Loose Jets prepare for snowballs, big game in Seattle

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Tony Richardson sneaked up behind Brett Favre and dumped a shovelful of snow on his helmet and shoulders, causing the surprised quarterback to arch his back and groan.

"He always gets me," the New York Jets fullback said with a laugh Friday. "So I felt like I had an opportunity to get him back today."

The Jets practiced in the snow during the first major storm of the season, frolicking in a few inches of the white stuff like children.

"Anytime it snowed when I was a kid, I was racing outside to get a football and try to get a game going," wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said. "I just felt like a kid being out there today, just diving in the snow."

With the forecast calling for snow and temperatures in the 30s in Seattle on Sunday, coach Eric Mangini opted to have the team hit the slopes, er, practice field rather than stay indoors.

"You've just got to really focus and pay more attention to keeping your feet up under your body so you can keep your balance," wide receiver Chansi Stuckey said.

And for anyone wondering if the Jets (9-5) were tight heading into this weekend's game against the 3-11 Seahawks, one look at practice dispelled any of those thoughts.

Kris Jenkins threw snowballs at Nick Mangold, while Eric Barton tossed them at anyone within aim.

"Everyday you're out there with Barton is like you're out there with a 3-year-old," said linebacker Calvin Pace, who put a face shield on his helmet to help protect himself from wayward snowballs.

"You see one guy pick up a snowball, then everybody's picking up a snowball," Cotchery said.

Even members of the Jets' media relations department grabbed shovels and helped clear the yard markers. Two players seemed particularly unperturbed by the snow: offensive lineman Robert Turner practiced in short sleeves and shorts, while linebacker Brandon Renkart also wore shorts.

"This was new to me," said Pace, who never played or practiced in snow during his first five seasons with Arizona or during college at Wake Forest. "I don't even know how you go about playing in the snow. I guess you try to stay as warm as possible and try not to slip out there."

Hey, the Jets will do anything these days for an edge. Not only will they be up against lousy weather, they'll have to erase the stigma that they can't win on the West Coast. New York is winless in three previous trips this season, losing at San Diego, Oakland and San Francisco.

"I think the bottom line is we just haven't been executing," Cotchery said. "It hasn't been that we haven't adjusted to the time zone and all that stuff. We just haven't executed. What we've been focusing on all week long is the X's and O's part of it and just trying to get ourselves mentally ready to play."

Before this season, the Jets' last venture to the West Coast ended with a victory when they beat the Chargers in the wild-card round of the 2004 playoffs. New York is tied with Miami and New England for first place in the AFC East, but will win the division with victories at Seattle and against the Dolphins next weekend.

"With the importance of this game, you've got to kind of try something like (practicing in the snow)," Pace said. "Regardless if you go out west or you go to Indiana, you still have to go to someone else's home, so you've got to be on point."

The Jets left two days before the game on the three previous trips and the team looked into moving its charter flight up, but Delta couldn't accommodate them given the high volume of holiday traffic this weekend.

Mangini and his staff did research on East Coast teams playing on the West Coast, and decided to hold practice later than usual Thursday and Friday. This way, players could go to bed later and sleep in a little bit to try to give them a jump-start on getting adjusted to the time difference.

"All I know is whatever we've been doing going out there, don't do that," Cotchery said, laughing. "When we get there, just find a different routine."

Another factor that could play a role in the Jets' success is how well Favre plays in the wintry weather. Once known for his uncanny excellence for playing in freezing conditions, the quarterback has struggled in his past few outings in the cold.

Favre is 67-23, including 2-1 this season, when playing in temperatures of 45 degrees or less. But he's also 1-6, including the playoffs, on the road when the temperature is below 34 degrees. It's currently expected to be around 34 and snowing at kickoff Sunday.

If practice was any indication, Favre should be just fine in Seattle.

"I told Laveranues (Coles), 'Man, he's throwing it like it's 90 degrees out here,'" Cotchery said with a big grin. "He was zipping it and every ball was a spiral. I think he's very comfortable with this weather."

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