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Jets Sign Fisher And Zalewski

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The New York Jets announced two roster moves today.  They signed two free agents, RB Tony Fisher and LB Mark Zalewski. 

Fisher (6’1″, 223), is entering his sixth year in the NFL.  He played his college ball in Notre Dame.  He has split time with the Packers and the Rams.  With Cedric Houston leaving camp, the Jets need a little more competition at the RB position.  Zalewski (6’2″, 234) started for three seasons at Wisconsin.

Also, here is the transcript of head coach Eric Mangini’s news conference with members of the New York Jets media after Friday’s first practice of training camp.How is everybody doing? Welcome back. Good to see you.

I would first like to again congratulate Curtis [Martin] on his retirement. Just an amazing guy. I feel really lucky to have been a part of his career in some small fashion, and to have had the opportunity last year to really get to know him even better as a person. He was a great resource for me this past season just in terms of his insight on issues that relate to players and also other issues. He’s just got a lot of wisdom. I couldn’t be happier for him. I know he will be incredibly successful in whatever he chooses to do. We joked that he has a lot of free time now to spend here and work with us a little bit more extensively. I don’t know if he will take me up on that offer, but I hope so because he is just great to have around.

In terms of the structure of practice here today and moving forward, it is very similar to the format that we had in the OTAs and in the mandatory minicamp in terms of what we are trying to get done. I talked to the players quite a bit. I really felt like we had a good spring, a good off-season program, worked hard there, made a lot of gains, really positive OTAs and minicamps, and that was good. That was progress and I was pleased with that and now this is the next step. For us to continue to make progress, it’s going to take that same level of focus that we had and we need that consistency, day in and day out; practice in, practice out; meeting in and meeting out, and this is the most challenging time of the year to do that. With that, I will open it up to questions.

On the possibility that Pete Kendall could serve as a distraction to the team …
We have a locker room full of professionals who are all focused on getting better individually and on us getting better collectively and that is where everybody’s focus is right now. 

On whether he has received any feedback from other coaches regarding his Sopranos appearance …
I didn’t get a lot of kidding around on it. A little bit, I would say. In terms of the ending, I love the show and I thought the writers were great, I thought the characters were great. I really enjoyed it from the beginning right until the end. Then to be a part of it at that point in the series was a pretty amazing opportunity. It was a perfect role for me, at dinner, eating. I do that well and I think I really nailed it.

On managing expectations …
We’ve talked about it and I talked about that in the press conference right after the New England game. I feel the same way I felt then and even at the beginning of the season. It really doesn’t matter what happened last year and it doesn’t matter what happened the year before because every season there are teams that were disappointing that suddenly had very good seasons, teams that expectations were high for that didn’t, and you see it year in and year out. I was part of that experience in New England going from 2000 to 2001, 5-11 to a Super Bowl team. The Rams did that, too. Each year is its own entity. You have to do the same things every camp, every step of the way, to achieve the same level you did, and prior results don’t predict future results. Kind of like the stock market.

On Kerry Rhodes …
Kerry had a very good spring. I like the way he has increased his presence in the secondary. He is really proactively getting involved, even more so with the communication, not just with the defensive backs but with the front, the linebackers and defensive line. He’s working at his craft and I like to see that professionalism from someone this young in his career.

On Darrelle Revis’ holdout …
Anybody that is not here is really missing opportunities to get better and to compete for what I’m sure they all want, playing time. We are going to focus on the guys that are here. We are going to focus on those guys, get them better and collectively get better.

On having a large number of returning starters …
That’s always positive. In the spring you go through the process of incorporating new ideas from the self-scout things that you looked at and said we would like to try these.

We have had the influx of some new coaches from Dallas and from Miami and they bring new ideas. You go through and the playbook evolves. The nice thing is that we can do that at this point. You can build on the knowledge base that you had last year and incorporate the new ideas. You are not spending as much time on the core terminology, the core formations and things like that. You can start moving, building and getting the intricacies.

On the addition of Thomas Jones …
Thomas has been a really positive influence and it goes back to what our research showed on him. Every team that he was on had great things to say about him and that has been our experience. We brought him here and outside of his abilities there is character and you see that manifest itself on the field and the way he is in the classroom.

On his expectations for his second training camp …
What I am looking for is the continued development. I see quite a bit of that. The first time we may have introduced a situation last year, it was about getting it set up, explaining the mechanics of it, explaining the why. This year, more of that is just happening and developing. Chad [Pennington] is very good at that where you may have done something in Week 14 last year and during the OTAs a similar situation came up and he just executed it. Those are always things you are looking for.

On Brad Smith …
Brad is working at quarterback now. He is a quarterback that plays receiver some and does some other things. Brad is a quarterback and you will see him throughout camp playing quarterback and in preseason games he will play quarterback. He’s just a quarterback that has the versatility to play other positions.

On why Smith’s primary position was changed …
It always changes. It was something last year with him making the transition to a new position and learning all of that. We really wanted him to focus on that. Now we feel very comfortable with his progress there and I like him in the quarterback position and the things that he allows us to do at that position. He’s a threat with the ball in his hands both running and passing.

On whether Smith is part of the backup quarterback competition …
Yes, yes he is.

On Kellen Clemens …
Along the same lines with what we talked about with Kerry or Chad, I want to see the experiences that he had last year, him building on those experiences. He’s had a year in the system where he’s learned the terminology. He’s gotten that part down, he’s transitioned, so I’m looking for the same type of progress from him.

On Kendall playing with the second offense …
Pete is alternating between the first and second team, which is exactly the same situation as it was in the spring. And that happens throughout training camp at all positions, so there has been no change in terms of that rotation. There really is no difference in it. What Mike [Tannenbaum] and I are responsible for is doing what is in the best interest of the New York Jets and that’s what we are committed to doing. That is what we will always do.

On Kendall’s claims that the team made him stay in the “rookie dormsâ€? …
I heard about the “rookie dorms.� There is no conspiracy theory here. There is no grassy knoll. I didn’t send out secret agents. There was a mixup. It was fixed. It’s been changed. The dorms are about 100 feet apart from each other. There are guys in all different dorms.

On whether Kendall is a distraction …
I see us as a group of professionals and I really like the locker room and their approach and they are going to focus on their development and our progress and that is what I will focus on.

On Cedric Houston leaving the team …
From conversations, I think it is permanent. He’s made a decision that he wants to move on with the rest of his life. I respect that decision. He thought it was what was best for him.

On if anything specific triggered Houston’s decision …
No. During camp it happens. Some guys just make that decision.

On the team’ depth at running back …
We will do what we normally do. Bring guys in to look at. We have an ongoing list of players at all positions that we bring in. You’ll see that throughout camp, different guys coming and going.

On monitoring concussions….
We’ve always had a protocol in place. Both a medical protocol if something would happen at practice or at a game, and then another protocol in terms of questioning, making sure the player, once he has been cleared medically, now can answer questions that relate to his position, so that you know when he is going back into the game, he does have the ability to function effectively without putting anybody in a bad position. But it is a very serious, serious thing and we are doing everything we can to make sure all the best decisions are made there.

On first-day differences in his second Jets training camp …
It went a lot smoother. Being able to have the year to look back on and review, having both players and coaches that are familiar with expectations, tempo, the field layout, where it is located. Those kind of things always help. Now you can get into more specifics like wanting to change the snap count, as opposed to “Are guys in the right spot? Now it’s okay, they’re there, now let’s move forward.â€?

On the difficulty of his camp …
I’m sure they look forward to it. Most kids like to go to camp. This is just our adult version of camp. We probably won’t be telling any ghost stories. It will be a good time for everybody.

On his second year as a head coach …
Everybody goes through a process of adjustment and transition and getting to know what is expected and getting to know the personalities of everybody involved. As you do that, things tend to move forward and we have had some time to get to know each other and how things operate, so I think that has been positive.

On Kendall’s contract demands …
Any of the contract situations, those discussions are internal. Mike and I do speak, intimately — don’t tell my wife. Those contract discussions are internal and we would like to keep them that way.

On whether Kendall will make the team …
Everybody who is here has an opportunity to be in the plans and we are going to evaluate it based on who gives us the best chance to win week in and week out and what is the best decision for the New York Jets.

On Adrien Clarke …
Adrien’s made some real strides. He’s a person that is obviously new to the system, so he’s going through that learning curve just like anybody who would be new to this system. He picks up information quickly and he’s worked with Nick Mangold before. That familiarity is always positive.

On Andre Wadsworth …
Andre has really transformed his body since he first got here. He was quite a bit bigger in terms of bulk. We brought him down to more of the outside linebacker typical weight. That will help him with the transition to the new position. But it is a completely new position for him as opposed to what he has been used to and he is coming back from the long layoff. This is multiple days [ahead] now in pads, so we will take it day by day and he will take it day by day. He’s a great person, a great person in the locker room, and his maturity and approach is really good not just for him but for a young guy as well.

On whether it is easier to enter a season with lower or higher expectations …
The challenge is always to win. That’s what it is, as opposed to retain or obtain. Just to keep winning.

On Laveranues Coles …
Laveranues does an outstanding job. We do a lot of technique work on the routes, in terms of how we want them run and the subtleties of the routes and he has really embraced that. He’s a good route runner as it is, but now he’s working at those things and it was really effective in the spring.

On Teddy Atlas’ role with the team and how boxing helps in football …
He is in the media guide. He’s a special assistant. I forgot exactly what title we gave him. [Special Assistant—Boxing.] He just had a birthday, so happy birthday, Teddy. In all aspects, whether it’s O-Line, D-Line, DBs, right on down the line, hand placement is so important and your ability to strike,  the time of the strike is so important, so Teddy’s ability to teach the hand placement through boxing and his expertise there has been really helpful. Also, the footwork. Teddy has some incredible stories — they are just great. His insight into the human condition I think is very unique.

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