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JetsChad, Coles starting to reconnect


Newsday Staff Writer

August 8, 2006

Chad Pennington and Laveranues Coles were once considered the future of the Jets' passing .attack. Two young, apparently disparate players came into the NFL together in 2000 and forged a chemistry that resulted in one of the most popular if not prolific quarterback-to-receiver combos in Jets history.

In 2002, a bust-out year for both players, Coles had 89 catches for 1,264 yards and five touchdowns, most of them on balls thrown by Pennington. But that was two shoulder surgeries and a two-year stint with the Redskins ago. Pennington has struggled with his right rotator cuff since 2004, and Coles turned his big numbers into a big contract with Washington.

Last season, after Coles returned to the Jets in an offseason trade with the Redskins for Santana Moss, the duo tried to rekindle the Bunsen burner that bubbled their chemistry early in their careers. The flame, like Pennington's right arm, flickered momentarily before fizzling out.

In the three games Pennington started for the Jets in 2005, Coles made 15 catches for 151 yards and a touchdown. Coles was forced to find a new passing buddy, and throughout the dismal year, the team went from Jay Fiedler to Brooks Bollinger to Vinny Testaverde and back to Bollinger. None seemed to fit as comfortably as Pennington.

On Sunday, during the closed-door intrasquad scrimmage at the Meadowlands, the Pennington-to-Coles combination appeared to be re-emerging. The pair hooked up for four completions and 37 yards in the three series they played together. It could have been even more had a long pass for Coles not been overthrown, one of only two Pennington incompletions in the "game."

"Everybody knows what type of player Laveranues is, a very exciting player," Pennington said afterward.

Coles didn't mesh only with Pennington on Sunday. He made a nice 23-yard catch over the middle on a strong throw from rookie Kellen Clemens. He nearly pulled in a pass of about 20 yards from Clemens on the same drive, but juggled the ball at the sideline.

"I really like Laveranues' toughness," first-year Jets coach Eric Mangini said. "I know playing against him, he was difficult in the running game because he was a .physical presence."

Mangini also noted Coles' willingness to help other receivers learn the new offense. That could be more important in the coming weeks, as the system being installed by coordinator Brian Schottenheimer appears ready to begin extending the field with passes longer and more complicated than the short throws and dumps to running backs and tight ends featured thus far.

Perhaps the Pennington-to-Coles connection will be extended -- and revived -- as well.

Notes & quotes: Titans RB Chris Brown could become available for trade by the end of the week, according to a person familiar with the situation, but are the Jets interested? Brown has requested a trade from the Titans, and general manager Floyd Reese has yet to grant that request. As of yesterday, the Jets had not contacted the Titans about a trade, but the Jets' interest in finding a starting running back could be growing more urgent as Curtis Martin continues to sit on the physically unable to perform list after December knee surgery. According to the person, the biggest obstacle to Brown being traded could be the unimpressive training camp of Titans rookie RB LenDale White, who has suffered a toe injury and flu-like symptoms ... Rookie DB Drew Coleman had an MRI yesterday on the right knee he injured Sunday night, according to his agent, Alan Herman, who said it appears to be a bone bruise with no structural damage


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That could be more important in the coming weeks, as the system being installed by coordinator Brian Schottenheimer appears ready to begin extending the field with passes longer and more complicated than the short throws and dumps to running backs and tight ends featured thus far.

Hmm...A certain someone on this board will have something to say about that :eek:

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JETS Mangini thinks young safety Rhodes is on right path


August 8, 2006

Second-year safety Kerry Rhodes continues to be the most visible player in the Jets' secondary and could be on the verge of a breakout season. Rhodes has seen an increase in reps this training camp because other defensive backs have been ill or injured. He came up with a nice tackle for a loss on a blitz in Sunday's dress rehearsal and has continued to be around the football on nearly every snap.

"I like Kerry's progress," coach Eric Mangini said, noting Rhodes' increased leadership and communication skills in the secondary. But Mangini added that those skills and elements need to be demonstrated on a more consistent basis.

Rhodes started all 16 games as a rookie for a defense that ranked eighth against the pass. He will need to maintain his development if the Jets' young and now thin secondary is to continue to improve.

Bottom line

The Jets earned a day off from practice yesterday. Here's hoping they took advantage of the rest, because Mangini has back-to-back two-a-days scheduled for today and tomorrow in what could be the most grueling segment of training camp.

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Pete a guarded optimist

Vet Kendall helps young line grow




Providing veteran leadership on the Jets' offensive line is thirsty work for Pete Kendall.

Left guard Pete Kendall has a rookie to his left, a rookie to his right and a rookie above him. At 33, only two years younger than coach Eric Mangini, Kendall gets teased by his Jets teammates for being "the old man."

Kendall, known for his dry sense of humor, has fun with it. Asked about the hip-hop music that frequently blares from sideline speakers during practice, Mangini's way of simulating crowd noise, the decidedly un-hip Kendall joked, "For a while, I suspected that someone stole my mix CD out of my truck."

All cracks aside, Kendall's experience is invaluable. The Jets are leaning heavily on him to help their two rookie starters, left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson and center Nick Mangold, adjust to life in the NFL trenches.

Fortunately for the Jets, Kendall doesn't mind the challenge. He's a cerebral player, willing to share the wisdom he has acquired in 10 years with the Seahawks, Cardinals and Jets.

"The way he has embraced the young guys, it's been impressive," Mangini said.

Kendall vaulted to elder statesman status when longtime center Kevin Mawae, 35, was released in the offseason. Now the offensive line is a group of 20-somethings and Kendall. Ferguson and Mangold are 22, right tackle Adrian Jones is 25 and right guard Brandon Moore is 26.

It's the old man and a sea of youth.

"I don't think (being a mentor) is anything to be proud of; it's my job," Kendall said. "I'm happy to help a kid like Nick on a personal level. I think he's a good kid. Brick's a good kid, too."

Kendall hasn't been part of a line this young since 1997, when he was a second-year guard in Seattle and started next to rookie left tackle Walter Jones and fourth-year center Mawae. Jones and Mawae became perennial Pro Bowlers.

"That," Kendall said, "didn't turn out too badly."

Because of the nature of the positions, Kendall will have a bigger impact on Mangold than Ferguson, both first-round picks. Mangold is responsible for making the line calls, a task that can overwhelm rookie centers. Kendall has played center, so he can make the calls in a pinch. At practice, he's often seen with Mangold, offering instruction on the sideline.

"The amount of information in his head could fill eight playbooks," said Mangold, noting that the Jets' playbook is twice as big as the one he used at Ohio State. "Every time he opens his mouth, I'm paying attention."

Kendall can help Ferguson, too, although the challenges of playing left tackle are more physical than mental. In terms of physical ability, he said, Ferguson "has a lot of the tools - maybe all the tools, I don't know - to be a successful left tackle in this league. Time will tell."

Kendall's smarts and leadership are two of the reasons why the new regime decided to keep him, renegotiating his contract. He also happens to be a pretty good player, but Kendall realizes his intelligence is "probably why I've lasted as long as I have. The light turned on for me when I was 19, and I've been able to see the game as moving pieces instead of just X's and O's."

Now part of his job is making sure two of the biggest pieces of the Jets' future move in the right direction.

Originally published on August 8, 2006

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KEN-DO ATTITUDE: Jets veteran guard Pete Kendall (left) is excited by the potential of rookie linemates D'Brickashaw Ferguson at tackle and Nick Mangold at center.

August 8, 2006 -- Pete Kendall, a veteran of 11 NFL seasons, has learned to become familiar with unfamiliar situations.

And, as has become the norm for him, Kendall is handling his latest unique situation with style, grace and a good dose of his patented dry humor.

Early in his career, while playing with some weakling Seahawks and Cardinals teams, Kendall learned a lot about humility and how to handle losing while craving victory.

Then, despite being one of the best players on Arizona's offensive line, Kendall was unceremoniously released by Dennis Green, who was possibly using the veteran guard as an example to younger players that no one is safe on the roster.

The Jets, of course, quickly scooped up Kendall in the summer of 2004 and he has been nothing but the consummate pro since he donned a green and white uniform.

One year removed from being forced into action as a center in place of the injured Kevin Mawae, Kendall has returned to his natural position, left guard, and finds himself in the unique position of being sandwiched between the Jets' two first-round draft picks - left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson and center Nick Mangold.

This is where Kendall has been invaluable, helping tutor the two future stars.

"I sit and watch Pete and he knows everything about everything," Mangold said. "I'd love to be able to get to there. Pete is really smart. The amount of information that's in his head, you could fill eight playbooks with. So every time he opens his mouth, I'm trying to pay attention."

For Mangold, out of Ohio State, the learning process is daunting, because the center is the quarterback of the offensive line and has more to learn and digest than perhaps any player on the field.

"There is so much information (to learn) when you're out there and to have a solid rock that you can hold on to like Pete, it helps out a ton," Mangold said. "He'll correct me if I'm wrong real quick. We'll come off the field and he'll say, 'When we have that look, you're going to want to make this call.'

"Pete has also got a great sense of humor. A lot of it has to do with his timing. He makes all the right comments. I'm real blessed to have Pete with us."

Kendall likes what he has seen already in Ferguson to his immediate left and Mangold to his right.

"(Ferguson) is a pretty fluid natural athlete, hence the draft position (No. 4 overall)," Kendall said. "He seems to have a lot of the tools - maybe all the tools - to be successful at left tackle in this league. That doesn't mean there won't be some growing pains at times. I'm still going through some of them myself."

Kendall figures Ferguson's transition from Vir ginia to the pros should be a little bit easier mentally than Man gold's from a cerebral standpoint. And, Ken dall knows the center position better than tackle.

Eric Mangini knows he's blessed with more than a solid starting left guard in Kendall.

"You know how funny Pete is," Mangini said. "I really like his sarcastic sense of humor. He's been good to work with and the way he's embraced those young guys, it's been im pressive."

Kendall scoffs at the no tion that he's doing any thing over-the-top.

"I think it's my job," he said. "I'm happy to help kids like Nick and D'Brick ashaw. At some point I'm going to be too old to do this and I'll turn on the TV and hopefully be watching those guys play for a good long time after I say goodbye."


Mangini decided yesterday morning to give the players the day off. They'll resume practice at 8:45 this morning and 5:30 this afternoon and will have another double session tomorrow before leaving for Tampa on Thursday for their preseason opener against the Buccaneers Friday night.


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Jets' running game idling as Martin sits out

Tuesday, August 8, 2006



Chad Pennington's reemergence at quarterback is the Gang Green feel-good story of summer. Meanwhile, an equally large tale of the feel-bad variety is lurking just below the surface:

The Jets' running game is a mess.

Two seasons after Curtis Martin won the NFL's rushing title, his football future is bleak, none of the backs on the roster has stood out and the team is trying to find a new runner to keep the offense from imploding in the first year of the Eric Mangini regime.

In the past week, Martin and Mangini said his slow rehab from December arthroscopic knee surgery is progressing, but no one will say when Martin might return, fueling speculation that he will be moved from the active/physically-unable-to-perform list to reserve/PUP next month and will miss at least half the season.

Mangini said Martin attended both Giants Stadium practices over the weekend, but he was as visible in the Meadowlands as Castro has been in Cuba.

General manager Mike Tannenbaum declined through the team's media relations department Monday to talk about Martin's situation, but he has been sending feelers around the NFL, asking teams about specific veteran backs: Deal? Or no deal?

Tannenbaum has contacted Tennessee about Chris Brown, the starter in a crowded backfield. Brown's agent said if the Titans start discussing trade offers, the Jets would be a favorable landing spot.

"Their track record over the years running the ball is strong," Ryan Morgan said. "Obviously, we have tremendous respect for what Curtis has done in his Hall of Fame career. And their other backs besides Curtis are young guys with something to prove. But Chris has said there's no worry about competing.

"It's sort of an exciting possibility."

The knock on Brown is health -- injuries kept him from repeating his strong 2004, when he cleared 1,000 yards at almost 5.0 yards per carry. But there are pluses and minuses for all the backs that have caught the Jets' eye:

Chicago's Thomas Jones also may be available, but he's rehabbing a hamstring pull and starter Cedric Benson is out with a shoulder injury, so the Bears aren't likely to be dealing for at least a few weeks.

Cleveland's talented but injury-plagued Lee Suggs was mentioned around draft time as a person of interest for the Jets, but the Browns may need time to see if rookie Jerome Harrison can back up Reuben Droughns.

Some thought the Jets would acquire Dallas' Julius Jones during the draft, but Bill Parcells wants to split the Cowboys' running load between Jones and Marion Barber III.

Arizona is committed to Edgerrin James and might be agreeable to trading Paterson's Marcel Shipp, the former Passaic Tech and Massachusetts star.

There would be no trade talk if Derrick Blaylock, Cedric Houston or rookie Leon Washington was emerging as quickly as Pennington is at QB. But during the game-conditions first half of Sunday's scrimmage, Blaylock, Houston and Washington combined for 38 yards on 18 carries, an unimpressive 2.1 yards per carry.

That figure may be misleading, since the backs were marked down at first contact during the no-tackling scrimmage and since they're running behind a rebuilt offensive line that should get better as the season goes along.

So the Jets face a difficult choice. They could swap a draft pick as high as the second-rounder they got from Washington for a new back.

Or they can play this season with the backs they've been dealt, then either talk with San Diego about Michael Turner, LaDainian Tomlinson's backup whom coordinator Brian Schottenheimer worked with for two years, or try to find the next Curtis Martin in the 2007 draft.

E-mail: lange@northjersey.com

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