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NY Jets Player Interviews

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Courtesy NY Jets PR Department

WR LAVERANUES COLES
On how it feels to be healthy…

It’s great to be back with my teammates and know that I’m not having to miss anything, I can actually be out there practicing with them. That’s the most important thing. It’s a big part of camp, making sure you know you’re there for the long haul. To get back in the mix and be there with them is the most important thing. I think they see it and they appreciate the fact that I’m back out there with them.

On Eric Mangini’s comments that the wide receivers were excelling in training camp…
I think guys are stepping up. That’s the main thing. I think I’m critiquing myself just as well as I’m critiquing everyone else. We’re taking pride in the room because again, I did miss part of last year. I think I could’ve been more vocal and I could’ve been more helpful with bringing the young guys along. But I wasn’t in there for the workouts and it was such a strain for me to have to be out of them. Of course, I do want to be there.

But now when something happens, the guy behind me can come in and pick up the slack just like I’m in there, so we don’t miss a beat. I think that’s something that Jerricho [Cotchery] and I are looking at. We’re trying to push guys to pick up the offense, become better receivers and help them hone in on what they’re good at and become great players.

On whether he’s getting together with the rookies outside of practice…
Of course, we spend a lot of time on the chalkboard. Our position coach, Noel Mazzone, allows us to critique each other which is great. If I’m up there on the board he’ll be like, “OK, tell Laveranues what you think he did wrong on this.” It’s good to get other guys up to try to understand each other, but we all have different body types and we all understand that the game is different from other people’s perspectives. Even the younger guys’ knowledge of the game is helping each one of us.

On whether he missed playing in the last three games last year…
I not only just missed the game itself, I missed the guys and being there for them. That’s the most important thing. The friendships that you make while you’re playing are some of the most important things that you could ever look back on. At times, I would pick up the phone to call these guys and check with them to see how they’re doing. Not being with them at practice and during the week and then during the game, it was tough, probably one of the most difficult times you can go through especially when you care about guys like I do.

QB KELLEN CLEMENS
On whether the external distractions have made camp more interesting…
Camp is always interesting. No matter what is going on, it’s always interesting and always exciting. We’re all getting better and are really looking forward to getting this thing started.

On whether consistency has been a main focus…
There are a lot of things. For me personally, I come out here each day with two or three things that I want to work on. Fortunately, so far I’ve been able to really achieve those and move forward. Camp is progressing in a pretty good direction so far.

On how he and Chad Pennington are handling the Brett Favre rumors…
I’m fortunate to have Chad, a guy who has been a quarterback in New York, going into his ninth year. I can visit with him for things like that. He’s great. He’s great to talk to about it. We chatted about it briefly and both came to the conclusion that that’s so far away from the building right now that it’s not even anything that we need to be worried about for the moment.

On whether he checks the locker room to see if Favre has been added…
Just to see if Joe Smith has a different number [laughs]? No, not just yet.

On whether the rumors have become a distraction…
I don’t think it’s distracting us one bit. If something happens, then obviously that’s what Coach Mangini and Mr. Tannenbaum think is best for the team and we’re going to support that. We’re worried about the guys we have in-house right now, those are the guys we’re planning on taking to battle in September.

On turnovers during practice…
Interceptions, fumbles, it doesn’t matter. Ball security is the number one factor in winning and losing games in this league. Turnovers are just something you have to work on and try to eliminate.

On whether turnovers during practice are magnified due to the QB competition…
An interception or a fumble, a turnover is a turnover. In the grand scheme of things, you try to put everything in context and take everything that happens in practice and try to put it in the context of the game. Any sort of an interception or a turnover, a missed third-down conversion, any of that. It hurts whether you’re in practice or in a game. I try not to let the competition affect the way that I approach it. We all want to win and be efficient this year. You don’t let that extra element add to it.

On the difficulty of competing for the starting position…
I’ve been playing this position for quite awhile. It’s the same. If you throw an interception in the game, eventually you learn to just say, “Hey, I’m going to learn from it, so I don’t do it again,” and then move on.

It’s good practice out here because everything is being evaluated. You learn to say, “Hey that was a mistake that I made,” you’re going to learn from it. Like the interception to [Eric] Barton, I went over there to visit with him: “What did you do? Why did you do it?” That way you can learn from it and not make it again. It’s also important to be able to move onto the next play with a clear head, not thinking about the previous play.

On if he thinks interceptions during training camp are overly criticized since it is an experimental situation…

There are different situations. You might have a Hail Mary situation where you’re going to throw it up in practice but you’re going to do that in a game as well. There are many different circumstances that all factor into the evaluation process. Either way, an interception is an interception, and you don’t want it unless your defense is out on the field.

On his progress…
As I said a little bit earlier, I come out to practice every day with two or three things that I want to improve on and so far I’ve been making progress. For me, that’s very important. We’re moving the ball. We obviously have some stuff that we need to work on both as an offense and as a team. Things are moving in a good direction.

On if there’s more pressure in this competition than two years ago…
The main difference, I think, is now there are only two of us. When there were four, it was a wide open competition. Now there are only two of us that are involved. I think that’s the main difference at this juncture.

On why the competition feels different…
It feels a lot different because this is my third year in the league. I was fortunate to start a few games last year. I have some confidence, I have some experience under my belt, and that all factors into it. From the coaches and the external stuff, there are only two of us instead of four.

QB CHAD PENNINGTON
On if anyone in the organization has spoken to him since his last conversation with GM Mike Tannenbaum…

No, nothing. It’s been business as usual for me. Practice is going great. I feel really good about my progress and how everything is coming along. I am just trying to build, become better and things are going well. I haven’t heard one thing from the organization. Things are going business as usual.

On if he relishes the opportunity to silence doubters…
It’s something I have had to deal with my whole life. With adversity, people doubting me, asking questions about my abilities, that has been something since high school. I have grown accustomed to that and have learned through experience how to handle it. I learned how to remain positive and focus on myself as an individual and continue to get better.

Sometimes you take the criticism and you look at it and see if it is real and if it really is something you need to work on. Sometimes you just throw it out. You concentrate on the meat and spit out the bones and move on.

On whether he wishes the Brett Favre rumors would be resolved…
The good thing is I am so involved with training camp right now. I haven’t been able to watch television, read or listen to the radio. I am totally oblivious to everything going on. The bottom line is that sooner or later the organization has to make a decision one way or the other. I hope it’s sooner than later. I think for our team to be able to move on and accomplish the things we need to accomplish, the things that coach Eric Mangini and Mike Tannenbaum want to get accomplished, we have to make a decision and the sooner the better.

On if the rumors start to become a distraction…
It certainly can if you let it. I think our guys have done an excellent job of focusing on themselves first and then on our team. We have enough veterans to keep it from that, but that is why as long as we can keep moving forward, and put this behind us as soon as possible, it helps everyone.

On whether being a veteran has helped to minimize the surprise of rumors…
I am not surprised. I would be surprised if it was my second or third year. But this being my ninth year, I am not surprised by anything. I think speculation is part of this game. It’s what gives fans something to talk about over coffee in the morning. It’s good for the game from a fan’s perspective.

RB LEON WASHINGTON
On what he feels like he needs to improve…
I need to improve in the film room and getting smarter. When you get older, your skills kind of diminish so you have to get the other part of the game that mentally challenges yourself to get better on the football field. You see teams like New England and the Colts, their older guys are really smart and they just take over the game that way. [I need to work on] getting better in the film room and improving in the weight room.

On if he has any tricks up his sleeve when it comes to being an elusive runner…
I have a few left in me. We’ll see. I’m working really hard. One thing I do know as a young guy, when you prepare the right way and when you practice the right way, when you get to a game, it becomes a lot easier.

On continuing to provide big plays for the Jets…
Big plays can change the momentum of the game. If you get a long run here or a kickoff return there, it can definitely change the momentum. Once we change the momentum, we have tomaintain that. That is something we have to work on all year long, finish four quarters, not turn the ball over, be patient and work within ourselves.

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