Jets hit field with new coach

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HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. – Herm Edwards espoused three rules as Jets head coach: “No excuses. No explanations. Be on time.”

Eric Mangini, after his first day presiding over a minicamp as the new Gang Green field boss, violated Herm Rule No. 3. He was 20 minutes late to his news conference following the afternoon workout.

But he had a good excuse.

“We were working after practice,” he said. “I thought that was important to do.”

Work ethic is one of the attributes Mangini has identified in bringing together the 40 draft choices, undrafted free agents and minicamp invitees on the Jets’ practice fields Friday. Others are character, toughness and intelligence.

Taking direction is high up there, too. The night before, the new Jets got instructions about dealing with the New York-area media, and no one took those rules more to heart than top pick D’Brickashaw Ferguson, who turned from an engaging quote the day of the draft into a careful, egoless team player.

“I’m just trying to work my hardest,” Ferguson said. “Take it day by day, step by step.”

How about starting a new legacy on the offensive line with fellow first-rounder Nick Mangold? “I can’t really comment on that,” he said.

And on settling in at left tackle, “Wherever the team needs me to go,” he said, “that’s what I’ll do.”

However, one O-line veteran has said, “There are a lot of options for where most of us can line up, but I think one guy is set at one position and that’s “Brick.”‘

Mangini said Ferguson’s first day as an on-field Jet had its ups and downs.

“There’s no contact now, so you don’t appreciate a big man as much as you would a little man in a camp like this,” he said. “D’Brickashaw was finding his way, too. His calls were new, his adjustments were new. You appreciate the big guys, once the pads go on, a lot more.”

Mangini appreciates the qualities his new charges have brought to Weeb Ewbank Hall, such as intelligence. He felt it was a “great distinction” that the Jets’ 10 draft picks averaged almost 26 on the 50-question Wonderlic test administered at the February combines – the highest average in the NFL this draft.

But, he said in putting another of his own stamps on these Jets, that’s not good enough even for the rest of this minicamp, which concludes Sunday.

“They can expect that they’d better perform better (Saturday) than they did (Friday),” he said. “That’s what we expect – progress.”

Running back Smith whizzes off to CFL

ST. PAUL, Minn. – After multiple setbacks in the United States, former Vikings running back Onterrio Smith will try to right his football career in Canada.

Suspended from the NFL for violating the league’s substance abuse policy and denied reinstatement until at least October, Smith signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League on Friday.

During a teleconference with reporters in Winnipeg, Smith, released by the Vikings last month, said he made mistakes because he was “young and careless.” He acknowledged that he had a problem with marijuana.

“It’s a great opportunity for me,” Smith said via phone from Marina Del Rey, Calif. “I’ve been out of football for over a year now and haven’t taken a hit for over 16 months. So it’s an opportunity for me to come out and really get back into football.”

Smith, 25, was stopped at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on April 21, 2005, for possessing the “Original Whizzinator,” a device designed to beat drug tests. Last May, he failed or missed an NFL-mandated drug test, and on June 7 he was banned from the league for one year. He subsequently checked in to a three-month rehabilitation center in Massachusetts.

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Lions trade Harrington to Dolphins for draft pick

MIAMI – The Miami Dolphins acquired quarterback Joey Harrington from Detroit for an undisclosed conditional draft pick, giving the Dolphins a fallback position if new starter Daunte Culpepper isn’t ready for the season’s first snap.

“We’re pleased to have Joey Harrington join the Dolphins,” head coach Nick Saban said in a statement. “We will work with him to get him acclimated to our system as quickly as possible.”

The Dolphins had been searching for a backup to Culpepper and targeted Harrington, the former No. 3 overall pick who didn’t live up to expectations in four years as the Lions’ starter. Harrington had expressed his desire to play with the Dolphins.

“I’m looking forward to playing for coach Saban and the Dolphins,” Harrington said in a statement released by the Dolphins.

“It’s a chance to earn people’s respect – work hard, prepare the very best I can and contribute in any way that I am asked.”

Harrington’s agent David Dunn said he expects his client to do well with the Dolphins.

“I am thrilled for Joey as he turns the page to the next chapter of his career,” Dunn said in a statement. “Players like Steve Young, Jake Plummer and Trent Green have thrived when moving to a new location and team, and I expect Joey to do the same thing in Miami.”

Culpepper, acquired from Minnesota this offseason, is recovering from a serious knee injury and may not be ready for the Dolphins’ first regular-season game – at Pittsburgh on Sept. 7.

The other two quarterbacks on the Miami roster, Brock Berlin and Cleo Lemon, are young and untested.

Harrington went 18-37 as a starter with the Lions. He threw 60 touchdown passes and 62 interceptions, and his career quarterback rating is a modest 68.1.

Detroit had been expected to cut ties with Harrington before June 15, when he was due a $4 million bonus. He’ll likely be replaced by Jon Kitna or Josh McCown, both former starters for other teams who agreed to terms with Detroit this offseason.

Titans tackle accused of reckless driving

CARTHAGE, Tenn. – Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth surrendered to authorities Friday to face a charge of reckless endangerment after another motorist complained he tried to run a car off the highway with his large truck.

Smith County authorities issued a warrant for his arrest after James J. Bond filed a police report about a Sunday incident.

Haynesworth was released on $1,000 bond.

Bond told police Haynesworth, who was driving a 2006 Ford F-650, swerved at high speed and attempted to pass a Mustang driven by Bond’s mother-in-law on the left shoulder of Interstate 40 about 45 miles east of Nashville, Smith County Sheriff Johnny Bane said.

“The affidavants feared for their lives and felt they were in danger, as well as other drivers around them,” Bane said.

No officer was present at the scene, and the warrant was issued Tuesday after authorities investigated Bond’s report, Bane said.

Neither the Tennessee Titans nor Haynesworth’s agent, Chad Speck, returned calls from The Associated Press.

AP-ES-05-12-06 1839EDT


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