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Offense-Defense Rivalry All in Fun, 'No Bad Intentions'

As the Jets head into the meat of training camp, some may wonder what keeps players motivated during two-a-days in the hot August sun.

There is something beyond the individual desire to get in shape, and the pressure of competing for a position, that motivates players to come out to practice every day.

It isn't by design, but it happens naturally, a consequence of the offense and defense working on separate fields, in individual position groups for the first hour of practice.

"I'm coming out here and trying to compete on a daily basis against our defense," said quarterback Chad Pennington. "That gets me pumped up; just thinking about getting better and seeing what I can do to help us win."

"That" is the friendly rivalry between the players on both sides of the ball, a rivalry that was on display at many points since the beginning of training camp as the practices got steamier by the day.

After toiling through technical drills during this time, the distinct sound of a blow horn signals the point when players in green and white jerseys come together on the same field for the beginning of 7-on-7 drills.

It was during these drills where hitting at game speed first took place. "Overzealous" was the word that head coach Eric Mangini would use to describe the action between the units on the first day of training camp.

A week ago today, "overzealous" would also be appropriate to describe the hitting toward the end of practice during 11-on-11 drills, at least on one side of the ball.

The defense was flying to the ball, stuffing the first offense at the line of scrimmage, to the point that even without a real pass rush, the offense couldn't advance the ball past midfield.

With every rush for no gain, there was more and more chatter coming from the guys in green shirts.

"Don't even bother to come out of the huddle" was one loud volley in the midst of overlapping taunts.

Among the most vocal of the group were linebackers Eric Barton and Bryan Thomas.

"That's what football's all about," said Thomas. "It's all in good fun, though."

Barton, whose baritone voice naturally resonates higher than his teammates, agreed with his teammate.

"Nobody wants to lose, everyone here is competitive," said Barton. "When they [offense] do well, they kind of get in our ear a little bit, and when we're doing well we get in their ear a little bit. It's fun. You don't take it personal."

The Jets defense, however, is decidedly more vocal than the Jets offense.

"They're very energetic and we're very competitive," admits Pennington.

The offense lets its play on the field speak for itself. Later on at the end of that same practice, Pennington led the offense to a red zone TD, then three consecutive scores during live goal line drills. The highlight was the QB's rollout and rush into the end zone, punctuated by his spiking of the football.

Later in the week, the defense had a response for Pennington.

Responding to a group of girls screaming the quarterback's name, the entire defense, mimicking the girls' voices, joined in, yelling "Chad! Chad!" as he tried to prepare the offense for the 11-on-11 drill.

"Staying out here, not enjoying yourself and not chirping up a little bit, it gets monotonous, it's long," said Barton. "There's no bad intentions. It's having fun, being competitive."

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