In the past 48 hours, the New York Jets have made three trades and acquired one player off waivers. Mike Tannenbaum, a first-year GM, continues to work the phones in an effort to improve the club with the regular season little more than a week away. While Tannenbaum and the members of the personnel department work off the field, the Jets will resume work on the field Friday evening against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The 2006 preseason will end tonight at the Meadowlands following the Green & White's fourth preseason game. First-year head coach Eric Mangini was pleased with his team's effort throughout this week and his inaugural training camp.
"The guys have worked hard through camp and I know at times there have been long practices and some long days," Mangini said. "They really have collectively worked hard as a group. I think over the past week - we always talk about focus - I thought the focus was better. With the focus being better, the practices were better."
Come Saturday, the Jets focus will turn to the Tennessee Titans. The Green & White open their regular season slate in Nashville on September 10th. Mangini says the Jets have to continue to build with each day.
"What we're looking for each day is a consistent level where you're putting one practice on top of the next practice and building - not having one good day and one day where it's not what you're looking for," he said. "Stringing together multiple good practices is the goal."
A home win against the Eagles would give the Jets a 2-2 preseason mark. Chad Pennington, who was named the club's starting quarterback on Tuesday, will not play but Mangini has indicated his other first string players will see action. Both benches figure to empty early as the teams will take a long look at players fighting for final roster spots. Winning would be an added bonus for either squad because everyone starts undefeated once the final gun sounds.
"In terms of Friday's game, the way we've been approaching the week is preparing for Philly but also focusing on some things that we'd like to improve," Mangini said on Wednesday. "We had part of the practice Green and White and part of the practice for Philly and that was some good work."
Although Pennington is now a certain starter at quarterback, there is still competition for the backup role. The Jets traded Brooks Bollinger Friday to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for defensive tackle C.J. Mosley and an undisclosed draft selection. Veteran passer Patrick Ramsey and rookie Kellen Clemens will share the snaps in the team's preseason finale. Clemens, a second round selection from Oregon, played well during the summer and he could make a push for the team's number two spot as a rookie.
"Really, it doesn't play into my decision," Mangini said of Clemens' lack of professional experience. "What's important is who the next guy is that gives us the best chance to win if something happens."
Ramsey, acquired by the Jets in a March trade with Washington, did not see game action last weekend against the Giants. The fifth-year vet, who received the start against the Redskins, has only attempted 12 passes in two preseason games.
"What you want to do out there is play efficiently, play well and move our offense," Ramsey said of playing in the preseason finale.
Last weekend, the Jets went the trade route to acquire running back Kevan Barlow from San Francisco. Barlow didn't get off to the start he had hoped for, fumbling on his second carry against the Giants. But Barlow, 6'1", 234, is an accomplished back who is tough to bring down.
"I am going to go out there and do what Kevan does best, and that's play hard," Barlow said this week. "I'm not going to sit here and say that I'm going to be Curtis Martin. He set a high expectation around here, so I have to try and live up to that but I'm just going to go out there and play hard and give it my all. Hopefully, I can help this team win."
For a number of other players, this will be their final opportunity before final cut-downs Saturday. Times are exciting in Jetland as Tannenbaum, most likely working the phones right up until kickoff, and Mangini, working the sidelines Friday evening, continue their strive for improvement.