New York Jets: Jerricho Cotchery
And it's going to be weird.
"Every week when we start taking our notes on opposing defenses, I write the team's name that we're playing at the top of my page. This week I was writing the Jets, so it was a little weird," Cotchery said with a laugh.
Cotchery spent his first seven seasons with the Jets, establishing himself as a sure-handed target and a veteran presence in the locker room.
But, for several reasons, he and the team could not come to terms after the 2010 season. Cotchery decided to sign a one-year deal with the Steelers.
On Wednesday, Cotchery said he had no regrets about leaving New York.
"I don't think everyone really knows everything that transpired between myself and the Jets," the nine-year veteran said. "Everything there is just between us, so there isn't anything to look back on and say, 'I really regret it.' "
Cotchery was hesitant to compare the Steelers and Jets during a conference call with New York reporters on Wednesday.
But what he did say may have provided a glimpse into one of his reasons for leaving New York.
He noted that Pittsburgh's franchise is "run like a family business. They take care of their players. Everyone is held to a high standard and they put you back in line when (you don't meet the standard)."
There was wide-spread speculation that Cotchery didn't re-sign with the Jets because he had no desire to be a part of a receiving corps featuring Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress -- both perceived as more me-first than team-first players.
Perhaps tellingly, Cotchery said he had many friends left in the Jets' locker room -- naming Brandon Moore, among others -- but he didn't mention Holmes.
Cotchery was in talks with the Jets over the summer, kicking the tires on a possible reunion. But he says that he was never close to returning.
Ultimately, the 30-year-old signed a two-year, $3 million deal with Pittsburgh.
"I did talk to the Jets but at the end of the day, Pittsburgh really wanted me here and it's a place that I wanted to come back to. So I don't think anything would (have) come between (myself and Pittsburgh) at that point in time," Cotchery said. "It's just a great atmosphere here. Once you're a part of this atmosphere it's hard to go somewhere else."
Five days after a federal judge declared the NFL lockout illegal, Cotchery and at least two teammates returned to work to train and rehab old injuries. Unlike Tuesday, when Cotchery and five others showed up only to be told they couldn't use any of the facilities, this was like a real work day.
As real as it can get during a labor dispute that seems to be changing by the hour. If the NFL receives its request for a temporary stay, which could happen as soon as today, the players could be locked out again.
"As a player, you just take this day by day," Cotchery told reporters. "You have to embrace this day and embrace the next day. Whatever happens in the future, you can't even worry about that. You have to embrace this time right now. I'm able to come in the building and I'm able to rehab. I'm just embracing this time."
The veteran wide receiver was joined by guard Brandon Moore, the team's assistant player rep, and linebacker David Harris. Linebacker Josh Mauga and long snapper Tanner Purdum also showed up.
On Thursday, after the league announced its plans to comply fully with the judge's ruling, coach Rex Ryan sent an email to every player on the team, informing them the offseason conditioning program is set to begin Monday.
In the email, Ryan also told the players they were welcome to work out Friday, but that it wouldn't count toward workout bonuses and they wouldn't receive the usual per diem. It also indicated that they needed to show proof of insurance on Friday.
Cotchery said it felt good to be back. He didn't get a chance to speak with any coaches -- they were tied up with the draft -- but he spoke to head trainer John Mellody and new strength coach Bill Hughan. He updated Mellody on his back rehab.
"I did everything I thought I was going to do the other day," said Cotchery, who underwent back surgery in February and has been receiving physical therapy at a private facility in New Jersey.
Asked if he'd be upset by another lockout, Cotchery said, "I'm not going to worry about it. I'm going to rehab like crazy until something else comes up."
Moore admitted to having a fleeting thought of being told to leave.
"I was sitting in the tub in the trainer's room and I was on guard to whether security was going to come down and tell us the appeals court ruled in the owners' favor (for a temporary stay)," Moore said.
If there's no stay, Cotchery expects to see a larger turnout Monday, although some players will be out of town, attending Mark Sanchez's workout session in Southern California. Sanchez is expecting several skill-position players to join him for several days of workouts at his old high school in Mission Viejo.
UPDATE: Linebacker Bart Scott, cornerback Kyle Wilson and tackle Vladimir Ducasse also reported.
The Jets worked out former Patriots linebacker Shawn Crable Friday, just three days after New England cut their 2008 third-round pick. The Jets will play the Patriots on Dec. 6.
Jets head coach Rex Ryan did not say much about Crable, as he wasn’t sure whether he could comment.
“He’s real tall and skinny,” Ryan said.
Crable played in six games for the Patriots this season, recording four tackle and .5 sacks. He was injured often during his time with New England.
AFC East teams have been quick this season to claim players cut from other teams, such as the Patriots signing former Jet Danny Woodhead, and the Jets signing former Dolphin Patrick Turner.
TURNER READY TO GO: With Jerricho Cotchery out for Sunday’s game with his groin injury, the Jets will promote wide receiver Patrick Turner from the practice squad to the active roster. This will be Turner’s second game on the active roster with the Jets. He did not record a catch Sept. 26 against Miami.
While Turner did not know what his status would be for Sunday while talking to the media, he’s excited for his chance.
“I went through this week preparing like it’s a possibility of that, and if that occurs, I feel that I prepared myself that I can go in there and perform and help out the team,” Turner said. “I feel I can go in there and help the team accomplish its goals and that’s to get a win.”
DESPERATION: After a 4-2 start, Houston comes into Sunday having lost three straight games and in the process hurting its chance at making the playoffs for the first time in team history. The Texans are two games behind the Colts in the AFC South and two games behind Pittsburgh for the final wildcard spot.
While that losing streak could give the Texans the label of being desperate, veteran defensive tackle Trevor Pryce does not believe desperation makes a difference .
“Your job description is to go out there and win football games,” Pryce said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re desperate, you’re not desperate, lolly gagging, that’s your job description. Being a desperate team doesn’t make them any more or less dangerous and I don’t see them as a desperate team. I see them as a very good football team.”
SALUTE FOR THE TROOPS: The Jets hosted Military Day on Friday, entertaining troops from local bases and the New Jersey National Guard. Ryan said he had one of the military personnel judge the puck board contest, while another kicked a field goal.
“I always like having our guys around the military,” Ryan said. “You realize how thankful we should be. The guys are serving our country and (it shows us) how fortunate we are to have men like that and women like that serving our country so we can have the freedom to do this. It was just great.”
The Jets will be without defensive backs Marquice Cole (hamstring) and Dwight Lowery (concussion), leaving them with just four active defensive backs against the league’s No. 6 offense (yards per game.).
While Ryan would hope that McKnight wouldn’t have to play defense, as that would mean there were injuries, he’s not against to putting the rookie in the secondary.
“He’s been working that way,” Ryan said. “It probably won’t be very multiple with him out there in coverage, but we caught him a couple zone and I think we even taught him some man coverage. Hell be alright, he’s been out there.”
McKnight, drafted in the fourth round out of USC, has been practicing on both offense and defense during the course of the season. He said he had not heard anything about playing defense this week and is just waiting until he is told what his exact role will be for the game. He would’ve been active for the game even without the defensive injuries, as he plays special teams.
“I probably won’t be familiar with the coverages,” McKnight said, “but I’ll be comfortable with everything else like playing defense, man-to-man, I can do that.”
McKnight could also see some playing time potentially this weekend as a wide receiver or a running back. With Jerricho Cotchery to miss the game with a groin injury, McKnight could possibly slide into an offensive package, as he has been impressing Ryan recently with his play.
“I’m telling you guys, he’s getting ready to explode,” Ryan said. “He earned our non-trust, I guess you’d say it, but fumbling, but the way he’s practiced, he’s earned our trust back. I think it’s just a matter of time. Expect to see him out there because he’s been playing.
"Running back, receiver, corner. He's going to play some for us."
WR Jerricho Cotchery (Groin)--Did not practice
DB Dwight Lowery (Concussion)--Did not practice
DB Marquice Cole (Hamstring)--Did not practice
LB David Harris (Calf)--Limited in practice (New addition)
WR Brad Smith (Back)--Limited in practice (New addition)
C Nick Mangold (shoulder)--Full practice
LB Josh Mauga (Hamstring)--Full practice
LB Calvin Pace (Foot)--Full practice
DB Darrell Revis (Hamstring)--Full practice
QB Mark Sanchez (Calf)--Full practice
OL Damien Woody (Ankle)--Full practice
Cotchery, who is dealing with a torn left groin he suffered against Cleveland last weekend, caught a pass during position drills, but spent most of the time running routes parallel to the receivers without getting any balls thrown his way. He had on his helmet and pads.
When the offense and defense both gathered, Cotchery and Cole (hamstring) both walked to the adjacent field and did their stretching. They did stretches on their back before walking the distance of the field while doing high knees, calf stretches and other stretches.
Offensive lineman Matt Slauson and defensive back Eric Smith, who were both limited in practice Thursday, were practicing.
When Jets wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery heard that his team had traded for Santonio Holmes Sunday night, he was stunned. But it didn’t take long for him to smile.
“A fifth pick? That’s unheard of to get that type of player for a fifth pick,” Cotchery said. “Instantly I knew that we had gotten better as a team.”
He enumerated the players in the wide receiver corps now; himself, Holmes, Braylon Edwards, Brad Smith, David Clowney and a few other younger guys.
“I think we’re complete now,” Cotchery said.
Several Jets attended a Gatorade party to introduce a formula specifically designed for professional athletes. It was held in a SoHo penthouse belonging to Jordan DeLuca, but turned into a site-specific art space complete with tacking dummies in the living room, shells and cleats in the closet.
LaDainian Tomlinson conducted an interview on a patio where the grass was painted like a 50-yard line.
“I obviously think it’s a great move by the organization,” Tomlinson said. “The Jets have proven that they want to win now and they’re bringing in guys that are big-play guys and guys that can help them win now. And Santonio, a Super Bowl MVP, he’s proven what he can do on the field.”
The Jets’ new running back — another of those potential impact players — addressed Holmes’ off the field issues, which includes a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance policy to take place at the start of the season.
“If you’re raising a teenager, there are certain things a teenager messes up,” LaDainian said. “He may make some bad decisions, but that doesn’t mean they’re a bad kid. I think that’s definitely the case with a lot of our young players in the league today. It’s the first time they’re exposed to fame, to money, they’re single some of them.
“Sometimes when something happens, you learn from it. And his next step, for Santonio, he has to say — and I’m sure he will — he has to say, ‘This is it, this is my chance to make it right.’”
On of the players who will block for Holmes, offensive lineman D’Brickashaw Ferguson, remembered Holmes from the time they worked out together before being drafted.
“I think he’s awesome. I had a chance to train with him before the NFL,” Ferguson said. “I met him, he was a great guy there and he’s really blossomed into an incredible player.”