Nick Mangold heard the reports the writers did, that Brandon Moore was almost on a plane to Dallas to sign a contract with the Cowboys 1,500 miles from Cortland but that he ultimately chose to stay 200 miles away with his family in North Jersey and announce his NFL retirement.
But Mangold briefly lamented the fact that Moore was not a three-point stance away from him on the Jets' offensive line anymore following the Jets' SUNY Cortland training camp practice this morning.
"Brandon's one of the great players I've been fortunate to play with," the Jets center said. "We played together seven years, which I think in today's NFL is pretty impressive. He was always a professional, came in and did his job to the best of his ability, made sure he helped younger guys like the guys that helped him. It's been tough not having him here."
Moore's Green & White career goes back even further than Mangold's 2006 arrival. He was a Jets free agent in 2002, making the switch from Illinois defensive tackle to NFL offensive lineman. He began playing guard in the regular season in '03 and liked it so much that beginning with Game 7 in '04 he never missed a start.
He left the Jets as a free agent in March, but until he doesn't show up in some team's lineup on opening day, he has the longest starting and appearance streaks among all active NFL O-linemen, both at 137 games.
Rex Ryan also expressed his appreciation for Moore's contributions, which began when Rex took over the Jets' reins in '09.
"I remembered Brandon as a player — big, strong," Ryan said. "But what a tremendous player and great person. He was just a great teammate and a guy that was important to me. Being a first-time NFL head coach, I leaned on him some and he was absolutely tremendous. You can't play this game forever, but I certainly appreciated the time he had with us, for sure."
I asked Nick Mangold what he missed most about his former linemate here at camp.
"His subtle humor," the center said. "It comes off sometimes as angry or crotchety, but it had good will behind it."
Mangold said that "no one can replace Brandon Moore" but added that veterans Willie Colon and Stephen Peterman are helping bridge the gap in other ways.
"They've come in and done a good job of really fitting in well, which has been a good thing for us," he said. "Even though we don't have experience together, we have NFL experience, so instead of having to fully explain after something happens, it'll be like, 'Hey, you saw that?' 'Yeah, I saw that. Here's how we can get better at it.' So I think that's been a big help."
Now it's time to see how Mangold and his new guard partners hold up against Detroit's good pass rush in the time that the ones play the ones in the teams' preseason opener Friday.
"We've been hitting each other for a long while now. We've been getting some pretty good work in," Mangold said. "The Lions have a pretty good defense, so it's going to be a good challenge for us to see where we're at. We think we're doing some good things and this will be a good measuring stick for us."
It's a different stick than it had been in the past when No. 68 appeared on it, but Mangold will give one last nod to Moore and then lead his new group of linemates out onto Ford Field two nights from now.
Ryan said today's practice was a little different from the last open practices before preseason games that the Jets used to hold. "It was a two-field deal. We were kind of getting ready for Detroit's looks and things, which we've never really done in the past but we're doing that now." ... Rookie CB Dee Milliner, who is starting at LCB in the base defense, left practice early with some lower-leg tightness, with Kyle Wilson shifting from his safety/nickel roles back to the position he started at last season after Darrelle Revis went down. Rex on Dee: "I don't know if that's going to be a big deal," he said. "I think he's going to be OK, though."
RB Joe McKnight continued to sit out with a head injury. ... Ryan said he thinks both WR Braylon Edwards and TE Kellen Winslow, who have been on "pitch counts" in camp, will be available against the Lions, "but I don't know that to be 100 percent accurate." ... Rex on if Geno Smith will get the next start vs. Jacksonville a week from Saturday after Mark Sanchez starts at Detroit: "We'll take it one step at a time and let that play out. But he'll certainly get opportunities with the one offense." The Jets have released WR Vidal Hazelton with an injury and have placed WR Marcus Davis on injured reserve. Ryan said Hazelton "was really pushing to make this team. It's unfortunate he had a bad injury." ... Today's attendance: 919.