Has a switch been thrown inside Jets Offense Central? The past two weeks Shonn Greene has moved up the yardage and touches charts to pull even in a few respects with LaDainian Tomlinson out of the backfield.
“My time of the year? Yeah, I think so,” Greene said today at his locker in the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. “That cold weather, I’ve been playing in it since I was little. High school in South Jersey, college at Iowa. Something turns the button on around now.”
Balancing carries and touches is an art, not a science, but at Cleveland, LT and SG had 20-plus touches in the same game for only the second time this season (the first being the rout at Buffalo). Tomlinson had 24 rushes plus receptions for 110 yards, Greene had 23 for 94. Additionally, for the first time this season Greene had more rushing yards than Tomlinson, 72 to 57.
This is not a competition, of course. As Rex Ryan said at his news conference, the idea all along has been about cooperation within the team and outcompeting the bad guys.
“Maybe it was about having both those guys fresh by the time we get through the season,” Ryan said of the plan that resulted in Thomas Jones leaving for Kansas City and Tomlinson arriving from San Diego.
“Last year we kind of used Thomas up a little bit, and that was more of a product of, remember, Shonn was hurt, then Leon got hurt and the burden really fell on Thomas. But when Shonn came back, we knew he was a great back. That’s where at the end we kind of adjusted it a little to where Shonn got the bulk of the carries.
“This year ideally you’d like these guys to go into a game where you don’t know who’s going to carry it. We just think both guys are capable of carrying it 20 times.”
There was something more about Greene’s rock ‘n’ roll in Cleveland that fell through the cracks of the overtime victory. In a game in which the Jets couldn’t salt the win away in regulation with points, at least they moved the sticks to keep their chances alive through OT. And no Jet in a long while has moved the sticks better than Greene did Sunday.
For starters, he had nine first downs (seven rushing, two receiving). That’s the most by any Jet since Thomas Jones had 11 in the home rout of St. Louis in 2008.
Then there were Greene’s clutch runs. He converted four third downs (three rushing, one receiving) and one fourth-and-1 on a Tomlinson-esque vault.
The last time any Jets player, not just a back, had as many as five crunch-down conversions in a game? Then-rookie Dustin Keller with his five receiving conversions at New England in ’08. The last Jets back? Curtis Martin in the 2004 opener against Cincinnati.
And no Jet has had more than five such conversions since Johnny Johnson (did you ever think you’d see that name again, Jets fans?) had six conversions, all on third down, in the 1994 season opener at Buffalo.
Greene’s not letting any of this go to his head. He still remains patient playing in the same backfield with a future first-ballot Hall of Famer in Tomlinson. “He’s one of the best there is,” Shonn said. “It’s good for me to be backing him up.”
But the second-year battering ram said things felt different when he was given the ball again and again on the 18-play, 10:04 drive that opened the third quarter.
“Yeah, I noticed it a little bit,” he told me. “I kind of got a rhythm going, which is hard to do when it’s going back and forth. And once that started, I just felt like I wanted the ball more and more.”
But he wants the ball more in a good way. To help keep Tomlinson fresh as LT keeps him fresh, and to help the Jets plow on through November and December and into January.
Kickers’ Road Trip
While the Jets were practicing outside today, four people left on a fact-finding mission to East Rutherford. Punter/holder Steve Weatherford, kicker Nick Folk, snapper Tanner Purdum, and assistant special teams coach Ben Kotwica went to New Meadowlands Stadium for a short session of kicking in the afternoon conditions of the new Home of the Jets.
ST coordinator Mike Westhoff said from his experiences there and today’s field reports, he feels that any problems the Jets have had in the Meadowlands have more to do with technique than new or worse wind patterns and that NMS is more favorable to kickers than OMS. Perhaps underscoring that, Folk reportedly went 20-of-22 in his practice kicks today, with misses only from 56 and 60 yards.
Ryan said CB Dwight Lowery (concussion) will sit out Sunday’s game. “He’s still got a little way to go there,” said Rex.
Two players stayed out of practice again today: WR Jerricho Cotchery (groin) and CB Marquice Cole (hamstring). Rex said “They’re both probably questionable right now,” giving them an informal game status one day earlier than he has to.
G Matt Slauson (knee) and S Eric Smith (ankle) were both limited and Ryan expects both of them to play vs. Houston. Sanchez (calf) stepped up to the full-team-drills list.
Practice was moved from the fieldhouse Wednesday to the slightly less windy outdoor grass fields today.
The good word for Houston on the injury front was that Matt Schaub left the hospital with that knee bursitis and was limited at practice today. WR Andre Johnson (ankle) also went from DNP to limited. TE Owen Daniels (hamstring) was still sidelined, and LB Zac Diles joined the DNP short list with illness.
Tags: LaDainian Tomlinson, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan, Shonn Greene, Thomas Jones
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