FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — It has been 17 years since the Jets and Giants got together for a practice — and cooler heads have finally prevailed.
The Jets will travel to the Giants’ facility in East Rutherford on Thursday in advance of the teams’ preseason finale Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
The fact these two New Jersey-based rivals are squaring off on the practice field wouldn’t normally be big news. But it was uncertain if it would ever happen again after the teams had a fight-filled session at the University at Albany in August 2005.
“I don’t know any history about the past,” a smiling Jets coach Robert Saleh said Wednesday, adding he read “a really cool article” on ESPN.com about the previous time the teams practiced together.
“Different times,” Saleh said.
That was back when NFL teams had two training camp practices a day and tempers could run high even on a normal day. But things went haywire on that day 17 years ago when players such as the Giants’ Jeremy Shockey and Jets’ Oliver Celestin and Erik Coleman squared off and Giants head coach Tom Coughlin and Jets defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson got into a shouting match.
Saleh expects there will be no extra fireworks between his team and Brian Daboll’s squad.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Dabes and the person he is,” Saleh said. “If he’s anything like the way we are, and I believe he is, it’s going to be a respectful practice.
“We’re out to get some work in. Competitive practice, but at the same time treating each other like we are our own teammates and protecting one another and making sure we’re getting what we need, so we can all get better.”
Daboll has also heard some of the stories from that previous Jets-Giants practice — and he shares Saleh’s sentiments.
“I really got to meet him at the owner’s meetings back in March or April whenever it was, and then when we talked about potentially practicing against one another we kind of went around and around,” Daboll said. “We ended up doing just one instead of two just based on their schedule and our schedule. Any time you practice against a team, you want to get good work in.
“Practice the right way, it’s almost like you’re practicing against your team.”
The Giants are the second team this summer the Jets are practicing with after hosting the Atlanta Falcons last week. There were three brief skirmishes between the teams on the first day of practice, but both sides were mostly behaved on the second day.
Last summer, the Giants participated in joint practices with New England and Cleveland — both on the road. The Jets are the only team they’re practicing with this summer.
“It’s always been like a little rivalry with them and we always have a pretty good game in the preseason,” Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard said. “Those guys are fired up. It’s like who’s going to be the little brother? You know what I mean?
“So, we’re getting prepared for them. And we’re looking forward to the game.”
Giants defensive lineman Leonard Williams has seen the rivalry from both sides. He was drafted in the first round by the Jets in 2015 and traded to the Giants in the middle of the 2019 season. There aren’t more than just a handful of Jets players remaining from Williams’ days there, including fellow D-lineman Quinnen Williams.
“I look at it the same as every joint practice,” Leonard Williams said. “I know Quinnen pretty well, so I’m excited to see him as a friend. Other than that, it’s been so many years since I’ve been there that I don’t really see it the same way anymore. It’s just another team for me.”
And if the teams behave themselves, these joint practices might become a regular event again.
“I mean, it makes sense,” Saleh said. “They’re right down the street. We have preseason games with them every year. If we all do it the right way, I think we can all benefit for a very long time.”
NOTES: Quinnen Williams returned to practice after missing a few days with an ankle injury. … LT Duane Brown participated in team drills for the first time since signing with the Jets on Aug. 15. … Saleh said starters will play against the Giants anywhere between a quarter and a half.
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