- Rich Cimini, ESPN New York Jets reporter
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For a change, the New York Jets avoided the spotlight.
The team that bared itself last summer in a reality-TV series concluded three days of player-organized workouts Wednesday in Madison, N.J., sessions that drew 40-plus players and – surprise -- no media. Other no-shows were Antonio Cromartie and Braylon Edwards, prominent free agents. Santonio Holmes, another key free agent, showed up at least one day, but didn't participate in drills, sources said.
Quarterback Mark Sanchez said the players decided to keep "Camp Lockout," as they dubbed it, a hush-hush affair because they didn't want any distractions. Imagine that. Some might equate it to members of Delta House spending a quiet night in the library, studying.
"We've seen extreme in 'Hard Knocks' and every day in the media," Sanchez said on a conference call with reporters. "Every little thing, if you sneeze, it's out there in print or on a blog or on TV. This was our chance to relax and do it our way and keep it quiet and make it just a team thing.
"When you don't have that time -- potentially not going to Cortland, potentially not having training camp -- this was as close to that as we could replicate. We wanted it to be about us."
The Jets worked out at the Madison campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University, practically across the street from the team headquarters. So close, yet so far -- well, maybe not as far as it once appeared. The positive vibes emanating from the recent labor talks have fueled optimism among players.
"It's disappointing that it's gone on this long, but from what I've read and what I've heard, the optimism is well-grounded, putting us in a good position to get things started on time," center Nick Mangold said. "As much as we can do at these player workouts, it's not the same -- for myself -- as having an elite line coach like Bill Callahan out there coaching me. It would be a good thing for us to get everything wrapped up in due time."
Many key players attended the workouts, including LaDainian Tomlinson, Shonn Greene, Dustin Keller, Darrelle Revis, Bart Scott, David Harris and first-round draft pick Muhammad Wilkerson. But some of their pending free agents stayed away, namely Edwards, who participated in Sanchez's "Jets West" passing camp last month in Southern California.
"It's something I kind of expected and I can understand," Sanchez said of the free-agent absentees. "As teammates, it's hard because you want those guys there. As a professional football player and somebody who understands there is a business side to this sport, unfortunately, you understand where those guys are coming from."
Players were sensitive to the no-shows and declined to reveal a full roster of participants. As one player said in a text message, "That's not important."
The players ran it like a scaled-down version of a veterans' minicamp. They spent about an hour each day in the classroom, studying film and reviewing copies of one of Sanchez's old playbooks. After that, they worked on the field for roughly two hours, doing everything from individual drills to 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills.
"It was a solid tempo, but nothing crazy," said Sanchez, adding that they wanted to minimize the risk of injuries.
There were light moments as well. For instance, they held a 3-point shooting contest in the gym, with the winners -- Drew Coleman and Joe McKnight -- receiving designer suits donated by a popular clothing label.
Sanchez said individual units may conduct additional workouts in the coming weeks, but his hope is that the next full-squad, get-together is across the street at the team's headquarters.
"As fun as Fairleigh Dickinson was," he said, "we hope for all the right reasons we're back in our facility pretty soon."
Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com.
Mark Sanchez and more than 40 of his New York Jets teammates have wrapped up three days of player-run workouts at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey, using the private practices to get some time on the field together as the NFL lockout drags on.