Training Camp Postcards: Jets
Posted: Sunday August 5, 2007 2:22PM; Updated: Sunday August 5, 2007 2:22PM
At Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., where the Jets are in the midst of their penultimate training camp at their year-round Long Island team complex. Starting in 2009, the Jets will move their operations to Florham Park, New Jersey, as part of their partnership with the Giants in the building of a new stadium in the Meadowlands.
I only wish they had made the switch in time for 2007's camp, because my drive from my Rutherford, N.J., hotel to Hofstra on Saturday became a 105-minute nightmare in large part due to getting caught in concert traffic that was headed for Warped Tour '07 at the Nassau Coliseum, which is across the street from Hofstra. And no, I didn't know what Warped Tour was until I did a little homework. Is old fogey-dom already my fate?
1. It should be intriguing to see how the Jets use versatile second-year veteran Brad Smith this season. New York is getting the former Missouri quarterback turned receiver/running back/special teams performer semi-regular reps in the pocket this summer, and he's even listed on the Jets roster as a quarterback. He even switches jerseys in practice, from his white offensive jersey to his red quarterback jersey, which means he's hands-off to defenders.
Smith lined up for a few snaps at quarterback last season, but never threw a pass. This year I get the feeling offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is going to use him somewhat the way ex-Jets head coach Bill Parcells once employed Ray Lucas, as a multi-faceted threat who can either throw or run from the backfield. He'll be this Slash-type who'll give opposing defenses a little more to prepare for during the week.
2. The Jets took third-year running back Cedric Houston at his word and are moving on without him. Houston surprisingly left the team last week, saying he didn't want to play football any more, and New York has no reason to believe it's not a permanent decision. Mangini told me you never say never when a player as young as Houston (he'll be 25 next month) leaves the game that way, but he also didn't sound as if he was holding out much hope of seeing No. 32 back in green and white. "I think he made a decision in regards to the rest of his life, and I respect that,'' Mangini said.
With Thomas Jones and Leon Washington expected to get the vast majority of the carries, it's not a big loss for New York. But Houston did score five touchdowns in just eight games last season, and his 374 yards rushing were second on the team to Washington's 650. His departure is an opportunity for hopefuls such as rookie collegiate free agent Alvin Banks (love that name) to earn the team's No. 3 running back role. Banks is a former James Madison star who has a little burst, and at 5-10, 225 pounds he can also bang out some tough yards.
3. As he did last year, Mangini has speakers set up at practice in order to pipe in loud music when his offense comes to the line of scrimmage. But the new twist is that he has mixed in some Mozart to go along with the selections of rock and hip-hop. Mangini this offseason researched the effect of Mozart on learning, and he liked what he heard.
"It stimulates the brain waves that influence learning," he told me from his office. "There are a lot of schools that are playing Mozart underneath all day long."
For what it's worth, I told him it was a great idea, because for my money, there was a little too much Bon Jovi on the day I visited Jets camp last year. Mangini said he thought I might have gotten him mixed up with a certain Bon Jovi-loving head coach in New England, but I don't think so.