The start of an NFL team's off-season strength and conditioning program is like a family reunion: How are the wife and kids? What've you been doing with yourself the last two months? Been out on the boat much?
But for the Jets players who returned to Weeb Ewbank Hall to restart their engines under the watchful eyes of strength coach Sal Alosi and his staff, today's first sessions had the added element of freshman orientation day ... even if some of the freshmen were older than some of the juniors.
Take third-year center Nick Mangold getting acquainted with his new left guard mate, Alan Faneca, the former 10-year Pittsburgh Steeler.
"Alan was in the early group with me," Mangold told newyorkjets.com this afternoon. "He seems like a great guy. It was kind of odd, because here he is coming in as a solid veteran, he's been around forever, and he's learning how we do things — 'We go from stretching to this, from outside to ab work,' little things you don't even think of after doing it for so long.
"It was weird that I was helping him out. I'm looking forward to that being reversed and being able to talk with him about football and things that really matter."
Faneca confirmed as much in an interview with NFL Network's Rich Eisen.
"I'm walking around this building two and three times before I find what I'm looking for," Faneca said from "the Weeb". "I'm bad with names and I'm trying to soak in the names of everybody I'm shaking hands with."
Mangold also got to say hello to another free agent O-lineman who should be lining up to his right, Damien Woody, who spent nine seasons with New England and Detroit.
"Yeah, Damien's another good guy," said Nick, a good guy himself. "I think with everyone we brought in, you're excited to be able to work with them and pick their brains and see how far we can take what we're doing with them."
There are plenty of veterans around from last season as well. Mangold said he doesn't want to skip anyone so he'll take the rest of this week bonding with some of the other new Jets and rebonding with his fellow Jets vets.
But opening day in the weightroom and out on the turf fields in the sunny but brisk Long Island weather is about being outgoing. It's also about looking inward, into the body and mind that you dragged away from last season and got recharged.
Mangold said he returned to his home state of Ohio in January and February to get in some quality time with his real family, whom he didn't get to see as much of during the course of his first two NFL seasons spent primarily in New York and New Jersey. But now he's back east,
"This first day, it's really about getting an accurate assessment of where you are," Mangold said. "That way you have a good building block moving forward. There's a lot of run testing, poking and prodding, just to get a good feel for where you are, where you stack up to where you were a year ago, where you were after the season. It gives you a good opportunity to have a good beginning."
And to get a jump on some of the new things each player wants to emphasize in his game for the coming season.
"I think the lifts are still the same," Mangold said of his planned routine in the coming weeks. "I think my goal this year is to try and get stronger while at the same time maintaining the quickness. If I can really focus on getting stronger and having more explosion, I think that'll help out a lot. That's something that can definitely be done. It's not an unrealistic goal."
Mangold explained that this time of the NFL off-season gives a player a good base to attack training camp, which in turn builds the base to take on the next season. But other than the Monday-Tuesday-Thursday-Friday weekly schedule of the off-season program, he wasn't sure exactly how long it is set to last.
"You have OTAs and minicamps added in there. I'm not really sure," he said. "I know when they say 'See you in July,' that's when it's pretty much over."