The Scene- Because of the NFL lockout the Jets decided to hold training camp in Florham Park NJ at their headquarters as opposed to in Cortland NY. The close proximity to New York and most of the Jets fans in the world led to big, and festive crowds even on day one. Although practice didn’t start until 2:15, when I arrived an hour early the line to get in through the gates was already looping around the parking lot area where fans had gathered. In terms of viewing fans are situated on the outside of a fence that circles around all of the playing fields of which two are actively used. For fans who arrive early there are prime viewing spots to be had near the players parking lot on the far side away from the camp entrance, as well as major autograph opportunities for those with sharp elbows (I got Plaxico to sign my jersey, turned around and was pushed back into the fence by a massive onslaught of crazed Jets fans). A word of caution- There are no stands or places to sit and watch the action, zero, be prepared to stand for four hours to get a good spot to watch the action.
The Drills- For the first drill of the near three hour practice the offense ran plays while the defense ran drills on the far field. For the one’s on offense all of the usual suspects were on the field John Connor took all the reps at fullback while Patrick Turner also got major time at receiver, but that is because Santonio and Plax can’t practice until Tuesday, and Cotchery is inactive. The two’s were led by old Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy, who looked solid enough considering it was his first training camp and he was already leading the second teams These drills were followed by special teams drills on the near field to where I was with McKnight, Leonhard, Wilson, and rookie Jeremy Kerley returning kicks. These drills were followed by a full team walkthrough of plays, in which the quarterbacks to snaps out of many formations and worked on calling audible. Seven on seven work followed this, and then more special teams practice, this time on kickoffs, before a lengthy autograph session by Sanchez and several other stars.
The Good- Sanchez’s footwork and arm strength both looked great throughout all of the drills. Plax and Santonio spent a lot of practice together, with Santonio especially mentoring some of the younger players notably Patrick Turner. Plax was talking a lot to the Jets offensive coaches even while they were conducting practice and he appeared eager and excited to learn the playbook and meet the fans. Defensively the Jets stars look like they have picked up where they left off, and everybody appeared to be in good shape, with many staying after practice had concluded to work on their footwork and agility.
The Bad- I have seen a lot of ugly things in my sixteen years but other then the Steelers celebrating last year after winning the AFC championship game I have never in my life seen anything uglier then Rex Ryan’s tattoo. It is this full calf monstrosity with these random circles and weird shapes, despite all of his girth the tattoo still caught everyone’s eye, but hey if it works for Rex, who am I to complain about his tats? Back to football the Jets second and third teams were both abysmal at calling audibles with both teams making lots of mistakes and getting whistled for numerous penalties. Other then that it was a very smooth day at Jets camp, with players getting their feet wet with the system and getting in shape for another year of football.
The Next Day- Practice again 2:15 P.M. for the Jets, expect more of what we saw today for camp tomorrow in terms of drills and walkthroughs.