Rex Ryan growled the obvious at today’s first news conference of the new week about the weekend business trip to Pittsburgh: The Steelers are tuff. Heinz Field is ruff. And the Jets will need the right stuff.
“I know one thing. We’re heading to Pittsburgh to win the game,” Ryan said at the media room podium in the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. “That’s a tough place to play, as tough as it gets. We’re going against as good a defense as there is, and we’re going against a two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback.
“If you plan on beating Pittsburgh, you’re going to have to bring it all, and that’s what we plan on bringing.”
All, however, is a relative term, since T Damien Woody underwent his knee ‘scope today and has already been declared out, and when asked if S Eric Smith (concussion) would play, the head coach said, “I don’t believe he will.”
The safety situation is tough — there’s that word again — since James Ihedigbo (ankle/knee) also did not practice today. It could be on to about Plan D down the deep middle for Ryan, coordinator Mike Pettine and DBs coach Dennis Thurman.
“Dwight Lowery will move there full-time,” Ryan said of his third-year man. “We’ll give him a lot of work there. We’re hoping to have Dig back as well. If not, then [Emanuel] Cook’s gotta be ready to roll.”
Cook, who’s been in two Jets training camps and also spent time this past off-season with the Buccaneers, played in his first pro game on Sunday against the Dolphins.
Ryan didn’t declare Lowery the starter today but one look at the depth chart and another at the injury report tells us that he’s the next man up. And as Lowery told us last week, “I have a lot of confidence that I can play the position.”
Now can they play like they need to play at the Big Ketchup Bottle, as noted Jets fan Chris Berman has long dubbed Heinz? The last time the Jets played there, they went 131:04 of clock time without an offensive TD, in the 17-6 regular-season loss on Dec. 12, 2004, then in the 20-17 overtime defeat in the AFC Divisional Round playoff game five weeks later. The weather was cold, the fans loud, the field choppy.
That remains to be seen, but perhaps in a good development, he hears Heinz is in better shape today than the practice field here in Florham Park was for today’s outdoor practice — but only by a little.
“They just resodded their field, and our field was kind of hard out there,” Ryan said. “But it was good to get out there in the similar elements you’re going to face when we go to Pittsburgh. It was cold out there, it was windy. … Practice was really good today.”
It was 27 degrees with perhaps 10 mph winds under mostly cloudy skies today at the Jets’ practice. On Sunday at Pitt, the forecast is for temps in the low 20s, with winds around 12-20 mph under partly cloudy skies, quickly followed by dark.
Besides Woody, Ihedigbo and E.Smith, the Jets also listed DT Trevor Pryce (hip) and RB LaDainian Tomlinson and FB Tony Richardson (both non-injury-related) as DNPs today, while C Nick Mangold, DT Sione Pouha and WR/KR Brad Smith were full practicers.
The Steelers’ injury report has six players who didn’t practice in team drills: T Flozell Adams (ankle), LB James Harrison (illness), CB Bryant McFadden (hamstring), S Troy Polamalu (ankle), DE Aaron Smith (triceps) and WR Hines Ward (non-injury-related).
A Trophy for LT
LaDainian Tomlinson has been selected to the USA Football/NFLPA All-Fundamentals Team. LT and 25 other NFL players representing every position on offense and defense plus four special teams positions were named to this year’s team for the sound technique they employ on the field for youth players to emulate.
The players were selected by a seven-member committee that included former Jets head coach Herm Edwards and one-time Jets RB (for the 1992 season) Scottie Graham, now an NFLPA regional director.
USA Football, the official youth development partner of the NFL and the NFLPA, presented Tomlinson with a pewter helmet trophy in recognition of his award and will donate a $1,500 equipment grant to the youth or high school football program of Tomlinson’s choice.
QB Legends to Visit LI
A pair of Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterbacks — John Elway and Dan Marino — will be joined by CNNSI’s Peter King and broadcaster Joe Buck on Jan. 18, 2011, at the Nassau Coliseum as the “Inside the Game Tour” reaches Long Island.
Tickets are on sale now and special VIP packages are available for fans to experience an exclusive meet-and-greet with the Legends of the Game. Click here for more information regarding details on the tour packages.
Tags: Damien Woody, Dan Marino, Dwight Lowery, Eric Smith, Heinz Field, James Ihedigbo, John Elway, LaDainian Tomlinson, PIttsburgh Steelers, Rex Ryan
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