Jets camp: An evening affair

The New York Jets hit the field Thursday night for their first and only evening practice of training camp. On the menu - a safety battle that is heating up.

When Herman Edwards was asked about the team's current starting strong safety Oliver Celestin, he said, "He's available."

You have to wonder if that was a shot at the oft-injured Jon McGraw, who is currently a backup at safety, as he tries to recover from off-season groin surgery . . .

Safety Derek Pagel, a fifth round draft pick two years ago, looks like a longshot to make the roster. He hardly got any reps during the evening practice . . .

Speaking of safeties, Rashad Washington, had an excellent practice. The Jets are going to have some very tough decisions to make at the safety positions on the final cut. You have to figure Celestin, Erik Coleman, Kerry Rhodes, Andre Maddox, and McGraw (if he's healthy), will make the team. It's unlikely they will keep six safeties, but it's hard to see them cutting Washington the way he is playing. Washington actually got some reps with the starting unit on Thursday night. By drafting two safeties (Rhodes and Maddox) in the 2005 draft, Jets GM Terry Bradway might have put himself in a precarious spot. Somebody the Jets like is going to be cut, and picked up by another team. You could make the argument, barring injuries, that the decision to draft two safeties this year was a mistake, especially since they are virtual locks to make the team because Bradway rarely cuts draft picks . . .

Linebacker Victor Hobson was held out of Thursday's practice with a hamstring injury. And in his place, for a big chunk of the practice, wasn't Mark Brown, but rookie free agent Dennis Haley. Jets defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson has really taken a liking to Haley. Another longshot linebacker, Akron product Ryan Myers, also got reps with the first team. Expect Haley and Myers to be kept around, either on the practice squad or the regular roster . . .

On one play in the afternoon practice, quarterback Chad Pennington took off scrambling. It was safe for him to do this in training camp because hitting the quarterbacks isn't allowed. But don't expect Pennington to run this year as much as he did last season. Considering both of Pennington's serious injuries (hand and shoulder) were suffered running, don't expect to see a lot of scrambling out of the Jets signal-caller in 2005 . . .

Pennington looked good throwing the ball in practice, so it's quite obvious that the decision to hold him out of practice on Wednesday wasn't because he suffered a setback.

"After you work five days in a row, it's smart to take a day off," said Pennington . . .

Cornerback Justin Miller had a rough practice giving up a touchdown to wide receiver Laveranues Coles, and a deep pass down the sidelines to wideout Wayne Chrebet. While Miller has outstanding raw skills, it's clear the Jets are going to have to limit his role at cornerback this year, especially early in the season. He bites on too many double moves and play-fakes . . .

Right tackle Adrian Jones did a good job neutralizing defensive end Shaun Ellis in a one-on-one drill . . .

Linebacker Jonathan Vilma said that nose tackle Lance Legree has been getting rave reviews when the team watches the defensive tapes after practice. There is a good chance Legree will end up starting at nose tackle . . .

A crowd of 3,500 watched the Jets evening practice . . .

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