The central New York hills are not as verdant this morning, shrouded in mist, and a sky in shades of mottled gray is rolling by overhead.
What a great day to start Jets Training Camp '09.
The weather will no doubt keep some fans of the Green & White away, but despite this morning's light rain, it's full speed ahead for head coach Rex Ryan and his team to begin stretching on the Cortland Stadium Sprinturf and surrounding grass fields around 8:15, less than an hour from now, and hitting each other in full pads for the first time shortly thereafter.
The SUNY Cortland campus is coming to life. Cars of Jets staffers and reporters are now starting to fill up lots that Thursday were empty. No fans are yet in the stands on either side of the stadium field, but a few are already mingling with workers on the asphalt around the venue. Cortland shuttle buses have been arriving every 10 minutes or so and dropping off a few more players, who then head for the locker rooms just past the south end zone.
How do I know this? Well, I've been up for a while — since about 3:30 a.m. I can't say it's because I was wired about the start of summer camp (my third since coming aboard as editor-in-chief of newyorkjets.com), but I can't say it's not. After a few hours, I abandoned hope of returning to sleep and headed out from our campus apartments to the stadium for a walk around the then-slumbering campus.
Around 6:15 I passed DT Howard Green, walking in the opposite direction toward the stadium.
"Up early," I said.
"Time to get started," he said. And so it was.
S Eric Smith rolled by on his bicycle shortly after. DE Mike DeVito already seemed focused on the day ahead. I passed LB Bart Scott, who nodded in greeting and already was awake and ready to rumble.
If David Clowney's remarks upon the team's arrival are any indication, we're in for a loquacious camp. Said Clowney:
"Me and Bart, we're gonna go at it every practice — believe it."
All right, no time to rest now. Are you ready for some Jets football? It's just 8 a.m. and already most players are on the field.
Plans for Today
We'll have our usual array of features for you for the start of camp, plus a few new bells and whistles. We'll have practice blogs shortly after each session ends, and of course today is a two-a-day. Every day we'll provide a feature or two — today's hot topics are how the quarterbacks, Kellen Clemens and Mark Sanchez, looked and how Vernon Gholston hit the ground running as the player ticketed to replace Calvin Pace for the first four games of the season.
We've been tweeting since April but this will be the first training camp that the Jets will be providing practice highlights and news flashes on our Twitter account. Check us out.
With Rex comes our daily "Rex Box," a spotlight on the coach's highlight of the day. It could be something Ryan does during practice or says in a news conference, or something someone says about him.
Coach Ryan's news conference as always will be streamed live daily beginning at 11:15 a.m. after the morning's practice, then archived for playback later. And transcripts of Ryan's news conference and player interviews will be available during the day and into the following morning.
Finally, Eric Allen and I will be diving into regular Jets Radio broadcasts. Check us out each afternoon as we talk about the day's practices and chat with the players, coaches and reporters here in Cortland.
And the Fan Line Number Is ...
Practice is on today and Jets Shop is open for business here at Cortland. But Jets Fest, the interactive theme park for kids, has been closed this morning due to the rain and will try to reopen this afternoon.
Just a reminder that the Jets' training camp fan line number is 973-549-4844. Each day the line will provide information on the next day's practice times, Jets Fest and Jets Shop schedules and information in the event of inclement weather or practice changes. You can also find all this information on newyorkjets.com, and we will post all pertinent changes on Twitter as well.