August 2, 2012
Soft-tissue issues and ruffled feathers
Jets receivers miffed by Cromartie’s comments
On another day in which the defense outshined the offense, the soft-tissue issue and some ruffled feathers drew a lot of attention Wednesday at the New York Jets training camp.
A new 20-minute pre-practice stretching period — doubled from the previous 10 minutes — was implemented by the coaching staff Wednesday in dealing with a number of soft-tissue injuries that had cropped up in the first four preseason sessions. Wide receiver Santonio Holmes, however, was forced to sit out the two-minute drill near the end of the session due to an unspecified soft-tissue problem.
“Unfortunately we had four healthy receivers at the end of that practice,” head coach Rex Ryan said. “We’ve got 12, and we were down to four. Part of that’s the tempo (a faster pace under new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano), and part of it is the responsibility of the guys. You’ve got to be in shape, you’ve got to take care of your body. That’s frustrating. Like I told the team, most games you’ll only have four receivers up. You have to go the whole game with this type of tempo. We challenged them and we’ll see how they react tomorrow.
“We’re very fortunate there haven’t been major injuries, but those things keep adding up. We’re trying to figure out why. When you break away from the team (in the off-season) you’ve got to be in world-class shape. This is the type of tempo we were talking about, so whatever it is we’re certainly looking at it, if we have to stretch more or do whatever. We’ve identified a concern, we’re trying to fix it and again, after one day (of extended stretching) I’d say there’s still some issues there.”
The Jets head coach noted that dialing down the pace of practices was a consideration, but that slowing things down too much would hurt the rest of the team. He later relayed a message through team Senior Director of Media Relations Bruce Speight that his reference to being in shape wasn’t aimed at Holmes but some younger players, and that Wednesday was the first time Holmes had missed any kind of practice activity in any camp.
The new faster pace was evident in figures Ryan cited. He said that 12 plays were scripted for 15 minutes of 9-on-7 team drills, but that 24 plays were actually run in 14 minutes.
Among the soft-tissue hamstring casualties so far have been wide receivers Jeremy Kerley and Chaz Schilens as well as All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis and fullback Fui Vakapuna, who was waived later in the day.
Schilens also had a groin injury, though he and Revis both practiced Wednesday. Kerley sat out, as did linebacker Brett Roy (concussion) and running back Joe McKnight (food poisoning).
THE RUFFLED FEATHERS came from a comment by cornerback Antonio Cromartie Tuesday on ESPN’s “First Take” to the effect that he’s the second-best wide receiver on the team behind Holmes.
Schilens thinks otherwise.
“I think it’s a slight, I’m not gonna lie,” said the fifth-year wide receiver from San Diego State, who came over from the Oakland Raiders as an unrestricted free agent in the off-season, to an assembled group of reporters after practice.
“I just wouldn’t say it, it’s not something I would say, but I’m not him, I guess. Everyone knows Cro is unbelievably athletically gifted, very fast ... he’s a great athlete. But I’ve played with a lot of fast receivers, and playing receiver is about a lot more than being fast. I’ll leave it at that.”
When the subject was broached at his news conference, Ryan seemed a bit annoyed.
“I’m going to say this right now. I mean, listen to me when I tell you this,” he said. “I’m aware of what was said, OK? I’m on top of it. I’m telling you that right now. I’m on top of it, and it will not be a problem. That’s all I’m going to say about the whole thing. You guys know what was said, and the back and forth, I’m not playing it out through the media. We will handle this. I will handle this.”
AS FOR THE BATTLE of offense versus defense, the latter squad was superior Wednesday to retain the rights to wear the symbolic black jerseys again today. Quarterback Mark Sanchez went 7-for-19 with one pass intercepted during team drills while Tim Tebow completed 2-for-4 passes with an interception and a pair of sacks.
Sanchez was under center for a pair of two-minute drill reps. He hit tight end Dustin Keller for a 14-yard gain during the second one on a fourth-and-one play to keep alive a drive that eventually ended with a 51-yard field goal from kicker Nick Folk.
“I liked the way our offense came out in the first team period.” Ryan said. “I thought it won that first team period over the defense, the first- and second-down deals. I liked the way we ran the ball in particular there. We expanded our offense a little today, a lot of three tight end looks and those type of things. You can line up with all those guys inside and run the football; you can spread ‘em out and still be able to throw it because we are athletic at that position and I think that presents preparation problems for defenses as well. I liked the way the offense started the practice.
“Now, with that being said, I like the way the defense responded, obviously took over the next team period. And then at the end, when we had to have it, defense four and out, came back again and ran the drill, Sanchez makes a great play, stays alive and makes a big throw down the field. I thought that was impressive; it got us in field goal range and that was good.”
Ryan also looked forward to today’s practice.
The competition is good; I like seeing that,” he said. “(Thursday) should be a fun day, a short-yards and goal line day, there’s only one way to practice those drills and that’s full-speed, live tackling. I kind of can’t wait to see that one tomorrow.”
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