Veteran Minicamp 4/16-4/18/09
If there is one thing you want to avoid at any minicamp, it's injuries. And the Jets had a major scare Friday morning as special teams ace Wallace Wright violently collided with linebacker Kenwin Cummings.
"We had a little scary thing happen to us today," said Jets head coach Rex Ryan following practice. "I've been coaching 22 years and I've never seen something like that happen before. Both guys were running vertical and ran into each other."
From my sideline angle, I watched RB Jehuu Caulcrick run a short out and Cummings bit hard. Caulcrick sprinted free upfield and QB Brett Ratliff floated a pass while Cummings furiously attempted to get back in the play.
The problem was there was a vertical play being run out of the opposite end zone. At the last minute Caulcrick saw what was happening, took his eye off the ball and somehow avoided contact. The hard-charging Cummings, though, met Wright and the impact resulted in a horrific sound.
Fortunately, both men escaped major injury. Cummings may have suffered a concussion while the Jets think Wright's knee will clear an afternoon examination.
"Cummings was great on the football questions but wasn't good on the general questions," Ryan said. "I don't want to make too much light of it, but at least he knows his football stuff."
Wright, in the locker room afterward, said he was OK.
"That's the nature of the game," he said. "You have your career flash before your eyes sometimes, but neither of us was seriously injured. I'll be back."
Just 20 minutes before the collision, Ryan was on kickoff coverage for Mike Westhoff. Donning an orange cap, he joined equipment manager Cortez Robinson, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, defensive assistant Brian Smith and player development director Dave Szott in an interesting-looking coverage unit.
"I've never seen a head coach do that before," Robinson told me later in the locker room.
While Ryan may have played ball at Southwestern Oklahoma State, he's not your prototypical gunner. After he got down field, Danny Woodhead locked up with Ryan in an interesting one-on-one matchup.
"I thought it was awesome. Coach Ryan having fun is going to make everyone else have fun," Woodhead said. "He probably let me lock him up pretty good but it's a lot of fun."
With Thomas Jones not at camp, the 5'7", 195-pound Woodhead is a beneficiary because he gets more carries.
"The first thing I noticed about him was, hey, that's another Jim Leonhard out there," Ryan said of Woodhead. "We have the two guys who look like your next-door neighbor but that's good. Certainly Jim Leonhard has proved people wrong."
For the second consecutive day, Kellen Clemens handled reps with the first-team offense and continued to throw the ball well. Brett Ratliff found David Clowney over the middle on one occasion for a long gainer, but he also locked in on a receiver during 7-on-7s and should have been picked off by corner Maurice Cole, who smartly left his man and jumped the route.
"I thought he look outstanding today," Ryan said of Clemens. "I thought he did OK the first day, but I really liked how he took charge of the offense today and really brought that unit out, the tempo that he had — they had a lot of spark. He made some good decisions, showed poise, had some pressure in his face."
While veterans Shaun Ellis and Brandon Moore worked with strength coach Sal Alosi, TE Dustin Keller looked good in his return to action. Linebacker Bart Scott had the unenviable task of matching up with Keller in one particular man drill and Keller dusted the Madbacker. After the catch, Keller celebrated with a move that Purdue basketball coach Matt Painted would have enjoyed.
"I dunked on him," said Keller, a former Boilermaker star on the football field. "He'll give you some excuse what happened, but he got dunked on. He was talking all day yesterday. He's a big talker and I like that. It provides a lot of motivation for me."