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Jets Journal

Jane McManus of The Journal News on the Jets.

Archive for July, 2009

Leon isn’t happy

July
31

Last night when Rex Ryan went though bed check the first night of Jets training camp, he spied Leon Washington studying his playbook.

“He said “hey coach,” with a big smile on his face,” Ryan said. “Obviously, I’m sure he’d like to have another deal done, but Leon’s here and is where he should be – with his teammates.”

Leon Washington spoke today from Jets camp, where he arrived a day late after it was clear that the Jets and his agent Alvin Keels have reached an impass when it comes to a contract extention. Washington played hard, but isn’t happy that the Jets haven’t offered more money in light of three solid years with the team.

And he’s not confident that anything will get done this year.

“No, I’m not confident,” Washington said. “I don’t feel confident that something will get done. It kind of hurts me a little bit because I’ve been here three years busting my tail off. I’ve played hard for the organization and for me not to get rewarded or for me to be put in some type of situation, I’m not going to back down. What I am happy about is that I can still play football.”

Washington said he stands to make $535,000 this season. The Jets have said that they are hesitating to renegotiate in light of an upcoming CBA renegotiation.

“They have their leverage and we have our leverage,” Washington said. “Whatever cards they want to play, whatever leverage they have, I am sure that it is a business. They are going to try to use that to their advantage and, for me, I can use my leverage. But at the end of the day, they make the calls, they write the checks. So it is important for me to come out here. I have a family and I have to feed them. It is important for me to play football.”

Although he said he came to camp because he thought nothing could be gained from it at this time, Washington held out the possibility that he could hold out later in training camp.

“I’m not going to say. I am going to let the situation play out,” Washington said. “I don’t want to say anything and don’t do it or say something that I am going to do and not do that. I’m going to let the situation play out. Hopefully the organization feels the way I feel. I want to be a Jet and get the deal done.”

Posted by Jane McManus on Friday, July 31st, 2009 at 7:55 pm |


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TJ speaks, just not about that

July
31

Thomas Jones spoke today for the first time since the end of the Jets regular season. Even when he showed up to OTAs and minicamp, he did not come into the locker room during regular media availability. Here’s what he had to say today.

On deciding to come to camp…

It’s training camp. I want to be here and be starting. I’m looking forward to having a good year and being around my teammates.

On his contract…

I’m up here for football. I’m not going to answer any contract questions at all. If it’s football, I’m good with that. Any contract questions, I’m not going to even talk about those.

On if he will stay at camp….

I’m here. I’m with my team. I’m glad to be here. I like Coach Ryan and what he’s doing. Everyone up here is excited about the season, excited about the opportunity that we have. Today was a good start this morning and we look forward to going out this afternoon and trying to have a better practice.

Posted by Jane McManus on Friday, July 31st, 2009 at 1:51 pm |


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Leon arrives

July
31

Leon Washington is on the field for the Jets today, ending the one-day hold out over his contract. There is nothing from the Jets about a new contract, but the runnning back apparently feels good enough about the process to show up and play.

Posted by Jane McManus on Friday, July 31st, 2009 at 9:23 am |


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Rex Ryan on Leon, QBs

July
30

As any Jets fan worth his or her salt knows by now, Leon Washington did not report to training camp today. Jets coach Rex Ryan had this to say about his absence.

“Well, we’ll see,” Ryan said. “Right now you are right, he is not here. If we hear anything, we will let you know. Everyone knows that Leon is a huge member of this football team. He is somebody that finished top-10 in punt returns, top-10 in kick returns. He is a big member of this football team. Obviously, we want Leon here and we’ll see what happens. I’ve spoken with him a few times throughout the summer. He knows how I feel about him, how the team feels about him. We’ll see what happens. I think that it will be more family business, if you will. We will discuss fines and whatever (else) amongst ourselves first, but we haven’t even had our first meeting. I’d rather attend to that initially and we’ll fill you in. Leon is under contract. Have there been some conversations among us and his agent? Yes, there have. I can’t tell you the particulars right now but you never know what can get done. Obviously, I hope Leon is here.”

Ryan had this to offer about the quarterback competition between Mark Sanchez and Kellen Clemens.

“At quarterback, Kellen Clemens will be number one (on the depth chart), (Mark) Sanchez will be two and (Erik) Ainge will be three.” Ryan said. “There is going to be a competition. Clemens going in will get the first reps and Sanchez will get twos. But obviously we are going to give Sanchez the chance to be with the ones as well. I would say that it will be an open competition. We will evaluate them everyday. We will then make the best decision. The guy who wins the job will be the best guy, in my opinion, that can help us win. I think Clemens to start will get a few more of the first-team reps. We have to get Mark going as well. We’ll see how it progresses throughout the summer. It won’t be a set amount of reps that this guy gets. We’ll leave (the number of reps) to (Brian) Schottenheimer and the coaches. Mark is going to be given an opportunity to win this job.”

Ryan said that everyone passed the conditioning test this morning and no one will go on the PUP list.

Posted by Jane McManus on Thursday, July 30th, 2009 at 7:02 pm |


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Pace makers explanation

July
30

Calvin Pace spoke today for the first time since being found in violation of the NFL banned substances policy.

”(It was) a workout supplement that I had previously taken before (the NFL) banned substance list changed,” Pace said. “I lapsed and I take full responsibility for it.  (I need to) stay up on it and know what’s banned and what’s not banned.”

The linebacker will be replaced by Vernon Gholston in the lineup, Rex Ryan said last week. Pace will have a lot of mentoring to do if that’s going to be possible.Some fans and players were surprised that Ryan made his intentions public before the start of training camp, particularly when Marques Murrell had such a strong OTA and minicamp showing.

“I’m going to try and push the guys so that they practice and perform like starters,” Pace said. “I think with the new regime and how they preach it – practicing hard and carrying that over to the games, I think they’ll be fine. Vernon’s played a little bit, Marques hadn’t played as much as Vernon, so it’s really about them getting good, valuable experience during the preseason.”

Is he disappointed in the fact that his absence could hurt the Jets early on?

“It’s disappointing because I feel we have a chance to do some great things,” Pace said. “I let the team down; the simple fact that I’m plugged in to certain spots so somebody else is going to have to step in.  With all of that said, I don’t want my situation to be a distraction to what we’re trying to do, which is win games.  I just have to take the punishment, I’m not going to cry about it, when I come back for the last 12 (games), I’ll do my thing.”

Posted by Jane McManus on Thursday, July 30th, 2009 at 7:00 pm |


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Your Jets preview

July
30

Here’s what ran in The Journal News today as the Jets training camp preview. And of course the Leon Washington contract situation is still unresolved. Agent Alvin Keels tweeted late last night that he was going to get some last minute deals done today, but Washington IS NOT in Cortland (aerial photo left) for the start of camp. Thomas Jones is there.

Rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez got a head start against Kellen Clemens when the rookies reported to Jets training camp in Cortland on Monday. Sanchez posted a photo of himself in the green and white and wrote, “Let’s go camping, I’m psyched!”

Clemens and the other veterans are due to show up today, and training camp officially opens tomorrow to the public and the press. Considering the flameout during last five games of the season, which included four losses to miss the playoffs, there is a lot of enthusiasm as camp gets underway.

There are a few reasons behind that.

Team owner Woody Johnson and general manager Mike Tannenbaum made some wholesale changes in leadership, starting with firing coach Eric Mangini and bringing in Baltimore defensive coordinator Rex Ryan.

Ryan came in and immediately alluded to a White House visit with President Obama, big talk, and he’s kept it up in a steady stream. When the Jets were picked to finish last in the AFC East by one publication, Ryan refuted it loudly, especially the contention that his inexperience might be an issue.

“I’ve always been the solution, I’ve never been part of the problem,” Ryan said. “When I read in all these publications, ‘Hey, this is a first time head coach and all this kind of stuff,’ I’ve never been a negative in any organization.”

The Jets didn’t stop with Ryan, and grabbed some of the Ravens themselves, linebacker Bart Scott and safety Jim Leonhard. But the biggest splash came at the NFL Draft, when the Jets traded up to snatch Sanchez, a USC quarterback with a megawatt smile and just a year of collegiate starting experience.

Sanchez looked great against his fellow rookies, but when he was able to return for OTAs his inexperience was evident. He hesitated in the pocket and his decision-making was lacking as he led the second team taking turns with Clemens and the first team.

By the end of the June minicamp however, Sanchez looked much improved and Ryan said it will be a true competition between the two quarterback candidates.

“I really am confident that the winner of that quarterback job is going to have to earn it,” Ryan said. I think the great thing is that competition is going to bring out the best in both those guys. Whether it’s Clemens or it’s Sanchez makes no difference to me.”

The defense seems solid, even if Vernon Gholston has the spotlight on him after Ryan named him to start during Calvin Pace’s four-game suspension for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances.

In some offensive positions however, the Jets are missing some important pieces. Tight end Chris Baker was released and Bubba Franks was recently dropped when it was determined he hasn’t healed enough from a knee injury to come to Cortland. That leaves a pretty gaping spot for a blocking tight end.

And there is another hole at wide receiver opposite Jerricho Cotchery since Laveranues Coles left. Four young wides are making a good case, including Chansi Stuckey, David Clowney, Brad Smith and Wallace Wright, and Ryan alluded to the emergence of another candidate last week without naming the player.

The Cortland camp site was Ryan’s choice. He considered using the Jets gleaming training facility on Florham Park, which just opened last year, but wanted to get the new group together in an isolated spot. He’ll give them plenty of time to bond over other games, Dustin Keller is a shark in ping pong, and hopes that when they return to New Jersey they are united in focus.

They will need to be considering that, for a team picked to finish all over the map this season, expectations are still running high for a first year coach and a slew of new pieces.

Five things to look for in camp

Rex Ryan’s leadership style: Ryan plans to be very hands on with the defense, and during OTAs would take snaps during drills. He’s got an ally on the line in Bart Scott, and another in the secondary with Jim Leonhard — but how quickly can those former Ravens mesh with Jets like Kris Jenkins, Darrelle Revis and Kerry Rhodes?

The wide receiver puzzle: Jerricho Cotchery is set, and the Jets have a glut of wides with a lot of potential but little to no NFL starting experience. Brad Smith is the versatile one who can handle the ball in the wildcat, David Clowney is the burner, Chansi Stuckey is the slot with experience and Wallace Wright impressed during minicamp. Who gets the job?

Mark Sanchez (and his fat contract) vs. Kellen Clemens: Rex Ryan has said this quarterback competition is going to be straight up, but considering the $28 million that Sanchez will be guaranteed over the next five years, Clemens may win it this year without gaining any job security. Clemens has the experience and knows the playbook, which may not win him endorsements but gives him an edge in Cortland.

Vernon Gholston, special project: Ryan made a bold move and named Gholston the starter for Calvin Pace as he serves a suspension for the first four games of the season. Gholston, now in his second season, was a first-round disappointment with just a single solo tackle, but Ryan has vowed to make him a player.

Mike DeVito moves up: The Suffern native is in his third season with the Jets after coming in from Maine as a UFA. This could be his season to vie for a starting position at defensive end opposite Sean Ellis. Last season he played all 16 games for the Jets and had 16 solo tackles, with 28 total.

Posted by Jane McManus on Thursday, July 30th, 2009 at 11:47 am |


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Leon’s situation

July
29

Amid reports of a last-minute meeting with Leon Washington’s agent Alvin Keels, the Jets have not announced a new deal with their all-purpose running back. Veterans are slated to arrive in Cortland for training camp tomorrow, and Washington had alluded to the possibility of a holdout if the Jets did not extend his contract.

Posted by Jane McManus on Wednesday, July 29th, 2009 at 5:27 pm |


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Feely golfs his way north

July
28

My old pal Sam Weinman, the former Rangers writer for The Journal News who got out of sports to edit the digital Golf Digest, alerted me to Jay Feely’s golf diary. Here’s the link. What I love about this, other than the way they describe Feely as “an avid golfer and Golf Digest reader who also happens to be the kicker for the New York Jets,” is the idea of Feely moving all his stuff to New Jersey in some jalopy like an NFL Beverly Hillbilly.

Feely has posted the first installment, where he explains that he and his brothers have a bet; if they can beat him in a round, he takes the family to Ireland. If he wins, they pay.

Posted by Jane McManus on Tuesday, July 28th, 2009 at 12:07 pm |


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Vick reinstated with strings

July
27

He is not an issue for the Jets, but since Vick has been a topic on this blog I’m going to post the NFL release:

MICHAEL VICK REINSTATED ON CONDITIONAL BASIS

May Practice Now and Play in Final Two Preseason Games;
Tony Dungy to Serve as Mentor; Commissioner to Decide on
Full Reinstatement for Regular Season by Week 6

Commissioner ROGER GOODELL notified MICHAEL VICK today that he has been reinstated to the NFL on a conditional basis and will be considered for full reinstatement and to play in regular-season games by Week 6 (October 18-19) based on the progress he makes in his transition plan.

Under the conditions of the reinstatement, Vick may participate without delay in preseason practices, workouts, meetings, and may play in his club’s final two preseason games. Once the regular season begins, Vick may participate in all team activities other than games, subject to specific guidelines developed by the NFL Player Personnel Department that will be communicated to Vick and all clubs. Vick is currently an unrestricted free agent eligible to sign with any NFL club. Vick is eligible to be paid based on terms negotiated with a club.

In addition, TONY DUNGY has agreed to continue his work with Michael Vick as an advisor and mentor. Commissioner Goodell will periodically evaluate Vick’s progress under this transitional step approach and consider full reinstatement for play in regular-season games by Week 6.

In a letter to Vick today, Commissioner Goodell wrote: “My decision at that time will be based on reports from outside professionals, your probation officer, and others charged with supervising your activities, the quality of your work outside football, the absence of any further adverse involvement in law enforcement, and other concrete actions that you take that are consistent with your representations to me.”

In addition, Commissioner Goodell wrote: “This step-by-step approach is not meant to be a further punishment and should not be viewed as such. Instead, it is intended to maximize the prospect that you can successfully resume your career and your life. I believe that a transitional approach with a strong network of support will give you the best opportunity to manage effectively the various issues and pressures that you will inevitably face in the coming weeks and months and earn your full reinstatement.”

Vick had been suspended indefinitely since August of 2007 after pleading guilty to federal criminal charges relating to his involvement in an interstate dog fighting enterprise. He was released from federal custody last Monday (July 20) but is still serving three years of probation.

In reviewing the matter, Commissioner Goodell considered the court records; written submissions made by Vick, his representatives, and others; reports and recommendations of outside professionals; interviews with family and associates conducted by NFL Security personnel; numerous conversations that Commissioner Goodell had with current and former players and others; and a hearing on July 22 at which the commissioner spoke in person with Vick, his representatives, and NFLPA officials.

Following are additional excerpts from Commissioner Goodell’s letter to Vick:

“Among the conditions of this reinstatement, you are required to abide by the terms of the supervised release that were imposed on you by the court, which include not committing any further crime, limits on who you may associate with, prohibitions regarding drug and alcohol use, possession of a firearm or other dangerous weapon, and forbidding you to own, possess or be involved with the sale of any dog.”

“Apart from these conditions, you have submitted to me a written plan concerning your proposed living arrangements, how you will manage your financial affairs, counseling and mentoring plans, and your proposed work with the Humane Society and other groups. You have committed to me that you intend to abide by this plan, and as I said when we met, you are accountable for doing so.”

“I am also encouraged by your recognition that you cannot do this yourself, and that outside mentors and continued counseling will provide you with valuable support and assistance. After discussing possible mentors with you, I have asked Coach Tony Dungy to continue his work with you and to initiate a more formal mentoring relationship with you. Earlier today, we discussed in detail with Coach Dungy the precise nature of that relationship, and I share your view that Coach Dungy can help you in many ways as you rebuild your life and resume your career. I will stay in close touch with Coach Dungy and his views will be part of my decision concerning whether and when you return to play.  I encourage you and Coach Dungy to select other mentors and advisors who can help in other phases of your life.”

“In deciding whether to reinstate a player, I have stressed my belief that playing in the NFL is a privilege. It is not an entitlement. Everyone fortunate enough to be part of the league is held to a standard of conduct higher than that generally expected in society and is correspondingly accountable when that standard of conduct is not met. I have also endorsed an approach under which players who have been suspended for a significant amount of time, as you have been, may through a series of steps demonstrate that they have addressed their prior problems, that they can make good decisions, and that they conduct themselves in a way that is lawful, responsible, and consistent with NFL values.”

“As I emphasized to you when we met, as I have said in other cases, it is actions that count. I accept that you are sincere when you say that you want to, and will, turn your life around and that you intend to be a positive role model for others. I am prepared to offer you that opportunity. Whether you succeed is entirely in your hands.”

“Needless to say, your margin for error is extremely limited. I urge you to take full advantage of the resources available to support you and to dedicate yourself to rebuilding your life and your career.  If you do this, the NFL will support you.”

Posted by Jane McManus on Monday, July 27th, 2009 at 3:50 pm |


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Friendly reminder

July
24

If you want to check out the webcast Ernie Palladino and I did previewing the Jets and Giants, check out http://lohud.com/livestream. We had a pretty good time doing it, but more fun trying Twitcam after. This will be on my lifetime bloopers reel. http://twitcam.com/7xe

We tweet! Follow Ernie at Skadoodles and I’m Janesports.

Posted by Jane McManus on Friday, July 24th, 2009 at 11:04 pm |


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A team of Journal News reporters share their thoughts on the Jets with the Lower Hudson fans.

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About the author
Jane McManusJane McManus joined The Journal News in 1999, after working at The Daily News and Newsday. Since she's been here, she's covered everything from girls basketball to the Final Four, the U.S. Open of both golf and tennis and recreational sports from rock climbing to roller derby (which she liked so much she joined the team). READ MORE
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