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Leon Loves Football but Still Isn't Happy


Leon Washington was not supposed to be on the field for more than warmups and individual drills this afternoon, which was his script for this morning's first practice of camp. This was all due to his arrival after midnight today to take his conditioning test in the morning and rejoin the Jets.

But as the rain dried up and the sun came out over SUNY Cortland, Washington was involved in regular drills. On one play, QB Kellen Clemens flipped a screen pass to Leon, who turned up field. He would've been tackled after a good gain, but he kept running anyway, as he likes to do, and as No. 29 made his way further downfield, the almost 1,000 fans in the Cortland Stadium stands let out a cheer.

"That goes to show how much I love football," Washington told reporters after practice in his first public remarks about his contract situation, which he said is not resolved. "This morning I didn't do much at all. I was missing it, so I decided to come out here [this afternoon] and play football and help my teammates out. So if there's any question that Leon loves to play football, I definitely love to do it. I think Rex [Ryan] sees that, the organization sees that and my teammates do, too."

There was never a question about that from Ryan, concluding his first day of camp as the Jets' head coach, or general manager Mike Tannenbaum and his front office, or his teammates, or the fans. But an impasse remains between player and team off the field, which led Washington to say that he's "unhappy" about his contract situation and "not confident" that the standoff won't be "lengthy."

Still, he remains under contract and didn't miss any camp time.

"That's the way I felt, like me holding out doesn't gain anything," he said. "So I come out here to play football, have good faith, Round 2, and I hope that things work out for the best. ... But if I don't get a contract, I don't get a contract, so whatever happens, happens. I'm here to play football, here to be with my teammates. I think you saw that today. I'm ready to play, in good shape, and we're going to try to get down to Miami. So that's all I can do for right now."

Other highlights from the second practice of camp came in 7-on-7 drills:

Up first, Clemens loads up and lets a ball fly for Brad Smith. Donald Strickland, in coverage, got tangled up with Smith and fell down. Smith didn't, reeled in the underthrown pass all alone and took off for the promised land. The ball was in the air about 40 yards and the "TD" went for 72 yards.

Then it's Mark Sanchez's turn. The rookie slings a pass to David Clowney, who makes a nice catch and run. Then the rookie tries to thread the needle to Smith over the deep middle, but on this one Dwight Lowery has the nice coverage on the slightly underthrown ball for the crowd-pleasing breakup.

A punting note: Reggie Hodges and rookie T.J. Conley both got off some nice kicks. Not great big 5.0-second-hang boomers, but both had a good mix of 4.7's of decent length with 4.4's and 4.5's that drove the returners back and to the sideline. This battle wasn't decided today.

Update: I overlooked including a late play from this practice. Rookie QB Chris Pizzotti dropped back and tried to back-foot a short pass to a receiver over the middle. He found a pair of hands, but unfortunately for the offense, they belonged to DB Ahmad Carroll. Ahmad took the pick all the way to the house, then handed the ball to Rich Bedell, the Jets' operations manager.

I don't know if Rich is allowed to keep the ball, but it might have some eBay value, being that it's the Rex Ryan/Mike Pettine defense's first return TD of training camp.

And in the Stands

The better weather brought out an official count of 921 fans for the afternoon workout and 1,459 for day one at Cortland. ... Fans attending training camp practices at Cortland should know of a change in policy. No videocameras will be allowed in the stands.

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