Friday, June 26, 2009

Training Camp Opening Dates Announced

Training camp in Cortland inches ever closer. We got official dates from the NFL today. Jets rookies are scheduled to report on July 27th with veterans reporting on July 3oth. (My sources tell me that veterans will be allowed to drive up in their own cars, the rookies will go as a group, presumably on a bus. But, I digress.)

The Jets have not yet sent out their schedule, but my assumption is that if veterans report on the 30th, then the first practice will be on Friday, July 31st.

With all three of their draft picks - Mark Sanchez, Shonn Green and Matt Slauson - signed, we will avoid any drama in that area. Instead we get to focus solely on the quarterback competition.

The Jets are currently in the pre-training camp period of signing extra guys to bring up with them. In the past two days they've claimed wide receiver Mario Urrutia and cornerback Rashad Barksdale off waivers.

Barksdale went to SUNY Albany and spent last season on the Giants practice squad after originally being drafted by the Eagles in the sixth round of the 2007 Draft.

Urrutia attended Louisville and was a seventh round pick by the Bengals in 2008. He spent all of last season on their practice squad.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My Training Camp Roster, Not What You Think

Defensive Line & Linebackers - Workout clothes. Need to be able to get down and dirty and take a beating

Kickers/Punters/LS - Outerwear, hats and rainwear. You never know when you'll need them but they need to be reliable and ready to go when you do.

Running backs & Wide receivers - shoes. No way you get anywhere without them. The better they are, the further you can go.

Special Teams - Toiletries. No matter what you think, you just can't live without them.

Offensive Line - the undergarments. The foundation for everything else. One false move and everything else falls apart.

QB - Socks. Good ones will last a lot longer than bad ones. Best when they go well with the shoes.

DBs - Tops: YOu can never have too many good ones and they help offer different looks

Full Statement re Stallworth's Suspension

I rarely deviate from Jets news, but wanted to post this press release from the NFL regarding its indefinite suspension of Donte' Stallworth, who was sentenced recently to a whopping 30 days in jail after being convicted of killing a pedestrian, 58-year-old Mario Reyes, while driving drunk in Miami Beach.

It's absolutely mind-boggling that the NFL has taken a harsher (and completely appropriate) stance than our judicial system. Only 30 days in jail for killing somebody? No words.

Anyway, here is the press release that the NFL has issued:

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell notified Donte’ Stallworth of the Cleveland Browns today that he is suspended indefinitely without pay from the National Football League, effective immediately.

Following are excerpts from Commissioner Goodell’s letter to Stallworth:

  • “The conduct reflected in your guilty plea resulted in the tragic loss of life and was inexcusable. While the criminal justice system has determined the legal consequences of this incident, it is my responsibility as NFL Commissioner to determine appropriate league discipline for your actions, which have caused irreparable harm to the victim and his family, your club, your fellow players and the NFL.”
  • “The conduct that led to your conviction plainly violates both the Personal Conduct and Substances of Abuse policies. Either provides me with full authority to take appropriate disciplinary action against you, including a fine or suspension without pay, and to impose appropriate conditions on your continued participation in the NFL. In this case, there is ample evidence to warrant significant discipline under both policies.”
  • “There is no reasonable dispute that your continued eligibility for participation at this time would undermine the integrity of and public confidence in our league. Accordingly, I have decided to suspend you indefinitely, effective immediately. In due course, we will contact your representatives to schedule a meeting with you, after which I will make a final determination on discipline. Pending my final determination, you will not be permitted to visit the club’s facility or participate in any team activities.”
  • “Everyone associated with the league derives tremendous benefits from participating in our game and from the extraordinary support we receive from the public. With these benefits comes, among other things, the responsibility to conduct ourselves in a lawful and responsible way, with no entitlement to or expectation of favorable treatment.”

Under NFL policies, all NFL employees recognize that alcohol-related violations of law will not be tolerated and that they will be held accountable over and above any sanctions imposed by a court of law. This accountability to the NFL for alcohol-related violations of law includes discipline in the form of major fines and suspensions without pay. The level of discipline is significantly increased in cases involving aggravating circumstances and/or repeat offenses.

In addition to a comprehensive testing and treatment program for substance abuse, the NFL and NFL Players Association have extensive education and prevention resources available to players and all other league and club employees. One of those resources is a "safe rides" program used by most clubs to provide players and other employees with alternative means of transportation if they have consumed alcoholic beverages. Commissioner Goodell notified all clubs earlier this year that there will be increased emphasis on addressing DUIs and other misconduct.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Keller Speaks About His Almost-Mauling

By now you've probably heard or read about Dustin Keller's near-death experience at the hands (or teeth) of a pitbull while walking in Brooklyn yesterday.

The good news is Keller (unlike many others who have been injured, maimed and killed by these dogs) escaped unscathed and is able to make light of it - sort of. If you know Keller, this is his MO with pretty much everything. Getting him to be serious is no easy feat.

I was able to catch up with him earlier today and he told me the following about what happened,

"I had just had brunch with a friend when it happened. My first reaction when I saw the dog chasing me was to out-run it, which isn't normally likely for someone, but my adrenaline was pumping at such a high level that I believe I would have left that monster in the dust. I saw that I was right by that 12-foot fence and when I jumped on and was hanging on for what seemed like my life I couldn't believe how high I was. I just held on for a little and while that was very scary, the height was almost more shocking than the fact I was attacked by a crazy pit bull!"

Fortunately, all's well that ends well. And you can now add Keller's vertical leap to his other athletic talents.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Off-season Doings

The Jets have called it a wrap until training camp begins (somewhere around July 31st) in Cortland, NY. The mood across the board is upbeat and guys are actually looking forward to camp. Strange but true.

While things are quiet on the team front, coaches and players are getting out and about on their own. Tomorrow afternoon (Sunday, June 14th), between 2 - 5pm, Rex Ryan is going to head to the Jets' old stomping grounds of Long Island to appear at Verizon's My Fios home video contest in Eisenhower Park in East Meadow (just down the road from Hofstra). He'll be available to fans to chat and sign autographs. Check it out and say hi to the new coach!

On Monday, June 29th, The D'Brickashaw Ferguson Foundation is holding its first dinner-dance fundraiser at the Swan Club in Glenwood Landing on Long Island. Ferguson's foundation awards scholarships to deserving students in the communities around Freeport, NY where Ferguson grew up.

The foundation is also expanding its efforts by providing funds to help with local food banks and clothing drives as well as various charitable efforts of local churches. The foundation's motto: "Building Communities One BRICK at A Time."

To see if there are still any available tickets (they are $140 each) you can call 631-860-1021.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mini-Camp Day Two

Day Two of Mini-Camp was fairly uneventful until the end of the day when I learned from a league source that the Mark Sanchez contract was a done deal. Actual terms of the deal - which were first reported by Rich Cimini shortly after we ran the basics on Sirius - are five years with $28 million guaranteed.

Meanwhile, the aforementioned quarterback and his top competitor for the starting job, Kellen Clemens, both had OK days. When I asked Clemens to assess himself today he made a face and said, "Not great, not terrible." OK, it's June. The Jets just need to hope the mediocrity doesn't become a habit.

Rex Ryan's goofy war of words with the Dolphins' Channing Crowder goes on. Ryan seems to be enjoying himself. Again, it's June. Somebody's going to actually win that battle in the fall...

Kareem Brown made a big splash today with several impressive catches. He beat out Jim Leonhard and Ahmad Carroll on two separate plays and even Ryan acknowledged that the recently converted tight end had a "huge day."

Safety Eric Smith is raising some eyebrows. After three interceptions yesterday, Ryan today called him, "pretty darn impressive." He also commented that Smith has "really taken off. He just keeps getting better." Good news since the mantra among defensive coaches everywhere is that "you can never have too many good DBs."

Lots of work on the gadget plays today. Seemed like everybody on the roster took a direct snap practicing the now-popular "Wildcat."

After speaking withe media yesterday, Leon Washington was not around in the locker room today and Thomas Jones has still not made himself available at all. However, at least both are back and practicing. The Jets better hope that both show up in training camp, as Leon Washington has left the door slightly open to the possibility of a possible boycott on his end.

I asked several players, Donald Strickland, Smith, and Clemens, among others, if there was a big difference between the work in OTAs vs. Mini-Camp. The consensus was other than the extra practice each day, no. The offense and defense have both been installed and now it's just fine-tuning, which will continue in training camp.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Another Jets OTA, Another Weird Collision

A bit of a letdown today with the absence again of Leon Washington. However, this time, no boycott was involved. Washington's fiance, Charity, gave birth to their son Noel and Rex Ryan whole-heartedly supported his running back's decision to skip practice.

In fact, Ryan cited the greatest regret of his coaching career as missing the birth of his second child due to attending a practice. It was, however, a well-intentioned faux pas. Ryan, at the time a member of his father Buddy's staff in Arizona didn't want people to think he was taking liberties being the head coach's son.

Practice itself offered up yet another weird collision. Ahmad Carroll, covering wide receiver Paul Raymond on a corner route slammed into secondary coach Dennis Thurman who, inexplicably, was standing in the middle of the pattern and didn't move out of the way fast enough. Thurman made the most of his moment, arms and legs spread wide as he lay prostrate on the ground. In typical Thurman style, he then got up laughing.

Then there's the update on last week's collision victim, David Harris. I'm told Harris actually had two teeth knocked out by Jim Leonhard's helmet, but they were somehow put back in (any dentist out there want to explain how they do that?). In any case, Harris - who already wears braces - is being held out of all contact for the next couple of weeks to ensure full healing.

Otherwise things are status quo. No significant changes, although both Kellen Clemens and Mark Sanchez continue to look more comfortable. Even Erik Ainge had a good day, completing some nice passes and looking a little more solid.

Ryan is thrilled to have both Washington and Thomas Jones back describing it as a "great one-two punch" that the defense has to deal with. He touted rookie Shonn Greene as well, musing that the fourth quarter could end up being Greene's quarter, where he will get the "dirty yards."

As for an overview of what this time of year really means, I talked to D'Brickashaw Ferguson who offered up this analogy, "This is like reading the prefix of a book. We haven't gotten into the book yet."

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

OTAs...With Leon Washington Tomorrow

Headed out to OTAs tomorrow. It will be interesting to see who gets the bigger crowd - Leon Washington or Mark Sanchez. I'm not holding out hope that Thomas Jones will show up in the locker room, but knowing Washington, I fully expect to see him.

In other news, apparently running back Danny Woodhead's group won today's New York Jets team golf tournament. This may be killing Jay Feely who is a scratch golfer and whose group came in second. I'll let you know.

Anything anybody wants to know?