Postcard from camp: Jets
Jets aren't worried about Plaxico Burress' rust as a red-zone receiver
Consultant Jim McNally will be a major help on the offensive line
Jets have rough stretch early in the season, but expect another playoff trip
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At the Jets' training facility in Florham Park, N.J., in the heart of New Jersey suburbia. The Jets are taking one summer off from their camp home in the mountains upstate, Cortland, N.Y. This is a terrific complex but not a great camp atmosphere, unfortunately. The Jets try but the fans are far away and the contact with them, particularly on a rainy afternoon like today, is limited.
1. Tom Moore is an interesting addition, but don't forget Jim McNally. Rex Ryan brought in a couple of old-timers to help on offense as consultants -- Moore to improve the red-zone efficiency, McNally (who consulted last year as well, breaking down tape) helping Bill Callahan on the offensive line. I expect McNally will be a major help to right tackle Wayne Hunter, who is taking on a huge responsibility protecting Mark Sanchez's front side. "McNally's really intense,'' Hunter said after a morning walk-through. Anthony Muņoz used to say the same thing in Cincinnati.
2. Plaxico Burress has a very good chance to start for a Super Bowl contender, and soon. Amazing, really, that two years ago, we were thinking Burress might have played his last football. Now he gets out of jail and has four teams -- the Giants, Steelers, Niners and Jets -- brawling for him. Want to know why the Jets committed $3 million in 2011 cash to get him? Simple. They think he can fall out of bed and be a great red-zone receiver, which the Jets desperately need.
3. Mike Pettine is going to be a good head coach in this league. I don't know Pettine, the Jets' defensive coordinator, well. But I've watched him coach over the past three years, and he has a great grip on his players; he knows how to drive them and get the most out of them. And, as Rex Ryan says, "He thinks just like me.'' If the Jets make another strong playoff run, Pettine's going to get a head coaching interview or two.
Right tackle Wayne Hunter. The Jets gave the career backup a four-year deal last week to be the right tackle of the near future, replacing Damien Woody. "I've never had an opportunity like this, and there were many, many days I never thought I would,'' said Hunter, an eight-year vet from Hawaii who -- mostly -- sat with the Seahawks and Jags before coming to the Jets as the swing backup tackle. Offensive line coach Bill Callahan thinks Hunter has quick enough feet to hold the edge and protect Sanchez. This is one of those decisions, even though the Jets saw him start four times last year (he has but five starts in his career), that will keep Ryan wondering well past opening day whether they made the right call with Hunter.
Defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson. His mom was at practice the other day. "I love that,'' said Rex Ryan. "Good to have a Jersey kid on the team.'' It will be if the kid can play. Somehow I get the feeling the Jets settled for Wilkerson, and when it came time for their pick late in the first round last April, there was no one they really wanted badly. I even thought -- as did the Ravens -- that they might roll the dice for a second straight year on a cornerback, Colorado's Jimmy Smith. Look for Wilkerson to start at right end unless the aging Shaun Ellis returns from his holdout; if Ellis plays, there would be a job-share between the two.
The Jets don't open the cafeteria to the media, so I subsisted on three blueberry Nutri-Grain bars in the press room. Quite sumptuous.
Two home, three road, two home, bye. At Oakland, at Baltimore, at New England in Weeks 3 through 5 will be a killer, and ending the year at Philly, Giants at home, at Miami won't be much fun either. I wonder if Plaxico Burress will walk into the Linc Dec. 18 and say, "This is really where I should be.'' For the record, the two Northeast Corridor border wars -- Jets-Pats -- will happen Oct. 9 (Foxboro) and Nov. 13 (in New Jersey). Of course, I can't tell you exactly when the third one will be played, but I would bet that there will be a third one.
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