Updated, 4:10 p.m. ET
Rex Ryan knows it’s only June, but the head coach still likes the state of his team as it heads toward next week’s mandatory veteran minicamp and then on into July before the start of training camp.
“I’ve talked about this team coming together, how hungry this team is,” Ryan told reporters today after the final OTA practice of the offseason at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. “Here’s an example of that. Of the possible 2,211 workouts or so for all the individual players for the entire offseason program, we had 2,178 in attendance at those voluntary workouts. That’s 99 percent, I hope.”
Actually, it is 98.508 percent, which rounded off is 99.
Rex might have been unsure about the math, but he didn’t waver on his feelings about how the Jets would stack up against the NFL’s 31 other teams, even though there are no official numbers on offseason workout percentage.
“I would challenge any other team to have these numbers,” he said. “I don’t believe that happened anywhere else in the league.”
“Again, these are voluntary things. I’m proud of us. To say that this is going to be a close football team, I think these are the strides you make that way.”
Of the few players who did miss some voluntary sessions, all have checked in. Safety LaRon Landry, who has doing a lot of rehab and working out away from the facility, “was in attendance for a few of them, yes, he was,” and Landry is expected in for the minicamp.
WR Santonio Holmes also was back at camp after being a part of an NFL Players tour of military bases in Germany and his work was limited.
As for the two players coming off of surgeries/rehabs, Ryan said of G Matt Slauson (shoulder) and LB Bryan Thomas (Achilles), “I expect them to be able to do some things. … I know for a fact those two will be limited.”
And second-round WR Stephen Hill was limited at practice due to his first pro injury, a right hamstring injury that he suffered during Tuesday’s OTA practice. That day he left the field walking with a slight hitch in his step, and he said today that he doesn’t think it’s any more than a tweak.
“It’s nowhere near a tear,” he said in answer to one question, and in regard to getting an MRI, he said, “It’s nothing that serious. … The plan is to be ready for next week’s minicamp but not to rush it.”
In general, this is the time of year where there’s no rush but you have to hurry up. Before anyone knows it, late July will be here and the migration to central New York will begin again for the first time in two years. The signposts to this point, Ryan said, shows “the Jets are headed back in a good direction.
“When we get up to Cortland, these are all things that will bring this team closer. Now, will it get us more wins on the field? We’ll see when the season kicks off.”
Bart’s Back in Body, Spirit
There is no denying that at this time on the calendar, LB Bart Scott is looking like the El Barto who showed up along with Ryan back in 2009. One play in particular today showed his quickness. Mark Sanchez was chased up in the pocket, and as he neared the line of scrimmage, he shoveled a pass to Shonn Greene past the line. Scott swatted it down for an incompletion.
Scott’s trimmed his weight — “He’s looking cut up,” praised fellow chiseled LB Aaron Maybin — and picked up his pace. And he’s full-throated again.
“It’s hard to have a bad practice when Bart’s on the field. He’s just energized like that, and he stays that way,” Ryan said. “I don’t know if this isn’t the best Bart Scott we’ve had since we brought him here. He’s in super shape, he’s smart, he’s really leading. I think that was what we needed. Last year, for whatever reason … maybe our plan for Bart wasn’t what it should’ve been.”
New Meaning to Flying to the Ball
The offense showed some of its new coaching a few times today on, interestingly, a pair of Sanchez interceptions in 7-on-7 work. His first came on an overthrow of Dustin Keller that Kyle Wilson snapped up, the other on a deflection off Keller’s hands and into those of a diving Eric Smith. Both times the DBs returned the ball. And both times the entire offense flew to the ball to stop the runback.
And by “entire,” we mean everybody — not only the seven offensive players on the play but all the backups and even some coaches behind them, watching the play and waiting their turn to step in and run some plays of their own. Eleven hats to the ball? Forget about that. It was a jailbreak of more like 40 hats to the ball.
Of course, this is coordinator Tony Sparano’s way of reinforcing something he wants to see from his offense.
“It’s just to make it second nature for us when the ball is intercepted, to chase it down,” tackle Wayne Hunter said. “Offensive guys sometimes get into the mindset of depending on the other guys on the field to make the tackle. I think it was the second week of OTAs that Tony made it known he wanted us to do this.
“It looks weird, but it works, I guess. We’ll see.”
It couldn’t hurt. While Sparano’s Dolphins from 2008-11 gave up eight return touchdowns off of offensive turnovers, tied for 10th in the NFL in that span, the Jets yielded 19, tied for last in the league with St. Louis, and the seven TDs by opposing defenses last year equaled the Rams’ seven in ’08 for the most in the NFL in one season in the last four years.
Tags: Bart Scott, Bryan Thomas, LaRon Landry, Mark Sanchez, Matt Slauson, Rex Ryan, Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, veteran minicamp
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