Training Camp Begins
The 2006 New York Jets officially opened their doors at Hofstra University today for day one of training camp. Thousands of fans in attendance were treated to big hits and competitive action in this, the first pad practice of the 2006 season.
While all of the players – both rookies and veterans - had numerous things swirling through their minds heading into today, Coach Mangini wanted to make sure they knew exactly what he was expecting of them, even before this eventful day took place.
"What I talked to the team about yesterday and really what I'm looking for here early is focus," Mangini said following the first half of day one. "I want them to focus on each practice, each drill, each meeting, each thing that they're doing, and if we get the focus, then that's where we're going to get progress."
Although each and every gathering, whether it be a practice, workout, or meeting, holds the exact amount of importance as the next, Mangini makes it clear that nothing is more vital than what is happening now. He offered his players a significant yet precautionary theme to remember at all times throughout this preseason.
"Don't worry about three days from now," he told them. "Don't worry about what happened yesterday. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. We have got a long way to go in terms of the time here in camp and a lot of work to do. And that's what they need to do – put their head down, focus, and go."
As noted prior to camp's inception, running back Curtis Martin did not participate in any drills, due to continued rehabilitation of his surgically repaired knee. Justin McCareins – who was also placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list (PUP) with three others including Martin – worked out with Strength and Conditioning Coach Markus Paul all morning - running routes, catching passes, riding the bike, and stretching.
"This had nothing to do with an injury; he's fine, he just didn't pass the criteria we had to start practice," said Coach Mangini of McCareins. "I am not going to put anyone on the field that can't pass our criteria. It's not safe for them and it's not what we expect."
Mangini spiced up the morning with a rare one-on-one tackling/running drill that drew huge reactions from the overflowing bleachers. The drill was highlighted with Victor Hobson's unofficial welcoming gift to a young ball-carrying rookie. Phil Silva, a receiver from Rowan, attempted to cut right on the fourth-year linebacker but to no avail. The crunching Hobson blow echoed throughout the complex before a rising ovation from the Jet faithful. Rookie Brad Smith and receiver Reggie Newhouse were two of the more impressive offensive attackers in the drill, leaving their defensive counterparts in the dust multiple times. In the underdog department, rookie LB Blake Costanzo locked in on nine-year veteran WR/PR Tim Dwight, bringing Dwight to the turf with a quick, clean wrap-up tackle.
Practice resumed with 11-on-11 drills where Friday's first string offense featured veteran Chad Pennington under center with fullback B.J. Askew and running back Derrick Blaylock rounding out the rest of the backfield. Pennington, who is sharing reps with Patrick Ramsey, Kellen Clemens and Brooks Bollinger, didn't have his best stuff early, as he tossed two interceptions in his first series, one to safety Kerry Rhodes and another to linebacker Jonathan Vilma. Ramsey stepped in next and received a little love from the crowd after a pretty toe-drag completion to Newhouse on the right sideline. Following Ramsey was Bollinger who ran into a little trouble as well, getting picked off once by rookie cornerback Omale Dada after the ball was tipped up by fellow rookie DB Jamie Thompson.
The offensive line featured a new look with both of the Jets top draft selections – T D'Brickashaw Ferguson and C Nick Mangold - in the lineup. As normal rotations took place, tight ends Doug Jolley, Joel Dreessen and Joe Kowalewski each saw a lot of attention. Rookie Jason Pociask lined up in the backfield at fullback as well, creating a good hole for Blaylock on one particular play late in the morning.
As witnessed in the mini camp last month - Mangini lined up his squad for two minute drill action, with Pennington, once again leading the way. This drill proved to be a lot more successful for the veteran slinger, as he hooked up with Jerricho Cotchery for a 65-yard touchdown. The pass itself was nearly 45 yards long after Pennington and Cotchery got cornerback David Barrett to bite on a perfectly executed pump fake. The practice, which stretched beyond two hours, ended with an ovation of approval from the horde of happy Jets fans that battled the extreme humidity all morning long.
Mangini wants to set a fast tempo for his offense. "One of the things that we stress offensively is to play fast. We had to redo a drill because we didn't play fast enough."… Cornerback Rayshun Reed, a third-year pro from Troy State, also did not meet team requirements and was placed on the PUP list… Running back Curtis Martin and veteran offensive lineman Trey Teague (ankle) were both placed on PUP because they are rehabbing injuries…First round selection D'Brickashaw Ferguson received a standing ovation at the conclusion of practice as he signed autographs for the fans… Joe Vito, Head Coach of Roosevelt High School, was on the sidelines with a handful of his players. Vito conducts the annual Junior Player Development camps every summer locally and has been doing so here, at Jets headquarters, for the past two years… Derrick Strait and Tim Dwight stopped by the merchandise tents following practice to sign autographs.
Practice Two Wrap
Day one of the 2006 Jets season is in the books. Friday's double session ended with a two and a half hour late shift, featuring partial equipment, yet equal intensity. Much like the morning run, Coach Mangini and company kept their men in check with strict orders of focus and communication.
On two separate occasions, players were told to retrace their steps and complete the instructed task over again. The first instance came when the team's cross-field warm up jog was out of sync. Upon reaching midfield, all of the players were told to go back and start over which they did in near-perfect unison. The second occasion was an offensive break from huddle. Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer didn't like the break so the huddle was reformed, the play was re-announced, and the break was clean.
With the pads off, the hitting was less apparent, but that didn't stop a few playmaking defenders from drawing some attention. Eric Smith, the third round draft pick from Michigan State, saw significant time with the first string defense at safety. He took full advantage of the opportunity, displaying smooth coverage and even laying a clean hit on tight end Joel Dreessen, who was coming across the middle. His safety battery mate Kerry Rhodes caught rookie running back Stacey Tutt with his head down as well, sending him to the soggy field turf.
Day two of Jets camp resumes at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday.