangini said that there is a good chance that the four tight ends—Chris Baker, Jason Pociask, Bubba Franks, and Dustin Keller—would all stay.
So far, Gang Green has waived RB Rodney Kinlaw, S Ron Girault, and OL Thaddeus Coleman. They released RB Musa Smith. The deadline to get the roster down to 75 is at 4 p.m. today. The final roster will hold 53.
Kellen Clemens, Brett Ratliff and Favre all looked sharp throwing to receivers that were not defended, but there were some noticeable struggles when the wide outs were being guarded from 5-yards out of the end zone.
With defensive backs, Ratliff may have looked the sharpest. Erik Ainge struggled to complete anything, but was commended by a coach for having a good throw when WR Marcus Henry made a catch but quickly dropped it.
Hooping It Up At Practice
Practice started off with what seemed like football’s version of the improvisation in an And 1 Mixtape. The defense stood 20 yards from the offense, and a ball-carrier rushed and met a defender halfway, with the defender trying to wrap up the ball-carrier, and the ball-carrier trying to elude the defender.
There were plenty of “Oh sh*t’s!” and “Hell nah’s!” heard as the coaches shouted out “Leverage!”
August Cooling Off
With the weather cooling down lately, several players were practicing Tuesday with long sleeves. While many players routinely wore long sleeves even in the extreme heat last month, there were a lot more at practice Tuesday due to the cooler temperatures and winds.
Farewell to Hofstra
Leaving the confines of Hempstead affected more than just the Jets' players and coaches. Many media members were talking about the move after 40 long years at Weeb Ewbank Hall.
Jets Confidential Reporter Dan Leberfeld mentioned the countless times he's written about Hofstra and Hempstead in his articles. He noted that at times he's wanted to call it Uniondale.
Other writers mentioned how many years they've spent covering the Jets at Weeb Ewbank Hall, and the times they've shared. While Leberfeld was humming farewell music as he walked out the door, he neglected to take his Jets Confidential name plate.
LB Jason Trusnik was riding the exercise bike during practice, still wearing a boot on his left foot. Trusnik was moved from the active PUP list to the reserve PUP list. Justin Miller also sat out and rode the arm bike. DB Ahmad Carroll was seen limping on the sideline, wearing angst all over his face and in obvious discomfort.