Jets hit "road" for intrasquad scrimmage at Fordham University

NEW YORK (AP) -The New York Jets' defense faced a key third-down play early in the third quarter and safety Kerry Rhodes waved his arms to urge on the crowd to make some more noise.

Too bad there was nobody in the stands.

It was one of the more amusing sights Sunday as the Jets played an intrasquad scrimmage on the "road" at Fordham University's tree-lined Coffey Field, a game that was closed to the public. The low-contact scrimmage - almost like your neighborhood touch football game, but with helmet and pads - had officials, timeouts, music and game sounds piped in, along with crowd announcements.

"It's great and we liked it," Rhodes said. "We get to get a competitive game going and it's not just going through the motions with practice."

The Jets played a similar game last season at Giants Stadium, but The Police were playing a concert there Sunday. So, Eric Mangini had five busloads of players and team officials make the 26 1/2-mile trip from Hofstra University to Fordham.

"It was a combination of that and they have FieldTurf here, the same turf that we have at the Meadowlands, and it's a beautiful campus and they've been great with helping us," Mangini said, adding that he wanted it to be a private practice so the team could try out some plays out of the public's view.

Mangini split his team into two squads: the green team, led by running backs coach Jimmy Raye, and the white team, coached by special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff. They played four full quarters, and for those keeping score, Team White edged Team Green 24-21 when Mike Nugent missed a 65-yard field-goal attempt as time expired.

Mangini said there would have been an overtime if the kick hadn't fallen about 5 yards short.

"I think somebody gets the nicer bus and the loser gets the yellow school bus or something like that," said quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo, who had a good game for the losing team. "I guess I'll find out when I go in."

Actually, everyone went back home on the same type of bus, but the winners got to watch an undisclosed movie and eat a meal from Famous Dave's. The losers had to settle for boxed lunches and a viewing of "Sex and the City."

Bragging rights won't last long, though. The Jets have to prepare for their preseason opener Friday at home against Atlanta.

"Maybe a day and a half because when we get back, it's going to be right back to Mangini Camp," Rhodes said with a grin.

Kellen Clemens started for the white team and was 14-of-18 for 205 yards and two touchdowns, both long throws to Justin McCareins. Clemens is trying to win the backup job to Chad Pennington, who finished 19-of-30 for 186 yards and a TD for the green team.

"I think I've come along quite a ways," said Clemens, who also had an interception. "Being in my second year in the system now, things are slowing down and I'm able to see things more. I understand things more without having to think about them quite as much."

Clemens' main competition appears to be Tuiasosopo, who was 11-of-18 for 103 yards and a touchdown.

"It was nice to just change the venue and it kind of got you a little fired up and excited for Friday when we get to play somebody else other than our own team," Tuiasosopo said.

Brad Smith, the Jets' Mr. Versatility, was 4-of-5 for 37 yards, caught four passes for 56 yards and ran for 12 yards on two carries for the white team. Thomas Jones, acquired in the offseason from Chicago to be the Jets' No. 1 running back, had just 9 yards on five carries for the green team but caught a game-high seven passes for 54 yards.

Leon Washington had a game-high 41 yards on 15 carries, including a 1-yard diving touchdown for Team White.

"We had all the things from a typical Sunday and just saw how the team functioned and see how the different units functioned," Mangini said. "I thought it was great work. I think we saw it all."

Nugent turned in perhaps the most impressive performance. He kicked three field goals - from 26, 48 and 53 yards - and four extra points, and routinely knocked his kickoffs into the end zone, which was considered a weakness in his game.

To top it off, he, punter Ben Graham and long snapper James Dearth played for both teams and had to switch between white and green jerseys throughout the game.

"It was one of those things where Coach Westhoff suggested maybe just get some blue jerseys on, but Ben, James and I, when we're on the team, we're on the team," Nugent said with a smile. "It's not too big a hassle. It was fun."

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