While the Jets are working on a new contract for Leon Washington, the Jets' most explosive weapon was the only member of the Green & White not to report to training camp on time.
"Well, we'll see. Right now, you are right, he is not here," head coach Rex Ryan told a reporter outside the team's Cortland dormitory late this afternoon. "If we hear anything, we'll let you know."
Ryan didn't discuss particulars, but it sounded as Washington likely won't be a long holdout. The 5'8", 195-pounder, currently under contract, made the Pro Bowl last season for his return prowess but his offensive contributions are of equal importance to New York's AFC representative. He set career highs in '08 in rushing average (5.9), rush TDs (6) and receptions (47).
"Everyone knows that Leon is a huge member of this football team. He is somebody that finished top-10 in punt returns, top-10 in kick returns," Ryan said. "He is a big member of this football team. Obviously we want Leon here and we'll see what happens.
"I've spoken with him a few times throughout the summer. He knows how I feel about him and how the team feels about him."
Washington is one of the most respected figures in the Jets' locker room. And since being selected in the fourth round of the 2006 draft out of Florida State, he has consistently shined both on the field and in the community.
"He's a leader. He does things right. He does everything right," said S Kerry Rhodes of No. 29. "He's a good player for us. We definitely want him out here, but we can't rush the situation. His situation is being handled right now, so hopefully it'll get done sooner than later."
If the two sides reach agreement soon, Washington will be no worse for the time off. Even though Ryan is in his first year as head coach, Washington will once again learn from the same teacher on offense in coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and the same professor on special teams in coordinator Mike Westhoff.
"I think it'd be an issue if he wasn't here before, but Leon's been here. Everybody knows Leon, everybody knows what type of person that Leon is," said NT Kris Jenkins. "Whatever reason that Leon has as a professional that he needs to stay at home, we're going to grant him the respect of letting him take care of that.
"Now at the same time, we're going to hope that once he gets all of that stuff taken care of that he'll be here and ready to go. But we have patience to wait for our teammates and we have patience to let the business end of it do what it has to do. We just hope that the fans and everybody at home has the same patience."
Washington's backfield mate, Thomas Jones, made it in for the start of camp. Reportedly Jones is not happy with his current deal, but last year's AFC rushing leader (1,312 yards) looks to be in tremendous shape and ready for contact. T.J., set to begin his 10th NFL season, has not spoken publicly throughout the off-season and didn't speak to reporters today.
If Washington misses any practice time, rookie Shonn Greene, the bruiser from Iowa, and Danny Woodhead, who made waves in the spring with his short-area quickness, will get more work.