FLORHAM PARK–It was hot. And that was at 10:00 a.m. It got hotter in the afternoon, which made everyone miss Cortland all the more. The Jets took to the field for their first practice Monday morning, although that was a walk-through, so far, far less interesting than a real practice. Rex Ryan said it best, “I just want to say to the fans, the walk-through, if they’re open to the public, do not come to the walk-through practice. That’s about as boring as it gets.”
On top of that, some of the key players were only allowed to stand on the sidelines due to this year’s rules having to do with the CBA not being ratified. Newly signed free agents or anyone who re-structured a contract, is not allowed to take part in any on-the-field work until Thursday, which is the first day of the league year.
This did not stop the hoard of media from showing up to watch Plaxico Burress, Santonio Holmes, et al, stand around, chatting with their teammates.
Burress looked relaxed and comfortable with his new teammates including Mark Sanchez, Mark Brunell and Holmes. At certain points he appeared to be going over plays and routes verbally with those players and others.
One person who was on the field was Jim Leonhard, apparently fully healed from his broken leg and ready to go. I would have spoken to him, but was literally trapped in the Mark Sanchez press conference and couldn’t free myself to get to him.
As for Sanchez, his continued maturation was in evidence. He made it very clear that from here on out, there would be no worrying about getting guys catches, just for the sake of their egos. He will throw to whoever makes the most sense on any given play acknowledging that, especially in his rookie season, he felt more pressure to try to appease everybody. Now however, “It’s not my job to keep everyone happy,” he said.
He also said that it is his job to demand respect and truly be the team leader worthy of the captain title that Ryan bestowed on him recently.
Unlike the Sanchez press conference where I was so close to the front that I couldn’t leave, I was so far back in the Darrelle Revis press conference that I couldn’t hear a thing. All I got was that he doesn’t think Antonio Cromartie will be harboring any grudges. I think.
Cromartie was smiling in his press conference and admitted that the free agency process was “nerve-wracking.” He agreed with Revis, he holds no grudge. “Me and Darrelle, we’re going to be friends no matter what,” he said.
He also said that he is going to be playing with a chip on his shoulder to prove to everybody that he is one of the top three corners in the league and to prove that the Jets were right to sign him.
Holmes was also in fine spirits and showed us the wristband he was wearing, which said “Free Plex AKA Black.” Apparently Holmes and Burress are part of a close-knit circle of friends and the wristbands were made for everyone (including Burress) when Burress went to prison. In case you’re wondering about the spelling of “Plex,” that’s how it’s pronounced.
The non-participants looked alternately bored and anxious, clearly wanting to be practicing with their teammates. “It’s really frustrating,” Wayne Hunter said, “Although I can understand the reasoning.” He, like the other sidelined players, is doing conditioning and some position things on his own since he can’t work with the coaches off the field yet either.
I will tell you, there are a lot of guys out there. Tracking eighty players was always daunting, trying to figure out who was who and who was where. With this year’s provision allowing 90 players in camp, well, it’s beyond daunting.
The afternoon practice with pads was still a little mundane. Jeremy Kerley, the wide receiver who the Jets drafted in the fifth round was getting a lot of action and looked slightly less confused than many of his rookie counterparts.
With Mark Brunell on the sideline (again because he was just re-signed), rookie Greg McElroy took second-team reps. Given the fact that the goal of the practice seemed to be simply from keeping people from passing out in the heat, he did fine. Michael Campbell another rookie wide receiver from nearby Edison, NJ, also had a few good plays.
Sanchez got picked off a couple of times, once in 7-on-7s and once in 11-on-11s, but that should likely be attributed, at this point, to rust.
Tuesday and Wednesday should look very much the same. Thursday is when the sidelined guys will come back, en masse, except maybe for Jerricho Cotchery. It is unclear whether Cotchery is being held out because of his back surgery over the winter or because he may have re-negotiated his contract.
Ryan’s line of the day when talking about whether they are the team to beat in the AFC East: “I think we have to find another team that can beat New England besides us.”
He also discussed his new leg tattoo. He got it in Hawaii, in early July. If you want to follow along as Ryan teases out the meaning behind the tattoo in various installments, you can follow it on Facebook. http://on.fb.me/oQNVvV
Public Practice schedule for Tuesday and Wednesday: 2:15 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. – Jets Facility, Florham Park, NJ