For the Jets, Cortland was A-OK, but no doubt about it, Florham is fine.
The Green & White returned home from training camp in central New York for their first practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, N.J., since they broke their veteran minicamp in June. More than 1,300 fans braved the heavy skies and threat of rain to watch the open practice on the outdoor turf field, which felt like a featherbed after three weeks on the road at SUNY Cortland.
"Lovely," said fullback Tony Richardson.
"Refreshing," offered linebacker Bryan Thomas.
Head coach Rex Ryan, who just finished his news conference, raved about his first training camp as an NFL head coach, but even he couldn't hide his delight at being back at the AHJTC.
"The facilities up there were fantastic," he said, "but I forgot how comfortable it was getting in your own bed, watching your own TV."
DT Howard Green cited another example of what it means to be back.
"We've got top-notch facilities here, the best in the NFL," said rookie tight end Jack Simmons, trying to nail down a roster spot. "It's exciting to be back here and back to work."
"It's just such things as simple as getting in the cold tub and not having to wait in line," Green said. "It makes you appreciate everything."
That was one of the several reasons Ryan gave for wanting to take his team three-plus hours away to camp to begin with. One was to help everyone appreciate what he called the privilege of calling this training center home. Another was to help this team build and bond away from the distractions of home.
"This year me and Thomas Jones, we roomed together," Richardson said. "And we did absolutely everything together. We rode to practice together, then afterward we rode back to the dorm together. We were closeknit last year, but this year I think this is going to pay dividends. I know what Thomas is thinking, he knows what I'm thinking."
They're all thinking about what's ahead. First it's the Ravens at Baltimore on Monday night, which means Rex's to the team he coached for the previous decade.
"I think it'd be nice to get him his first win in Baltimore," Richardson said. "Obviously, the biggest thing is to have a good showing. It's preseason and you don't count the wins and losses, but it would mean a lot to him if we can go down there and get a win."
"It's going to be a little emotional probably for him going back," Green said. "But for the most part we have to take care of business. This is a business trip."
And then, after two final preseason games in the Meadowlands, against the Giants (away) and Eagles (home), the Jets will put all they've learned under Ryan and about themselves this past month and apply it to the regular-season opener at Houston and beyond.
"The team had that camaraderie, and guys really developed that brothership," said safety James Ihedigbo. "It was a great summer. Now let's turn it up even more."
Saturday Practice Notes
As often happens, the weather forecast was a little off — and this time it was in the Jets' favor. Today's practice at the AHJTC was the first of three open practices this week. Heavy rains overnight forced the practice onto the outside turf field, and the threat of thunderstorms raised the prospect of the session being moved into the fieldhouse, where it would've been closed to fans.
But the rains let up shortly after the 10:30 a.m. start of practice, and the sun even peeked through the overcast a few times as the Jets entertained 1,700 fans with their first home practice in two months.
In 7-on-7 red zone drills, Kellen Clemens, with the first offense, found Danny Woodhead alone down the right side on a blown coverage for the score.
Mark Sanchez, with the twos, tried the same target down the left side, but on this one CB Drew Coleman was in position for the goal line interception.
TE Simmons had a couple of nice catches from Sanchez, the first in 7-on-7, the second in team drills. "Coach Schottenheimer does a great job of scheming up things," he said. "Today was my turn and I just got open a little bit. It was nice."
Team drills ended with a pair of highly dubious fumble returns. On the first, the first defense took the ball in for the score, with S Kerry Rhodes spiking. On the play, Clemens upended S Eric Smith, in part due to the damp turf. No matter. Ryan called it "the best tackle of training camp without question."
The second offense returned the favor, with Sanchez coming up with the ball, heading for the goal line, then flipping to G Stanley Daniels, who played slamball with the turf. "We offensive linemen have to have great spikes," Daniels said. "We don't get the chance that often."
Ryan said he thinks C Nick Mangold will play but "maybe not much." Even though RT Damien Woody and LG Alan Faneca lined up with the first O-line today, they will sit out another game.
CB Darrelle Revis was in for his first team drills, in the red zone, since pulling his hamstring, then left the field, then returned. Ryan said there was nothing wrong with Revis, although he still hasn't been cleared to run full-speed more than 30 yards and won't play vs. the Ravens.
NT Kris Jenkins remained on the sideline in sweats, but NT Sione Pouha, despite Thursday's severe-looking ankle rolling, was back with the first defense.