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Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
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Jets’ Hofstra Return

Hofstra University was the site of the New York Jets’ summer camp and training facility from 1968 to 2008 but the team moved its camp this year to the State University of New York at Cortland, the result of a 2005 Albany legislative decision which blocked construction of a new Jets’ home in Manhattan.

The Jets are returning to their roots, however, for a Family Night Practice on Wednesday, Aug. 12 at 6 p.m. at Hofstra’s James M. Shuart Stadium. The gates open at 4 p.m. Admission and parking are free. Besides watching the Jets prepare for their Friday, Aug. 14 exhibition game opener against the St. Louis Rams, those traveling to Hofstra next Wednesday can test their football skills at Generation Jets Fest, or visit the Jets Shop Merchandise Tent. Both Jets Fest and the Jets Shop will be open from 4 to 8 p.m. Moreover, at the conclusion of the Hofstra practice, the entire Jets team will sign autographs.

Throughout the day on Aug. 12, ESPN Radio, 1050 AM, will be broadcasting live from Hofstra, starting with shows hosted by Brandon Tierney (10 a.m.-noon) and Michael Kay (2-7 p.m.). ESPN Radio’s visit to Hofstra will conclude with New York Football Tonight, which is co-hosted by Don LaGreca and former Jets linebacker Greg Buttle (7-8 p.m.).

After 2008’s season, in which they had a record of 9-7 but missed the playoffs, the Jets made a number of significant coaching and roster changes. They dismissed head coach Eric Mangini and hired Rex Ryan to succeed him. Ryan spent the past 10 seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, including 2008 as assistant head coach/defensive coordinator. The Jets also recruited Henry Ellard, a former Pro-Bowl player, to be their wide receivers coach, a job Ellard held with the Rams between 2003 and 2008.

The Jets made by far their biggest off-season news by selecting Mark Sanchez, a star quarterback at the University of Southern California, in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft. Sanchez and veteran Kellen Clemens, the Jets’ second round pick in 2006, are vying to be the starter when the Jets open their regular season on Sunday, Sept. 13 at the Houston Texans. Either Sanchez or Clemens will be lining up behind one of the NFL’s best offensive lines, according to a June 15, 2009 online column by KC Joyner, who writes for the New York Times’ Fifth Down blog.

Gang Green’s defense received an equally significant upgrade earlier this year when two free agents, both of whom played under Coach Ryan in Baltimore last season, signed multi-year contracts with the Jets. Linebacker Bart Scott came on board in February, and was followed by safety Jim Leonhard in March. Leonhard bolsters a secondary that will also include former Philadephia Eagles cornerback Lito Sheppard, another new Jet.

The Jets are returning to Cortland for public, two-a-day practice sessions between Sunday, Aug. 16 and Friday, Aug. 21 before moving to Florham Park, New Jersey on Saturday, Aug. 22. That is where the Jets relocated their training facility from Hofstra after New York state lawmakers rejected the Jets’ bid to play in Manhattan. The team’s complete training camp schedule can be found at www.newyorkjets.com/camp/schedule.

Mike Barry, a corporate communications consultant, has worked in government and journalism.

Mike Barry, a corporate communications consultant, has worked in government and journalism. Email: MFBARRY@optonline.net