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Rex Ryan is ready to play for real -- like, right now -- but the calendar says the Jets have to make do with a three-day minicamp starting Monday morning in Florham Park, N.J. The camp is mandatory, meaning all players are required to attend or be subject to a fine.
There will be two practices Monday and two Tuesday, culminating Wednesday with an open practice in the New Meadowlands Stadium. (Fans are invited at no charge.)
Think back to a year ago, when almost everything was new -- the head coach, the quarterback, the defensive system, you name it. Now it's just the stadium, along with four or five key players.
"Oh my goodness, we're ready to play," Ryan said last week. "Literally, we could go play. Last year, we would've gotten smoked. ... Right now, we actually know what we're doing. We're so much further along than we were last year."
|Mangold wants the Jets to step up and make him an offer he can't refuse.|
Five things to watch in minicamp:
1. Mangold's attendance:The All-Pro center is frustrated by the organization's lack of urgency regarding his contract. Last week he said there was a 50-50 chance he would skip the minicamp. He thought better of it and showed up.
Mangold, due to make $3.3 million in the final year of his rookie contract, is not happy. As of late last week, the Jets still hadn't started serious discussions with him, focusing their energy on Revis, who still has three years left on his deal.
2. Mark Sanchez in catch-up mode: After missing two months of the offseason program while rehabbing his surgically repaired left knee, Sanchez returned last week to team drills. His knee appears healthy and he's eager to take what he learned in the classroom, where he has spent the bulk of the offseason, and apply it to the field.
Sanchez' presence means the offense is whole. He has to make up for a lot of lost time with wide receiver Santonio Holmes and running back LaDainian Tomlinson, the newest members of the offensive arsenal. And let's not forget that Sanchez never had an offseason with wide receiver Braylon Edwards, who didn't arrive until last October in a trade.
3. Kris Jenkins' condition: The big nose tackle, who is dealing with a surgically repaired knee and excessive weight, said last week he was told by the trainers that he won't be able to participate in team drills. The Jets apparently don't want to put a 380-pound man out there on a wheel that is less than 100 percent, meaning he could be restricted to individual and positional drills.
"Hopefully, it will be on a very limited basis," linebacker Calvin Pace said of Jenkins' participation in minicamp. "We have to bring him back slowly. He's too valuable to take chances with."
4. Positional battles: Rookie Vladimir Ducasse, a second-round pick, has been working with the starters since he arrived. He is running ahead of second-year backup Matt Slauson at left guard. Ducasse has improved his grasp of the offense over the past two weeks, according to teammates, and it appears to be his job to lose.
At safety, former Cleveland Brown Brodney Pool is leading over Eric Smith. At kicker, Nick Folk is engaged in a tight battle against Nick Folk. He's the only placekicker in camp, making for a daily adventure because he has been all over the place -- great one day, awful the next.
5. The QB depth chart: There's only one given: Sanchez is the starter. After that, it's patchwork city. Ostensibly, veteran Kellen Clemens is No. 2, but it's believed he's simply keeping the seat warm for free agent Mark Brunell, who is likely to sign in late July. Clemens is probably a goner, so it'll be interesting to see how many reps he gets in minicamp.
Kevin O'Connell and Erik Ainge are battling for the No. 3 spot, and it appears O'Connell has nudged ahead. The Jets kept four quarterbacks last season, but it's unlikely to happen again.
Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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