The air was a little brisk, in the upper 50s perhaps, for this morning’s third practice of the Jets’ weekend rookie minicamp, leading to this exchange between defensive coaches:
Bryan Cox: "Bob, you look cold."
Bob Sutton: "It’s linemen’s weather."
It was also special teams weather, at least for much of the 40 minutes of media availability. And while the Jets’ 50 draft picks, undrafted free agents and tryouts worked on offense and defense during other periods of the practice, head coach Eric Mangini definitely wasn’t glossing over the specialty work.
"Some of these guys like Vernon Gholston and Dustin Keller are getting work on special teams, which they hadn’t been part of over the latter parts of their college careers," Mangini said. "Now it’s something they not only have to be aware of but be involved in deeply. It’s another rock on the pile."
ST coordinator Kevin O’Dea, who let’s remember may be in his first practices as a Jets coach but is starting his 15th NFL season with his sixth team, was right in his element, monitoring the punting, moving players around.
The two punters in this camp are Jeremy Kapinos, who kicked in the Tennessee game last year, and tryout candidate Patrick Fisher from LSU. Their hang times were good, not great, and Kapinos made a nice save of a bounced snap to get off a field-position-saving boot. On another non-contact rush (players are in helmets but no other pads), tryout TE Chris Hopkins appeared to get a nice push, drawing "Blocked punt, blocked punt" from O’Dea.
Mangini said at his noon news conference that Kapinos and incumbent Ben Graham will battle for the job in training camp.
"We’re going to look at both of those guys and give them both opportunities to state their case," the head coach said. "They’ve been working with Kevin, and he has a strong track record with kickers and punters, not just improving established guys but developing younger guys. That’s one of the things I liked about Kevin when I interviewed him before I eventually hired him."
Another wrinkle on punt returners was No. 35 putting them away and running upfield. That number is being worn by Danny Woodhead of Chadron State, whom the coach talked about Friday.
Woodhead said the last time he returned punts in game action was in high school, although he did some PR work in practice at his Division II college.
"It’s something I’ve done in the past," Woodhead said. "I’m comfortable catching kickoffs and punts."
Woodhead, an undrafted free agent signing in the minutes after the draft ended last Sunday night, put a nice move on sixth pick of the draft Vernon Gholston. It wasn’t really a fair "fight," since it came in the "tackling drills" that Mangini likes, one offensive player vs. one defensive player in a confined area. This one again wasn’t live tackling, but contact sometimes occurred, as when undrafted FA Nate Lyles met his man and bumped him to the ground.
Gholston didn’t get the chance with Woodhead, who gave him a headfake and then used his 4.38 speed to motor out of harm’s way.
And the little we’ve seen of Marcus Henry, the sixth-round WR from Kansas is, as billed, a big receiving target at 6’3½". Al Pereira, our unparalleled team photographer, took a number of shots from Friday’s late workout that are now up on the newyorkjets.com home page, and two of the shots show Henry plucking a high toss like it’s low-hanging fruit.
Two Jets we knew of were around the complex the last two days even though veterans are off from their conditioning workouts until next week. Long-snapper James Dearth was briefly out at practice and no doubt eyeballed two tryout snappers, Will Collins of Southern Cal and Nick Jarvis of Wake Forest. And Mangini said that second-year LB David Harris also stopped by Friday.
"David claims he was in for a workout," the coach said, "but I think it was a function of him wanting to be here and not be part of rookie weekend the way he was last year and enjoy the afternoon and see these guys. He appreciates the transition these guys are going through. He seemed a lot happier yesterday than he did a year ago yesterday."
Tags: Ben Graham, Bob Sutton, Bryan Cox, Danny Woodhead, David Harris, Dustin Keller, Eric Mangini, James Dearth, Jeremy Kapinos, Kevin O\'Dea, Vernon Gholston
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