Before the start of training camp, the Jets tried to sign former Ravens Pro Bowl TE Todd Heap, bringing him to Florham Park on a recruiting visit. Rex Ryan was so excited about Heap, whom he knows from his Baltimore days, that he picked him up at the airport.
The Jets didn't land Heap, who chose to sign with the Cardinals. Now Ryan is saying that he's "definitely comfortable" with his tight-end situation. Is that just post-rejection spin?
"I love Todd ... but I think this worked out for the best," Ryan said Thursday.
The Jets have three returning tight ends -- Dustin Keller, Matthew Mulligan and Jeff Cumberland. Mulligan is the favorite to replace Ben Hartsock (Panthers) as the blocking tight end. Ryan called Mulligan a "great" blocker. Cumberland is an "average" blocker, according to Ryan, but he "can be a great (player)" because of his athleticism and receiving skills. Keller, of course, is the starter, one of the top young tight ends in the league.
WELCOME BACK: Backup CB Marquice Cole, a key reserve, reported to camp after missing the first 10 days due to a family matter.
INJURY UPDATE: Rookie DE Muhammad Wilkerson (hip) and RB Joe McKnight (ankle), who sat out team drills Tuesday, participated in the morning walk-through and were expected to practice in the afternoon.
FINALLY, REAL HITTING: Ryan is fired up about the afternoon practice, and there's a good reason for that. He will conduct the first goal-line drill of camp. That means real contact, raising the intensity level between offense and defense. A "big people" practice, Ryan called it.
DINNER ON MARK: QB Mark Sanchez and WR Plaxico Burress dined together Wednesday night in Manhattan -- a day off for players. Sanchez said he paid for dinner because he lost a bet; he misfired during the goal-post drill. Players sometimes challenge each other to accuracy competitions, throwing at the goal post.
"I missed, so I figured we'd go somewhere Mexican, where I'd get a free meal," Sanchez said with a laugh. "But he said that was off limits, so I ended up paying."
Sanchez said he took a ferry across the Hudson River for the first time, taking pictures on the way.
ELLIS DEAL: Former Jets DE Shaun Ellis received a $750,000 signing bonus from the Patriots, according to the Boston Herald. Ellis also will receive a $1.5 million base salary, plus a $1.75 million roster bonus. Total compensation for one year: $4 million. The Jets offered $910,000.
MINOR MOVES: The Jets waived LB Stafford Gatling, DT Carlton Powell and S DaJuan Morgan.
GOOD CAUSE: The Jets are a big supporter of the New York Public School Athletic League, and Thursday they gave $5,000 awards to two students. The students, Ada Lee, of Floral Park, N.Y., and Joseph Aduboffour, of the Bronx, can put the money toward their college costs. They were chosen based on athletic and classroom performance. Ryan presented the checks before his daily press briefing. When he found out Aduboffour is a soccer player, he cracked, "Can you kick a football?"