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July 26, 2013

 

Eager Jets get all moved in

QB battle will highlight 4th Cortland camp

JetsJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Mark Sanchez fields questions upon arriving at Jets Camp on the SUNY Cortland campus Thursday.

By TOM VARTANIAN
Staff Writer

The New York Jets are back and settled in their rooms in the Glass Tower on campus at SUNY Cortland as training camp has officially begun.
It was a later than usual arrival for the veterans Thursday, placekicker Nick Folk the first to check in at 3:55 p.m. Then the stream of campers began to pick up, and the first-year players’ bus that also carried head coach Rex Ryan and others arrived closer to 5 p.m. after a stop in downtown Cortland.
Fifth-year quarterback Mark Sanchez may have said it best in regards to beginning the competition for starting positions and getting ready for practice, which got underway at 10 a.m. this morning.
“No, it feels good,” Sanchez said. “It reminds me a lot of my rookie year. Coming in, competing for a job, and rookie duties. I’m holding recorders. But I’m excited. I’m excited to be back. I’m excited to get back with the team and signing Braylon (Edwards) yesterday is big for us, I think.”
Former teammate Braylon Edwards was brought back this week to bolster the Jets’ receiving depth.
“There’s just good energy about this place and we love coming here,” added Sanchez, the starter for the past four seasons. “We love the town of Cortland and SUNY Cortland. I think there’s no better place to have camp. We have a great time.”
Coach Ryan echoed those thoughts as he begins his fifth season at the helm. Though under great pressure to keep his job coming off a disappointing 6-10 season, he is excited about camp getting underway.
“I think it is for any coach in the league. I’m sure (they all) feel the same way,” he said. “This is the best time as a coach because it’s all football. The whole day is football. You have all your players and it’s teaching — it’s the whole deal. I think as a coach, it doesn’t get much better than this.”
Ryan and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s biggest decision will be who will be the starting quarterback. Sanchez is an incumbent who is under fire as much as Ryan, while second round draft pick Geno Smith from West Virginia is the biggest threat to unseat the former Southern Cal signal-caller.
“I feel good about my ability,” Sanchez said. “I’m confident in my ability. I love playing the position. I feel comfortable up here and had some of my best practices up here so this place is like a second home. I’m ready to go. I’m ready to go compete and play my best.
“I think working with this system has only helped develop my skill-set even more and I just feel calm when I’m listening to Marty (Mornhinweg), when I’m watching film with him, with Coach (David) Lee, they’re so experienced,” he added. “I feel like they just do their very best to put you in a good situation. And relying on my experience, working hard on the fundamentals with Coach Lee, all those things will come together and help me be the best I’ve been.”
“In my heart, I expect to have a shot,” rookie Smith stated. “That’s all I can ask for myself, my teammates and my coaches, that they give me a shot. The coaches are going to determine the starter through the preseason up until week one. So, once we get there, then we’ll know.
“I’m just confident in myself, my study habits, my ability to learn and my ability to get acclimated with the offense,” he continued. “The things that I will do on the field will take care of themselves, but I have to put the work in in the film room as well as in my own room, doing things behind the scenes in order to give myself a shot.”
Ryan says every position will see competition for the opening day starting assignment which was also part of his opening message to players at the first team meeting last night. The interesting part was he did mention some guys that most likely have that starting nod, but his veteran quarterback was not one of them.
“I’ll speak from the heart and the big thing is, it’s just going to be about teamwork and it’ll be about competition,” Ryan said. “I think that’s the big thing about here, where you come here with this football team. And it’s been well written, there’s four or five new starters on offense, about seven or eight, who knows how many new starters on defense. Well okay, that’s all fine and dandy, but every single player is going to have to earn their job. Now is D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold or David Harris pretty secure? Or (Antonio) Cromartie? Yeah, I’d say so. But that really is it. People are going to get a fair shot here and I think every single player is going to have to earn their way.”
The biggest anticipation is for the Sanchez-Smith camp showdown.
“I think it will be a great competition and one thing he (Geno Smith) doesn’t have to worry about is getting a fair shake,” Ryan stated. “He’ll definitely get that opportunity. The fact that, really the quarterback is the face of the franchise (or) is perceived that way, so obviously there’s going to be more written about it and more scrutiny about that position.”
What factors will help make that decision?
“There’s a lot of factors that go into it,” Ryan explained. “That’s a leadership position as well. There may be more gray area with that than there would be with say, right guard. I think that’s safe to say.”
As for his own future after this season, Ryan isn’t looking that far ahead.
“Well, I think the first thing is I’m in it to win,” he said. “Shoot, my goals are set different than this or that or whatever, job security. I never took this job for job security. I would have been in a different line of work had that been the case. But I love the competition. But I think the only way to get there I think is you have to take it. Every single game is important. You’ve got to focus on that, your attention’s got to be one week at a time and then you add them up at the end.”
What would the Jets be without some other issue looming as well. In 2010, it was the now departed Darrelle Revis and his contract dispute that kept him out of Cortland. Now it’s first-round draft pick Dee Milliner, who was not on campus because the former Alabama cornerback has yet to sign his contract, and Ryan was asked if he thinks it will be signed by the first practice.
“I’m not sure,” Ryan said. “I’m a little disappointed he’s not here. But again, I’ll coach the guys that are here.”
Of course, you have to leave it to Mangold to have the quote of the day.
The all-pro center was asked about what essentials are needed for training camp and he replied: “Your pillow. That’s number one. And nail clippers. I learned that at Ohio State. An old guy there told me ‘You’ve got to bring nail clippers. Ingrown toenails are going to kill you.’ Those are my two essentials.”
You would think that with all the trainers and their expertise, toenail clippers would not be on the list. They would be the ones to handle such an issue.
“They do, but it’s an old college thing,” Mangold explained. “I’ve always had nail clippers on me for now 12 years.”

 

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