Thump. Thump. Thump.
It's the field goal portion of training camp practice, and Jay Feely is driving every kick down Fifth Avenue ... well, at least Route 13 here in central New York State, right outside the SUNY Cortland campus.
Feely is on fire this summer. Or maybe the better metaphor is a well-oiled machine. Snap-hold-kick. Five-for-five one day, seven-for-seven the next. The only thing he hadn't been asked to do was to kick from 50-plus. But then on Wednesday he gets a pair from 52 and nails them.
Thump. Thump. ... Ping.
Feely's final kick of the Wednesday morning practice, from 48 yards, drifts and kisses wide off the right upright.
"I missed a couple of days ago, too," Feely told newyorkjets.com. "But I'm kicking the ball well. It's just about trying to get better every day."
Jets fans didn't get the full flavor of Feely's personality last season. He arrived only after Mike Nugent's injury in the opener at Miami. And he was trying to work through a groin injury that he first got a year ago, before Miami and then Kansas City released him. With coach Eric Mangini's embargo on injury talk and his week-to-week status with the team, he was focused on getting through each week's practice to be as fresh as he could for games, rather than working on improving his game during the week.
"I did get stronger as the season went on," said the ninth-year man. "That's the first time it's ever been like that, where I felt 100 times better in December than I did in September.'
And all off-season and now at camp, Feely is having fun. For instance, at a special teams practice, he was spotted returning punts. But before returning the punts, he was catching them with unorthodox technique not taught to him by Mike Westhoff or Kevin O'Dea.
""I caught a couple behind the back — I gotta give Leon something to work on," he said with a laugh. "Did you see me turn on the wheels? When I was in Atlanta, I used to do all of our punt returns for our look squad."
Feely's also a Twittering machine. He'll tweet about his kids, camping, golfing, national football reporters and, of course, the Jets. (We're following him on twitter.com/nyjets.) He also offered a proposal via his account on the social networking service: The first fan to show up at practice wearing his No. 3 jersey would receive a pair of his game-worn shoes.
"I kept getting a lot of messages: 'Why can't I buy a Feely jersey?' I said I don't know, ask the Jets. Tell them to start making them?" (We're working on it, Jay.)
"Finally a guy showed up. It was a homemade No. 3 jersey. I gave him my shoes, yeah."
But the boldest thing he's tweeted and talked about is the Jets' special teams. Other players have declared their thoughts about how good their particular units can be this season. Feely was asked if it was accurate that he said the Jets special teams will be the best in the NFL this season.
"I believe we can and we will," he replied. "That's a matter of staying healthy and executing. But I think we have the ability and a lot of it'll be determined by how well our punter punts. But normally you'll have maybe six core guys on special teams if you're lucky — we have, like, eight. Almost all of our special teams are already set. You don't usually have that, which will make it tough for a young guy to make the team based on special teams because he's not going to have a lot of opportunity."
Feely ticks off all of the Jets' core cast members:
* Leon Washington, coming off his Pro Bowl berth as the AFC's kick returner.
* Wallace Wright and Ahmad "Batman" Carroll — "I don't know if there's two better gunners in the NFL."
* Larry Izzo — "just a consummate pro on special teams";
* James Ihedigbo, Jason Trusnik, Brad Smith and Eric Smith.
"And put Jim Leonhard in there as well," Feely said of the safety with the fine-return skills. "There's just a great balance between speed and power and experience and youth, and I think it's going to mesh real well together."
And Feely, the well-oiled machine, is right in there meshing with the other gears. He's been hitting 58-yard field goals when he's working alone with his snappers and holders (after nailing a career-long-tying and franchise-long-tying 55-yarder vs. St. Louis last year). He's been on long streaks this camp (after ending last season with 13 straight successful kicks).
"Those kinds of things, I never get caught up in those. I'm not a numbers guy," he said. "I just worry about making every kick. I want to make the next kick. I want to make the next field goal."
So far, the thumping noises he's been making have sounded like a guy who's working hard and getting better every day.