It’s been a this-is-your-life week in a victory-lap season for Laveranues Coles.
On Wednesday night there was the Jets’ practice return to Hofstra, a place that Coles called his professional home from 2000-02 and again from ’05 until the Jets moved to the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on Sept. 1, 2008.
“I may shed a tear, hug a few people I haven’t seen in a while,” Coles said before the trip to Long Island. “I definitely don’t miss the locker room but it is what it is.”
Another touchstone for the now 11th-year wideout has been “Hard Knocks.” He’s the only Jet who’s been involved in the last two NFL Films/HBO summer series.
“Those cameras have been around for a while so you kind of forget they’re there,” LC said. “And being in New York, there’s cameras everywhere anyway. It’s different in Cincinnati, where the only camera you might find is one of your teammates’ camera phones.”
And capping off this short week is Friday night’s third preseason game and second Jets game ever at New Meadowlands Stadium against Coles’ team in 2003-04, the Washington Redskins.
“I’m very thankful to Daniel Snyder for building my home down in Jacksonville for me,” Coles said with easy laugh. The Redskins owner, he said, “gave me an opportunity when other people wouldn’t. I went in and gave him 110 percent of everything I had. I’ve always been that way everywhere I went. But that’s where it stops. It’s one of those things where I appreciate the opportunity. But that’s not home. This is where it all started for me. I’m back here. These are the people that gave me a chance again. I’m thankful for that.”
Who would’ve thought, having seen the young, brooding Laveranues Coles in that cramped Weeb Ewbank Hall locker room as the team’s third-round draft pick in 2000, that he’d turn into a nostalgic old pro a decade later? Even he makes fun of his stern visage back in the day: “That’s another Laveranues. Who would do such a thing? I don’t even like people like that.”
He’s evolved personally even as he’s evolved professionally. The young LC would have been upset with what he describes today as his potential “break glass in case of emergency” role. He’s worked with the second and third offenses, so much so that he says of Mark Sanchez, “I don’t even get a chance to get in the huddle with the guy. I couldn’t even tell you if he smelled like Ben-Gay.” He knows he may not get much visibility against the Redskins as the starters work on into the third quarter. He knows not what the future may hold on final-cut day or after Game 4, when Santonio Holmes returns.
And he’s OK with that.
“I feel good about what I’m doing. I’m in an offense that I’ve known. Now it’s just about me getting an opportunity to go out and play and show what I can do,” Coles said. “Whether it happens or not, I don’t know, but just the fact that they gave me a chance to come in and be a part of this team is something I’m thankful for. So I’m not complaining, I’m not upset, I’m not any of those things. If the opportunity arises, I’ll grab it and take off with it. But if it doesn’t, I know the circumstances I came in here under and I’ll deal with it.”
Coles — who admitted that before returning to the Jets in May he “clicked on Randy’s Radar whenever I got a chance” — has a few under-the-radar things he can pass on to Sanchez no matter how much he gets to play with the starting QB this season, one of them being pointers on dealing with the increasing talent at wideout.
“A little bit of advice on how to approach us without ruffling feathers, just going to the guys and letting us know what you want, ways of doing it without feeling like you’re badgering the guys,” he said. “Just giving him a little bit of knowledge before they usher me to the door on how to deal with the guys, take care of the guys.”
Coles says he feels great, both physically and mentally, especially after a few of his Jets teammates told him “You look like you’ve still got it.” He says there’s still “gas in the tank,” which he hints could become apparent in the preseason finale a week from tonight at Philadelphia, when the ones will rest most if not all of the game.
But then when the needle’s on E, “Whenever this bus stops, I’m excited because I got to be a part of this,” he said of the Jets’ promising prospects for the coming season. “That’s what’s great about it. They’ve got a great head coach, a great personality, front office and management, people who helped me out, molded me into the personality I am today. And that’s what I’m thankful for.”
Rex Ryan and his coaching staff will decide if, when and for how long the Laveranues Victory Tour Bus runs this season. But remembering the receiver and blocker, playmaker and warrior LC’s been over the years, it’s hard not to wish this homebody a fantastic finish to his playing career.
Tags: Daniel Snyder, Laveranues Coles, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan
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