By Peter Schwartz
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After a long wait, the NFL lockout came to an end Monday and that meant it was time for me to get back to work covering the Jets. Training camp will start on Sunday, but players were permitted to enter the Atlantic Health Training Center for physical and voluntary conditioning Tuesday morning at 10 am.
A large sign saying “Welcome Back” greeted each Jets player (and members of the media) as they drove in.
For the record, defensive end Ropati Pitoitua was the first player to successfully drive through the security gate at around 9:45am. Offensive lineman Vladimir Ducasse and tight end Dustin Keller followed him shortly after that.
Jets owner Woody Johnson stopped to talk to reporters along One Jets Drive. He said it was going to be a big party as he welcomed his players back. Here’s his brief chat with reporters…
At 10:05am, quarterback Mark Sanchez drove past the sea of reporters and waived hello to everyone. Then came Nick Mangold, Kyle Wilson, Jamal Westerman, Dwight Lowery and Mark Brunell.
Sanchez spent the day in the facility working out while also introducing himself to some new faces in the building. Then, at 2:45 he arrived the press room to address reporters. That’s when he dropped the biggest news item of the day.
Sanchez said he would be willing to do whatever it takes to win and that he’s willing to restructure his contract in order to free up more cap room to try and bring back both Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards.
Anybody still doubt the leadership qualities of this young man?
Player rep Brandon Moore was the first Jet to address reporters inside the facility. He didn’t want to spend too much time discussing the new CBA but did address the new rule limiting practices with pads. He said the issue of player health and safety in the new agreement was “non-negotiable.”
When it came to free agency, Moore said he can sleep at night knowing that owner Woody Johnson, GM Mike Tannenbaum, and head coach Rex Ryan will put a good team on the field for opening night September 11th against the Cowboys.
After joking with reporters from his car driving in that he missed being harassed by them, tight end Dustin Keller held a press conference and echoed head coach Rex Ryan’s thoughts that the Jets will win the Super Bowl. When it comes to the Jets getting over the AFC title game hump, Keller said, “Third time is a charm.”
Other news and notes from a day that Jets fans have been waiting on for quite some time…
Congrats to Jets cornerback Dwight Lowery who recently got married.
Jets center Nick Mangold called it disappointing to have to follow the off-season events at his alma mater Ohio State. He said it was tough to see head coach Jim Tressel resign and said that his former coach may have let being a father figure get the best of him.
Mangold was so excited to get back to the facility that he tried to get through security at 930am but was told to come back at 10. To kill time, he went to Dunkin Donuts, had some coffee and read a newspaper.
Mangold also said he hopes that the Jets do bring back right tackle Damien Woody. The Jets have reportedly reached out to the veteran offensive lineman.
It certainly shapes up as a busy couple of weeks so stay tuned to WFAN’s free agency tracker.
That’s all for now, check back soon for more as the Jets get ready to start Training Camp 2011.
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