Jets QB Bretf Favre looks comfortable in his new locker at the gigantic Altlantic Health Training Center today. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Through somewhat controlled mayhem, the Jets had their first regular practice at their new facility in Florham Park, NJ and tried to put behind the hype of the move and concentrate on their opening game this Sunday against divison rival Miami.
Head Coach Eric Mangini spoke about Miami's organization, its staff, and on-the-field matters at his presser before Wednesday's practice.
"The one thing that stands out to me right off the bat is this is a physical team. It's a very aggressive team, and it's a very tough team. You see that in the people they've brought in and the way they play. It's very consistent with all of Bill's [Parcells] teams and my experience with him as well here at the Jets," Mangini said.
Of course, all eyes will be on the quarterbacks, as Chad Pennington will get his first start with Miami and Brett Favre will begin his tenure with New York. Favre was recently named one of the two offensive captains for the Jets, an honor for the veteran.
"I told Eric [Mangini] yesterday, I felt a little uncomfortable to be voted. I mean, I'm honored. As I told him yesterday, I feel like I need to earn it. I don't want it to be based on past performances or longevity. What's important is what I do here and how I carry myself as a teammate. I'm honored to represent this team," Favre said.
Offensive lineman Alan Faneca was named the other offensive captain. Defensively, Shaun Ellis and Kerry Rhodes and on special teams Leon Washington and David Bowens were voted into the positions.
Mangini was pleased with his QB's transition thus far, and anticipates Favre's excitement heading into week one.
"I think everybody has that excitement going into the first game. Obviously he's fitting in well to be voted on by his peers to be a captain. I think the question of how he's adjusting, how he's fitting with the guys, has been clearly answered by the fact that his peer groupĒI don't know how peer groups work with that age differential but the kids voted for him," Mangini said.
While the media are eating it up, Favre downplayed the hype of him versus Pennington.
"No thoughts as far as Brett versus Chad. I'm sure he'll say the same thing. It makes for a good story, I guess. But the bottom line is it's football. It's Jets versus Dolphins," Favre said.
Favre said he'd be lying if he said he was completely comfortable, but he is confident with what he has to work with in terms of the playbook. For the captain, it comes down to execution. He said he won't be perfect, and he won't feel a hundred percent throughout the game.
"As the season progresses, guys get better. I'm no different," Favre said.
In facing Miami comes the obvious fact that the Jets are familiar with Pennington and his tendencies, however Pennington also has to be familiar with the Jets offense and defense, and their tendencies.
When asked who has the advantage, Chad or the Jets, LB David Harris said "Hopefully we will, but we'll see."
"They know what we're good at, we know what he's good at. He knows our weaknesses, we know his weaknesses, so we're gonna try to attack the offense's weaknesses, and they're gonna try to attack ours," LB Eric Barton said about playing against a former teammate.
Barton agreed with a reporter that it will be a pretty interesting chess match.
S Kerry Rhodes said they will be giving Pennington different looks.
"We have to do what we do best," Rhodes said. "If we can get him [Pennington] a step off and just a second slower that makes for a big deal. If he's on time and he has his reads, he can make you make any throw in this league."
The former Jets QB was available for comment via conference call Wednesday. Like Favre with New York, the Dolphins signal-caller has been working diligently to prepare and get comfortable with a new team and a new offense.
"Iíve been in here constantly, since day one, making sure that anything and everything our coaches want to do offensively that Iím capable of doing and not only doing, but doing well. Thatís been my goal the past four-and-a-half weeks to catch up, stay after practice, come in early in the morning to gain as much knowledge as I can so that we can be as effective as we can be," Pennington said.
While he still feels the legacy left in Miami by legendary QB Dan Marino, he said it's much like the legacy left by Joe Namath in New York.
"Their legacy remains, regardless. I look forward to the day that I'm able to talk to Dan and take a few pointers and notes, and just learn from him. He had an amazing career and he was a well-respected man around here and I can't wait to meet him."
Pennington admitted to it being a little weird facing a former team this week, but he added that what it comes down to is execution.
"You canít get caught up in a guessing game and trying to be right every play. I understand that they have a good team. They have good players and theyíre going to be in the right spot and theyíre going to make some plays. We have to do what we need to do, to put ourselves in the position to be successful as well. If something does happen that doesnít go our way, we donít blink and let it spiral into more negative things, and being able to bounce out of it."
As for the buzz surrounding Favre, Pennington kept his cool, respecting that this is a business, and that if you take things personally you will get your feelings hurt everyday.
"The Jets felt like they needed to go and get Brett Favre to be their quarterback and they felt like I wasnít the guy. Itís really simple. You canít worry about why or why not, you move on and respect the time that you had there and the people that you worked with on a daily basis and move on. You can look at it as an obstacle or an opportunity. Iíve always attempted to look at things as an opportunity," a positive Pennington said.
In the spirit of this week's opponent, speakers blared the cheesy Miami Dolphins theme song (Ripped off from the old Houston Oilers) as the players warmed up during practice. Next on the playlist was Will Smith's Miami, a 1997 hit from his album Big Willie Style. As if those jams weren't enough, Will Smith was followed by the theme song to Miami Vice.
Westhoff Not Letting Up
Mike Westhoff, who has been missing from the Jets' sideline for six months due to a ninth medical procedure on his left leg, was officially back today and was cursing at the special teams like he never left. Welcome back Mike!
Barton Says "What's Up?"
LB Eric Barton laughed when asked what he's going to say to Chad Pennington when he first tackles him Sunday. "What's up, Chad?" Barton replied, as if he was uncertain of his response. Barton added that it's too hot down there to do too much gabbing.
The media has conference calls later this afternoon with former Jets QB Chad Pennington and Dolphins Head Coach Tony Sparano. Check back later for some insider tidbits.
EXCLUSIVE PRACTICE PHOTOS! For exclusive JI photos from the team's first day of practice at the new Atlantic Health Training Center: CLICK HERE