Jets fans who've been around for a while know that the Green & White have participated in quite a few combined summer practices with other NFL teams. And those fans will join with the rest of Jets Nation to celebrate this summer's first in franchise history as first-year head coach Robert Saleh's team will conduct joint workouts with not one but two NFL opponents.
The Jets will travel to Wisconsin early to participate in two days of practices (Aug. 18-19) with the Packers before the teams' second preseason game on Saturday afternoon, Aug. 21, at Green Bay's hallowed Lambeau Field.
The next week the Jets will collaborate with their longtime summer frenemies, the Eagles, for two days of practices at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, NJ (Aug. 24-25) before the green teams conclude this year's three-game preseason schedule with their usual summer finale, on Friday night, Aug. 27, at MetLife Stadium. Free tickets for the joint practices with the Eagles will be available to the general public on July 14 at 10 a.m.
Saleh clearly sees the value of popping pads with opponents in different-colored jerseys before the regular-season games arrive. And the Jets as an organization, although they haven't had combined practices every summer, have felt similarly.
The most recent joint workouts took place against Washington at that team's training center in Richmond, VA, from Aug. 13-15, 2018.
Here are some of the other combined practice stops, not an exhaustive list but a timeline showing which opponents the Jets have teamed up with and against in previous Julys and Augusts.
1968 — We can start with an interesting coming together of the Jets and the Colts on July 30, 1968, months before the teams' historic battle in Super Bowl III. Specifically, they held a "rookie game" at the Colts' McDaniel College training camp in Westminster, MD. The event wasn't secret although it was barely publicized in the New York area.
1974 and 1977 — The Jets and Giants met not only for preseason games every summer from 1969-2019 before last year's COVID hiatus, but also in many years for combined practices. In '74 and '77 the site was the Giants' Yale University training camp in Fairfield, CT. The teams postponed their '74 scrimmage for four days due to Jets injuries along the D-line before holding the scrum on July 22.
On July 20, 1977, then-first-year HC Walt Michaels said of a then-rookie WR: "We came here wanting to see if Wesley Walker could get open. We noticed that he did." Walker hauled in a 41-yard TD strike from backup QB Steve Joachim. That may have been Walker's first of his many long-ball catches against an NFL opponent in his storied career.
1988 and 1989 — Joe Walton's last two seasons as head coach began with summer combined practices. In '88, the Jets took on Washington again, this time at Lafayette College. And the big move that day wasn't by DE Mark Gastineau but by Gastineau's then-girlfriend, actress Brigitte Nielsen, in emerging from a black limo on the sidelines to watch practice.
The next year the Jets returned to a small Pennsylvania school but this time it was Lehigh and the foe was the Giants. The Jets "won" on the scoreboard, 24-20, but lost DT Marty Lyons for a short while to a sprained index finger and S Rich Miano to a "slightly stretched" knee.
1994 — One of Saleh's mentors is Pete Carroll, and Pete was the Jets head coach for his only season in '94. Late that July, Carroll and the Jets worked against the Eagles, coached by Rich Kotite, in two days of combined practices at the Green & White's former Hofstra headquarters on Long Island.
2004 and 2005 — Herm Edwards' last two seasons guiding the Jets' fortunes began with early joint practices with the Giants at Big Blue's SUNY Albany training camp. In '04 Coach Herm awakened his players at their Hofstra camp with airhorn blasts at 4:30 a.m. for their four-bus caravan to upstate New York for the day.
The next summer's workout on Aug. 6, 2005, was noteworthy for altercations. In the main event, Jets safeties Erik Coleman and Oliver Celestin, joined moments later by LB Jonathan Vilma, brawled with Giants TE Jeremy Shockey. Later, Jets DC Donnie Henderson and Giants HC Tom Coughlin exchanged words. "That's how we practice, Coach," Donnie was heard to say. Kareem McKenzie, the Jets RT for four years, went up against his old team after signing with the Giants as a UFA.
Will memorable headlines and team folklore emerge from the Jets' combined practices this summer? There will be twice as much opportunity to find out.