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8/1 NYPost (Not Canz) - 'Brick & Nick Show

Sperm Edwards

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August 1, 2006 -- There is incredible pressure on the both of them, and that's not even taking into consideration the torture enemy defensive lines will try to inflict when the real games begin in September. Right now, the pressure is all about surviving their first NFL training camp and it's about learning as much of the encyclopedia-thick playbook as quickly as possible.

Their development will determine just how good the Jets can ever be.

So it's a good thing D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold have each other to lean on. And it's an even better thing that the two first-round picks have a veteran in Pete Kendall to turn to for advice.

"I think they're doing fine," Kendall said after yesterday's practice.

Ferguson, drafted No. 4 overall, and Mangold, taken with the 29th pick in the draft, became fast friends at the Senior Bowl and have maintained their friendship through the first week of training camp. They are in the same boat, tasked with helping to upgrade a rickety offensive line that couldn't keep people off the quarterback last year. Everybody knows the offensive line is the most important unit on any football team, but this year it also is the Jets' most-inexperienced unit.

"Pete Kendall has been another really good resource for those young offensive linemen and to the young players in general, giving them some tricks of the trade," Eric Mangini said. "It's been encouraging to see the work with the younger and older players and the way they are trying to help each other get better, even though it is competitive."

The better they get now, the easier it will be on everybody during the season.

Kendall, the 11-year vet, will have rookies on either side of him with Ferguson expected to start at left tackle and Mangold the frontrunner to replace Kevin Mawae at center. He's taken the pair under his wing.

"It's a huge help," Mangold said. "It's so much information when you're out there and to have a solid rock that you can hold on to, as in Pete, it helps out a ton. He's a big help in the meeting rooms and off the field, but when we get out there he is pretty good. He'll correct me if I'm wrong real quick and I know when I'm wrong. But he's been great at letting me make mistakes so I can learn."

Right now, they are rookies. But if the Jets' master plan plays out the way they envision it, then Ferguson and Mangold will anchor the line for the next decade.

The pair couldn't be any more different. While the long-and-lean Ferguson doesn't say much, Mangold, at 6-4, 300, is a motor mouth with a tangled beard and long blond hair. Ferguson is 6-foot-6 with what he called a "power-forward-like body," and has been told he needs to gain weight.

"At this time, we have so much going on that I can't think about what kind of opportunity I have in front of me," Mangold said. "I just know I have to learn and there's a lot of learning to do. I'm just going to keep doing that and help out wherever they tell me to go."


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