Jets East: No show, just sweat for Gang Green’s beasts
Just call it “Jets East.”
Last week, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez held the second year of what he affectionately terms the “Jets West” camp, in essence a glorified passing camp featuring the team’s quarterbacks, wide receivers, tight ends and running backs. There was plenty of press coming out of Mission Viejo, CA with Sanchez flying out many of the team’s star players on offense and new draft picks to run through the playbook and build some chemistry. Merchandise was for sale on Facebook and sponsorship opportunities abounded, including notables such as Chipotle signing on for the exposure.
But 10 states and 2,870 miles away in Martinsville, N.J., a half dozen Jets players continue to train four days a week. There is no fancy merchandising and no camera crews. Instead, just House of Pain’s “Jump Around” blaring over the loudspeaker of TEST Sports Clubs and a series of weights and dumbbells at the central New Jersey facility.
“This isn’t easy stuff here,” said TEST Sports Club’s owner and founder Brian Martin. “It isn’t frilly stuff, it’s just straight up hard work.”
The NFL lockout has thrown a monkey wrench into the preparation for every NFL team, and the Jets, looking to build on consecutive AFC championship game appearances, are left to look at private sources to stay in shape. Facilities like TEST are becoming an option for nearly a half dozen Jets players who come to quiet suburbia to get ready for Sundays.
The likes of Jerricho Cotchery, Bart Scott, Vlad Ducasse, Jamaal Westerman, Damien Woody and former Jets nose tackle Kris Jenkins compromise the core group of Jets training together over the past six weeks.
“We’re not here because we want to be here or like being here. Hell, this ain’t Miami Beach or some place warm and sunny,” Scott told Metro. “But it’s the best place to come here and get ready for the season, to get ready to play and take that next step, to get in the Super Bowl. No distractions – I’m here sweating and working, being sloppy today so that I’m not sloppy come Week 1.”
For some like Cotchery, it is part of a rehab process as well.
The Jets wide receiver played all of last season with a herniated disk and said this offseason’s surgery to repair the issue “is coming along really well.” Cotchery is not working out with his other teammates at TEST, instead going solo with trainer Geir Gudmundsen as he focuses mainly on core work and he just began running last week. It has been three months since the veteran had the surgery, but he said he’s turning the corner.
Cotchery checked into the Jets facility in Florham Park, N.J. two weeks ago after the lockout was temporarily lifted. He said the Jets training staff has been in regular contact with the people at TEST about his recovery from the surgery, seeking updates on his progress. It has become a vital link between player and team since the lockout prohibits management and players from communicating with each other.
But there is nothing against a facility like TEST talking with the appropriate members of the Jets management team about players recovering from injury.
“When I caught up with the trainers a couple weeks ago at the facility, they were pleased with where I was at,” Cotchery said. “They were pleased, definitely pleased with my recovery so far.”
And while “Jets West” drew the cameras and media attention, “Jets East” comes in with perhaps a chip on their collective shoulders. Some like Ducasse and Westerman are young players looking to take that next step in their careers.
Last year’s second-round pick, Ducasse played just two games in his rookie season. But given some reshuffling along the offensive line, he looks set to play right tackle, a position he admits he has practiced at with the Jets last year. To get that edge heading into a training camp that could well determine whether he starts or not, Ducasse has been among the hardest working players among the “Jets East” group.
“It’s about progressing and really doing my work,” Ducasse said. “I’ll be coming into camp this year in much better shape than last year. Stronger, more prepared. I’m ready this time.”
These Jets are just ready to get back on the field with their "West" teammates. And once at full strength, they want more than just an appearance in the AFC title game.
“This is about making that game, being there on Super Bowl Sunday and finally taking this franchise there,” Scott said. “It isn’t about being pretty or going out at night. We’re working our a—es off here to get past those other teams so that we can be on top. I’m sick after what happened last year and the year before. We were so close and we lost it. Now we don’t want to be close no more, we want in.”