Not much to impart from head coach Eric Mangini’s Friday news conference, other than that one of his starting outside linebackers, a guy who’s made a strong impression since arriving as an unrestricted free agent in March, is up in the air for Oakland.
Or at least the coach wasn’t saying what the likelihood was of Calvin Pace’s availability for the Raiders on Sunday.
"We’ll look at it more today," Mangini said of Pace’s foot injury, which landed him on a Jets injury report for the first time this season after Thursday’s practice. "He got nicked up a little bit yesterday. I’m not really sure where it’s going to go. We’ll have to see here today."
A reporter asked what the odds were of Pace being active Sunday. Mangini saw right through the attempt to repackage the previous question in new wrapping.
"I’m not sure," he said. "Like I said, I’ve got to see today."
After practice, Pace wore a T-shirt soaked in sweat and didn’t seem concerned by the injury. The Jets’ final injury report of the week will be issued sometime after 4 p.m. and will be posted on newyorkjets.com.
With fellow OLB Bryan Thomas also listed, on the Wednesday and Thursday reports, as limited in practice with a calf injury, odds are that rookie OLB Vernon Gholston should continue to be prominent.
Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, in his informal biweekly news conference today outside the locker room, said he’s seeing progress in the sixth pick of the draft’s transition to the pro game.
"Vernon, I think, is finally getting comfortable using the talents he has," Sutton said. "He’s a big, strong, powerful outside linebacker who’s getting used to playing a different position after playing defensive end in college. The comfort level is there, he’s working hard in that area and working very hard off the field to speed up."
It was a positive development, Sutton said, that Gholston took the award from Mangini and his staff as the Jets’ Special Teams Player of the Week two games ago vs. Arizona.
"Special teams is an area where you can play pretty aggressively," he said. "That’s a good sign."
Another Special Note
In the past we have established "Special Teams Saturday" at newyorkjets.com as a day when you can read a feature about the players and things that are happening on the Jets’ special units. We’re suspending that feature this week only because we’ll have some information Saturday about the week ahead leading up to the Super Bowl III 40th Anniversary celebration during the Jets-Chiefs game at the Meadowlands on Oct. 26.
But Coach Mangini didn’t let the week go by without a shoutout to his teams peeps. Asked about Wallace Wright, this past game’s ST Player of the Week winner, and his tackling skills, he reminisced about how, in 2006, not only Wright, a WR by trade, but also Brad Smith, the former Missouri QB, were getting it done covering kicks as NFL rookies in 2006.
"That first year, I thought it was great," Mangini said. "You had a wide receiver making a bunch of tackles and a quarterback making a bunch of tackles. So it was pretty easy for me to turn on the film, look at the defensive group and say, ‘You’ve been doing this your whole life. Here’s a quarterback who’s never tackled, OK? He’s running down, he’s making a ton of ‘em. And here’s a wide receiver. You guys have green shirts on for a reason.’ "
Smith’s teams tackles have tapered off from 12 last year to two so far this season, but Wright, who made a beautiful burst tackle from behind of Glenn Holt on one of Cincinnati’s kickoff returns, has increased from six in ’06 to 16 to 12 after five games, putting him on pace for an unconscious 38 ST tackles over 16 games. Brad Kassell led the Jets last season with 23.
Tags: Bob Sutton, Brad Smith, Bryan Thomas, Calvin Pace, Eric Mangini, Vernon Gholston, Wallace Wright
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