Always-positive New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan believes in his team, and he's convinced that any issues presented last season are behind them. Specifically, Ryan recently cited off-season participation in voluntary OTAs as a barometer for that belief -- he wants his Jets to be the "OTA Champs," and he thinks they're already there.
Ryan cited his team's "99 percent participation rate," saying that of a possible 2,211 workouts by individual players this offseason, there were 2,178 individual player workouts.
"I would challenge any other team to have these numbers. I don't believe that happened anywhere else in the league," Ryan recently said. "I think that is a real positive that the Jets are heading back in a good direction. Again, how many games this is going to affect us on the field? We will find out."
However, there is participation, and there is participation -- something that receiver Santonio Holmes, who's been called out quite a bit by his own teammates in recent months, brought home on Thursday. After missing several voluntary minicamp dates as he spent time on a USO tour in Germany, Holmes threw a bit of a tantrum near the end of practice, throwing down his helmet at the thought of the number of reps he had been given. He then "exchanged words with first-year receivers coach Sanjay Lal before seeking attention from a trainer," per NFL.com.
"I was talking to the coach, letting him understand it was too many reps today," Holmes told the media after the incident. "I've been gone for a while, so I can't be at full tempo like the rest of the guys and where they want us to be at ... I'm at OTA No. 5. ... I've got a lot of catching up to do for myself."
Holmes was scheduled for 35 reps in Thursday's practice, but bailed after less than 25, according to reporters on the scene. It was the team's ninth and final voluntary OTA practice before next week's mandatory minicamp. Holmes had attended all three workouts in the past week, but the USO tour had him missing the previous four before that.
Surprisingly, Ryan said that he supported Holmes' "gesture," intimating that veterans are given some leeway regarding their own conditioning. "If he thinks he'd be stretching it to give five or 10 extra reps, you have to be smart about it," Ryan said. "If a guy thinks he's tight ... you don't want a guy pulling [a muscle]. He knows his body better than anybody."
But what about his mind, and his commitment to the team? This isn't the first time Holmes has gone rogue, which is why the story is more than a blip on the radar, and bowing out over a difference of 10 reps on a non-contact day makes him look like a bit of a wusscake.
That said, the last we heard of Holmes, he was griping to everyone within earshot in the Jets' season finale against the Miami Dolphins because he wasn't getting the ball enough. Eventually, he was benched late in the game because everyone was tired of it.
Now, while Holmes sees himself as a leader, his actions don't always match up to his words. "Being out there is going to give the young guys a sense of security, knowing we have our veteran, we have our leader here with us, who's going to help us and get us on the same page," he said of the team's young receivers. "I think all of us doing the same thing at the same time will be a great chemistry builder."
Well, that either means that the young receivers on the team should stomp off the field when they feel their workload is excessive, or that Holmes needs to step up. By next week, we'll have a better sense of his own " same thing at the same time" concept, and what it really means.
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