Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer watches as Jesse Rack catches...

Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer watches as Jesse Rack catches a pass during the two-day rookie camp. (April 30, 2010) Credit: Joe Epstein

His mind wanders off into another stratosphere every now and then, pondering the limitless possibilities he hopes will keep the opposition quivering in bed in the wee hours of the morning.

Brian Schottenheimer's toy chest has been loaded with a bevy of goodies this offseason, almost as if he's been given a humongous box of giant Legos to play with. The Jets' offensive coordinator can take those shiny new pieces and arrange them in a variety of ways, essentially creating his own potential masterpieces that look nothing like the original pictured on the Lego box.

"You think about, 'Boy, if I move this guy here, I can do that. Look at this personnel package,' " Schottenheimer told Newsday. "I think that's one of the things that's fun this time of year as a creative coach. You kind of catch yourself daydreaming about if, 'Wow, I do this, I do that. Oh, that'd be a cool concept to put in for this guy.'

"Obviously, our philosophy and our scheme is pretty well laid out, but we feel like it's gotten a ton of flexibility with some of the new additions that we have. And we feel that we can tag certain things to our runs and passes to make it a little bit more difficult to defend."

Schottenheimer hasn't been able to completely see what his new-look offense can do just yet because, like most teams, the Jets spent the bulk of their practice time during organized team activities installing and learning the scheme. But he'll begin to get a better gauge over these next three days when the Jets conduct their mandatory three-day minicamp, their last time together as a team before they head to upstate Cortland for training camp Aug. 1.

"It is very important," Schottenheimer said of minicamp. "This is all part of the evaluation process. We're trying to get a grasp of depth charts and things like that, and the players realize it. You always turn it up a notch. OTAs are the start of the spring, and minicamp is a different tempo. It's a different tempo, it's a different mind-set and you'll see it change. The players need to recognize that and be excited about that."

These next three days will serve as a good barometer for veteran newcomers such as LaDainian Tomlinson and Santonio Holmes, as well as rookies Joe McKnight, Vladimir Ducasse and John Conner. It's a test to see how well they're soaking up the scheme, which featured six installments during OTAs.

The Jets will go over every single one of those installments during minicamp, beginning with the initial three sets Monday.

"The biggest thing will be that they continue to master the system," Schottenheimer said, "so that we can be an attacking offense that plays really fast and tries to keep people on their heels."

Of course, it also helps to have their franchise signal-caller officially back in the mix as a full participant. Mark Sanchez's return from February left knee surgery became complete last week when he was allowed to partake in team - and not just individual and position - drills.

"It's huge," said Sanchez, adding that his knee feels better than ever. "It's important to be able to get out there and feel it first, but that minicamp is important. That's as close to camp, as close to a game that we get during the summer. I think it's a big step, one, for the rehab process, personally, psychologically [and] physically . . . I was going to do my very best to make it and now I will, so it's important."


Will half of what's being termed the "Core Four" show up?

CB Darrelle Revis and C Nick Mangold are both looking for new deals and have made their current displeasure well known. Revis said last week that he planned on attending minicamp, but Mangold rated his chances of doing so at "50-50."

Will either Vladimir Ducasse or Matt Slauson distinguish himself as Alan Faneca's replacement?

Ducasse has been working mostly with the first-team offense at left guard lately and it appears as if he has the inside shot for the starting nod at the moment. But Slauson isn't about to concede anything and a good showing by the versatile lineman would make the race interesting going into training camp.

Can Nick Folk keep it up?

The kicker had been mostly brutal in the OTA practices open to the media up until Thursday. That's when he drilled all seven of his attempts, including a pair beyond 51 yards. Rex Ryan joked that Folk's day made the team's fan base feel better, but Folk will need to show more consistency.

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