The Jets’ 2008 Rookie Class should have some kind of impact on Sunday’s season opener at Miami.
On our news pages, I wrote about Dwight Lowery, the fourth-round rookie who’s in the mix, if not to start then to play a lot vs. the Dolphins.
Who would’ve thought Lowery would have a better shot at being announced during pregame introductions than first-rounders Vernon Gholston and Dustin Keller?
But Gholston, the Ohio State LB, and Keller, the Purdue TE, will have their roles at Miami as well. And both are getting into the mood as their pro debuts approach.
"It was what it was," Gholston told me Thursday about his off-season, truncated by the NFL-NCAA agreements about players not reporting until that year’s classes graduated, missed time that seemed to be felt through his preseason. "Things happened the way they did. You try to take on as much as you can. At this point you take what you’ve got and roll with it."
Be that as it may, the sixth pick of the draft sounded optimistic about where he had been and where he’s going.
"I think the preseason went well for me," he said. "I’ve got a good feel."
"I couldn’t tell you how nervous I’ll be Sunday," Keller told reporters after today’s practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. "There are no nerves right now. I’m just anxious to get in and start playing."
Keller added that fellow TE Bubba Franks, gave him the progression of how game speed is revealed in the NFL.
"Bubba said the first couple of preseason games the tempo is pretty high," DK said. "Then the two after that are higher. Then you get into the regular season, when it’s even higher. Then late in the season it gets higher still. If you’re fortunate enough to get in the playoffs, it’s through the roof."
So is the rookie ready for the ratcheting up of the tempo? "Without a doubt," he said.
Jets head coach Eric Mangini was asked at today’s news conference how he felt about his draft picks.
"They’ve all done positive things, and nothing’s been handed to them," Mangini said. "I don’t really believe in terms of ‘We draft him at this spot, he’s got to do this.’ It’s really not that approach. It’s much more of a meritocracy. But if they’re on the 45-man roster, I said this to the team: ‘If you’re up, you’ve got to contribute. You’ve got to contribute on teams or meaningful reps during the regular course of offense and defense.’ "
Add in Lowery and possibly some participating from sixth-round WR Marcus Henry and that could add up to some quality time for four of the Jets’ six draft picks. Fifth-round QB Erik Ainge is also on the 53-man roster.
And seventh-round T Nate Garner theoretically has a chance to play in this game as well — he was a final cut of the Jets, was claimed on waivers by Miami, and is on the Dolphins’ 53-man roster.
Favre, Coles Connections
Laveranues Coles has been bothered by injuries all preseason, and Mangini said the decision on the veteran wideout’s availability for the Dolphins will go until just before Sunday’s kickoff. But if LC gets the green light, the coach said, "He’ll play as much as he can."
Many are concerned about whether Coles and Favre, with so little work together, can be on the same page from the get-go. But they’ve been syncing up in practice and also in the locker room, where they’ve been seen sharing information from their stalls, which are next to each other.
One reporter wondered how this could happen when most of the stalls in the spacious new locker room stalls appear to alternate from offensive player to defensive player and back. Mangini said the two wound up as next-door neighbors not due to Lady Luck but to Gentleman Gus, a.k.a. equipment director Gus Granneman.
"I didn’t really go through and quiz Gus on why he put guys in certain spots," Mangini said. "That’s kind of his domain."
Friday is Fly Day
Mangini said the Jets will be flying for Miami today. The Jets never leave for road games against the Dolphins until the day before the game, but Mangini said this year is different, and it’s not due to any hurricane or weather issues (neither Hannah nor Ike is expected to factor into Sunday’s 90-degree weather).
"It was part of an agreement to get in the building," the coach said of the Jets beginning work at their new facility this past Monday. Construction workers, he said, "needed more time to go through the ‘punch list’ and clean some things up, so that’s what we’re doing. It will work out well for everybody in terms of the work they have to do here."
And leaving a day earlier than usual, Mangini added, sets the stage for the four West Coast trips ahead, for which the Jets traditionally fly out two days ahead, not one.
"Two-Minute Drive" Under Way
Check out "Jets Two-Minute Drive" Eric Allen’s and my newyorkjets.com radio show previewing each week’s game every Friday at 3 p.m. Our first show is now available and you can go to it either through this link or on our home page. And while you’re enjoying EA and me and our special first guest, my good friend Phil Simms, I’ll be getting ready to leave on the Jets’ trip to Miami.
Tags: Brett Favre, Bubba Franks, Dustin Keller, Dwight Lowery, Eric Mangini, Gus Granneman, Laveranues Coles, Vernon Gholston
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