Tuesday, August 12, 2008
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Jets receivers adjusting to rifle-armed Favre

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[August 12, 2008]  HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) -- Brett Favre's impact is already being felt by his new receivers' stinging hands. "Whatever route you have, you better run it hard because the ball could be coming," wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said Monday.

"If you're not looking, you may get hit in the head."

That hasn't happened yet, but Favre's new Jets teammates are doing all they can to get used to the high-speed throws from their rifle-armed quarterback.

Restaurant"Not many people realize how quick his release is," tight end Bubba Franks said. "It's starting to show, the guy can still play football."

Cotchery is doing extra hand-strengthening exercises. Chris Baker and Dustin Keller are spending time after practice catching close-range passes from the JUGS machine, learning that they always need to be ready.

"As soon as you come out of your break, the ball's right here," Keller said. "You just have to have your hands up real quick."

The Jets haven't had a starting quarterback who could throw the ball like Favre perhaps since Vinny Testaverde was in his prime in the late-1990s. Chad Pennington was always praised for having terrific leadership skills, but was knocked for his weak arm and inability to spread the ball down the field consistently.


"When you have a guy who can pressure the defense in many ways, you know every route's available on the field," Cotchery said. "There's no clear out routes."

Backup Kellen Clemens, who started eight games last season, has an impressive arm. Favre, though, is simply on another level.

"I wouldn't only say it's just how fast the ball is coming," said Keller, a rookie tight end. "He's not going to wait for your eye contact. He expects you to be ready for the ball."

Favre, acquired late last Wednesday from Green Bay, has long been regarded as one of the game's true gunslingers. Even at 38 and only four practices into a new career with the Jets, the NFL's career leader in several passing categories has flashed the skills that have made him special.


"There's no such thing as a decoy route, not as long as you have Brett back there," said Franks, who played with Favre for eight years in Green Bay. "Like I tell the guys, even when you're covered, you're not really covered. If you have two hands and two arms, you're not covered because he's going to hit one of them, so just find a way. As long as you can see him, he can see you."

Favre, given a second straight day off from speaking with the media, has wowed the large crowds packing Hofstra University to catch a glimpse of their new quarterback with a few classic throws.

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There was the pretty 35-yarder down the right sideline to Cotchery on Sunday, and later, a flawless spiral that hit Cotchery in stride down the left sideline for 75 yards, about 65 yards in the air. On Monday, Favre connected with Laveranues Coles while running the 2-minute offense, hitting the receiver for 31 yards on a timing pattern into the left corner of the end zone.

"He just threw it up in the air and let him get it, and you're like, 'Wow. He put it right where it needed to be,'" Keller said. "Laveranues could've closed his eyes and it was right there in his hands."

Some of the Jets players admit to being slightly awed by Favre's presence. That's certainly understandable. After all, Keller was only 6 when Favre began his career.

"Just growing up and watching him play and now him actually being my quarterback, I'd be lying to you if I told you it wasn't way different," Keller said. "I didn't ever think it was going to be like that, but I'm getting used to it every day."

Favre is coming off one of his most productive seasons, passing for 4,155 yards, his most since 1998, and had 28 TDs with 15 interceptions. While some rust remains, the zip is still there and so is the improvisation. All that adds up to a bit of adjusting for those on the other end of Favre's passes.

"I've never played with a quarterback who's had a no-look pass in their repertoire," Keller said after a few minutes of standing in front of a JUGS machine and catching footballs. "You would think it's a lot harder to catch because it's coming so fast, but his spiral is so tight that it's actually a lot easier to catch."

Favre immediately makes the Jets a potentially dangerous vertical offense, capable of getting into scoring shootouts with any team. That means good news for the entire receiving corps.

"He does like to spread the ball around a lot," Baker said. "He gets the ball to the tight ends a lot. I spoke to Bubba and he said 'Be ready.' He's right because at any time the ball can be coming your way. It makes it a little more fun because you get out there and you're running routes and you know you're a live option on every play."

[Associated Press; By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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