As the sun set on Central New York on Thursday evening, the SUNY Cortland football stadium was absolutely empty. It's an odd feeling when a place that you had associated with activity and noise for three weeks goes silent.
But I'll remember the voices that visited Jets Radio on newyorkjets.com during our first training camp away from home. Editor-in-Chief Randy Lange and I set a goal of a guest a day — by phone or in our fifth-floor coach's booth in the pressbox — each day we were in Cortland.
What followed was a memorable run that you can relive now by listening to the shows (and every Jets radio program) in our Multimedia archive. If you're curious to know what you missed, here are some of Cortland's greatest hits (off the field).
July 30 — WR Jerricho Cotchery
On the bus with his teammates en route to Cortland, J-Co tells us what Coach Ryan's message was to the team that morning.
"He just kind of welcomed us back and reminded us of our goal this year and that's to win the Super Bowl."
July 30 — T Damien Woody
Driving to Cortland, D-Woody calls in and boasts about the Green & White's offensive line.
"This is the best unit I've ever played on. We have a great group of guys. We have a good blend of veterans and young guys on our line, and the one thing I like about our line is everybody's smart, everybody's durable and tough, and we work well together. And we have a great coach coaching us. I think those are the ingredients for the makings of a very good offensive line."
July 31 — New York Post Jets beatwriter Mark Cannizzaro
Our first in-studio guest, Cannizzaro not only talked Jets football but his battle with cancer. After a couple of surgeries, Canni, we're happy to say, is feeling better, his prognosis is good and he wanted to thank fans for their well wishes.
"I spent almost three months in the hospital and I can't really measure and articulate properly how much that support helped me in my recovery. I've tried to thank people as I see them and you don't ever get to everybody and you've probably forgotten half the people who've been so nice to you along the way, but I'm feeling really good. Whether Jets fans like it or not, I'm covering the team again."
Aug. 1 — CB Lito Sheppard
In Sheppard, acquired in an off-season trade with the Eagles, the Jets found a two-time Pro Bowler who will man the starting corner position opposite Darrelle Revis. Sheppard, who has 18 career interceptions, can still flat-out fly.
"A lot of people don't actually know my speed until I'm racing somebody who they know is really fast, and I think that's one of the things that people underrate me by. I guess you don't have to run a whole lot of full speed because as a corner you are mostly backpedaling and breaking. Going into my eighth year, I'm a mid-to-high-4.3 guy. Coming out, I was in the low-to-mid-4.3 range."
Aug. 3 — ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter
Schefter, a Long Island native who actually attended the Jets' practice at Hofstra on Aug. 12, visited Randy and me in our Cortland studio and predicted a winner in the quarterback competition.
"I think it's going to be Mark Sanchez. It's his job to lose. He would really have to be miserable this summer, I think, to lose the job. Assuming Mark Sanchez is the starter, can they get the solid, mistake-free play out of him that they need? I think they're going to run the ball a lot. I don't think they're going to ask the quarterback to do too much no matter who it is. If the quarterback can play good, smart, relatively turnover-free football, this team should be competitive for a playoff spot."
Aug. 4 — Sports Illustrated senior writer Peter King
When we asked King if he thought fans should worry about the current labor situation in the NFL, the Monday Morning Quarterback said they should. If a new Collective Bargaining Agreement isn't reached, there is a possibility of an uncapped year in 2010 and then a lockout in 2011.
"This would have been Mount Everest of the negotiations without the retired players being inserted into the debate. With the retired players, nobody wants to pay for that. Somebody has to pay for that to increase their benefits."
Aug. 4 — ILB David Harris
After playing his first two pro seasons under Eric Mangini, Harris described his first training camp under head coach Rex Ryan.
"He brings a different mentality to the whole organization. He's very open, very up front with you. He's not going to BS you, he's going to tell you like it is and how he sees it. Sometimes it can be negative, but you can't take it that way. With him being that way, I think it allows the players to play more freely, more loosely. You don't have to walk around on eggshells and be uptight all the time. I think it will be good for everybody."
Aug. 5 — Sirius NFL Radio co-hosts Tim Ryan and Pat Kirwan
The popular duo stopped by before they went on the air themselves as newyorkjets.com went to a four-man booth for the first time.
TR: "There's no doubt that someone's going to have to step up and rush the passer with Calvin Pace being out the first four games and that's going to be key. And when you think about what Rex does, pressure is paramount and it is for all defenses. But I worry a little bit, guys, just watching Vernon Gholston in the 1-on-1's, and maybe he had an off day. In terms of being a physical specimen, the guy is unbelievable. I just didn't see a lot of quick twitch, I didn't see a lot of finish. I see a guy who can beat somebody at the point of attack, but I don't know if I saw somebody who can really finish."
PK: "I love your inside linebackers. When you look at your inside triangle, Kris Jenkins on the nose, [David] Harris and Bart [Scott], I think your inside triangle is as good as it is in the NFL."
Aug. 5 — "Voice of the Jets" Bob Wischusen
In town to call the Green & White scrimmage the following night, Shoes was impressed with the Jets' defensive backfield.
"This is as good a secondary as I have seen. They are deep, their starting four I think probably stack up with probably the top three, four, five starting fours in the NFL. And when you're bringing guys like Dwight Lowery and Eric Smith off the bench, I think that could end up — even for all the talk of Bart Scott joining and Kris Jenkins was great last year and David Harris might be a potential a 150-to-160-tackle guy this season — I still think what is going to allow the front seven to do their business is they know their backside's protected."
Aug. 6 — Green & White Scrimmage
Special thanks goes out to Wischusen and Marty Lyons, his longtime radio broadcast partner, for not only driving up to Cortland but letting Randy and me help call the scrimmage. It was quite an evening.
Aug. 9 — TE Dustin Keller
After watching Mark Sanchez take all the first-team reps for the first time in a practice, one of the Jets' top receiving targets liked what he saw.
"I thought he had a really good performance. He's making really good reads and a lot of good decisions and the proper checks, I think, at this point of time, Mark's way ahead of where a lot of people would think he'd be, being a rookie and having to jump into an NFL scheme, but he's doing a great job.
Aug. 9 — WR Chansi Stuckey
Stuck opened up camp as the No. 2 receiver on the depth chart and he was solid throughout the summer. Always effective from the slot, he worked hard over the past year to get better on the outside.
"I knew there was going to come a point, if I wanted to be an elite receiver in this league and have success, I was going to have to play outside as well. So last year, even though I did a lot of inside stuff, I did a lot of route-running outside on my own. I did a lot of it in the beginning of January and February and this summer when we broke I did a bunch of it. It's definitely feeling a lot more comfortable to me."
Aug. 10 — Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine
Ryan calls Pettine his "right-hand man" and the Jets' new DC talked about the process of developing a defensive game plan while the two were in Baltimore.
"We'd always overinstall early in the week and find out what we liked and what the players liked, and to me it was always very player-friendly It could be a great call in our minds but if the players don't like it, there's no sense calling it if they're not confident in the call. So almost every week Rex would tell the players on defense to take four calls, let him know what they are, and then he'd take them out of the plan. And there were a lot of weeks they'd come back and say, 'No, it's great,' and there were some weeks they'd say, 'Hey, we don't like this.' But Rex had a standing rule that you weren't allowed to take any of the Cover-Zero blitzes out. You're not allowed to take those out because we always joked that Buddy would take him out of the will."
Aug. 11 — OLB Bryan Thomas
With the talented Calvin Pace serving a suspension the first four games of the '09 season, BT knows where the focus will shift.
"I've talked to Vernon [Gholston] and we both know the situation about Calvin being out the first four games. It's going to be on us and we've got to bring our 'A' game to the table, with the other nine guys out there on defense, of course. The offense, special teams and everyone else are depending on us. We have to make it happen and I'll try to help him out as much as I can for that first game in Houston."
Aug. 12 — RB Danny Woodhead
Battling for a spot on an NFL roster, Woodhead doesn't have time to look back on his college accomplishments. He may have rushed for 7,962 yards and scored in 38 straight games at Chadron State, but he's tucked those memories away.
"I rarely look back at stuff like that. I get reminded of that every once in a while but it's honestly not something I think about and not something I really want to dwell on. That was the past and right now I'm fighting for an NFL job and that's more important right now. Maybe someday when I have kids and stuff, then I'll be able to talk to them about it. Otherwise I don't reflect on it at all."
Aug. 16 — Jets coaching consultant Chuck Smith
Smith, who totaled 58.5 career sacks in his eight seasons with the Falcons, mentored the Jets' pass rushers in Cortland. A founder of Defensive Line Inc., Smith's clientele makes for a great who's-who list. He had me and Randy ready to go get the quarterback after he sat in with us and gave us a progress report on Vernon Gholston.
"Vernon has made huge strides. I'm going to tell everyone right now that Vernon's working his butt of and he's learning the art. He's learning how to use his hands. He's also learning to explode out of his stance, something that I teach that I learned from the great Derrick Thomas called the power step."
When I asked Smith what he expected this season from Gholston, Smith set the bar high.
"I have high expectations for Vernon to come out and have a year where he'll have seven to 10 sacks."
Aug. 17 — S Kerry Rhodes
While Rhodes is learning the Ryan/Pettine defensive system, his safety partner, Jimmy Leonhard, came to the Jets with great knowledge of the D and is expected to be the backfield's quarterback. When Randy asked Rhodes about their relationship, he gave an insightful and refreshingly honest answer.
"The chemistry between me and Jim has gotten a whole lot better. It was a pretty hard for me actually to open up to him a little bit because I felt more comfortable telling everyone else what to do and being that the guy to take charge back there all the time, so I was accustomed to that. ... Just listening to a guy tell you that, I had to humble myself to do that. I've done a good job of that. I've listened to him and he's helped me out a lot as far as learning this system and learning when to take shots in this system. I think the chemistry has come a long way since he got here and it's going to continue to get better."
Aug. 19 — RB Thomas Jones
We asked TJ, calling in on his 31st birthday, about his longevity. Last season Jones led the AFC in rushing (1,312 yards), set the franchise records for overall touchdowns (15) and rush TDs (13) and became one of only three running backs in NFL history to be named to his first Pro Bowl after the age of 30.
"I really believe in my preparation. Obviously, God has blessed me, kept me healthy and gave me the will to do what I've had to do. I've had a lot of adversity I've had to overcome and God has blessed me by keeping me levelheaded and keeping me hungry. I do think I've definitely worked as hard as I can in the training room and the weightroom to maintain my body, cleaning up any type of injuries I may have had so I can be fresh for the next week. I watch a lot of film so I'm prepared and I know what to expect on Sundays. ... I think there are a lot of different things mixed together that have helped me be successful over the past four, five years, and I'm definitely not going to stop those things now, especially going into my 10th year, where I kind of feel that I'm in my prime now."
Aug. 20 — ILB Bart Scott and DL Marques Douglas
On the Green & White's final practice day in Cortland, a pair of new Jets came in studio to wrap up our camp coverage. Both Scott, an undrafted free agent out of Southern Illinois, and Douglas, an NFL Europe graduate, took long roads to this point.
BS: "Funny thing about me and Doug is neither one of us passed the look test. You don't see us and say, "That's a hell of a football player right there." We just get the job done. I learned something from a wise man in Mike Singletary, who was my coach a couple of years ago. He told me greatness comes in all sizes and if you're willing to put in the work and pay the price, you can achieve things. I think me and Doug are a testament to that statement."
MD: "I came in this league as a 264-pound pass rusher and 20 pounds later I'm a 285-pound run stuffer. I just try to work hard. I've tried to find my niche in this game and at the same time be productive. I just love going out there with the first team, love going out there proving people wrong each day."
These are just small pieces of those interviews. To listen to one or all of the shows, please visit the Audio Channel on the Multimedia page.
As soon as we finalize our regular-season schedule, we'll let you know. But we have some exciting things on the way for Jets Radio as we move back to Florham Park.