HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (June 16, 2007) -- Eric Mangini is big on togetherness. So the New York Jets' second-year coach called off practice June 16 to join forces with the military.
A day after a group of soldiers from Fort Bragg, N.C., visited minicamp -- and even participated in some drills during the afternoon session -- Mangini canceled the final minicamp workout to do some "off-site team building that incorporates the military."
While the location of the bonding session was not made available, it was evident that Mangini was satisfied enough with the four practices over the past two days that he felt the team could skip Saturday's workout. The Jets will next gather in late July for training camp.
"I have a friend at Fort Bragg, and we have a relationship organizationally with Fort Bragg," Mangini said. "I thought it would be a nice opportunity for them to visit here and see the types of things that we do and give us a chance to interact with them, as well.
"They are really an impressive group of guys in talking to them and learning about them, and as I told the team ... they're the reason that we get to do what we do each day, and that we have the chance to be out here practicing football because of the sacrifices that they make."
The soldiers and the players had some fun June 15 when Mangini called out the Army, allowing the visitors to line up as running backs and wide receivers when the backup defense did seven-man drills. The soldiers wore gray-green fatigues and brown boots, hardly standard wear for the NFL. But all of them looked competitive, and there was no question they'd be coachable.
For Mangini, bringing in the soldiers was inspirational.
"Most of these guys have either done one or multiple tours, either in Iraq or Kosovo or Afghanistan," he said. "Some of them are Special Forces soldiers, some of them are Army Rangers -- really good people. Obviously, we can't thank them enough for all that they do for us each and every day, and I'm not just talking about the organization, but for everybody across the nation. It's so great to have them here."
Notes: Running back Curtis Martin, expected to retire after sitting out last season following knee surgery, attended a portion of minicamp to offer some advice to the players. ... WR Justin McCareins, considered a long shot to make the team because of his mediocre play last year and a large salary, has had a strong offseason and could wind up as the third receiver behind Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery. ... QB Chad Pennington is thrilled to have a quarterbacks coach this year, Brian Daboll. Last season, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer also served as QB coach.