FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — The New York Jets got a taste of wet weather Thursday, with plenty more apparently on the way.
Heavy rain early in the day forced the Jets to cancel their planned practice on Long Island, their former training ground where much of their fan base is located. Instead of making the 90-minute trip from their new facility in Florham Park to Hofstra University on Thursday, the team held a closed indoor workout. The Jets moved to New Jersey from Hempstead, N.Y., two years ago.
“I’m really disappointed that we couldn’t have practice in Long Island this year,” coach Rex Ryan said. “Obviously, we were wanting to (go). You’ve always got to be thinking about the safety of fans and players first. That’s traveling to practice, at practice and the return from practice. A lot of things went into it.”
Ryan said he expected Saturday’s preseason game against the local rival Giants to be played on time. But the threat of Hurricane Irene hitting the New York area this weekend forced the team to move the start time from 8 p.m. to 2 p.m.. Several other sporting events had already been moved — including an MLS game at Red Bull Arena not far from the Meadowlands, where the Jets and Giants will meet.
Ryan isn’t exactly a stranger to weather wreaking havoc with a preseason game. He recalled a game when he was with the Ravens against the Redskins that was curtailed early in the second half by lightning and a heavy downpour.
He’s certainly not throwing any water on what he sees as a heated rivalry with the Giants, who the Jets host on Dec. 24, the next-to-last week of the regular season.
In his book released earlier this year, “Play Like You Mean It,” Ryan proclaimed the Jets as the top football team in New York. They have been more popular on Long Island and in other regions surrounding New York, but generally have taken a back seat to the Giants through the years. With trips to the AFC title game the last two years while the Giants weren’t making the playoffs, Ryan sees his club as No. 1 in these parts.
Asked if he still believes that, Ryan said: “Oh, absolutely. Absolutely I do.”
“I guess we get to find out on Christmas Eve,” he added. “Again, I am not backing down from one comment. I believe we are the best team in New York and the goal is to be the best in the National Football League, not just in New York. I am not backing down one bit from that statement. I believe that will be the case.”
Giants defensive end Justin Tuck mentioned that the new Meadowlands stadium, whose naming rights were just purchased by MetLife, still feels like Giants Stadium. Ryan took exception with that, as well.
“He can think all he wants, but I think of it as MetLife Stadium and it’s the home of the New York Jets,” Ryan said. “I guess he can think of it that way. He’ll probably be one of the only guys that think of it that way. I certainly don’t think of it that way.”
Notes: Three Jets likely are out for Saturday: backup quarterback Mark Brunell (right calf), offensive lineman Trevor Canfield (left knee), and tight end Jeff Cumberland (left hamstring). Brunell has not yet played in the preseason, but Ryan expressed little concern that the 40-year-old QB, entering his 19th season, is sidelined. “I probably would have been much more concerned had he not been with us last year, but the fact that this offense is not new to him now, I feel OK about that.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)