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Elam to Coaches: ‘They Can Count on Me’

Posted by Randy Lange on October 9, 2008 – 3:52 pm

Eric Mangini wasn’t declaring Abram Elam his starter at safety, alongside Kerry Rhodes and replacing Eric Smith for a game, but the Jets head coach made a point of saying whatever role Elam plays Sunday vs. the Bengals, he’s comfortable with "Abe" in the game.

"I like his personality on and off the field. He’s a high-energy guy," Mangini said at today’s news conference, recalling when Elam first became a starter last midseason. "Each day he’d make plays both on the scout team and with the defensive reps he got. At that point, I thought it was the right time to give him a chance.

"It was not that he didn’t do a good job during the summer — he did. It wasn’t really a poor reflection on Abe. I just thought at that point Eric had won the job."

Mangini repeated that he’s completely comfortable if Elam is in the game due to his experience. In fact, he said, "I think this was his first start last year, at Cincinnati, so here we are."

Elam remembered that game, the fall-from-ahead 38-31 loss at Paul Brown Stadium nine days shy of a year ago

“It was exciting to get my first start against the Bengals,” he said in the locker room today. “Unfortunately the game didn’t turn out the way I anticipated. We weren’t able to come up with a victory. But I learned a lot that game.”

And, he said, he learned a lot all last season in the Mangini/Bob Sutton scheme.

“I came from Dallas and the two defenses are similar," he said, "but there wasn’t as much movement there as there is here. I really felt like I grew as a player last year learning under Coach Mangini and with the guys. I was really excited about the opportunity and taking advantage of what I was given.”

Elam said he feels he’s definitely matured and he’s comfortable in the system, and when called on he’s ready to fill the void created by Smith’s one-game suspension.

“I think it’s an opportunity to go out and show what I can do and let this coaching staff know that they can count on me when my opportunity comes," he said. "I just like to be out there playing and competing. This is what I dreamed of — it’s an opportunity to do something I love and go out there and compete. I dreamed of playing pro sports when I was a kid.”

Some may wonder, with all the comfort and confidence going on, why David Barrett, the former full-time cornerback, got the start at safety at San Diego rather than Elam. Mangini explained the tactical reasons for Barrett against the Chargers.

"It was more just because with Antonio Gates. When they were in 21 personnel [two backs, one TE], with Gates it’s really like a 20 — he’s really another receiver," the coach said. "Instead of having to go with a nickel defense and take a linebacker out and put a corner at safety, you have the ability to play man-to-man, things like that, without having to substitute in the front."

Makes sense, and with Barrett’s start — his interception-return TD 3:11 into the game to give the Jets a 7-0 lead plus another deep-middle PD minutes later — that call looked pretty good.

As for what the Jets will throw at the Bengals and their differently configured but equally dangerous passing attack, you’ll have to watch Sunday’s game. But Elam will be ready to do more playing than watching when called upon.

Revis on Returns?

Mangini fielded a question from a reporter who wondered whatever happened to the idea of using Darrelle Revis as both a DB and a PR. That’s what Revis did at Pitt, but the only two punts he’s returned as a Jet came in the last two games of the 2007 preseason.

"Darrelle hasn’t had a lot of opportunities there. I just really like Leon," Mangini said. "Anytime you can get him the ball in space, he’s developed, especially as a punt returner, in the time he’s been here. That’s not a knock on Darrelle. it’s just that Leon is very good there, and he’ll get better."

Brett and the Bengals

Elam isn’t the only Jet to get his first pro start vs. the Tiger Stripes. Brett Favre shares that distinction — in fact, when he came off the bench in to lead the Packers to a 24-23 comeback win over the Bengals at Lambeau Field in 1992, it marked the last time he didn’t start a game before starting his still current starting streak.

"My first real, true test," Favre said today of that Bengals game. "I played the previous week, but we were getting blown out. It holds a special place for the reason that we won. I came in in relief and led us from behind. It really was the start of my career. I never sat out after that point. It just happened to be against Cincinnati."

By the way, Favre turns 39 today. Happy birthday, Brett.

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Posted in Randy Lange | 16 Comments »

16 Responses to “Elam to Coaches: ‘They Can Count on Me’”

  1. By Frank on Oct 9, 2008 | Reply

    Love the Favre joke on Barton…sounds like Sarah Palin sent him (Favre) an early Thanksgiving present.

  2. By Hogan on Oct 9, 2008 | Reply

    I am not to concerned with the safety spot,as long as Lowery stays at corner.

  3. By Frank on Oct 9, 2008 | Reply

    All I have to say today is thank God Favre is a New York Jet he might save Mangini’s job this year. Starting right now with this game there is no excuse having had 2 weeks to prepare for the Jets to play a consistent complete game and come out with a win it’s as simple as that.

  4. By fljetfan on Oct 9, 2008 | Reply

    kerry has no picks ,this is the week ,maybe two ,nobodys really commented but whose seen a big play from him yet?

  5. By Drew on Oct 9, 2008 | Reply

    Frank…Please tell us how you really feel about Eric Mangini!!!

  6. By Row on Oct 9, 2008 | Reply

    Jets 30, Bengals 10, we struggle with the running game and have to kick 3 field goals in the second half. 21 points on the pass in the first half. No one will understand what Schott is doing on offense or why we can’t run the ball.

  7. By IAMAYAHOO on Oct 9, 2008 | Reply

    keery rhodes is still a factor on the field whether he has made some plays or not… his presence on the field alone is a threat. he’ll make plays believe that!!! its still alot of football left… hopefully he is making those “big plays” in late jan.

  8. By Ira on Oct 9, 2008 | Reply

    Randy, I have been saying it for 2 weeks now. Elam will prove Sunday that he deserves to start.

  9. By mike ex jet fan on Oct 9, 2008 | Reply

    Drew… have a pleasant trip to china going to miss u .. Only scary part of this team at the moment is there inability to stop the pass …goal line defence & finish the 4Th quarter hopefully that will change be4 it’s to late

  10. By Frank on Oct 9, 2008 | Reply

    Drew I love Penguins!

  11. By Howard on Oct 9, 2008 | Reply

    its after the bye week we should be some what healthy as a team,cinncy is dangerous but the jets need to desperate here,just go out and exacute take this bengal team out early dont give them a reason to play in the 4th qtr,and dont ya just love sterling sharpe on playbook on nfl network picking against his man bf

  12. By Drew on Oct 10, 2008 | Reply

    Thanks Mike but I will have the laptop. I just wont be able to see the games. I will have to lean on my fellow Radarheads to keep me informed (a scary thought) I’m just looking for a big win on Sunday……..A bit of a cheap shot huh Frank??

  13. By Frank on Oct 10, 2008 | Reply

    Come on now Drew don’t start blubbering on me. You really need to lighten up dude no need to have a stroke over the Jets. Your boy Coles is the one who created the “term of endearment” for your esteemed coach and I said it with affection. If you want to verbally spar be prepared to get smacked down it’s as simple as that…grow up! lighten up! and keep it pithy!

  14. By Ryan on Oct 10, 2008 | Reply

    Elam is the truth he gives us another explosive playmaker on defense. Eric stinks hes slow and always late on the play. He even fell down one play and got toasted for a TD. Watch elam hes always flying around

  15. By Drew on Oct 10, 2008 | Reply

    1st of all Big Frank….I was joking. I know what the term means and I thought you had a sense of humor….Guess not! 2nd, I have always verbally went after you and usually dominate. Face facts Frank, you can’t hang with me. The sun in Texas must have clouded your mind when you ever thought you smack me down. So dont get angry, dont get upset, your Giants are 4-0. ….Save pithy for scrabble

  16. By Frank on Oct 10, 2008 | Reply

    Drew did I miss something?

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