Locker Room Vibes on a Thursday in March


This morning we had another manifestation of the Rex Ryan era of Jets football. Reporters had locker room access, an hour this morning and there'll be another hour after lunch.

What's the big deal? I would think all teams give reporters access during minicamps, and many teams open the locker rooms at times during the off-season program.

But the Jets haven't given this kind of access in a while. Maybe never. It wasn't Eric Mangini's way, and even Herm Edwards allowed very limited strength program access, no locker room but you could request a player and if he was in and you were in on a certain day, you could get an interview. Bill Parcells and Al Groh? Fuhgeddaboutit.

"They just feel it around here," new Jets LB Bart Scott said of his new teammates who preceded him to the Green & White. "It's like a breath of fresh air."

It's also an exciting time. It always is when a new coaching regime is building a new foundation, but the players already enjoying the mood in the Rex room.

"I like Rex, I like Rex," nose tackle Kris Jenkins mused. "He's already got me excited."

But Jenkins knew that would happen. He already ran into Ryan once before — back when he was gearing up to take on the NFL Combine workouts and his Maryland pro day before the 2001 draft.

"Rex was one of the college testers who worked me out," he said. "I knew how intense he was back then."

Intense but not in a smothering way.

"Rex is more of a free spirit," said safety Kerry Rhodes. "He's giving us a lot of confidence from the outset. I think the excitement comes from just seeing guys he coached before who are willing to come here just to play for him again. I've talked to Jim Leonhard a lot and he said he came here because he believes in the system."

Scott, who played and starred on Rex's Baltimore defenses for four years, explained some of the excitement factor in terms of the rules Ryan has instituted and the rules he hasn't.

"Rex has necessary rules, but he's not going to rule you to death," the linebacker said. " 'Pull your socks up when you walk around the building'? All that says is you have power and you're expressing it. Let's not stress each other out with things that have nothing to do with winning.

"You've got to be excited coming to work. This is a painful business. How can you fight through injuries when you're upset about coming to work?"

No one looked upset in the Atlantic Health Training Center locker room this morning. And it's only the end of the second week of the strength and conditioning program. Thursday is set to be the open day for more stories on the Jets for at least the next month heading into the veterans' minicamp, followed by the draft and then the rookies' minicamp the following weekend.

Leon Getting His Work In

One of the upbeat players is Leon Washington. One of the subjects reporters brought up was what he knows about talks between the Jets and his agent on a possible contract extension.

"We're just trying to feel things out," Leon said. "The Jets traditionally have done the right thing. My standpoint is to put the work in and hopefully it will pay off for me."

Asked if he's confident a new deal can be struck soon, he said, "I won't say confident. Hopeful — I guess that'd be the word. I'll do my thing for another year. As I've said, I want to be a New York Jet."

Numerology Department

Jason Trusnik has made the switch with Bart Scott. Scott is No. 57, as he had been with Baltimore, and Trusnik, the third-year LB who wore that number with the Jets, is now 96. No, Trusnik said, he's not necessarily channeling the spirit of David Bowens.

"I was 96 for five years in college," Trusnik said of his big-sacking days at Division III Ohio Northern. "Bart being 57, he's earned his way in the league. I respect him and I'm also looking to working with him. It's kind of a bummer for me a little bit but if there's any number I'd like, it would be to go back to 96."

Other uni numbers have been firmed up. CB Lito Sheppard is No. 26, the number he wore in Philadelphia, which he picked out there because he was the 26th pick of the 2002 NFL Draft. And S Jim Leonard is 36, his number with the Ravens.

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