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Willie Colon: Jets had to 'grow up' under Todd Bowles

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On Wednesday's Around The NFL Podcast, the New York Jets made our list of teams we feel differently about after training camp -- and not in a good way.

Dan Hanzus asked if it was time to "gas up the clown car" after a four-week stretch that saw soon-to-be-suspended defensive terror Sheldon Richardson charged with resisting arrest just days before enigmatic signal-caller Geno Smith was clocked in the jaw by a teammate.

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Entering the summer, New York appeared to be turning the page after hiring a no-nonsense coach in Todd Bowles to work alongside the team's new risk-taking general manager in Mike Maccagnan. Both men, though, have endured a month flooded with almost unbelievable drama.

Still, veteran guard Willie Colon sees a changed team.

"It's been a camp where a lot of people had to get out of their shells and grow up a little bit," Colon told Newsday's Kimberley A. Martin. "Coach Bowles has made sure that we've come to work. It's been a good camp."

Set to battle the New York Giants in Saturday's annual (and magical) "Snoopy Bowl" -- a contest former Jets coach Rex Ryan regularly hyped into a major event -- Colon said the team under Bowles harbors "bigger goals than playing the Giants in preseason."

The widely respected Bowles has emerged as an even-keeled leader who kept his cool even when his starting quarterback and defensive centerpiece failed to operate as professionals.

"At the end of the day, we all need each other, but it's a fine line," Bowles said earlier this month about his first camp. "The mess-talking, the bravado and swagger and everything is fine, but you have to understand situational football at the same time. You can't fight and be braggadocios and be loud if you don't understand what's going on in the game. That makes for a dumb player and we are not trying to have dumb players."

Every game, all season

Bowles has caught the eye of Gang Green beat writers for regularly shutting down practice and forcing the team to run sprints if more than five penalties are accrued during a scrimmage. He swatted down the idea of entering the campaign with a laundry list of statistical goals, calling those numbers misleading

By all accounts, it has been a different Jets camp despite a handful of embarrassing situations that serve as a callback to some of the madness that unfolded during Rex's final years with the team. Under the New York microscope, though, Bowles hasn't allowed Gotham's crucible to change him.

"I know what I have in there. We have some good guys, and we have some good leaders in that locker room. That's not even a question," Bowles told Jenny Vrentas of The MMQB. "Every day is a test, and things come up, and you learn how to handle them together. It's easy to handle them by yourself, but as a team, you have to handle them together. You have to be walking on the same page."

Said Bowles: "I don't put up any fronts. What you see is what you get. You don't look back and say you've done a good or bad job. It's a learning process. ... There will be more things that come up throughout my coaching career, I'm sure. And you handle that as they come."

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