Strait returns to Jets after bizarre 24 hours
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Talk about a bizarre 24 hours. Derrick Strait went from New York to Cleveland and back to New York in his topsy-turvy journey for a trade that never panned out.
The defensive back was sent to Cleveland for running back Lee Suggs on Monday. Strait arrived at the Browns' facility Monday evening, met with coaches, got his playbook and passed his physical.
Tuesday morning, he attended meetings and was getting ready for practice when he got the news: he had to go back to New York because Suggs failed his physical with the Jets. So Strait hopped on an afternoon flight, got back in the evening and got ready for another day.
Strait was wearing his old No. 20 Jets jersey Wednesday at practice, alternating between cornerback and safety.
He never had time to unpack.
"It was kind of shocking, but it's part of the job," said Strait, a third-round draft pick out of Oklahoma in 2004. "Everybody knows the NFL is a business so you have to roll with the punches."
His greatest memory of his brief time in Cleveland?
"Just sleeping in the hotel in training camp," he said.
Did he get to study much of the playbook before he left?
"I didn't really look at it or study it like a spy. They gave it to me, but we had one meeting and I really didn't get to go through it," Strait said.
Such is life in the NFL. One day a player is gone, the next he is back as though nothing happened.
"Anybody can be traded," Strait said. "It was a good opportunity for both teams and they did what they felt was best for both teams and you can't fault anybody for that."
If he was upset with the Jets, Strait wasn't showing it.
"Nothing like that," he said. "It wasn't hard to keep my motivation or to keep my focus or anything like that because that's the type of player I am, just a real focused player in doing whatever it takes for me to go out there and help my team."
The Jets made the deal to bolster their depth at running back, where Curtis Martin is on the physically-unable-to-perform list with a lingering right knee injury. Suggs would have competed for the starting job with Derrick Blaylock, Cedric Houston and Leon Washington.
Though Suggs had a history of injuries, the Jets took a chance on him. But he could not pass muster with the tests they gave him. The Browns later insisted Suggs is healthy.
"Based on his history, that was something we looked at carefully," Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said. "The medical process is subjective. Teams have agreed to disagree in the past. It's not completely unusual for a trade to be voided."
But it is still strange nonetheless. Though coach Eric Mangini reiterated how pleased he was with Strait during training camp, there must have been a few awkward moments when the player returned.
"I talked to Derrick before we made the trade, and I really like what Derrick has done," Mangini said. "I think that he has responded well and made great strides. We are happy that he is back. I know he is looking forward to being back and working."
Teammates welcomed Strait back warmly, but he admitted there was a little ribbing.
"It's a whole lot easier when your teammates are joking and stuff, but it was just all in fun," he said.
So was his mini-adventure.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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