Commentary

Antonio Cromartie is a bolt of good news

While the Revis holdout continues, former Chargers DB impresses

Originally Published: August 5, 2010
By Adam Schefter | ESPN.com

CORTLAND, N.Y -- At each training camp stop, the player who stepped on our tour bus later stepped off it to sign the team's logo sticker on the back of the bus.

Wide receivers Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco did it at Cincinnati Bengals camp.

Defensive tackle Anthony Adams did it at the Chicago Bears' camp.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford did it at the Detroit Lions' camp.

Quarterbacks Jake Delhomme and Colt McCoy did it at the Cleveland Browns' camp.

Wide receiver Hines Ward did it at the Pittsburgh Steelers' camp.

Trent Edwards and Fred Jackson did it at the Buffalo Bills' camp.

Until Thursday at the New York Jets' camp, nobody had signed anything more than their name. When Jets coach Rex Ryan stepped on the ladder to sign the logo sticker, he kept writing more than his name.

"You writing a novel there?" someone shouted to Ryan.

No. What Ryan was signing was not just his name but a message to his fans and the rest of the league.

Atop the Jets logo, beneath his name, Ryan wrote, "Soon to be Champs."

Other observations from Jets training camp:

• Movies have sneak previews, and so do training-camp postcards.

When viewers turn on HBO's "Hard Knocks" -- the acclaimed NFL training-camp documentary series that focuses on the Jets this summer -- one of the most heated battles they will see is not for a starting job or roster spot.

It is the personal-skills contest being waged by Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum.

They are conducting their own personal, adult "Punt, Pass and Kick" competition, in which they put themselves through a gamut of drills, including fielding punts, throwing footballs and running sprints.

Jets team physician Ken Montgomery also has participated, as the men have gone out and tried to show each other up.

And nearly a week into camp, a clear winner has emerged -- the area's masseuses. Ryan and Tannenbaum aren't used to putting their bodies through such a regimen and are nearly as beaten and battered as their players.

• It's amazing how, in an offseason in which NFL rules were designed to prevent the final four playoff teams from adding talent, the Jets managed to circumvent them.

Tannenbaum, Ryan and the rest of the organization somehow figured out a way to turn the Jets into the NFL's version of the Miami Heat.

[+] EnlargeAntonio Cromartie
AP Photo/Bill KostrounNew defensive back Antonio Cromartie is drawing raves in Jets camp.

New York traded for wide receiver Santonio Holmes and cornerback Antonio Cromartie, signed running back LaDainian Tomlinson and defensive end Jason Taylor, drafted cornerback Kyle Wilson and constructed the type of roster that would make former New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner proud.

The players have begun to make their marks. During Wednesday's practice, Cromartie put on a show the way he regularly did when he was performing at the top of his game in San Diego.

"His ball skills are God-given," Ryan said of Cromartie. "I don't know how to describe him. I've never seen anything like that. Somebody is calling him a spider because he's so long, he's tall, and he's got those long arms. That's why he gets all those interceptions. Don't forget, he can reach out six feet. He's a rare guy."

On one play, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez thought he had an easy touchdown pass to Jerricho Cotchery.

"I thought it was a for-sure touchdown, and J-Co did, too," Sanchez said. "But Cromartie's long arms reached around and picked it off. I was stunned."

• Anyone hoping for encouraging news regarding holdout cornerback Darrelle Revis could be waiting a long time -- a very long time. Think about this: The two sides have been trying to make this deal happen since January, and they have yet to come close.

It's pretty simple, really. Revis wants to be the highest-paid cornerback in the game. The Jets are willing to compensate him handsomely, but they recognize that Revis has three years left on the contract that he held out for three years ago.

Revis is leaning heavily on his uncle and role model Sean Gilbert, who sat out the entire 1997 season before being traded from the Washington Redskins to the Carolina Panthers, where he landed the seven-year, $46.5 million deal he wanted.

Revis is prepared to do what his uncle once did. The Jets will continue to try to get him back in camp, but there have been no signs of a breakthrough.

• Just outside the Jets training-camp cafeteria Thursday morning, linebacker Bart Scott and wide receivers Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards walked out together. In any other season, the sight would have been an odd one.

There were a former Raven, a former Steeler and a former Brown, all hanging out and having fun together.

But this is Jets camp, where players from all teams and all backgrounds come together to form the most electric collection of personalities on any NFL roster.

The Jets win the August NFL championship. The more significant question is whether they can repeat in February.

• Edwards is sporting the type of bushy beard once worn by Abraham Lincoln. But it must be working.

He and Cromartie have provided some of this camp's most memorable battles.

"Some of his catches are unbelievable," Sanchez said about Edwards. "Him versus Cromartie is such a fun matchup. If I was a fan, that's what I would watch. I would follow those two around all day long and watch them, because they get after it.

"Cromartie has these unbelievable ball skills, but so does Edwards. They push, they scratch, they claw, so it's good for the both of them. It's good for both sides of the ball."

• The way Jets landed Taylor is a reflection of how Ryan feels about his organization. Asked how he was able to recruit Taylor from Miami to New York, Ryan said: "We just told him the facts. We have a great team, and we think we have great people in this organization." The Jets plan to rotate Taylor, Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas to keep everyone fresh and keep the most pressure possible on the quarterback.

• As celebrated as Sanchez is, it's easy to forget that last season as a rookie starter he threw 13 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. He improved in the postseason, but Sanchez will have to keep playing better for this to be the type of season the Jets envision.

• For all the talk about Holmes, Cromartie, Tomlinson and Taylor, two of the Jets' more notable free-agent acquisitions might be safety Brodney Pool and kicker Nick Folk. Each is having a stellar summer. Each is expected to be a key contributor this season.

• Ryan on the cookie diet that Jets defensive tackle Kris Jenkins used to help lose 34 pounds this offseason: "I can't comment on the cookie diet, because I had a bunch of cookies and it's not working. Maybe I ate the wrong cookie. Mine had chocolate on the outside and that little vanilla stuff on the inside, but it never worked."

• And now, on to Foxborough, Mass. and the New England Patriots.

Adam Schefter is an ESPN NFL Insider.