FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Calvin Pace can’t stand training camp.
Absolutely despises it.
So, the fact that the New York Jets are practicing this summer at their home facility instead of traveling up to SUNY Cortland in Central New York — as they did five of six years under Rex Ryan — makes the veteran linebacker happy.
Well, sort of.
“It’s good to see civilization,” Pace joked after practice Sunday. “It’s a little warmer, but it’s cool.”
The temperatures were mostly in the low-90s and steamy during the first four days of training camp, with first-year coach Todd Bowles purposely scheduling midday practices — at the height of the heat — for his team.
“I’m from the South and it’s not that hot, but it’s a little warm,” said Pace, who grew up in the area of Lithia Springs, Georgia, and played his college ball at Wake Forest. “We get a little cloud cover out here, too, so that’s helping us.”
Under Ryan, the Jets typically practiced in the mid- to late-morning, when the temperatures might still be hovering in the upper-70s at times.
“It’s hot and it’s not Cortland,” Bowles said at the start of camp. “Guys need to get in shape. Some guys ran indoors all summer. We need to get in heat shape. If we practice in 70 degrees then go play a preseason game in 90-degree weather, then we’re in trouble.”
Pace has noticed some other differences from last summer, with a new coaching staff in place.
“Let’s just say it’s a little more strenuous — in a good way,” Pace said. “We have to get to know him, he has to get to know us. We’re trying to put some different systems in. So, there’s a little bit more asked of us and that’s fine. We have some new faces out here, too. We’re getting in good work. Our offense is getting better, making us better, and I think it’s vice versa.
“It’s different, but in a good way.”
The 34-year-old Pace, entering his 13th NFL season, totally gets it. He wouldn’t have lasted this long, registering 57 sacks, 19 forced fumbles, three interceptions and 28 passes defensed without preparing the right way each summer.
But, he has made no bones about his hatred for camp. Just bring up the topic and the ol’ grouch in him comes out, saying what most players probably think about the dog days of summer. The man is passionate about playing football, for sure — but it’s all the stuff that leads to the regular season that he can do without.
“I haven’t liked camp since high school,” Pace said. “I’m serious, man. I love the game. I love my teammates. I just don’t need to see them all day, every day. I don’t. I don’t need somebody checking my room. Where else am I going to be? I’m tired. I’ve been up all day.
“Some guys like it. That’s just the only part of the game I can do without.”
The room checks, hot practices, the daily grind. It all makes Pace an unhappy camper.
“It’s like living the same day for a month,” he said. “The same day, over and over again. But it’s part of it. I wish I played basketball where I could go overseas and have camp. But, it’s obviously not that.”
The Jets previously stayed in dormitories at Cortland, but they all — coaches and players — stay in a hotel for the duration of camp. It gives the team a sense of bonding without being too far from home.
“Anything is better than the dorm,” Pace said, smiling. “It’s way better.”
Pace could be competing for a roster spot this summer, and someday his playing days will be over. Maybe then his mind will drift back to these long, hot, practice-filled afternoons.
“Nah,” Pace deadpanned. “That’s the one part I’ll look back and probably say, ‘How could I do that?'”
NOTES: Pace was supportive of embattled DL Sheldon Richardson, who was suspended by the NFL on July 2 for the first four games of the season for failing a drug test and is facing charges for resisting arrest 12 days later in Missouri. Pace insisted his trust in Richardson hasn’t wavered. “For me, no, because Sheldon is a good person, he really is,” he said. “I know he cares. I know he cares about us. I know he cares about this team. Again, he just made a bonehead mistake. I’ve done it, a lot of people have done it. I’m not here to judge him.” … When asked what type of discipline he thinks the NFL will dole out to Richardson, Pace took a subtle shot at Commissioner Roger Goodell. “With this guy we have as commissioner, you never really know,” he said. “I hope for the best, but you just never know. I guess it probably would be a little different if (Richardson) hadn’t gotten suspended before — right before that — but you just never know.” … The Jets signed WR Jarrod West, an undrafted rookie out of Syracuse.
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