The show is called Hard Knocks, but one episode starring Mark Sanchez might be labeled Hard Counts.
“Getting guys offsides — thank you for noticing,” Sanchez beamed at the question posed by Dennis Waszak of The Associated Press after this morning’s fourth full-squad practice of training camp.
We noted Sanchez’s increasing comfort level with altering his cadences and drawing defenders offside during OTAs, and true enough it has been on display so far at SUNY Cortland.
“We got Jenk today and we got two guys yesterday, Calvin [Pace] and somebody else,” Sanchez said. “So it’s like a hit streak in baseball. I got three in a row. I need to get ‘em again this afternoon.”
The second-year QB made sure not to rub it in too much with Kris Jenkins the 10th-year, now-359-pound nose tackle, who was at his first practice after passing his conditioning test at 6 a.m. this morning and coming off the active PUP list. Jenkins wasn’t thrilled at being nabbed but likes what it portends for Sanchez and the offense.
“The next couple of years Mark is definitely going to start getting a lot more savvy because now he has that year under his belt,” Jenkins said. “It’s going to be a little rougher now. It’s cool, it keeps me honest.”
Rex Ryan also likes this new wrinkle that can pick his offense up 5 yards at a time for all the various manifestations of a great hard count: offsides, encroachment, neutral zone infractions.
“I remember last year it was like nobody’s falling for anything,” the head coach said at today’s midday news conference. “He’s learning how to use his voice and use that cadence to his advantage. A guy who does it great is Mark Brunell. Bart [Scott] said, ‘I remember when he was with Jacksonville, he’d do that and I was on the sidelines and I was jumping offsides.’ “
Sanchez credited Brunell, coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and just him listening to his own calls on video to know which syllables, which colors to put a little extra emphasis on. But a lot of this big little new weapon in his arsenal is due to his overall comfort level as he steps behind center in year 2.
“Your rookie year you’re just scrambling to spit the play out right in the huddle,” he said. “When you get to the line, the last thing on your mind is the cadence. Now it’s one of those situations where I got the play, I know what we’re doing, now let’s add a little more. Let’s try and get these guys.”
That’s similar to Chad Pennington’s approach. From only a few hard-count successes his first four seasons as a starter, Pennington exploded in ’06 by drawing 24 penalties with his cadence, and that surely was an important piece to that Green & White team’s late surge into the playoffs.
Sanchez similarly drew only two hard-count penalties all last year, both coming in the final regular-season game against the Bengals. But he’s on a roll now, intent on extend his “hitting streak” not only into week 2 of training camp but well into his second season as the Jets’ starter.
Here are the hard-count penalties drawn by the Jets’ starting QBs since 2004:
Year Quarterback Drawn Enforced
2004 Chad Pennington 3 2
2005 Chad Pennington 2 2
Vinny Testaverde 1 1
Brooks Bollinger 0 0
2006 Chad Pennington 24 17
2007 Chad Pennington 8 8
Kellen Clemens 2 2
2008 Brett Favre 7 5
2009 Mark Sanchez 2 2
A.M. Practice Notes
Some observations from Nick Gallo on this morning’s camp practice:
■ The secondary showed its strength as Antonio Cromartie had a nice interception along the sideline and batted away a would-be touchdown. CB Drew Coleman had his second pick in as many days. And rookie Kyle Wilson “intercepted” a ball that may or may not have touched the ground as he pulled it in at the goal line. No instant replay booth here at SUNY Cortland.
■ Veteran DE Shaun Ellis had the session off, which meant that Vernon Gholston and Ropati Pitoitua saw action with the first team along the defensive line.
■ Sanchez made some nice throws, hitting Braylon Edwards on a pair of passes — one a post for a touchdown and another a go route down the sideline that Edwards spectacularly caught inside the 5-yard line.
■ Matt Slauson got all of the snaps at LG with the first offensive line this morning, while Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson continued to share the starting RB duties.
Tags: Chad Pennington, Kris Jenkins, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan, Vinny Testaverde
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