Leon Washington was not at today's OTA practice, but don't be alarmed, Jets fans. No. 29, who just returned to the OTAs on Monday after three weeks away, was excused because his fiancée, Charity Young, went into labor and gave birth to a son, Noel.
And Rex Ryan insisted Washington go to be with his woman.
"I think Leon made a great decision," the Jets head coach said. "I was at an OTA when my youngest was born. It was a stupid decision, a young-coach move, obviously. I was in Arizona, that year my dad got the head coaching job and we were fielding questions on nepotism all the time. It was probably my biggest regret in coaching, missing my second kid being born."
One other player was kept out of practice but was on the sidelines soaking in as much as he could, and that's linebacker David Harris, who had a helmetless collision with the helmeted Jim Leonhard on a punt return at the sideline.
"We're going to keep David out of contact for probably the next couple of weeks," Rex said. "There's no sense in doing it. The guy's been phenomenal. He's getting all the mental work out there. It's just something where we'd rather be safe than sorry."
Ryan said collision resulted in Harris receiving stitches in his lip and getting a few teeth loosened. But he was smiling in the locker room today and should be none the worse for wear when he gets married in three weeks.
Meanwhile, rookie RB Shonn Greene was practicing, then he wasn't practicing because he was down on the ground, dinged from a running play. But one play later, he was back in the backfield behind Mark Sanchez, running out into the pattern.
"Shonn is just a tough rascal who can pound that football," Ryan said. "His ribs got a little tender today, but he's an in-between-the-tackles runner and he can get the tough yards. If you say what quarter's going to be his quarter, I would say the fourth quarter."
Then there's Kerry Rhodes, who is back and practicing. His name came up at the coach's afternoon news conference not regarding his play but his Twitter tweet from two days ago: "we will b the best defense in the league this year!!! i feel for the offenses we are gonna face." Ryan was asked how he felt about that.
"I like that," Rex said, not surprisingly. "I like the fact that he put it 'we will.' He didn't put that he'll be the best safety.
"I think the confidence you're seeing on both sides is in their units. That's great, and that's where it should be. I'm excited about that comment. Is he the next Ed Reed or is he going to be the next Jack Tatum and all that stuff? I love the fact that he's talking about we will have the best defense. I think he's smart, too."
Today it looked as if the offense was the stronger unit. Kellen Clemens, Mark Sanchez and Erik Ainge all hit some impressive passes. Ryan lamented a few drops, this time of interceptions by the defensive backs. Dwight Lowery came back nicely, though, from stumbling coverage on a completion to Marcus Henry to swat down an Ainge over-the-middle pass shortly before practice ended.
TE Jack Simmons continues to make fine catches that impress the boss. The free agent rookie from Minnesota snagged a wobbly but still on-target off-balance throw from Ainge, rolling left, in traffic down the side for a nice gainer.
Both units also started working off cards today. That means that the Jets were working their scout teams today. For which opponent? St. Louis in the preseason opener?
"During the team period," he said, "we're starting to work on different teams in our division. We looked pretty good. I won't say who the opponent was that we were up against today. But like I told Schotty, just keep feeding Thomas that ball. That looked pretty good."
Perhaps a signature run by No. 20 today came on a play with the first defense pinning its ears back and preparing to rush the passer. Clemens instead handed off to Jones, who burst cleanly and impressively off tackle between D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Alan Faneca for a big gain.
"It's very good to do it right now," Clemens said of running plays off of cards this early, "so that we can teach off of it later. We have a new head coach who has different expectations in certain situations. It's good to familiarize ourselves with what he's expecting different than Coach Mangini."
Another Rex-Wayne Connection
Then Doug Brien came on for the 49-yard field goal that gave the Jets a 17-7 halftime lead. You could say that was the springboard to the Green & White's primetime 41-14 rout.