Jets return to L.I. roots -- early

The New York Jets -- aka "the traveling circus," as RT Damien Woody called them -- made the two-bridge trip to Long Island and practiced Wedneday night at Hofstra University, their year-round home for four decades before Florham Park, N.J.

The night began with a small controversy. The "Family Night" practice, as it was billed, was supposed to start at 6 p.m., but the Jets' team buses arrived early. So, without advance notice, they began at 5:20 and finished at 6:55, meaning the fans that arrived on time saw only 55 minutes of the team's one and only practice on Long Island -- a bummer.

The early arrival, coupled with the threat of rain, prompted the decision to start at 5:20, according to a team spokesman, who said 5,400 fans already were in Shuart Stadium. The announced crowd swelled to more than 10,000, the team said. To atone for the unexpectedly short evening, the Jets extended the post-practice autograph session from 20 to 30 minutes.

Coach Rex Ryan created the most buzz. He received rock-star treatment as he walked to one section of fans, with the crowd rising to its feet.

"That's when you know you're the only one coming over for autographs," Ryan said. "I hardly think I'm a rock star, although I'm working on it."

And then it was back on the buses and back to New Jersey.