The two Jets were on the train for Monday's Meadowlands Rail Station news conference. But their minds were also on the bus that they'll be taking from Florham Park to Cortland in a few days, and on the wings they and their teammates are planning to take as they head into the 2009 season.
"I'm expecting a smooth training camp," said tackle Damien Woody. "I think the chemistry's going to be very good."
"I'm looking forward to this camp in Cortland," said wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery.
The one reason for the eagerness is the destination. SUNY Cortland, head coach Rex Ryan's team-building location for camp, is, depending on one's location and time of departure from the tristate area, a three-to-four-hour drive from the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center.
"I'm excited because I love the entire idea of just getting away from the area and being out of your comfort zone," Cotchery said. "When you're in your comfort zone, after practice you can go home, go to places where you hang out. When it's just you and your teammates, you have no one else to go to."
"Being away for a few weeks, it's going to be a good opportunity for everybody to come back and really get that focus back for what we're here for, and that's the championship. Rex has already set the bar high. He's just reminding guys about what we play for. We don't play for anything but the Lombardi."
Ryan has already had a combination of messages for his players, which he's passed on to them already and will stress again when the team congregates for its first meeting of camp a week from tonight. One is the ultimate goal, which is not a taboo to talk about. Another is the toughness aspect — "We won't have any soft players," Rex has said.
Yet another is the lack-of-respect mantra. The coach has heard doubts directed at him as a first-year coach, at positions on his team such as quarterback, at his team in general.
The wideouts are a case in point. Many fans still want a veteran signed, and Ryan told M.A. Mehta of The Star-Ledger on Wednesday that the Jets will keep their eyes open for opportunities to add talent at any position. But, he added about the WRs ready to go to camp:
"I have more confidence in that group than the general opinion out there. Everybody to a man ought to feel slighted, every one of those guys. They all have abilities. ... And all the things like we need to pick up this guy or that guy? We're going to find out. We'll see who's right and who's wrong."
Cotchery feels right about his new role this year as the unit's No. 1 wide receiver, with Laveranues Coles having exchanged Green & White for tiger stripes.
"I'm excited to be looked at as the leader of the group," he said. "Being able to help the younger guys get better and in turn they're helping me to get better as well, being able to lead those guys and create an energy as an entire receiver group — I'm looking forward to that part of it. Obviously, being the No. 1 receiver, there'll be a lot more opportunities, so I'm just going to take the same approach and take advantage of every opportunity I get."
Not to beat the point to death, but this will be a revealing camp with the Ryan philosophy coming into full flower. From the tone of practice during the off-season, it's a winning approach.
"Rex's whole thing was 'We're going to get you in and get you out, no wasted time. I want to get you off your feet. Let's be efficient and let's have fun while we're out here,' " Woody said of the OTA/minicamp Ryan that he saw. "It's going to be very interesting to see how he approaches training camp. Anytime there's something new, there's always a little bit of an unknown.
"But guys are psyched, guys are ready. It's going to be good."
Counting It Down
Kudos to Paul Marsh, our senior manager of Website technology. Despite a bulging to-do list, Marsh found the time to get our "countdown clock" up and running a little earlier than usual — not to tell visitors to newyorkjets.com how much time remains to opening day kickoff but rather how long it is until the whistle to start the first practice of training camp, around 8:15 a.m. on Friday, July 31.
The clock at the top of our home page now reads 8 days, 22 hours, 9 minutes and 53 seconds ... uh, that's 52 seconds ... 51 ... 50 ... You get the idea.