With the conclusion of the NHL and NBA seasons, unless you are really into soccer or baseball, you're probably jonesing for some sports coverage right about now. Well, have no fear. Beginning tomorrow and running through the 19th of June, the Jets will hold their annual mandatory minicamp. As implied by the name, attendance is compulsory.
At the conclusion of each days minicamp activities, Rex Ryan is scheduled to hold a press conference. Tomorrow (6/17) Rex is scheduled to speak at 2:25pm, which has been confirmed by the Jets official site and twitter feed. Rex is tentatively scheduled to give pressers at 2:55pm on 6/18, and 2:40pm on 6/19. So within a day, expect some new quotes from Rex Ryan on the 2014 New York Jets for everyone to rake over the coals.
It's unlikely that Rex Ryan is going to give us any sort of meaningful insight into the trajectory of his team, you can mostly expect generic yet positive answers to even more generic questions from media folks and Jets beat writers. Occasionally Rex will express disappointment in players, but usually only as a motivation tactic. Most of the valuable insight into the 2014 team is to be gained from reports on how various players perform in minicamp, both individually and with their teammates.
Don't get too comfortable with juicy tidbits and details of your favorite players progression in the offseason, Article 22 of the most recent NFL-NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement clearly states than only one veteran minicamp may be held per offseason. There are very specific rules for proceeding with the minicamp.
Minicamp Rules and Scheduling
Section 1. Number: Each League Year each Club may hold a maximum of one mandatory minicamp for veteran players. If a Club hires a new head coach after the end of the prior regular season, that Club may hold one additional voluntary minicamp for veteran players. Any mandatory minicamp for veteran players shall count as one of the nine weeks of the Club's official offseason workout program under Article 21, Section 2(a) of this Agreement. There is no limitation on the number of minicamps a Club may hold for Rookie players during the seven weeks of the Club's Rookie Football Development Program.
Section 2. Mandatory Veteran Minicamp: No mandatory veteran tn1l1c1 amp may exceed three days in length, plus one day for physical examinations. The minicamp must be conducted during the week (Monday through Friday), with physicals taking place on Monday but no practice or workouts on that day, practices on Tuesday through Thurs day and a day off on Friday. The minicamp must be conducted during week three or week four of Phase Three of the Club's offseason workout program. The Phase Three rules set forth in Article 21, Section 2(b)(ii)i of this Agreement shall apply to all mini camp activities. Two-a-day practices shall be permitted at two of the three practice days of the Club's one mandatory minicamp, subject to the following rules: (i) players may be on the field for a total of no more than three and one-half hours per day; (ii) players may participate in one practice for no more than two and one-half hours of on-field activities under Phase Three rules; (iii) the second practice may only be for the remaining portion of the players' daily three and one-half hour on-field activities and shall be limited to walk-through instruction only; (iv) no organized team activities (including treatment and taping) may begin prior to 7:00am local time or end after 8:30pm local time, and players shall be given at least one hour for lunch and dinner each; (v) players may only be asked to participate in Club activities for a maximum of ten hours per day including taping and treatment but excluding meal time. The on-field time limits described above shall begin as soon as position coaches begin to coach players on the field.
The first two rules strictly dictate what can be done and when. Medical work must be done Mondays, practice is Tuesday-Thursday, and Friday is a day off. Days can be no longer than 10 hours for players, but with an earliest start time of 7am and a 2:25pm press wrap-up, it's assumed the Jets will work for around 6 hours, not counting breaks and tapings.
Other rules not directly quoted simply because of how long Article 22 of the CBA is:
-No pads, no contact. Helmets are OK.
-Voluntary veteran minicamps have to be held before the draft, there will be no more major events until training camp begins in Cortland in late July.
-Veterans must be compensated for their meals, time, and expenses. Rookies are not necessarily offered the same protection. All players receive the same financial protection for injuries that are covered in training camp later in the year.
-All activities must be filmed by the club for NLFPA review. Any violation of or deviation from the rules laid out may result in fines and penalties.
Every team typically observes these rules without issue so don't expect any problems, or unforeseen developments, for the Jets over the next couple of days. Everything will likely be played close to the chest and it's unlikely we will learn anything drastically different about the team from what we already knew.
Storylines to Watch
1. Many eyes will be on Dee Milliner, who had tightness in his hamstring that held him out of activities earlier in the year. Milliner also missed a substantial portion of last years offseason activities, and some speculate this led to retard his development on the field for at least a portion of the year. Milliner's health will be constantly followed by fans and the media until bigger stories develop as the season draws closer.
2. Almost everybody is wondering if embattled RB Mike Goodson will show up to the mandatory minicamp. Goodson's legal issues following his on-field struggles are well known by Jets fans and foes alike. Goodson was indicted earlier this year and faces a legal battle if he will not accept a plea deal including multiple years in prison. While Rex expects Goodson to be present, it hardly matters given the Jets are downright loaded at the running back position relative to when they first brought Goodson in. Goodson has struggled in so many ways that few expect him to have a viable chance at making the roster. It is generally considered poor form to miss mandatory activities (although many who can afford the fines do skip it) unless you are a financial holdout, and Goodson can't handle any more bad press unless his NFL career is already over.
3. Chris Johnson is also a question mark to participate, but not for any financial or personal reasons. Johnson is still healing from surgery that repairs a torn meniscus in his knee, an injury the famously durable Johnson played through for the Tennessee Titans in 2013. If Johnson makes an appearance at all, he will likely be limited in activities.
4. The battle for the cornerback and wide receiver positions behind Dee Milliner and Eric Decker, respectively, will start to take form. Early indications from OTAs and Jets staff indicate that Dimitri Patterson is the de facto #2 CB on the outside. Patterson has struggled with getting on the field both as part of a team and staying healthy. In the past 3 seasons alone, Patterson has missed 33 games whether due to not being on a team or just being injured. Patterson has played one full season in 10 years.
Behind Patterson is the polarizing but apparently promising 3rd round pick Dexter McDougle. Between Dex, Darrin Walls, veteran Kyle Wilson, and potential breakout player Ras-I Dowling (who also has serious durability concerns); there is a wide open competition to see who can claim the spots that Walls and Wilson occupied the previous year. With any luck, the defensive back roster that the Jets field this year will become more apparent.
Meanwhile a host of receivers, both rookies and journeymen, will fight for the #2 WR spot that Stephen Hill held at the start of the 2013 season. Will David Nelson, Clyde Gates, or the embattled young Hill step up and claim a starting spot? Or will a rookie such as Shaquelle "Shaq" Evans, Jalen Saunders, or Quincy Enunwa breakout and take the #2 position?
The answers you get over the next couple of days might not be definitive, but they should help to give us some insight into how the Jets 2014 roster will pan out.
5. The quarterbacks. Because of course. It seems like the offense belongs to Geno Smith and it is his job to lose, but much of the offseason remains and nothing is set in stone, as Rex and the Jets take painful steps to avoid committing to either Smith or Michael Vick. From what I can tell Vick was brought in to compete with Geno and serve as a baseline for play, and should Geno at any point fall below that standard, all bets are off. I think Geno is the starter until if and when he plays himself out of it, but it will be interesting to see how the Jets split the two players workload. If Geno continues to receive most of the first team looks, it will be difficult for Vick to supplant him prior to the start of the regular season.
Will you be following the minicamp? Who do you think will breakout or receive the most praise from Jets coaches this week? How do you see the positional battles turning out at this point in time?
You can watch the Rex Ryan press conference on newyorkjets.com, again it is slated to begin on Tuesday 6/17 at 2:25pm.