In front of a vocal and decent-sized crowd, the Jets closed out minicamp on Thursday.
And before the players walked off the field, their head coach had one simple message for them: Get in great shape.
After wrapping up this week’s three-day minicamp, the Jets are off for an entire month – and that amount of time away from the facility has the potential to derail their progress, both physically and mentally. And for Ryan – who spent a considerable time this offseason addressing last year’s locker room issues – it’s imperative that the Jets return in shape and focused.
“I want this team to own the fourth quarter. That is something we need to do,” the coach said, stressing the importance of players maintaining their own conditioning programs.
With the new CBA, comes new training camp rules – similar to the “dead period” in college football, when coaches can’t contact players, said Ryan.
Two-a-days are a thing of the past in the NFL, and that means players can’t report to training camp a little heavier with the expectation that they’ll automatically shed pounds. Now, there’s only one padded practice and a walk through.
“It’s really on them,” said the coach. “…There’s not as many reps as you’ve done in the past, so you have to do the extra things in the conditioning. And you have to get yourself ready.”
For the third straight day, Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill were not able to participate in team drills. Though both wide receivers worked out individually during Thursday’s practice, they sat out the team portion because of hamstring tightness.
Holmes did not speak to the media.
In other injury news: S LaRon Landry (Achilles/heel), WRs Chaz Schilens (hamstring), Patrick Turner (hamstring) and Dexter Jackson (groin), TE Brian Linthicum (quad), DL Marcus Dixon (calf) and CB Ellis Lankster did agility drills off to the side.
Mark Sanchez didn’t have his best day as far as 11-on-11 drills go. DL Muhammad Wilderson batted away the quarterback’s first pass attempt. Wilkerson then gave Sanchez the “Dikembe Mutombo” finger wag. LB David Harris also dropped a potential Sanchez interception during 11-on-11s. The starting QB completed just one pass and also was sacked during that portion of practice. During 7-on-7 drills, however, Sanchez connected with buddy Dustin Keller on a touchdown pass in the red zone.
The defense wore black jerseys today. Players found them in their lockers this morning. Coach Rex Ryan said it's a tradition he borrowed from new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano. The unit that performs the best will wear the black jerseys.
Ryan is convinced the chemistry issues of the past are just that – in the past.
Although the coach admitted there had been dissension under his watch, he maintained the locker room turmoil was overblown. “When you’re playing well, those problems don’t happen,” he added, referencing the three straight losses to end the season, which was capped off by Holmes’ benching in Miami. “…I’m sure that contributed as well.”
But Ryan guaranteed the feel-good vibes of the offseason will continue through training camp and into the regular season.
“I don’t know how many wins we’re going to have, but we’re going to be a close football team.”
The defensive players were met with a surprise when they walked into the locker room this morning: Black practice jerseys, hanging up in each of their stalls.
None of them knew what to expect, but they all felt a little cooler (figuratively, of course) when they stepped on to the field.
Ryan said he got the idea from offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, who used black jerseys as a type of practice reward when he was the Dolphins head coach. During training camp, the unit that performs the best during practice will get to wear the black jerseys the following day.
Braylon Edwards fans may not want to hear this…
Rex Ryan said the Jets have not spoken to free agent wideout Braylon Edwards. But the coach added, “Everybody’s a possibility.”