Skip to main content

Now Hunter's Getting Heckled for His Drops


The passing drills are under way. No. 78 steps up to the line of scrimmage, fires off for the end zone, takes a hard left at the end line and has his arms outstretched, ready, looking all the while like a receiving tight end.

And the pass goes through his hands.

On the sidelines, No. 77 is all over it. "C'mon!" Kris Jenkins yells with a laugh. "Focus, man!"

"That was just Kris being Kris," Wayne Hunter said after practice. "It was the first ball all week that I dropped. I guess you've got to miss one. I'd rather miss one in practice than miss one in the game."

Hunter says he's "still an OT" but he's the not-so-secret weapon now at TE as he reprised his role of Saturday afternoon when he punished LB Bart Scott, then went into a pass route for a 15-yard reception from Kellen Clemens.

"I think that big dude looks pretty good in there as a tight end," head coach Rex Ryan said at today's news conference. "We're doing some things on offense that play to the strength of our football team. You put a tackle in there, different people. Wayne looks good to me. Your only limitations your players have sometimes is you as a coach."

Of course, there are no guarantees that Hunter will ever get to see a reception in a game. But putting him at TE as a blocker, as Robert Turner was used last year, also can pay dividends. Ryan's Ravens did the same thing last year and it helped them churn out 2,376 yards and 20 touchdowns on 592 rushes — the second-most carries by an NFL team in the past 22 seasons.

But whether blocking or receiving, TE or OT, Hunter is feeling more at home as a Jets O-lineman than ever.

"I'm feeling real comfortable with the offense," he said. "And now that I have become comfortable with it, I can play it like I know how to play and be the athlete they want me to be. The calls, everything's coming second nature. I'm comfortable enough to where I can start getting some tight end stuff in."

Not many know it since he hasn't played much since arriving on the Jets' practice squad late in 2007 and didn't play much last season because of the indestructible nature of the OL starters, but Hunter is a sixth-year man who provides reliable depth at a few positions.

He's more confident than ever in good part because of the trickle-down vibe from the head coach.

"I just like the way Rex handles his players. He treats us like grown men," Hunter said. "Everything triggers from the head coach. And it's hard not to believe what we've got going on right now."

Which includes believing in a 325-pound pass-catching tackle/tight end.

Other morning highlights:

Mark Sanchez is back with the first offense and has some ups and downs. In 7-on-7 drills, the rookie QB drops a perfect fade into WR Jerricho Cotchery's hands over CB Lito Sheppard in the corner of the end zone.

But a few plays later, Sanchez has to go through his reads, quickly unloads, and finds a pair of hands. Unfortunately for him, they belong to S Jim Leonhard, who continues his ballhawking camp with another INT.

Kellen Clemens has some nice plays with the twos. The prettiest may have been during his 7-on-7 work, when he threaded a pass to undrafted WR Britt Davis, just past CB Rashad Barksdale, in the back of the end zone.

Earlier, the Clemens offense hit back-to-back plays, an off-tackle burst by rookie RB Shonn Greene, then a screen under heavy pressure to Danny Woodhead, who gets a long gainer in front of a cordon of blockers.

Keith Fitzhugh, the undrafted rookie safety, has returned to practice from his shoulder injury but he's wearing the red No. 8 jersey, the same one Danny Woodhead wore last week. Nevertheless, Fitzhugh makes a nice play in the third-team two-minute drill to end practice, leaping high on the sideline to swat away an Erik Ainge downfield throw.

Head coach Rex Ryan said Pro Bowl C Nick Mangold went down during practice today, but he said the left knee injury isn't serious.

On the stationary bikes and the sidelines besides Jenkins: CB Darrelle Revis (hamstring) and CB Donald Strickland (knee).

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.