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Jets players back at facility, getting workouts in
What if the NFL’s request to restore the lockout was suddenly granted while he was still there?
“I was on guard whether security was going to come down,” the smiling Jets right guard said, “and tell us that the appeals court ruled in the owners’ favor.”
The league cleared the way for some of its basic football operations to begin, five days after a federal judge declared the lockout illegal. But, later in the day, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis granted the owners’ request to temporarily put on hold U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson’s ruling.
“It would be frustrating,” said Moore, one of the team’s co-player representatives, of the potential of the lockout resuming. “I’m happy here. I want to play football. Hopefully we can continue and get this case settled and get a new agreement and move forward.”
The Jets were doing their best to do that Friday as wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, offensive lineman Vladimir Ducasse, cornerback Kyle Wilson, long snapper Tanner Purdum and linebackers Bart Scott, David Harris and Joshua Mauga also showed up at the facility.
“As a player, you just take this day by day,” Cotchery said. “Whatever happens in the future, you have to embrace this time now.”
Defensive lineman Mike DeVito was frustrated at the latest news.
“This whole situation is definitely something that I’ve been really trying to pull myself back from and getting excited too much about because of days like this,” he said. “I knew these rulings were coming at some point and they can change like that, and that’s exactly what happened today. I know there are smart people on both sides and I know this will all be resolved at some point. I’m not sure when, but at some point.”
Muhammad Wilkerson, the Jets‘ first-round draft pick, made it to the facility and toured the place. He also met the media and posed for pictures with coach Rex Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum.
“It’s a dream come true,” the No. 30 overall pick said, who left Temple after his junior season to enter the NFL draft.
“I’m pretty sure the Jets are going to be very pleased,” said his mother, Janice. “He’s going to take it to the next level.”
That’s a good thing because Ryan is excited about having Wilkerson in his defense as a pass-rushing, run-stopping defensive tackle and end. The 6-foot-4 1/2, 305-pound Wilkerson is a local kid from Linden, N.J., who had 9 1/2 sacks last year for the Owls and named the team’s most valuable defensive player.
“I’m just a humble guy, but on the field I’m a totally different person,” he said. “I like to get physical with guys and just dominate.”
There have been some questions whether Wilkerson’s ability will allow him to be as impressive a player in the NFL because he’s coming from a school that played in the Mid-American Conference. Don’t worry about that, he says.
“I kind of feel like they’re doubting me,” he said. “I really don’t want to buy into it because that would cause confusion with me. I’m just going to go out there, be myself and be the player I know I’m capable of being.”
Despite the labor dispute still swirling and a cloud of uncertainty hovering around NFL teams, Wilkerson tried to not let that take away from the biggest moment in his athletic career.
“Right now, I’m just happy to be a Jet,” he said. “Hopefully, that labor (situation) can take care of itself during the next few days.”
Ryan sent the players an email Thursday night telling them the voluntary offseason conditioning program would begin Monday. That might all be on hold for now. He also welcomed them to work out at the facility Friday, but the players needed to show proof of health insurance to do so _ and it wouldn’t count toward workout bonuses.
Cotchery said quarterback Mark Sanchez will still hold his “Jets West” camp in Southern California next week. The camp, which Sanchez also ran last spring at Mission Viejo High School, will again include a handful of Jets players, including Dustin Keller and Braylon Edwards.
Cotchery participated last year, but will stay back this time around because he had back surgery to repair a herniated disk in February. He was finally able to meet the team’s new strength coach, Bill Hughan, and speak to John Mellody, the Jets‘ head trainer, although he didn’t run into any other coaches.
“I’m just glad to be back in the building again, that’s all I can say,” Cotchery said. “I can’t speak for anyone else. It just seemed like you picked up right back where you left off.”
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