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Jesse Chatman's Back in the Locker Room


RB Jesse Chatman

After a four-week absence, Jets running back Jesse Chatman is pumped to be back on the practice field with his teammates.

"Like I told Coach, I couldn't get any sleep Sunday because I was so anxious to get back," Chatman said during Tuesday's media session inside the locker room.

After totaling 180 yards from scrimmage in the Jets' preseason finale, a 27-20 win over the Eagles, Chatman was suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL's policy on steroids and related substances.

Even though he wasn't with the Jets to start 2008, Chatman managed to help another football team — Morristown High School.

"It was a joyous experience," said Chatman of his time spent as a volunteer assistant coach. "It's something I'm actually interested in once I get through playing. I liked going out there and giving back to the community, teaching young boys and just seeing them putting it to work."

When Chatman arrived in New York last spring, he told player development director Dave Szott that he'd like to try coaching. The suspension moved Chatman out of the team's new Atlantic Health Training Center in Florham Park, N.J., but he used the allotted time to help give some support to the nearby school.

"I thought there was no better time to do something like that than the time I was gone," he said. "He set me up with Morristown High and the guys were willing to accept me and it worked out very well."

Chatman proudly said Morristown is 3-0, so his coaching résumé is unblemished. He said the young players picked up their intensity a little bit more when they knew a pro football player would be at practice every day.

"Coaching isn't as easy as it seems. If you can get the kids' attention and get them to believe in what you're saying, it gives you a gratification inside you and lets you know that it's something you're definitely capable of doing," said the six-year veteran.

Chatman, whom the Jets signed as an undrafted free agent in March after he rushed for career-high 515 yards last year with the Dolphins, also stayed active physically during his September bye. He had two-hour sessions with Parisi instructor Steve Leo three to four times a week, consisting of flexibility and drills focusing on cutting, speed and agility.

"I ain't going to lie. It was vicious," he said while nodding his head. "They were up-tempo workouts, especially considering you were the only one getting the only attention. You don't get too much of a chance to take a break. But it worked well for me."

And the most vicious part of the workouts?

"At the end of the workout was a treadmill workout where the incline was increased and the speed was increased. I was just working on my stride, getting the maximum stride length out of my running ability."

The Jets have a roster exemption for Chatman this week and will have to release a player by next Monday if they retain him moving forward.

"Even if he's on the 53, it doesn't necessarily mean he'll be on the 45 right away," head coach Eric Mangini said.

Thomas Jones and Leon Washington are the top two backs on the Jets' roster. Chatman would be a nice addition to the group, but he knows he'll have to make contributions on special teams, and coach Mike Westhoff indicated to him that he could be used on kickoff returns.

With both his coaching career and personal training on pause, Chatman appears comfortable in pads again. The Jets have a bye this weekend, so he'll have a little bit of time to work out some of the kinks.

"I feel good," he said, "but no matter what you do to try to stay in shape — there's no shape compared to football shape."

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