Rookies Get in Right Frame of Mind


Brent Ratliff scrambling for the Utes

There's something about bowling and the NFL. The Jets have long had weekly in-season bowling outings, and there's Chad Pennington's charity tournament. The alleys have a certain atmosphere and provide a certain challenge for a top athlete: guide a 16-pound ball over 60 feet so that it provides that satisfying 10-pin explosion.

Whatever it is, the Jets' first-year players were like kids in a candy store for their second annual "competition" with the Giants' rookies at the AMF Chelsea Piers Lanes in New York City on Thursday.

"It's just cool," safety and Hawaiian islander Leonard Peters said. "The only places we've seen are in the vicinity of the training complex and our hotel rooms. I didn't know they had that many people in New York City. On Long Island, I kind of thought I was at home with all the trees."

"It feels good for everybody to get out, get together with the Giants and interact with them," linebacker Jared Newberry said. "Back home me and my cousin, we usually bowled for pushups. The loser got to do 100 or 500 pushups."

Second-round linebacker David Harris, who bowls, oh, once a year, said it was great to meet some of his Giants friends again.

"A lot of us met when we played against each other in college and again at the combines," Harris said. "I trained [for the combines] with two of the Giants guys in New Jersey, [cornerback] Craig Dahl and [tackle] Gabe Hall."

Some 17 Jets made the trip west with director of player development Jerome Henderson, while an equal number of Giants came east with their DPD, Charles Way.

"This is our second year," Henderson said. "Charles and I thought it would be good to do because we're so close together and we're doing similar things. We let the players get out and have fun and give them a chance to meet their counterparts."

The "getting out" part is more important than many realize. All NFL rookies at this time of year are in similar boats, realizing they've got new jobs that never seem to end.

"A lot of our guys been non-stop since college with getting ready for bowl games, all-star games, the combines, the draft, their first minicamp," Henderson said. "For some guys it's been a grind."

It's a different kind of grind for Jesse Pellot-Rosa, who used to be a basketball player for Virginia Commonwealth until the Jets brought him in as a WR tryout for their minicamp and liked him enough to sign him up for training camp.

"It's fun and good to take your mind away from your playbook and the workouts," Pellot-Rosa said. "The playbook — I didn't know it was going to be so big."

For as long as Pellot-Rosa is around, he figures to be a cut-up. Even though he and top draft pick Darrelle Revis were bowling on different lanes, he came by to heckle Revis as he was about to bowl.

The Pitt cornerback showed his trademark concentration as he ignored Pellot-Rosa to roll his third consecutive strike, then the next frame to pick up a 6-10 spare.

A scouting report on some of the Jets as bowlers:

  • Revis had a tame first game but then had one of the Green & White's best efforts, a 169 that opened with five strikes and a spare in the first eight frames.
  • Harris began his warmup with a pair of strikes and generally was on the headpin with his first roll but had trouble picking up spares. If he's around the pocket almost as much as a blitzer, Jets fans will be thrilled.
  • Seventh-round WR Chansi Stuckey had the fastest ball. "I've bowled a little bit, so it kind of came back to me," he said. "I have a lot of fast-twitch fibers that come into my delivery."

Adding it all up, Gang Green beat Big Blue and took home the three-foot-high trophy for the second year, although as Henderson noted, the Giants this year had the high bowler. That may have been free agent tight end Michael Matthews, who professionally cranked six straight strikes en route to a first-game 213.

Peters, who's bowled little, was admiring Matthews' form. Told that he just might wind up covering him a little when the Jets and Giants meet in their traditional August preseason game, he smiled and said, "Hopefully."

Maybe that's what bowling's about for football players. It helps keep the striving for the hopes and dreams on the football field as focused as can be.

"We got to come down here and relax a little bit," sixth-round offensive lineman Jacob Bender said. "Then we'll hit it hard again tomorrow."

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