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Eric Mangini's Press Conference (Minicamp)

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Transcript of head coach Eric Mangini’s news conference with members of the New York Jets media after Thursday’s morning minicamp practice: 

A couple pieces of housekeeping here. Kerry Rhodes today was excused for personal reasons. I’ll update you on that as we go. Since we last spoke, we released Renard Stevens, wide receiver, and signed Evan Prall, wide receiver.

I don’t know if you guys noticed today, but Lomas Brown was here. He is friends with Mike Devlin from when they played. He was the anchor of the Great Wall at Florida in college, sixth pick overall. He ended up playing 18 years in the NFL and was selected to seven Pro Bowls. When I was talking to him, I just asked him what was the secret to his longevity. Why does he think he had such a tremendous career? He said when he was attending a Pro Bowl, he got to watch Jackie Slater. He saw the way Jackie Slater worked. He saw the way he finished every play, the level of discipline he had. Jackie was a little bit further along in his career at that point. You know, Jackie played 20 years and started the most games of any NFL lineman in history. 

After Lomas had that experience, he knew that’s the type of pro he wanted to be, that’s the type of guy he wanted to emulate. I just thought that was a great story for the guys, to understand the importance of finding a good mentor or a good role model and how much that work ethic and that professionalism really leads to longevity and a successful career. So he’ll be here helping us out, not just on the field but also in talking to the players and things like that. So we appreciate that. 

This morning we were able to hand out some awards that came in recently. We gave out the Most Inspirational award to Chad. You guys know he got that last year. Still, just to physically be able to give him the award, recognize that as a group, having everybody here was special. And also the Most Valuable to Laveranues [Coles]. To be able to talk about what they did as players to earn those awards and recognize them as a group was really positive. 

In terms of the finishing up in the OTAs, moving here into mandatory minicamp, I was really pleased with the work we’ve gotten done in the OTAs. They’ve been segmented so we could install, reinstall, kind of follow the same path. There are always going to be new things introduced as you go, but to keep reinforcing it in segments like that, I thought we covered a lot of ground in the OTAs and made a lot of progress with the things we had done last year, some of the new things we will be doing, and all of us working together. 

Really this is the next phase for us going into mandatory minicamp. It really follows that same pattern. What we’re looking for is obviously progress, but not just progress in terms of just the plays but progress in terms of the situational awareness, all the different aspects we’ve talked about, whether it’s dealing with the noise we have quite frequently or weather or the difference between the first play of a series as opposed to a regular first-and-10, all those nuances that we’ve covered leading up to this point. 

I was pleased with the work we did this morning. I thought the communication by the defense was excellent, and I like the way the guys are working together and almost coaching each other, helping each other to get better. To me, that’s extremely important. 

With that, I’ll open it up to questions. 

On Pete Kendall
I think this situation isn’t unique to the New York Jets. Coaches go through it, players go through it. It’s the business side of the NFL. We’ve all experienced that. I think in terms of the rest of the players, we have a great group of professionals in the locker room, and they’re all focused on the things they have to do to improve and for us to improve collectively. 

On if this will be a distraction to the team …
This is really something that’s not unique to us and something that a lot of players and coaches have gone through, we’ve all experienced. Each guy here is a professional. Each guy here is working at his craft, trying to get better, and we’re collectively trying to get better. 

On Kendall as a player …
I’ve been very happy with Pete as a player, and he’s done a lot of good things. He’s here working. That’s what I expected. He’ll treat this process the same way he’s always treated it, as a professional. 

On communicating with Kendall …
I’d say that Pete and I did sit down after the season and we talked after the season. I talked to his agent several times. Mike [Tannenbaum] talked to his agent several times. If there’s any level of miscommunication, that’s never something that you’re looking for. We have been in contact several times either directly or through the agent.

On Wednesday night’s meeting with Kendall …
All meetings that I have with the players are really internal meetings. That’s not just this meeting; it’s really all meetings. 

On Kendall’s contract …
What I’d say is with all contract matters, any of those discussions are private. I’d say in general our contracts, that situation, they’re entered into freely. There are concessions on both sides with any contract. That’s the nature of a contract. 

On being concerned with a possible holdout situation …
Really what I’m concerned about is today, this camp.

On player communication improving in year two of the system …
I’d say the best indication of that is during the group periods where we’ve got multiple groups going at the same time — the level of communication from the secondary to the linebackers, the linebackers to the front, or on the offensive side of the ball. If something new shows up and the tight end communicates to the interior tackle the adjustment, being able to hear that communication at a high level. Then you’ll see in terms of communication the hand signals they go through. That’s one of the real goals and reasons behind having the music, is it forces an even higher level of communication than you would have if it was just a quiet stadium because on any given Sunday, one side of the ball is always going to have to deal with noise. 

On how long Kendall will remain with the team …
He is here right now and what we’re focused on is this camp. That’s what I’m focused on. That’s what the team’s focused on. 

On how Kendall has helped the team …
I’ve said several times how much I’ve appreciated the things Pete has done with the offensive linemen, the work he did last season. I’m looking forward to a lot of good work moving forward. 

On how he plans to move forward from this situation …
We’re approaching it one day at a time, just like everything else. It’s this camp right now. After we get through this camp, we’ll move into the next phase. 

On when he will talk to Kendall again …
Right now we’re working, we’ve got a lot of meetings going on. We’re going to continue to work along the same path that we’ve been working along. 

On making progress with the situation …
I think in any situation you’re always looking to continue to make progress. That could be the team or relationships. You’re always looking to do that.

On if this has become a distraction …
As I said before, this isn’t a situation that’s unique to the New York Jets, it’s not a situation that’s unique to one player. It happens throughout the NFL and it happens to players and coaches. It’s the business side of this process. We’ve got a good group of professionals who are going to focus on their job. That’s what we’re all doing, focusing individually on getting better and collectively getting better. 

On if this situation is unique to the Jets …
It’s something that happens throughout the league and to a lot of different players and coaches. It’s part of the business side. 

On talking with Mike Tannenbaum about the situation …
Mike and I talk every single day. We spend a lot of time together and discuss all the different issues related to the team. We’ll continue to do that. 

On Kendall being at minicamp …
Pete’s here. He’s under contract, just like all the other players. It’s the same situation. 

On Kendall being considered a key member of the Jets …
I consider everybody who is here a key member of this team. We’re going to go through the process to see who makes the final cut through training camp and we’ll develop the team for the next season. 

On Chad Pennington …
He was great last year in terms of his approach to learning the system. Now as you put new things in, as opposed to it being a large body of information, it’s pared down so he’s able to focus more on the nuances. I’d say the same thing is true for any of the players who went through last season and built up the volume of reps they had and the volume of practices. You’re moving away from the basic information, the basic defenses, the adjustments, and now you can get into some things that are a little bit further along and you can change more things, add, subtract. There’s a lot of recall and buildup there. 

On Pennington’s off-season workouts …
He’s had a really good off-season. He did not do just a lot of work in the weightroom but a lot of work in some other areas. We’ll talk actually on Monday about a final reporting weight. What we do there is get together with the strength staff, the trainers, the coaching staff, go through all that to really determine what the ideal weight is for each player reporting into camp. That’s not set. 

On Pennington’s weight …
We haven’t talked about his weight.

On Thomas Jones …
He’s really a guy we’d researched prior to bringing him here. He’s got a great work ethic. In the weightroom, it’s as impressive as I’ve seen. But then on the field, in the classroom, all the different people we’ve talked to noted his leadership. Seeing it as opposed to just the research phase, it’s definitely shown up in a lot of different areas. 

On when Rhodes will return to camp …
I’ll know more about that probably this afternoon. I’m not really sure yet. 

On Darrelle Revis and David Harris …
Yeah, I’ve liked what they’re both doing. With these guys, what’s nice is they’ve been through the working minicamp, we had the first two OTA days, which was a select group of players on the team in addition to the rookies, the rest of the OTA days, now some of those reps are starting to build up. They’re not hearing things for the first time. The level of thinking has gone down some. You can really see them starting to feel more and more relaxed. That whole transition is such a big transition. 

I like the way Darrelle jams the line of scrimmage. He’s a very physical player. I like his competitiveness. He’s consistently working toward the ball. He’s trying to work with the older guys to understand some of the things they’ve learned through time. You like to see that proactive approach that he has. 

The same thing with David. He’s done a really solid job. He’s worked in a lot of different areas. We’ve not just had him in the base defense, we’ve worked him in the sub defense. He’s handled that stuff pretty well, especially if you consider how new he is to not just the area but the system. I’ve been happy with that. [Linebackers coach] Jim Herrmann had a lot of experience with David coming in. We pretty much knew his approach. 

On being able to use all of the running backs on the roster …
Brian [Schottenheimer] is very creative with the personnel groups, the formations, the way he’s able to run similar plays with different personnel groups but fit the skill set of the guy he’s inserting into that play. He’s always done a good job of that, the way we used Brad Smith last year. I think that’s a great situation to have, where you do have a lot of people you can insert into packages, run like plays so there is the buildup of the reps and still get what you want. 

On how the organization views animal cruelty …
Both my personal feelings and the organization’s feelings are we completely condemn any cruelty to animals on any level. That’s how we feel. 

On speaking to Jonathan Vilma about his comments on dog fighting …
At some point we’ll probably talk about that. We probably will. 

On Curtis Martin …
Curtis, he’s Curtis. I mean, a lot of these guys have heard me talk about him on and on and on. I love the guy. We love the guy organizationally. Whatever Curtis wants to do, we’re going to talk to him and try to accommodate him. 

On how Thomas Jones has displayed himself as a leader …
There’s really a lot of different areas. In the weightroom, he’s an example. He’ll do a complete workout and then he’s doing — I don’t even know some things that he’s doing, but it works if you look at his arms. But it’s just his intensity in there. He talks to the guys a lot about how that’s helped him in terms of durability and progress. Then on the field, you’ll see him working with Leon [Washington] or Cedric [Houston] or one of the guys, just trying to help them understand things he inherently understands now from the amount of reps he’s taken and schemes he’s seen. He’s been good with the young guys.

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