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Snapshots of Jets’ Two New ‘Specialists’

Posted by Randy Lange on November 1, 2008 – 9:28 am

The Jets signed two players to their active roster this week, one from their practice squad and one from the Ravens’ P-squad. Both are longshots to make the active roster, at least Sunday at Buffalo. Yet really, it all depends upon what head coach Eric Mangini and his staff feel they need available on their 45-man roster to beat the Bills.

One thing’s fairly certain: When James Ihedigbo and Marcus Mason do make their NFL debuts, it will be on special teams. For this week’s edition of Special Teams Saturday, here’s a visit with both of the new guys on the 53-man roster.

S James Ihedigbo

If intensity, focus and maturity were enough to get a guy onto the field, Ihedigbo would be running under kicks in about 24 hours at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

You may have heard of his backstory, how his mother and father both emigrated from Nigeria and earned their PhDs in education from the University of Massachusetts, how his dad went back to their native country to start a college, how his father fell ill and died in Africa as he tried to develop his dream.

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Now Ihedigbo has a similar dream

"I went back a second time to Nigeria in 2002," he said Friday. "I’m a firm believer in starting an organization to help fund schools in Africa. It’s something I hope to have set up and finished by the end of this year. It’s something dear to me, that I’m fully, hands-on a part of."

But that’s only one of his goals. Ihedigbo, still considered a first-year NFL player, is in his second season with the Jets out of UMass. Last season was lost to injury, but as Mangini said, Ihedigbo shares qualities that others such as Chansi Stuckey last year and Erik Ainge this year also possess.

"James, during the time where he was injured, like with Chansi, he was very much a part of the team, he was very much a part of everything that we did," Mangini said. "He was asked questions. He was studying each day, not just during the meetings but postpractice. That type of diligent work allowed him to put himself in the position he’s in right now."

"Be prepared. Coach Mangini says it all the time," Ihedigbo said. "I believe failing to prepare is preparing to fail. I’m also a firm believer that mental toughness is just as important as physical toughness, to be able to have that and endure and prosper in times when you want to give up."

That mental toughness came in handy this season, which started for him with a practice squad berth — a position that can make or break a potential NFL career.

"Some guys, when they get on the practice squad, they fade into the background, they’re a number. They’re showing up, but that’s just what they are," Mangini said. "Other guys keep showing up each day and they don’t give you a chance to forget about them. That’s what James did. He’s determined. You feel that determination each day in practice."

I felt it just listening to him articulate his feelings about having reached the furthest point yet in his NFL aspirations.

"I take it as a humbling experience and a testament to my hard work," he said. "You have no idea how excited I am. To have this opportunity to show the world basically what I can do as a football player and to have my teammates behind me 100 percent

RB Marcus Mason

Mason has a slightly different approach. He comes across as a quiet but prepared job seeker not long out of college trying to find a spot with a well-established company in … well, not banking, not these days, but maybe insurance or law.

"This preseason helped me because I got other teams a chance to look at me," Mason said. "If I didn’t get that many reps in the preseason, I’d probably still be on the practice squad not getting an opportunity right now. I’m very thankful for the preseason. That’s when you’re a young guy and every day’s a job interview. Being able to have that many job interviews helped me out a lot."

Mason in fact got 74 entries on his résumé: one for each of his NFL-leading 66 carries and eight receptions in Washington’s five preseason games. With those touches he produced 317 rushing yards — most in the league’s summer games since then Rams rookie Steven Jackson ran for 323 in 2004 — and 373 yards from scrimmage — most by a rookie or first-year man since Ahman Green gained 378 for Seattle in ’98.

None of these facts, nor that his mugshot appeared weekly this summer on NFL.com’s stat leaders page, impressed Mason that much.

"That’s just preseason. Preseason doesn’t count," he said. "But again, I’m thankful for the opportunity I have right now."

The Jets are actually his third team in three months. The Redskins, who had him for two camps, cut him and he signed on to Baltimore’s practice squad. When Jesse Chatman went down with a knee injury on a fourth-quarter Jets kickoff return vs. Kansas City on Sunday, the Jets signed Mason from the Ravens’ practice squad to their 53-man roster.

Mason, like Ihedigbo, has the right attitude to get on the field. He knows he’ll probably be called on first not to run with the ball but to run down under a kickoff or punt and tackle some other guy with the leather.

"I was doing PP [punt protect], running down on kickoffs, playing the ‘backer on punt block. I have some experience," he said. "Whatever the Jets want me to play, I’ll specialize in it."

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Posted in Randy Lange | 27 Comments »

27 Responses to “Snapshots of Jets’ Two New ‘Specialists’”

  1. By jak,ex packer fan new jet fan on Nov 1, 2008 | Reply

    well lets hope all facets of this jet team are sharp and ready, for the bills.
    special team play can make the difference. go jets.

  2. By Joe Volpe on Nov 1, 2008 | Reply

    Hope our two new special teamers help in Buffalo. We seem short of healthy TE . Is Jason Pociask available on some teams practice squad. Hated to lose him.

  3. By Drew on Nov 1, 2008 | Reply

    This is a huge game for Jenkins. His play has negated alot of what D Harris has had to do in the running game. If he plays a monster game the Harris loss might be okay. If he struggles or is on the sideline we are in serious trouble. Lynch will run right by-around-through Bowens…. With Bowens inside Sunday Gholsten might get alot more work outside. He better be ready. It’s week 8 enough already!

  4. By Jeremy on Nov 1, 2008 | Reply

    Good opportunity for these guys–but don’t understand not signing a TE? Everyone and their Mom is hoping to see some Play Action called this game. Coaches seem to have lost basic football skills lately. Remember how well that worked against Miami & Cincy! Get the ball in Leon’s hands. LEON is a complete STUD and needs touches. Same for B. Smith. He should get a few snaps a game!

  5. By HOGAN on Nov 1, 2008 | Reply

    Funny how every game has turned into some type of must win or statment game. If we win there will be more, if lose…..prob the last game that matters….or not.

  6. By mike ex jet fan on Nov 1, 2008 | Reply

    Mangini . This week needs to design new defencive packages with Bowens VG Barton Cummings BT etc .. Rotate them in & out keep them fresh same with DBS & figure out what works that would show imaginative game planning… O-line Woody & Fanaca need to step it up they’ve been horrible & time to start grooming some1 to take over D-Bricks spot the weakest link on the line Another 1st round bust

  7. By mike ex jet fan on Nov 1, 2008 | Reply

    Cont, Its time to fire all our scouts & finally find some1 who can recognize 1st round talent.. Only talent we get come in the later rounds reason why this team has been so stagnated over the years .. Every facesit of this team remains repetitive same mistakes over & over .. That’s why the Monika same old jets have been our legacy to this point .. When we they learn from the mistakes

  8. By Drew on Nov 1, 2008 | Reply

    I continue to question where Ex Jet fan comes up with his nonsense?? I know Brick has not been a All-Pro but to say this guy has been a bust is just ridiculous. He has started every game since he was drafted and has played pretty well this year. Did you happen to forget Revis and Harris last year in rds 1&2? Or Mangold the year before? Just watch the games and try to understand what you’re viewing

  9. By jet80 on Nov 1, 2008 | Reply

    do we have Cummings or not.if we do shoudnt he get the nod for Harris?and when did Turner become a TE?im as lost as the jets and dont know what their doing.they dont sign Posiack who looked promising and they sign another rb,randy is something wrong with Jesse chatman?

  10. By Tom Spicer on Nov 1, 2008 | Reply

    For all guys saying the Bills game is not a must win if we lose & the Pats win we will be 2 games behind the Pats & the Bills with 8 games to go. We have the tuff part of our schedule coming up even if we went 6 & 2 & the Bills & Pats went 4 & 4 (which will not happen) we still would not win the division. IF WE DO NOT WIN THIS GAME & THE PATS WIN YOU CAN KISS THE AFC EAST GOODBYE

  11. By wayne on Nov 1, 2008 | Reply

    When Pennington with a young team with lesser talent than the Jests can be performing so much more dynamically and more effectively than Favre, it leaves no doubt that the problem on this team is coaching. Still Favre is better. With Chad this team would have losing records and would be getting the bejesus beaten out of him. Just like Favre.

  12. By Randy Lange on Nov 1, 2008 | Reply

    Yes, jet80, there is something wrong with Jesse Chatman. He sprained his knee and was placed on IR.

  13. By mike ex jet fan on Nov 1, 2008 | Reply

    Drew.. what u really need to Question the nonsense that are the jets just call It as I see it .. Maybe watch a game or better yet just watch the buffalo game .. You will see 1st hand what a paper lineman he really is .. Then lets talk after the game .. U will see the nonsense right before your eyes.., last 2 buffalo games He got road graded as if he were non existant

  14. By Jeremy on Nov 2, 2008 | Reply

    There is no question Brick is a Bust. He’s given up double digit sacks every year. I believe it’s 15 & 12—That’s not 1st round material. I’m disappointed that Callahan hasn’t been able to turn it around! Mangold, Revis, Harris etc…were quality picks but, you can’t possibly say Brick has been a good pick! The majority of good picks from the JETS are late rounders!! Facts are Facts!

  15. By Tom Spicer on Nov 2, 2008 | Reply

    Drew I have to say you are wrong on this 1 based of of what we have seen so far Brick is a bust we took him with the 4th overall pick & they were saying he would be our left tackle for 10 years make the pro bowl & be the man well he has not been even close to that Joe Thomas on the Browns is way better than him he is not physical at all he is a finess guy & that is not what we need at that spot

  16. By Drew on Nov 2, 2008 | Reply

    Guys…maybe my definition of a bust differs from yorsu. Brick has not lived up to his 4th overall selection but he has started every game of his career so far at LT and play well at times. I can name half of the 2006 1st round that has not lived up to their draft billing. All I’m saying is he is not a bust. A bust is a guy who is mess and sets a franchise back not a 3 year starter.

  17. By BIG AL on Nov 2, 2008 | Reply

    drew jumping on this one as well you are one jet fan in denial they STINKand d-brick i would say is not bust but is not what he should be and if you watch these games then you have to AGREE they play as if they are confused i watch all games at my fav pub evry sun and the jet games are always BORINGcompared to other games i admire your opinions but the jets dont cut it TEAMS A BUST THIS YEAR

  18. By BIG AL on Nov 2, 2008 | Reply

    i also feel based on favres performance today we should consider the other brett in the mix dont go nuts yet hear me out farve most likely will not play next yr so why not get brett into in the mix #4 can be a big help from the sideline as well, or he proves me all wrong and turns this thing around and gets us in the playoffs then i owe all an opology but i dont see that happening so play rattliff

  19. By Frank on Nov 2, 2008 | Reply

    Drew my boy back in action arguing with everyone. After this game you might wish nyou were back in China. Unless you already watched the games you missed on your DVR then you shouldn’t be commenting on things. Brick and Woody have both been awful the last few games. Favre is being pounded like he has never been in his life. Something has to give he won’t last the season if it keeps up.

  20. By fljetfan on Nov 2, 2008 | Reply

    wow didnt realize we havent won on the road other than mia in 2+ yrs. at least i got to witness the wins myself down here in fla. but this to me shows a lack of leadership. i said we’d regret n.e. loss at home, we really need this one to wipe that one out somewhat. with so much opptomisum at the start this year and then brady inj its make or break today, make or break! feely wins it 23-20

  21. By Drew on Nov 2, 2008 | Reply

    Listen guys….I seem to one of the few who understood it would take time for Favre/Mangini to mesh. They are working through things. What denial am I in? I have questioned Schotty/Sutton and have called out Mangini in this game to take control and make a statement. I was looking for 10 wins this year. I look at the AFC and see what?? Winning today would quiet you guys down…maybe!!

  22. By Michael ex jet fan on Nov 2, 2008 | Reply

    Off topic ..Ticked off how the jets are used as the whipping boys of the league .. Not going to talk about the players in the league who have been in trouble constantly…. There are many & not much more then slap on the wrist… LJ in Kc 4 assaults against women 1 game suspension less then 50k fine . E smith gets worst for a heat of the moment hit at game speed & 1st offence…… Sickening

  23. By supercooljetfan on Nov 2, 2008 | Reply

    i predict the jets will win.big games from stuckey and revis

  24. By Drew on Nov 2, 2008 | Reply

    Saw both games when I got back. Yes Brick struggled. But to call him a complete bust is not being fair. He has started every game since he came into the league…..Once again funny to read exjet fan being upset that the Jets are a whipping boy. Who kills them more than he does?

  25. By Christina on Nov 2, 2008 | Reply

    Congratulations to James. Looks good out there.

  26. By tom on Nov 15, 2009 | Reply

    does any body know who number 42 was in I think 1980 to 1990 jets team

  27. By Randy Lange on Nov 15, 2009 | Reply

    tom, RB-KR Bruce Harper wore No. 42 from 1977-84. CB John Booty took up the number from 1988-90.

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