As the team completed it's final tuneup on Friday before flying to Miami for the home opener, the Jets are on the verge of seeing if this re-tooled team is ready to make a title run.
WR Laveranues Coles was one of Chad Pennington’s biggest fans. Both Coles and Pennington were drafted in 2000 by the Jets and they have played seven seasons together. His 18 touchdown connections with Pennington are the most for any receiver with Pennington. And now for the first time since 2003, the two close friends will playing on the same field but for different teams.
Ever since the arrival of QB Brett Favre forced the Jets to release Pennington, Coles has kept to himself. The nine year NFL veteran has not yet spoken to the media this season, which leads to speculation that he is unhappy (despite getting his contract reworked before training camp) about the Jets trading for Favre which meant his close friend Pennington had to leave the organization.
During head coach Eric Mangini’s Friday morning press conference at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, adamantly said that Coles’ mind is exactly where he expects it to be.
“What I think his emotions will be ‘How can I help us win’,” said Mangini. “L.C. is a total pro. He is focused on one thing. He’s been great. He’s tough physically and tough mentally. And all he is worried about is doing the best he can and helping us win.”
Coles, whose locker is right next to Favre, has to now get familiar with another quarterback. He has to familiarize himself with the type of ball Favre throws, the speed of the ball and the sound of his voice in case Favre has to audible at the line. But what makes Coles’ situation unique is that he is also suffering from a thigh injury and he has not been able to play in any of the four Jets preseason games.
And despite not doing that in game-like situation offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is confident that Favre and Coles are right now on the same page and ready Miami Sunday afternoon..
“With that I have no concerns. We always talk about the Me-to-You factor. A lot of Me-to-You factor has to do with those guys spending time together. One of my favorite things I have seen this preseason is the way our players have interacted,” said Schottenheimer. “To me Brett and Laveranues are right where they need to be right now in terms of the Me-to-You factor and I expect to see them to perform well.”
But Will Coles Play
While it is a good probability that Coles will play on Sunday, Mangini did not officially say he will. He said he will talk to Coles on Sunday, but most likely Coles should suit up for Gang Green.
“We’ll see how it goes with L.C., Justin Miller and Chris,” Mangini said. They’ve all been practicing. We’ll just see where they are and kind of gauge it right up to game time with them.”
Mangini announced that the Jets will leave for Miami tonight instead of Saturday. He said the early leave was not because of the threat of Tropical Storm Hanna, but it was part of an agreement that allowed the Jets to move into the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center when they did. Mangini said the new facility just needs a little more finishing and cleaning up. He also announced that leaving the new facility on Friday something they will do when they on the West coast. The Jets usually travel for away games on Saturdays.
A Future Jets Employee
When Mangini was asked if and what would he say to Pennington after the game, he replied by saying was unsure. Then after telling members of the media he was unsure if he is going to speak to him he followed with this.
“Chad’s going to be not only a good football player for a long time; I could see him having a role in football after he through playing. He’s got a great mind. Maybe he’ll be on TV. Maybe he’ll be coaching,” said Mangini. The guy can do whatever he wants. He’s smart. He’s well-spoken. He’s knowledgeable.”
Then asked if he would hire Pennington, Mangini responded by saying “Not this week. But I wouldn’t be opposed to that at all.”
Cumming(s) On Strong
LB Kenwin Cummings was the only rookie free agent to make the 53-man roster. Mangini, who loves position flexibility, found that in Cummings. Like rookie Vernon Gholston and second-year linebacker Marques Murrell, Cummings played defensive end in college. And like Gholston and Murrell, Cummings did some very good things at the linebacker position in training camp and he opened Mangini’s eyes.
“He’s shown some good things. Like all the rookies, he’s got a lot of work to do,” said Mangini. “When you put it in context, you see it with Vernon, not just a rookie but a position change, those take time. There’s some really positive traits there.”
Mike Westhoff is back! Just ask players like WR Larry Brackins. While working with the punt coverage team, Brackins did not know if he was supposed on the field and where. Brackins heard it from Westhoff then proceeded to line up for the next play.
Rooks Will Get Their Shot
While Mangini did not say that rookies LB/DE Vernon Gholston, TE Dustin Keller and CB Dwight Lowery will start, he did say he expects them to contribute in a big way on Sunday. Of the three rookies only Lowery will probably start but Gholston and Keller should see plenty of game action.
“But if they're on the 45-man roster, I said this to the team, ‘if you're up, you've got to contribute," said Mangini. "You've either got to contribute on (special) teams (or) you've got to contribute meaningful reps during the regular course of offense and defense.’"
Injury Report as of 9/4/08
WR David Clowney (shoulder)
Limited Participation in Practice
CB David Barrett (shoulder), WR Laveranues Coles (thigh), DE Shaun Ellis (hand), WR Marcus Henry (calf), CB Justin Miller (foot), OL Damien Woody (shoulder)
No players listed on the injury report