FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Darrelle Revis has something the New York Jets and their frustrated fans have been dreaming about for decades.
A Super Bowl ring.
The cornerback, who spent his first six seasons with the Jets and then one with Tampa Bay, won his fancy jewelry last season while with the rival New England Patriots.
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”It’s awesome,” he said smiling. ”A lot of bling.”
Revis isn’t going to flaunt it, though, and it won’t make any appearances at the Jets’ training facility. Not to his teammates or the media.
”You won’t see it,” Revis said, laughing as he wrapped up an interview session. ”You’ll see the New York Jets ring when we get it.”
That’s not exactly a Broadway Joe-like guarantee, of course. You know, the one Joe Namath famously delivered on in 1969 – still the Jets’ only championship. But it remains the goal for a franchise thirsting for another as Jets players and coaches reported for training camp Wednesday.
Under new coach Todd Bowles, the Jets will hit the field together on Thursday, eager to put last season’s 4-12 debacle behind them.
”I don’t want to talk about last year,” linebacker David Harris said. ”This is a whole new team, a lot of new pieces. We’re just excited to get the season started.”
Gone are coach Rex Ryan and general manager John Idzik, replaced by a feeling of optimism. The additions of Revis, wide receiver Brandon Marshall, cornerback Antonio Cromartie and several other offseason moves have the Jets hoping to snap a four-year postseason drought.
”Everything’s realistic,” center Nick Mangold said. ”We’ve just got to put the work in.”
Added Harris: ”Our goal is to make the playoffs and win the Super Bowl. As a professional NFL player, that’s your goal every year.”
For the Jets, a return to the postseason will depend largely on quarterback Geno Smith’s progress in his third NFL training camp. Smith has 34 interceptions – 41 total turnovers – and 25 touchdown passes in his first two seasons, with questions about his ability to read defenses and be a full-time NFL starter still hanging over him.
In a recent ESPN poll of NFL coaches, GMs and front-office executives, Smith was ranked 32nd overall among the league’s starting quarterbacks.
”I laugh at that,” Smith said. ”I laugh at it. It’s hilarious.”
For the record, Smith was ranked in the same spot in last year’s poll.
”It was hilarious last year, too,” Smith said. ”It doesn’t matter at this point. We’ve got to work on us as a team. That’s why I hate to talk about individual stuff because it’s a team game. No matter what they rate me, wherever we finish at the end of the year is most important.”
The Jets traded for veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick in the offseason, giving them insurance if Smith fails to seize what could be his last opportunity with the Jets. Last season, there were blunders on the field and off for Smith, who is aware the spotlight is shining on him brighter than ever.
”I think I’ve just been improving overall,” Smith said. ”Going into my third year, I’m definitely a different player than I was when I came in, and definitely a different guy.”
Bowles and offensive coordinator Chan Gailey are giving Smith the snaps with the starting offense for at least the start of camp – and it’s on the young quarterback to keep it that way. He and several of the team’s skill players, including Marshall and Eric Decker, got together with Smith to work out during the offseason to bond and get a better feel for the offense – and each other.
”I will say that I’ve seen progress, the time we were here in the offseason, as far as his accountability for himself and his accountability to his teammates,” Decker said, ”the way he comes to work on a daily basis. The demand for perfection. He’s taken that leadership role, which is important as the quarterback.”
Bowles’ low-key but direct approach has also left a good impression on his new players.
”I think the guys are buying into the program,” linebacker Quinton Coples said. ”I think we have a great leader with Todd Bowles on the staff.”
NOTES: As expected, DE Muhammad Wilkerson reported to camp despite being unhappy with his contract. He’s seeking a long-term deal, but might have to play the final year of his rookie contract if an agreement isn’t reached by the regular season. … DT Sheldon Richardson, suspended the first four games of the season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, also was in attendance but won’t be made available to reporters until Thursday.
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