At the end of the Thursday morning practice, held through a steady drizzle in Cortland, Rex Ryan gathered his players on the field and presented a challenge: He promised the team a night off (no meetings) if a non-kicker could make a 44-yard field goal.
Hmm, wonder if he was playing to the "Hard Knocks" cameras?
CB Drew Coleman was the kicker, CB Marquice Cole the holder. Coleman's attempt was long enough -- impressive -- but it was just wide right. The groans probably were heard through the hills of Cortland County.
Now here's the real kicker: Ryan already had decided to let the players have their annual movie night, a trip to a local theater, so the actual kick by Coleman was moot. But Ryan didn't tell the players; he told the media first. By early afternoon, unofficial word had reached the players.
"Hell yes!" one player told me.
Other thoughts and observations from a damp practice:
1. On 11-on-11, RB LaDainian Tomlinson took an inside handoff and made a nice cut to the right guard/right tackle hole, bursting to daylight. Terrific instincts. Tomlinson also continued to display his prowess as a receiver. That, more than anything, is how he'll make his biggest impact.
2. RB Danny Woodhead is only 5-9, but he's a tough SOB. On one run, he was positively blasted by S Emanuel Cook, but he managed to stay on his feet. At one point, O.C. Brian Schottenheimer yelled to the defensive coaches, "You can't stop Woodhead!" He's a bubble player; it'll be interesting to see if he makes the final cut.
3. LG Matt Slauson continued to get most of the reps with the first team. With the second-team offense, Slauson shifts to right guard, with rookie Vlad Ducasse at left guard. Slauson is getting plenty of experience.
4. NT Kris Jenkins jumped offsides and blasted C Rob Turner, who was starting for Nick Mangold (head). It looked like there was going to be an ugly moment, but Jenkins made nice, drawing cheers from the crowd.
5. QB Kevin O'Connell, battling Kellen Clemens for the third-string job, has improved since minicamp. He made a nice long completion to WR Aundrae Allison. CB Bo Smith's coverage was poor, but give credit to O'Connell for the throw.
6. PK Nick Folk went 6-for-7, including a 42-yard attempt that was blocked by Braylon Edwards. After a shaky offseason, Folk is having a solid camp.
7. QB Mark Sanchez was 8-for-15, no TDs, no INTs. That includes a drop (TE Dustin Keller) and an intentional spike. His best throws were a completion to WR Jerricho Cotchery on a fourth-and-4 in hurry-up and a well-timed comebacker to Edwards. Sanchez did misfire on some underneath throws.
8. This could be the starting front four in the nickel package: Jason Taylor, Calvin Pace, Bryan Thomas and Vernon Gholston -- four linebacker-type players.