One of the biggest differences I noticed almost immediately (at least while I was there) were the fans. At Hofstra - the fans there love the Jets and only the Jets. In Cortland, camp had more of a "tourist attraction" feel to it, lots of local families coming with the kids to see the football team practice. At all 3 practices I was surrounded by people who lived in Cortland but really weren't Jet fans. At one point there was a conversation taking place next to me asking if #11 was Kerry Collins! I spent the majority of the practices helping people next to me figure out who was who on the team!
The town itself couldn't have done a better job in welcoming the Jets - players, staff and fans. I think I've dreamed of JetsVille at some point in my life, and for 2 days I was close to being there. Signs and banners posted on every shop window, every corner. Dinner and drink specials named after players; it doesn't get much better than that!
I had the opportunity to attend 3 full practices. So much to observe, so little time. This year in particular there are a lot of position battles taking place. Here are some pictures and quick observations from my time there:
The depth of talent on the Jets
defense this year is amazing. Dwight Lowery looked faster than I remember. Ahmad Carroll, Eric Smith and James Ihedigbo impressed as well.
I was happy to see David Harris healthy again, and am excited to see him play a big part of the defense this year.
With Jim Leonhard taking the helm for calling the defense, we should see a big year ( Pro Bowl? )from a very focused Kerry Rhodes.
I am quite the realist when it comes to the Jets, exactly the reason why I really needed to see for myself if Sanchez has what it takes to lead this team. I'm rooting for him 100%, mostly because for the 4 years that Kellen Clemens has been on the roster, I've always thought that he just doesn't have what it takes to be a starting QB in the NFL. It was good to see Mark take snaps with the 1st offense. I can't say that neither he or Kellen outplayed each other. What I will say though is for being a part of this team for 4 years - Kellen should be performing much better than he is.
Leon continues to amaze me.He was running smoother than ever, doing what Leon does best. Even with all the contract talk, he puts football first. The Jets are very fortunate to have a player of his character and superb talent on their squad.
Jehuu Caulcrick #39 also was very impressive. After Tony Richardson suffered a hip pointer injury on Tuesday, Jehuu filled the FB spot with the 1st team. His size and good blocking skills could really help the running game - it will be interesting to see him in the preseason games.
The WR battle rages on, Chansi Stuckey and Wallace Wright showed the most consistency in my opinion. David Clowney shows great speed, but has a few too many drops for my liking.
My "sleeper" WR in the running, Huey Whittaker is still someone I'd love to see get a spot on this roster. Unfortunately, he hasn't had many opportunities to really show he has the ability needed to compete for that spot.
Dustin Keller looks like he'll has quite an exciting sophomore year ahead of him. It seems like when Dustin is determined to achieve something, he exceeds even his own expectations. Keep criticizing his blocking skills, and you'll end up with a great blocker in no time. One of my favorite moments of camp was watching Dustin and Mark run routes together once practice ended.
Here's Rachel Nichols - I can't say she's my favorite
female reporter....but it was nice to see her!
The players were more than generous with signing autographs for the fans. Here's my Keller #28 Purdue Jersey - officially signed and ready for the season!
I'm confident that this year will be a good year for the Jets. So far I like what I see, more importantly seeing the team confident, and expecting the best from themselves is promising and refreshing to see. For a pessmist.....I'm pretty optimistic!