HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP/WFAN) — Rex Ryan strolled over to the stands, dozens of fans screaming his name.
The New York Jets coach was getting the rock star treatment in the team’s return to Hofstra University on Wednesday night.
“That’s when you know you’re the only one coming over there for autographs,” Ryan quipped. “It’s like, ‘OK, I got ya.’ I hardly think I’m a rock star, although I’m working on it.”
His popularity is soaring these days, along with the rest of his team, partially because of their starring role in HBO’s “Hard Knocks” series this summer. More than 10,000 fans showed up at the place the Jets called home from 1968 until moving to their current facility in Florham Park, N.J., after training camp ended two years ago.
“It’s really the roots of the fan base for the New York Jets for years and years,” Ryan said, “so it’s always great to come here.”
But those fans hoping to see Darrelle Revis come jogging onto the field were disappointed. The star cornerback’s holdout reached its 25th day as he seeks to become the highest-paid player at his position.
Despite several conflicting reports about Revis potentially signing as early as Wednesday, there was no indication that a deal was close. Both the Jets and Revis’ agents have agreed to negotiate behind closed doors after things got testy through the media during training camp.
“I’m not going to talk about Revis,” Ryan said. “The thing is, both sides agreed to that.”
Working without Revis, the Jets got their last full practice in before their game against Washington on Friday night. It’s New York’s third preseason game, meaning the starters will get extended playing time against the Redskins.
Mark Sanchez had a terrific practice, a good thing after the first-team offense struggled mightily in the team’s last preseason game at Carolina.
“This was typically like our Friday practice, and we usually say, ‘Perfect Friday,”‘ right tackle Damien Woody said. “We really want to be sharp so we feel good going into the game, and I think we accomplished that today.”
Ryan said Sanchez had a “great day” and threw only two incompletions during the session that lasted for more than 90 minutes.
“I think you saw him pick up the intensity a little bit,” Ryan said. “He was pushing his teammates.”
Unlike some teams, the Jets don’t game plan for opponents in the preseason. Rather, Ryan lets his team go out and react on the field.
“We haven’t looked at one ounce of tape,” linebacker Bart Scott said. “We like to call it, ‘ankle weights,’ and that’s going out there not knowing what the team is doing. It’s just trusting in our scheme and trusting in our defense, knowing that whatever they bring out on us, we can make the adjustments.”
Former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden was an invited guest of the Jets, and spent a portion of the practice talking with Ryan and the players. Bowden, who told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he was “pushed out” at Florida State, was in New York to begin a promotional tour for his new book, “Called to Coach.”
“We knew he was in town and he was asking about coming to practice and we were like, ‘Absolutely. We’d love to have a legend like Coach Bowden here,”‘ Ryan said. “It was great to have him around our players.”
One unexpected visitor never got close to any of the players. A man who appeared to be in his 40s ran onto the field midway through practice and was quickly tackled by two security guards. The man was then led off the field in handcuffs as fans heckled him.
Ryan called the tackle “impressive” and jokingly said he was ready to get rookie fullback John Conner in on the action.
“If it was going to go any longer, we were going to put “The Terminator” on the guy,” Ryan said with a laugh.
Notes: The team began practice 40 minutes earlier than the scheduled 6 p.m. start time. Ryan said they arrived earlier than anticipated and wanted to get in the session before inclement weather moved in. … Former Jets wide receiver Wayne Chrebet and Super Bowl-winning center John Schmitt, both Hofstra alums, were in attendance. Gary Dell’Abate, also known as “Baba Booey” on The Howard Stern Show, was also at Hofstra and chatted with his buddy, Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)