Today is the game in which you can’t tell the teams without a scorecard.
The Jets are wearing their Titans of New York throwback uniforms, the navy jerseys and gold pants in which they’ve posted three consecutive victories. And the Tennessee Titans will be wearing their throwback Houston Oilers white road uniforms with the powder blue piping and helmets.
It’s all a part of the NFL’s ongoing AFL 50th Anniversary celebration. And the Jets would love to put a once-in-a-half-century hurtin’ on the Titans to improve to 3-0, send Tennessee, and continue into next week’s Big Easy showdown at New Orleans with a head of steam.
To do that, the Jets will have to slow down the Titans offense, led by RB Chris Johnson. And perhaps Mother Nature has helped in that regard. It’s still raining at the Meadowlands, has been since about 9 o’clock Saturday night. Randy’s radar (as opposed to Randy’s Radar) is indicating the rain could end sometime in the first half.
The FieldTurf here drains well, of course, but it can’t be close to the home track that enabled Johnson to erupt for 197 rushing yards, 284 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns in the three-point loss to the Texans.
The Jets will also have to contain the visitors’ offense, QB’d by Kerry Collins, without the services of starting CB Lito Sheppard (quad) and nickelback Donald Strickland (ankle). The two have been deactivated today, which means that head coach Rex Ryan, coordinator and the defense shifts to Plan PD, which will have Dwight Lowery, one of the supporting stars of the win over New England, starting for Sheppard and Drew Coleman coming in on the nickel for Strickland.
Here is the Jets’ full inactive list: QB Kevin O’Connell, Sheppard and Strickland, LB Jamaal Westerman, G Matt Slauson, DE Ropati Pitoitua and WR David Clowney. Erik Ainge returns to his season-opener role as the Jets’ designated third QB.
And here is the Titans’ IA list: P Craig Hentrich, LB Stanford Keglar, OL Troy Kropog, TE Bo Scaife (limited at practice on Thursday and Friday), WR Lavelle Hawkins, DT Sen’Derrick Marks and former Jets DE Dave Ball. For the Tennessee offense, Leroy Harris will start for injured Eugene Amano at LG and Alge Crumpler will start for Scaife at TE.
The Jets’ captains have also been designated for this game. Coming out for the opening coin toss will be RB Thomas Jones, S Jim Leonhard, Ainge and LB Ryan Fowler, who played in 30 games with 17 starts in 2007-08 for the Titans.
Presiding over that coin toss is Mike Carey, refereeing his 15th Jets game since he became an NFL ref in 1995. His first Jets game as referee was the 1995 loss at Carolina — the Bubby Brister "Shovel Pass Game," when the Jets went up against then-rookie starting QB Kerry Collins — and his most recent Jets game was last year’s win at Miami in Brett Favre’s only season opener as the Jets’ QB.
Will the fans be cheering at the Meadowlands today as they did in last week’s 16-9 triumph over the Patriots? The weather is likely to produce a few more empty seats, and the Titans aren’t the Pats. But perhaps today’s hardy bunch of spectators will surprise and make a significant contribution to a second home victory for Ryans’ Jets this season. We’ll know beginning in about an hour.
As usual, Eric Allen will be moderating our CoveritLive chat on newyorkjets.com beginning shortly before kickoff. I’ll be providing tweets on the chat and on the Jets’ Twitter page throughout the game. And EA, Kyle Richardson and I will be reporting on the game from the Jets’ locker room in the hours after the game.
Tags: Chris Johnson, Donald Strickland, Drew Coleman, Dwight Lowery, Kerry Collins, Lito Sheppard, Rex Ryan, Tennessee Titans
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