Last Sunday there was a tremendous amount of energy emanating from the Jets side of the field, not just because of their gutsy win. In fact, when Bobby Hamilton was leaping around, slapping his teammates on the back and basically entering a possessed rage of exhilaration, the game hadn't even started yet.
"It's just Bobby being Bobby," said Jets head coach Eric Mangini of Hamilton. "The contagious energy that we talk about sometimes, Bobby has that. You see it, whether it's in the practice or the meetings or the lunch room."
Hamilton and the first-year coach have a long history together, and it's not just because they were born in the same year (Mangini, born in January, is about six months older). When the Jets wanted to beef up their defensive line at the end of preseason, it's no coincidence that they traded for a 6'5", 285-pound end named Hamilton.
In Hamilton's 149 career games played, Mangini has been right alongside for 103 of them. The product of Southern Mississippi played his first four seasons for the Jets – from 1996 –'99 - with Mangini serving as defensive quality control coach for three of those years. When Bill Belichick left for New England, he brought both Mangini and Hamilton, among others, along with him.
After a brief separation when Hamilton headed west to Oakland, the two reconnected back where they first met, here in New York. Some wondered if his excitable personality is something that Hamilton may have picked up while in Oakland, but Mangini was quick to rebut.
"I'd had seen that before," Mangini said. "It's kind of what I would expect from Bobby."
Besides his pregame display of passion, Hamilton's distinct persona is quite visible in the locker room and at practice.
"Bobby is a pro," Mangini added. "He has Super Bowl experience. He has played in the system. He is extremely strong naturally. He is very committed to his technique. He works with the other players on technique and he has a great personality."
Hamilton, an undrafted free agent, began his career as a member of a 1-15 team. Only two seasons later, his fortune changed on a 12-4 club. Upon venturing north to New England, he won Super Bowls in 2001 and 2003 only after finishing 5-11 in 2000. Most recently, Hamilton played with a disappointing Oakland team which finished 5-11 and 4-12 in his last two seasons.
With so much experience under his weathered belt, Hamilton inadvertently administers a relatively young locker-room in addition to his personal progress. There is probably nothing in this league that the man hasn't seen.
"If I come in and show these guys how to work on the field and off the field, we can get a lot of stuff done," Hamilton said. "I think you don't have to be a leader by hollering at each player to do this and do that – it's shown by example, how to study tape and how to work on the field."
On the field appears to be both a battleground and a playground for Hamilton – as seen by his pregame routine.
"I'm always going to have that motor and energy like that," said Hamilton. "I know what it takes to be up and I know what it takes to be a winner. If my teammates see me down, then that means something's wrong."
With an important game around the bend, the veteran places proper perspective on week two.
"We can't be putting more emphasis on this game," he said. "But we do know it's going to be a challenge; it's New England Patriots time. It's all about business - just going out there and playing. I'm going to approach it like I always approach it."
The Jets released tight end Zach Hilton and signed offensive lineman Wade Smith. The veteran lineman who spent his first three seasons with the Miami Dolphins… With all of the Pats/Jets hype, Mangini proudly declared his dedication to the Jets. "It's all green for me, all the time," he said. "The only thing I think about and the only thing I care about is our players and our organization and doing the best thing to help this team win. This is a special place. I couldn't be happier to be here, that (New England) was a very special time in my life. This is where I want to be and this is what I want to be a part of."… Many eyes will be focused on the Jets running game this weekend. On Friday, Mangini showed a Walter Payton clip not just to his running backs, but to his entire team for motivation. "All Walter Payton talked about was how much he loved the game, how hard he was going to work, how hard he worked in the offseason, how he played through pain, and how he played through illness."…
Friday Injury Report Jets Doubtful: OL Trey Teague (ankle)
Questionable: *CB David Barrett (hip), *OL Pete Kendall (thigh) & WR Tim Dwight (thigh)
Probable: *LB Matt Chatham (foot) *LB Trevor Johnson (neck), *S Kerry Rhodes (ankle) & *S Derrick Strait (chest)
Patriots Questionable: S Atrell Hawkins (thigh), LB Tedy Bruschi (wrist), WR Chad Jackson (hamstring), T Nick Kaczur (shoulder), & HB/TE Garrett Mills (flu)
Probable: *QB Tom Brady (R shoulder), S Rodney Harrison (flu) & WR Doug Gabriel (hamstring)
*Denotes players who participated in practice