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 HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) -Tony Hollings spent the last few months playing football in Europe and putting the disappointment of being released by three NFL teams behind him.
``I was over there in another country with a group of guys where we only had each other because we were away from our families,'' Hollings said Tuesday after practicing with the New York Jets. ``It was fun, just going out there and playing with those guys every Saturday.''
Hollings would like to play on Sundays again, in the NFL. After being released last summer by Chicago and then Indianapolis - teams that later met in the Super Bowl - Hollings spent this spring helping the Hamburg Sea Devils win the NFL Europa championship. A few weeks later, the 25-year-old Hollings got a call from the Jets.
``I'm just trying to lead in any way possible, whether that means special teams or playing on offense,'' the former Georgia Tech star said. ``I'm just trying to get on the field and make something happen.''
He'll get that chance, especially with starter Thomas Jones out a few weeks with a strained calf muscle. Leon Washington will take the snaps with the first-team offense, while Hollings, who played three seasons with the Houston Texans, will compete with undrafted rookie free agents Danny Ware and Alvin Banks for the backup role.
``It's never a good thing when a player goes down, but with Thomas being out, it kind of gives me, Alvin and Danny an opportunity to step up and show the coaching staff that we can fit into this offense,'' Hollings said.
Hollings was signed a few days after training camp began, so he had to learn Brian Schottenheimer's offense quickly. The Jets turned to Hollings after they released veteran Tony Fisher, who was signed to replace Cedric Houston after he abruptly left the team for personal reasons.
``I came in late, but I'm starting to pick everything up,'' he said.
Hollings didn't play in the Jets' preseason opener Friday against Atlanta, but should see some carries this Friday against Minnesota.
Coach Eric Mangini might also take long looks at Ware and Banks, who both played against the Falcons. Ware led the Jets with 48 yards on 12 carries, while Banks had 11 yards on five carries.
``Each one is really establishing what they can give to the team and that's really what this time period is for,'' Mangini said. ``Somebody's got to distinguish themselves.''
Ware is used to competing for playing time. At Georgia, he was in a three-man rotation with Kregg Lumpkin and Thomas Brown before leaving school for the NFL draft following his junior season.
``I think that's given me an edge and I don't take anything personal,'' Ware said. ``I know it's a business and you have to go out there and work.''
Ware, who had 1,510 career yards and eight touchdowns at Georgia, went undrafted, but was signed by Tennessee before being waived in June. The Jets claimed him off waivers less than a week later.
``You just wait until your number is called,'' he said. ``Whenever they tell you to go in, you just go in. There's really no kind of approach to it. You've got to go out there full-speed every time.''
Banks had a highly successful career at Division I-AA James Madison, rushing for 2,694 yards and 28 touchdowns and catching 57 passes for 569 yards and four TDs.
He realizes his college resume isn't the same as Ware's or Hollings' in terms of the level of competition, but thinks he's on equal ground in Jets camp.
``Being an undrafted guy, especially from James Madison, we kind of get overlooked sometimes because we're a I-AA school, but I don't walk around with a chip on my shoulder,'' he said. ``I just come out at practice and do the same things as people from Notre Dame, Michigan and all the big schools. Regardless of where you went, when you get on the field, that doesn't matter anymore.''
Each has had their moments carrying the ball in camp, but what they do on special teams could decide who makes the final cut in a few weeks.
``They're kind of just moving everybody around right now to see where they fit in because there's 80-something of us right now and 30 of us are not going to be here,'' Banks said. ``So, wherever they want me to go in, I'm just trying to fit in.''

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