Turn On The Jets own Mike Donnelly spent yesterday in Florham Park for the last day of New York Jets mini-camp. Here are his observations and make sure you give Mike a follow on Twitter –
With the Jets Mini-Camp coming to a close on Thursday, I decided to call out sick from work (Sorry, Brian) and take a drive over to Florham Park with my buddy Dan, pretty much on a whim. Camp was open to the public and I figured it would be a better way to spend the day than sitting in an office. I was right.
I also had grandiose images dancing in my head of showing up, observing all the comings and goings, taking Twitter by storm with my hilarious commentary and finally cracking that illustrious 100 follower milestone. I’d also befriend all the players, meet all the beat writers that we’ve begun ranking each week here on this very site, and then leaving triumphantly after Mark Sanchez gave me his cell phone number to meet up for a beer later in the day. Unfortunately, I was unprepared to accomplish any of this, as my phone was half-dead after my charger didn’t work the night before, I didn’t have my car charger or my iPad, and I was forced to rely on the power of memory. Damn you, stupid phone charger. Fortunately, between Dan and myself, we were able to piece together the entire day. Here is a rundown of my thoughts from my day at Jets Camp, in no particular order:
The Jets D-Line looks tremendous – You can read and hear about how big and athletic these guys are, but when you see them up close, it’s really something. Quinton Coples stands out and just looks like a physical freak, Sione Pouha is massive, and Mo Wilkerson looked awesome out there. On the very first play of team drills, he knocked down a pass and gave a Dikembe Mutombo-style finger wag to Mark Sanchez. I said it a few weeks ago in my Stock Watch column, but it bears repeating: Mo Wilkerson is going to be a stud for this defense. That autograph I got from him today is going to be worth a fortune! (Ok, not really, but I’m still glad I got it.)
Speaking of autographs.. – Many of the players were extremely fan-friendly and personable. I didn’t run around trying to get them to sign my little “Jets Mini Camp” cardboard paper thing they handed out at the entrance, but many of them did come by where I was standing and signed it. Aaron Maybin was extremely personable and even posed for many photos with fans. Nick Mangold, Pouha, and Wilkerson all also came by and were very cool about signing for the fans, especially kids, which is always nice. Joe McKnight also signed a ton of stuff, gave away his gloves, and even cracked some jokes about eating McDonalds. Rookies Stephen Hill and Demario Davis signed for a while, and I was fortunate enough to get both of their John Hancocks (check out the picture below of DeMario’s signature, which has got to be the funniest one of all time). I also saw Dustin Keller, Brandon Moore, Matt Slauson (hold that thought on Slauson for a minute) and a few others spending more than their fair share of time signing stuff. Also signing autographs for a few minutes until it got a little out of control? Mr. Mark Sanchez. And yes, the Sanchize graced my little piece of paper by scribbling a few lines on it.
Matt Slauson’s shoulder is fine, and he isn’t happy playing RG – Here’s my semi-juicy nugget of information I came across while in Florham Park. While signing autographs, a fan asked Slauson how his shoulder was and why he was playing RG instead of LG. He said his shoulder is 100% healthy and that he doesn’t know why he’s playing RG. He then added with a bit of a smile although he didn’t seem pleased, “I told Vlad I’m not happy about it.” Bears watching when training camp starts. Are they grooming Vlad to be the new LG while reducing Slauson to more of a “swing role” since he has more versatility? Guess we’ll find out. (My guess: No. Vlad stinks.)
Aaron Maybin and Tim Tebow are HUGE – Much has been made of Tebow’s size the past few days in the media, especially from our pal Manish Mehta, who whipped out his tape measure and scale to compare Tebow’s height and weight to everyone from David Harris to Rex Ryan this week. But the fact is he does looks enormous, which is a good sign for our short yardage wildcat package and punt team I suppose. Maybin, who recently tweeted a picture of himself on the scale weighing 254 lbs, looks every bit of it. His arms and upper body were completely jacked, and you have to think that will only help him on the field.
Hard to get a read on the Offense – Any time Sanchez or Tebow throw an incomplete pass, everyone wants to jump all over them and say the offense sucks. We have the Sanchez fans rip the Tebow fans, the Tebow fans rip the Sanchez fans, and everyone hates everything. Like I wrote in my Take a Deep Breath column, everyone needs to relax. It’s June, and although Chaz Schilens was pretty impressive, these quarterbacks are still playing without Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill, not to mention they’re learning a new system and going up against arguably the best defense in the NFL. Speaking of which, this is not exactly breaking news, but Darrelle Revis is still very awesome. Throwing to his side is a lost cause.
The #2 TE spot is not looking promising – Jeff Cumberland is a guy a lot of coaches and fans had high hopes for, but man oh man did #86 look awful on Thursday. He dropped a bunch of passes, and Tony Sparano was completely ripping into him about his curious pass-catching technique where he runs down the field and doesn’t turn his head around to look where the ball is, only to have it land a few feet away from him. Hayden Smith also doesn’t appear to be ready to play football at this level, which makes sense since he’s been playing rugby in Australia the past few years, but you can tell he has some potential — just not for this year probably.
Manish Mehta is a cool guy – I know, I know, judging by some of the feedback we’ve gotten in our Beat Writer Power Rankings, many of you have turned on Manish lately because of his apparent Tebow love and Sulia usage on Twitter. I get it, I agree with most of it, and I wrote about that in our initial rankings (I also mentioned how it wasn’t too long ago he was far and away the best Jets writer, though). But when he was standing a few feet away from me on the other side of the fence, I couldn’t help but to call out to him and introduce myself as the guy who has been grading his performance weekly online. Instead of blowing me off or just calling me an asshole, he couldn’t have been nicer. Manish was gracious enough to came over and chat for a few minutes. We joked about the power rankings and his placement in them (“As long as I stay in the top 6, we’re cool”), talked about the Tebow phenomenon (“He’s popular, what can I say?”), and even his Sulia love (“Ahh come on man, what do you want me to do?”).
We also talked about Revis, David Harris, TurnOnTheJets.com, and probably would have continued a little longer since it was a down period in practice if his colleague at the Daily News, old fart Gary Myers, didn’t come over to ask him if he was paying attention to practice or if he was “holding a dissertation over here”. Gary is lucky he’s not a beat writer, or else I’d rank him 17th out of 6 this week. Speaking of which, there is no truth to the rumor I happily accepted a bribe from Manish to move him up to #1 this week. Or is there? Guess we’ll see on Wednesday.
So there you have it. My day at Jets Camp. We’d love to hear stories from anybody else who was in attendance this week, and maybe I’ll see some of you in Cortland in a few weeks.