NEW YORK (AP) — Mark Sanchez got a few dozen of his New York Jets teammates together to practice for three days in private.
Yep, one of the NFL’s chattiest teams went silent and got to work.
No cameras. No fans. No reporters.
“We just wanted to be able to focus,” Sanchez said during a conference call Wednesday. “I think we’ve seen the extreme in ‘Hard Knocks,’ and how everything with the media, every little thing, if you sneeze, it’s out there in print, on a blog or on TV. This is our chance to really just relax and do it our way, keep it quiet, have fun with the guys and keep it just a team thing.”
About 40 players wrapped up three days of player-run workouts at Fairleigh Dickinson University, across the road from the team’s facility in Florham Park, N.J. Unable to work out at the facility because of the lockout, it was the first time the Jets players have gotten together as a large group since the end of last season.
“It was definitely a success, got some of the younger guys acquainted with veteran players, got everybody back again,” Sanchez said. “It was good to see everybody’s face again and make sure guys are looking like they are in good shape, and they definitely looked like that.”
Center Nick Mangold remains hopeful that he and his teammates can soon get back to business as usual. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and several owners met with NFL Players Association chief DeMaurice Smith and a group of players for a second straight day in Maryland.
“As much as we get to do these player workouts and stuff like that, it’s not the same as having, for myself, an elite offensive line coach like Bill Callahan out there coaching me,” Mangold said. “So I think that it would be a good thing for us to get everything wrapped up in time.”
Sanchez and his brothers, Nick and Brandon, helped organize the workouts — dubbed “Camp Lockout” — which included film sessions and 7-on-7 and team drills. Mangold and right guard Brandon Moore sent emails to several players, who agreed to gather from Monday through Wednesday. Sanchez also credited FDU basketball coach Pete Marion for setting things up at the school.
The days began with an hour of film study, followed by two hours of on-field work. Sanchez also made copies of old playbooks that he distributed to all of his teammates.
“When you don’t have that time, potentially not going to Cortland, potentially not going to training camp,” Sanchez said, “this was as close to that as we could replicate.”
Sanchez, Mangold and Moore ran the offensive position groups, while cornerback Darrelle Revis and linebackers Bart Scott and David Harris ran things on the defense.
“The 7-on-7 was pretty competitive and the team stuff, as far as tempo, not anything crazy,” Sanchez said. “Guys just wanted to make sure we stayed injury-free and I think we did that.”
The players preferred to not give a full attendance report, but among those who didn’t participate reportedly included some of the Jets’ biggest free agents: cornerback Antonio Cromartie and wide receivers Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards.
“That’s something I kind of expected and can understand,” Sanchez said. “As teammates, it’s hard because you want those guys there, but as a professional football player and somebody who understands that there is a business side to this sport, unfortunately, I understand where these guys are coming from.”
The players also had some down time, including a 3-point shooting contest in FDU’s gym, which running back Joe McKnight and cornerback Drew Coleman won. They took home Hugo Boss suits as their reward.
“We had a good time with it, make sure guys are having fun, getting a little conditioning in at the same time,” Sanchez said. “I don’t even think they even realized that they were, so it was good.”
Sanchez said players are considering additional workouts “in small pockets” until the lockout ends. He got the offensive skill players together for his “Jets West” camp in Southern California in early May, and several defensive linemen have been working out at a high school in New Jersey.
“It actually worked the opposite of what a normal offseason is,” Sanchez said. “We’re together so much and the offseason seems so short that when you get those times off, guys want to get away and focus on their family and relax. … Well, now, we’ve been apart for so long, guys couldn’t wait to get here and see each other again and have fun.”
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.