Matt Kroul may have gotten a touch of déjà vu as the team buses swung off of New York State Highway 13 and onto the SUNY Cortland campus one more time late Saturday afternoon.
"Cortland is kind of like Iowa," said Kroul, who grew up in that state and started a school-record 50 consecutive games for the Iowa Hawkeyes before coming to the Jets as an undrafted free agent in April. "When we drove into town, you got some cornfields, cows, horses, so I felt at home."
Kroul (rhymes with "foal") is trying to find a stall in the Jets' D-line stable, and he helped himself with some second-half "face in the fan" play against St. Louis on Friday night. His most noticeable effort was a stop for no gain on RB Chris Ogbonnaya midway through the final period.
Jets head coach Rex Ryan, asked after the game if any "under the radar" players stood out, replied: "I thought [Britt] Davis had a nice catch. That was good to see. ... [Guard Matt] Slauson, from what I saw, did a decent job. And I thought Kroul, at times, was pretty good on defense."
"Basically, you take it day to day. You really don't look to the future," the 6'3", 280-pound tackle said of his NFL roster quest. "I know it's an old saying, but you just try to improve every day, take baby steps and learn from the people around you."
And maybe even from some guys on the other side of the ball. Kroul, one would correctly guess, was a college teammate of third-round RB Shonn Greene.
"That definitely helps, just having a guy on the team with a similar background, who came from a similar place. I'll definitely talk to him at any time," the former high school wishbone fullback said. "He got in there against the Rams and it looked like he had a couple of nice runs. He'll keep building on that, I know he will."
Kroul will try to keep building as well through what may be a taxing final week at Cortland for the third defense, whose mental mistakes vs. the Rams were still on Ryan's mind today. "I told the threes I want to scrimmage almost every day this week," the coach said.
"We're just back in camp mode," Kroul said. "We're going to hit it hard the next five days and get ready for Baltimore."
And perhaps, for Kroul, beyond. The NFL's first roster cutdown, from 80 to 75 players, is Sept. 1.
Morning Practice Notes
The hottest morning of camp so far, and the Jets are on the grass field behind Cortland Stadium in full pads.
Mark Sanchez, even though he's working with the first offense and had been told along with Kellen Clemens that Sanchez would be getting the start in the next preseason game at Baltimore, starts out cold, missing his first six passes in 7-on-7 and team drills. But Sanchez gets on track with a completion to — who else? — Wallace Wright.
Vernon Gholston is getting work with the first defense at OLB and he is in on a "sack" of the redshirted Sanchez along with Sione Pouha, still playing NT for Kris Jenkins.
WR David Clowney stays hot. He grabs a 31-yard scoring pass from Kellen Clemens, working with the second offense, during position work, then No. 87 has fine positioning between Drew Coleman and Marquice Cole for a long completion from Clemens in 7-on-7 drills.
Earlier in those drills, Clemens hits WR Britt Davis with a short pass over the middle. Davis is immediately dropped by a hard shot from S James Ihedigbo. Davis bounces up but there's a semi-heated exchange from players on both sides of the ball about the hit.
Drew Coleman continues with some nice play and great positioning, although the fourth-year CB can't hold on to two sure interceptions.
The Injury Front
C Nick Mangold, T Damien Woody and G Alan Faneca remained out along the O-line at this morning's practice. Ryan said Faneca, who had surgery to repair a broken finger on his left hand, is definitely out for Baltimore and might even miss the rest of the preseason. "I just know he'll be ready to go once the season starts," Ryan said.
As for Mangold (knee) and Woody (head), Rex said "it's too early to tell" about their availability for the Ravens.
CB Darrelle Revis (hamstring) and Jenkins (calf) also remained on the side in sweats.
FB Tony Richardson (hip) returned to full practice, which was good because FB Jehuu Caulcrick (knee) was sidelined.