CORTLAND, N.Y. –– Kris Jenkins claims he can see it LaDainian Tomlinson’s eyes. He can see it in Jason Taylor’s eyes. He can see it in Antonio Cromartie's eyes. He can see it in Santonio Holmes’ eyes. He can see it in the new Jets veterans.
But it’s a look that, Jenkins said, only one veteran can detect from another. It’s a glare of redemption. Something Tomlinson, Taylor, Cromartie and Holmes all have and will benefit from, Jenkins said.
“It’s professional, but it still could be a little bad blood (when facing your former team),” Jenkins said. “When you are a veteran, you can see it in (other veteran) guys’ eyes.”
Since Jenkins returned to training camp in Cortland Wednesday from a sore hamstring, the 359-pound defensive tackle said he has been convinced that the much ballyhooed new Jets crop of former star veterans is ready to live up to the New York hype. Since the start of camp – and even extending back to mini-camp in June – the question has been (and will remain) whether or not Tomlinson and company can rekindle performances of old.
Consider Jenkins one of the converts. So is Rex Ryan, if you can even sum it up as that. He’s been on the bandwagon all along. He brought them all in.
In Cortland, it is just a matter of his confidence in those decisions increasing with every snap at training camp.
“For whatever reason we are able to get them,” Ryan said. “For whatever reason they have had great success, and they bring that aspect of it, and the fact that they believe it in themselves, we believe in them. All of them have a lot of football left in them. It’s kind of like that chip on your shoulder and things … That’s just the way they are, that mentality. We know they are still excellent football players but there is still that mentality and that drive of hey 'I’m going to show you.' ”
Ryan said that he believes the Jets will prove to be “benefactors” from their offseason moves. Just like they were last year in the exact opposite situation. Said Ryan: “Last year we brought in guys that were undrafted free agents – Bart Scott, Jim Leonard, Marcus Douglass’ – people like that we brought those guys in, that’s just the way they are.”
As Jenkins chalked up the new veterans’ mindsets to mentality, Ryan chalked up their initial acquisitions to mere opportunity. Nothing more. The time in Cortland is to test that opportunity.
While talking about one of those snaps he struggled to witness through the gale of torrential rain Thursday, Ryan verbalized just how excited he is for this new group to transfer that Jenkins-recognized glare of redemption to the field.
On one play Thursday, the head coach was entirely behind the most talked about acquisition of the veteran crew: Tomlinson. When Ryan brought Tomlinson in, he said within five minutes of meeting him – staring at him -- he was sure the former Charger still has it. Ryan further added fuel to that veteran fire Thursday as he said he has a “pretty good feeling that he will be right."
That one play further reassured him. No glare needed.
“It was great to see LaDainian tell the offense, ‘don’t worry about it, give it to me, and I’ll put it right over the top,' ” Ryan said. “He was all excited in there, and then we fumbled the snap, you know it was like ‘God.' I was wanting for him to score so bad.
“Because he was so passionate about it.”