This week we’re assembling, with the help of our partners at the Daily News, this year’s Training Camp Pullout Section, which will appear in the News this week and will be available to fans arriving at SUNY Cortland for the first practices open to the public beginning this Friday, July 26.
In pulling together the content for this section, I spoke with several Jets assistant coaches, who gave of their time away from the Atlantic Health Training Center to discuss some of the things Jets fans can expect to see when they arrive at our upstate New York summer headquarters to watch practices.
I also asked them to go back into their personal vaults for one or two poignant memories of training camps when they were the players and not the coaches. These reminiscences will not appear in the pullout, but we’ll pop several of them up here on the Radar over the next four days to whet everyone’s appetite for the footballs that are about to fly.
Batting leadoff is Anthony Lynn, the Jets’ running backs coach who has added the title of assistant head coach this year. Lynn opened his trip down memory lane by explaining why he feels the Cortland experience is important to the current crop of Jets.
“Really, anytime you go off somewhere and get into this daily routine of dawn to dusk, it’s mentally challenging and physically challenging,” Lynn said. “You try to prepare your mind for it. You know it’s going to be hard.”
How difficult is the experience? Lynn went back to his playing days, when he and TE Shannon Sharpe and the rest of the Broncos in the late Nineties encamped at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.
“I looked forward to those training camps, but I also prepared my mind mentally for them, too,” he said. “A lot of times you’d go to sleep in the dorm at night and the next morning you’d wake up and the guy next to you was not there. A lot of teams had ways to signal things like that. For us, Shannon Sharpe rang a bell that would wake everyone up. We heard the bell, we knew someone had tapped out.”
Some have argued that with the new rules in place, camp is not as tough as it was in those days. Lynn doesn’t see it that way.
“In a way the rules have made it more intense,” he said. “When I played, we were in camp for five or six weeks. You could be a little more laid back because you had time.
“Now camp is 3½, four weeks. It’s very intense. That’s why I like going away to Cortland. To me, that’s when the team is built, when the chemistry is set. You see who the leaders and who the followers are going to be. There’s nothing wrong with being a follower, but at training camp you see the leaders emerge. I always looked forward to that and I still do today.”
Grantland Celebrates Wilkerson
Grantland.com is the website started by ESPN personality Bill Simmons in 2011 that covers sports and pop culture. And recently Grantland trained its eye on Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson in Robert Mays’ story headlined The All-22 All-Star Team: Muhammad Wilkerson and the New Versatility. It’s a thoughtful study on Mo’s game complete with Xs-and-Os type analysis and a few embedded videos.
The All-22 Team, Mays explains, is an attempt to provide insight on the NFL’s 22 most underappreciated players, and Mo classifies as such, although the way he finished the second half of 2012, I don’t think he’ll continue to qualify in 2013. In a key paragraph in the piece, Mays explains why new Jets DC Dennis Thurman loves Wilkerson:
Plenty of players can shift between these two spots, but few have the strength to hold up in the 3-4 and the quickness to be truly effective in the 4-3. Fewer still can make that sack and then hold up as a nose guard just a few plays later. Outside of Justin Smith, it’s hard to think of a player who’s as useful in as many different roles. “There’s a saying that we have, ‘The more you can do,’ ” Thurman says. “The more you can do, the more you increase your value. And he has tremendous value.”
Tags: Anthony Lynn, Denver Broncos, Muhammad Wilkerson, Shannon Sharpe
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