Bowles makes it clear: London trip all business for Jets
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Big Ben.
The Tower of London.
They might all remain unchecked on many New York Jets players’ ”must-see” lists.
The team left for London on Thursday night, but this is no European vacation. Coach Todd Bowles wants his Jets players focused on the task at hand – playing the Miami Dolphins on Sunday – and not sightseeing.
”They’ve got enough money, they can make it in the offseason,” Bowles said with a laugh Thursday. ”They will be OK, they’ll be all right. They get a little bit of free time, they can do their tour. We’re on a business trip. They want to go back in the offseason, hey, have at it.”
The Jets will be playing their first game overseas since a preseason game in Japan against Tampa Bay in 2003. While he was coach of the Buffalo Bills, Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey traveled with his team to Toronto three times – but that did little to prepare him for this type of trip.
”We never had to leave Thursday,” Gailey said, ”to drive to Toronto two hours.”
This trip was seven-plus hours in the air, and the Jets planned to practice Friday at a London-area facility. They hold a walkthrough on Saturday at Wembley Stadium and then play the Dolphins there on Sunday.
The team intended to check out the surface of the field to prepare for what they might face during the game.
”I’ve heard that it comes up a little bit and it’s a little soggy,” Bowles said. ”I’ll see how it is when we get there.”
Right tackle Breno Giacomini has spoken to some players who have played at Wembley before, and recommends his teammates bring their regular cleats as well as studded shoes just to be prepared for any playing surface.
”I’ve done it before where we played on a bad field late in the playoffs and we had to change our cleats,” he said. ”I just tell these guys, it’s just another thing. Just bring `em and try them out.”
Bowles tried to keep the players on as normal a schedule as possible, which is why he opted to stay in New Jersey until the end of the week.
The team watched film of last Sunday’s loss to Philadelphia on Monday at the facility, the players had off on Tuesday and then the Jets had full practices both Wednesday and Thursday.
”We got the bulk of it done, like every other week,” Bowles said. ”That’s the good thing about it.”
Along with Cleveland Browns tight end Gary Barnidge, Giacomini co-founded the nonprofit American Football Without Barriers in 2011 and they host camps in underprivileged countries. The Jets offensive lineman thinks the Jets and Dolphins game in London can help the game expand globally.
”American football fans are growing all over the world,” Giacomini said. ”This gives people a chance locally over there the chance to travel three, four, five or six hours and go watch an NFL game, and not just watch it at 3 a.m. or on replay when you already know the result.”
Most of the players planned to sleep through most of the flight, given the five-hour time difference. Before they hit the sack, though, some posted pictures on Twitter and Instagram from the plane. Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson tweeted: ”Business Trip to London (has)jetlife.”
Cornerback Buster Skrine, who has never been to London, has one thing he hopes to do when he has a few minutes of free time.
”I want to go shopping when we get out there,” he said with a big smile. ”I want to see what kind of clothes and stuff they’ve got there.”
NOTES: With TE Jeff Cumberland out for the game with a concussion, the Jets promoted TE Wes Saxton from the practice squad. Saxton was an undrafted free agent out of South Alabama. New York also signed DL Deon Barnes to the practice squad a day after releasing him. … According to a story in The New York Times, among the 5,000 items the Jets shipped to London for the trip included 350 rolls of toilet paper to replace the thinner version used overseas. … Gailey said he heard ”all the bad rumors” about Brandon Marshall when he was acquired from Chicago in the offseason, but insisted the sometimes-controversial receiver has been ”great” to work with. ”Wonderful,” Gailey said. ”Not just good. Wonderful.”
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