FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Now this is what you call football weather.
For guys like Todd Bowles — old-school veterans of the gridiron — a 100-plus heat index is the perfect backdrop for padded practices.
For almost 2 1⁄2 hours Saturday, the Jets went though drills in the sticky, steamy air. And Bowles, an eight-year NFL player and former Super Bowl champion, wouldn’t want it any other way.
“I think football coaches that played [love this kind of weather],” he said after the sweaty session. “Because the two-a-days you went through back then for five or six weeks every day, you have no sympathy . . .
“You’ve got to make sure they’re hydrated and be careful of everything. It’s camp. It’s the dog days of camp. It’s what you get.”
After Thursday night’s 17-13 win over Jacksonville in the preseason opener, players enjoyed a much-needed day off. But their coach didn’t ease up on them when they returned to the field. Save for a few extra breaks, the team followed its usual practice routine.
“Guys have to play through it,” Bowles said. “They’re lucky. Jacksonville doesn’t have an indoor bubble, so they’re out in it every day. So we can stomach a couple of days.”
There was an assortment of miscommunication in offensive huddles, pre-snap penalties and drops on the field, but there also was evidence of a team making strides, too. Ryan Fitzpatrick launched a 55-yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker during team drills, rookie receiver Jalin Marshall continued to showcase his impressive hands and leaping ability, and Quincy Enunwa electrified the crowd when he held on to a two-point conversion pass from Fitzpatrick after slamming into the goalpost.
Said Bowles: “I thought the tempo was pretty good. I thought we got some things accomplished on both sides of the ball.”
The heat was thick and the sun merciless, and at times, it seemed players would succumb to the elements. But Fitzpatrick was encouraged to see them fight through it. “It’s actually good for us as long as no one gets hurt and you’re hydrating and everything,” he said of the heat. “The mental focus, there are a few more penalties. We had to get back in the huddle a few more times than we normally would. You see the mental errors starting to creep up a little bit. It was good. It was good to push through it.”
And like Bowles, Fitzpatrick knows Saturday could have been far more draining.
“I did two-a-days, too, you know. I’m not that young,” the 12-year veteran said, smiling.
On days like these, Fitzpatrick just can’t help but show his age when around the younger guys. “I have so many in-the-olden-days stories where I catch myself and say, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m talking like my dad,’ ” joked the 33-year-old, whose father, Mike, was within earshot of the interview.
Asked if he reminds his players of what it was like to suffer through two-a-days, Bowles said with a smile, “They can’t remember back that far, so I don’t try to get into that.”