The roar of the crowd became amplified as the pigskin spun from the right hand of Mark Sanchez, a gorgeous pass dropped by Jerricho Cotchery, who broke wide-open on a picture perfect post pattern. Despite the grand ambiance, this miscue meant nothing. For the Jets were at practice, indoors in fact, shielded from the downright nasty weather pounding the metropolitan area on this particular Friday. Indeed, the shrieks and screams were synthetic, provided by a D.J. from on high, not a fanatic in sight.
The ongoing soundtrack represented a worthwhile attempt to duplicate the intensity awaiting New York in their opener against Houston. But there’s no way this technological trickery could come close to mimicking a sold-out crowd fortified by untested delusions of grandeur. In fact, the majority of the practice was given a musical accompaniment, with noted classical artist DMX providing the most noteworthy number. “Stop, drop, shut ’em down open up shop,” he growled through the speakers, a few players allowing for some restrained moves. While commenting on Dustin Keller’s minor toe injury, Rex Ryan assuaged any potential worries by mentioning that the tight-end, “looked good dancing out there.”
Kris Jenkins was the perfect man to quiz about the Texans’ overlooked offensive line. It seems the group is the forgotten facet of a high-powered offense. Obviously deep in preparation, the most vital component of the Jets defense shared a few insights. “They’re a solid o-line,” started the burly nose tackle. “They have that Denver zone scheme. I’m expecting trash talk… it seems teams who use that scheme like talking trash. They pride themselves on knowing that scheme and executing that scheme.” On the topic of trash talk, Jenkins revealed himself a courteous abstainer. “I don’t need to talk trash,” said Jenkins, before narrowing his eyes and adding, “I talk with my pads.”
Jenkins is duly impressed by superstar wide receiver Andre Johnson. Johnson, a physical beast, is close to peerless, utilizing a combination of speed and strength to dominate secondaries. “Andre Johnson is probably the best in the game at this point… it’s a man out there.”
After taking it all into account, Jenkins surmised that this Jets-Texans, with it’s intriguing subplots and positional match-ups, should be a pretty entertaining affair. “I wish I could sit down and watch it,” he said, before adding with a smile, “But I have to work.”
Darrelle Revis is tasked to shut-down perhaps the sports’ most incomparable talent. It’s not an assignment likely to overwhelm the collected corner, who has enjoyed strong performances against Canton-bound Randy Moss. When asked what impressed him most about the Texans’ offense as a whole, Revis noted their superior sense of timing and rhythm. ‘They have a quick tempo,” began Revis. “[They are] A finesse team,” he elaborated. “They make a lot of plays. It obviously starts with Matt Schaub. He gets the ball to those play makers, Andre Johnson… Owen Daniels…” Revis’ voice trailed off, as if he were envisioning the challenge ahead. “You guys know it as well as we do,” he said suddenly, snapping back to focus. “Averaging thirty plus points, in this league, you’re doing something right. It’s going to be very loud, [in Houston] and they’re going to be very comfortable.”
When questioned whether the background noise thumping at practice today could benefit the team as they prepare for a boisterous opposing crowd, Revis was blunt in his assessment. “That’s more for the offense, I think. That’s why we do that.” Perhaps Revis is counting on a quieting the Texans fans. If the Jets accomplish that, he will be a major reason why.
Rex Ryan’s post-practice presser began on a somber note as he acknowledged the tragic events which forever changed this city, and the world, eight years ago. “It’s obviously a tragic day,” said the normally gregarious head coach. “It sheds a little light on this subject,” he continued, referring to football, of course. Something like 9/11 can change your view of existence, never-mind sports.
On a personal note, September 11th forever altered my perception of life, and I was fortunate enough not to lose anyone on that day. Despite counting my blessings for that reason, a question began swirling in my mind that has haunted me since. I was in eighth grade, so the concept of the world as something to be feared was alien to me. The question was, how can life, being so important, also be so fragile? How could that many families get destroyed for absolutely no reason at all? Makes no sense.
Look, sports aren’t going to save the planet. Of course not. But I do think that they represent a noble attempt to at least address that question forever circling around my skull. [and probably others too. Definitely]
Here we have a human attempt at order, distillation, so similar in principle to legitimate art. There are umpires, referees, foul lines and sidelines, coaches. This realm we live in is way too chaotic for any endeavor to be completely fair, but sports… hey… sports give it a shot. That alone makes football a worthwhile endeavor. From a philosophical perch, I can respect a player’s love for the game he plays professionally, and a fan’s devotion to it. This, to me, is healthy behavior. Well, most of the time… there are extremes that the media seems to love portraying for whatever reason.
But yeah, this Sunday, when you’re pumped for the game, feel no shame about temporarily disconnecting yourself from this unstable patch of land amid the stars. Organized competition has the power to transcend. To celebrate football is to celebrate life. There must be a reason they play on Sunday.
Enjoy. The. Game.
After his brief address concerning 9/11, Ryan had some interesting news on Shonn Greene. According to Ryan, “Shonn is fine. He’s practiced… full participation. We’ll have the option of playing him or not. That won’t be an issue.”
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