Jets players working out on own

Updated: March 23, 2011, 9:18 AM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

MARTINSVILLE, N.J. -- It looked like a typical offseason workout, sweat-soaked NFL players pumping iron and high-stepping through agility drills on a scaled-down, indoor football field.

It sounded like an offseason workout, with rap music and the clang of barbells filling the big field house.

There was, of course, nothing typical about it. Off in a corner, two middle-aged women performed yoga exercises in front of a mirrored wall. In the next room, lunch-time warriors worked the treadmills.

Welcome to your locked-out offseason, where nothing is the way it used to be.

In a normal year, the Jets would've started their conditioning program this week, 50-something players reporting to structured workouts at the team's Florham Park, N.J., complex. Because of the lockout, the players are banned from the premises, prompting many of them to work out on their own.

On Tuesday, Bart Scott, Vladimir Ducasse, Jamaal Westerman and former Jet Kris Jenkins participated in a supervised, two-hour session at the TEST Football Academy, a popular facility among pros and soon-to-be pros preparing for the draft.

This is a haphazard way to begin another Super Bowl-or-bust season, players scattered across the country, but the Jets have no choice. Scott, for one, predicted the Jets would thrive in the unusual working conditions.

"You don't have to worry about the New York Jets," said Scott, still perspiring after his second workout of the offseason. "We look at this as a challenge, an opportunity to get ahead of the other teams. We hope the other teams aren't working out so we can gain an advantage. It's all about how you look at it. This could be a great advantage for us."

The Jets are in better shape than most teams because they have a strong foundation -- an established coaching staff that installed the offensive and defensive systems two years ago. Still, this is uncharted territory, causing uneasiness within the organization and around the league.

From Scott's vantage point, there's no reason to be concerned.

"At the end of the day, we'll have football this year," he said. "It's all about being ready to go and being able to prepare yourself -- your mind -- for an unusual year. There's no doubt in my mind we're going to have a season.

"What kind of season, who knows? There's still going to be a season and a champion, and that's what we're hoping for, being the champion of whatever season we have."

Scott said he doesn't mind rubbing elbows with the public -- he actually likes it -- noting that he spends about $30,000 a year on supplemental training. But one thing they can't simulate away from the Jets' facility is team building.

"It's good to work out with your teammates and build that camaraderie," said Westerman, a former Rutgers standout. "I really think that helped us last year."

Scott is trying to recruit teammates to join him at the TEST Football Academy. If the lockout drags into May, usually the start of OTA practices (organized team activity), the TEST staff -- some of whom are ex-players -- will conduct football-related drills such as 7-on-7s. If necessary, Scott said the players might organize their own football workouts.

If the work stoppage lasts until the summer, teams will miss their OTAs and minicamps, potentially harmful for rebuilding teams. Scott believes the Jets would overcome that.

"If it gets to that point, we'll be fine," he said. "I don't need a coach to tell me how to run Cover 2 or Cover 1. We can practice it ourselves. We've been together long enough and we've operated on a pretty high level for two years. The hard part is, I don't think as many rookies would be able to put the time in to learn our system."

That's a fact of life in the current NFL. How strange is it? Scott forgot shoe insoles in his locker at the Jets' facility; he had to send someone to retrieve them.

Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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