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Jets feeling a new level of optimism as training camp opens

Jets center Nick Mangold reports for training camp

Jets center Nick Mangold reports for training camp at the Jets' practice facility in Florham Park, N.J. on Wednesday, July 29, 2015. Credit: Andrew Theodorakis

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - It's a brand-new start for the Jets. Emphasis on start.

While many players are clearly buoyed by the influx of talent this offseason, and the signs welcoming visitors and players to training camp drip with optimism, at least one thing is clear: This is nice, but a lot more has to be done in order to avoid another stagnant season.

"I think all the pieces that we have and what we see on paper, it looks very appealing," Darrelle Revis said. "But at the same time, we've got to really put the work in."

It was the sentiment echoed over and over Wednesday as players reported to the first day of training camp: optimism, tempered by reality.

It takes a lot to get to the playoffs after a 4-12 season. Plus, new players and a new coaching staff mean that there are still plenty of kinks to work out . . . and then there's Geno Smith, ranked last among quarterbacks in a recent ESPN poll.

But even all those questions can't erase the sense that, as linebacker Quinton Coples said, "the sky's the limit."

After all, the Jets welcomed back cornerbacks Revis and Antonio Cromartie, acquired wide receiver Brandon Marshall, and essentially exorcised the John Idzik era with the hiring of coach Todd Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan.

"This is the first time I've had a former player as a head coach and that adds a different perspective to it," center Nick Mangold said. "It's been neat learning how he looks at the game and how he runs things. I'm excited to continue that . . . It's just a different feeling."

Still, linebacker David Harris noted, no NFL player goes into a season thinking he's going to lose. He was optimistic last year and he'll be optimistic this year, the nine-year veteran said.

"We know there are high expectations," he said. "It's no different than any other year. Our goal is to get to the playoffs and win the Super Bowl . . . It's good to have those guys back. They're tremendous players and extremely good vets . . . It should be a fun, exciting year."

Eric Decker conceded the lofty expectations and acknowledged his own excitement, but "to tell you specific goals, I can't do that," the wide receiver said.

"I think the biggest thing for us is that we have the mentality that we come in and we just kind of chop away at the wood . . . I think we still have a period of time where we've got to find that chemistry, find our identity with the new system and that's what training camp is for."

If they do manage that, there's no reason to think that just because they won four games last year, that this improved Jets team will only be able to pull off five or six wins this year, he said.

"I can't tell you that we'll be an 'X' amount of wins team," he said. "I've seen 10-plus win teams go to three or four . . . I've seen teams that have not made the playoffs, make the playoffs. Our expectations are high. Our goals are set high. Now it's a matter of the work we put in."

It's a start. Now it's time to begin.


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