CORTLAND -- For a quick second, Anthony Lynn contemplated grabbing a helmet and hitting the practice field himself.
The first day of training camp had finally come, but the Jets running backs coach found himself down two players – two very important players.
“No (Mike) Goodson, no (Chris) Ivory. I just wanted to go back in, get me some gear and come out and play myself,” he said, chuckling at his own joke. “It’s unfortunate that it’s time to put it all together and we didn’t have everyone here for the first practice. But it gives the younger guys opportunities.”
The Jets picked up Goodson and Ivory this offseason to boost their struggling running game. But -- save for a few minicamp practices -- Goodson has been MIA since his May arrest and Ivory’s tight hamstring has him sidelined (though he insisted it’s just a precautionary measure).
Ivory is expected to be on the field Sunday – just in time for the Jets’ first padded practice of training camp. Goodson’s status, on the other hand, remains a mystery. Neither Rex Ryan or general manager John Idzik have given a reason for his absence or a timetable when he’ll show up.
Lynn, however, has no concerns about Goodson missing time.
“I’ve seen enough of Mike on tape – the few practices he had – to know damn well how to use him,” he said. “He’s a very explosive athlete.”
“I’m assuming Mike’s taking care of his personal life right now and when he gets here, it’ll be all football and that’s what we want.”
The position coach, meanwhile, has been trying to get a better sense of the skill players that remain (including 5-8, 201-pound Chad Spann, who was signed Saturday).
Without hesitation, he labeled this year's crop of running backs “talented and explosive.” But Lynn readily admits each guy is inexperienced in his own right.
“You tell me: Which one of them has done anything?” he asked. “Ivory played three years with the Saints – his touches went down every year [137 in 2010; 79 in ’11; and 40 in ’12]. Bilal Powell’s a third-year guy, played some last year. Joe McKnight’s a fourth-year guy, has played very little and Mike Goodson’s a fourth-year, has played very little – they haven’t done anything.
“But I know talent when I see it,” he said. “I think it’s a really underrated group, but explosive with a lot of talent and I’m excited to work with it.”
With not enough carries to go around over the next few weeks, the next few weeks will be especially critical for 24-year-old John Grififin – a first-year player who was activated off the practice squad in December.
“He’s looking for an opportunity right now,” Lynn said. “ And he can run with these guys and play with these guys. Athletically, he’s as good as anybody in the room. His size, his speed, his quickness. It’s just, taking it from the classroom to the field and turning it into good execution. And that comes with experience, which he lacks. But this camp, I’m hoping, will get him some experience.
“I have yet to see him in a game. So I get him in a game this year, and with these other guys being down right now and him being able to step up and fill those roles, it’s good for him.”
Lynn kept in touch with his unit over the offseason – including McKnight, who was activated off the Active/PUP list Friday, but was slowed by dehydration on Saturday.
“I’ve told him: this is a new year,” the coach said. “It really hadn’t taken off for him like he had hoped when he got here, but he’s got a golden opportunity this year and I told him to work at it, study hard -- and when he gets the opportunity, make the most of it.”
The Jets offense remains the biggest question mark heading into 2013. But Lynn isn’t the least bit concerned about how his running backs will fare in Marty Mornhinweg's West Coast Offense.
“You look at my guys, none of them have significant playing time, none of them have ever started. But I do like the talent, I do like the skill-set,” he said. “And we’re going to use this month up here to figure out how best to implement them into the offense.
“I’m impressed with everything so far. They’re hard workers, they’re sharp, so we’ve got a chance.”