Rex Ryan and his coaching staff are still figuring out who’s going to play and for how long against the Bills on Sunday. But the news out of the head coach’s daily news conference this afternoon was that not only will Mark Sanchez start (not unexpected) but that LaDainian Tomlinson might not.
“We’ll go ahead and start Mark this game,” Ryan declared. “How long he plays, we’ll obviously determine that as the game goes, but he will start for us.
“I’m not going to say he’s going to play ‘X’ amount of plays, but he would not be out there if we did not think he was healthy. Without question, 11 wins would be great, but quite honestly we’re focused on we want to win in the playoffs. By playing Mark, keeping him on track, doing his thing, his routine — you guys see him out there. He looks good right now.”
But that same framework led Rex to broach the possibility that Tomlinson, the future Hall of Famer who needs 86 rushing yards to hit 1,000 for the season for the ninth time in his career, might rest until the AFC Wild Card Game.
“That could be a possibility,” Ryan said about sitting out LT and turning the ground game over to Shonn Greene and rookie Joe McKnight. “We’ll see how he feels.”
Tomlinson feels strongly both ways.
“I came here to win a championship, not to get 1,000 yards, so that’s my main concern,” he said in the locker room after Ryan spoke. “I don’t care about it. I’ve had a bunch of 1,000-yard seasons. When all is said and done, if I get 1,000 yards and we don’t win a championship, then I haven’t accomplished anything.”
But, he said, he still wants to play Sunday.
“I just think our rhythm is so important for us,” he said. “If you look at us this year, every time we’ve had a break, we haven’t played too well coming back. So I think it’s important for us to keep that rhythm, that tempo we’ve been playing with the last couple of weeks. However long that takes is really up to our coach.”
Ryan also said that besides James Ihedigbo (knee/ankle), he and the doctors and trainers could decide to keep T Damien Woody (knee) and DE Shaun Ellis (back) on the side.
Ellis, who came to the Jets bench at Soldier Field gingerly a few times Sunday, was at practice but didn’t participate in team drills for a second day. “If it doesn’t get better,” the coach said, “clearly he won’t play as well.”
Wayne Hunter’s play at RT the past two games, meanwhile, has been strong and doesn’t force the Jets to rush Woody back from his arthroscopic knee surgery.
As for the defense, Rex discussed both recent struggles against the run and in pressuring the passer. The answers for both this week were similar.
On the run: “I think first off it starts with showing the tape. Why are these things happening? The answer is on the tape. It basically starts with your pad level, knocking the line of scrimmage back, and coming off blocks, not just walking off blocks. That’s been our focus this week, going back and playing the techniques we’ve been used to playing.”
On the pass rush: “You can always blitz more guys, but I think you have to win your 1-on-1 matchups. Again, the answer’s on the tape. When you’re coming off and raising up and you’ve got to start your motor all over again, it starts with your takeoff, your pad level. That way, if you’ve got to reload, your pads are still down.”
More on the Injury Front
Besides Ellis, Ihedigbo and Woody, the only other DNP today was guard Matt Slauson, for non-injury reasons. Ryan: “His wife’s in the hospital and they’re expecting.” Good luck on this delivery, Slausons.
Limited besides Sanchez: Antonio Cromartie, Sione Pouha, Trevor Pryce, Darrelle Revis and Eric Smith.
Update, 5:30 p.m.: The Bills moved five of their 10 DNPs from Wednesday to full-practice status, but remaining as not participating in team drills were QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (knee) and WR David Nelson (ribs), and added to the list as DNP was LB Mike Balogun (illness).
One More Award
Ryan announced most of the Jets’ annual team award winners from Chicago on Monday morning, and we supplied the rest for you in that midday blog. But one award we didn’t have yet is the newest one in the Jets’ pantheon, the Bill Hampton Award, which is going to rookie fullback John Conner.
The “Hamp,” named after longtime Jets equipment manager Bill Hampton, has been presented each year since 2004 to the Jets rookie who acts like a pro in the locker room and is voted on by the equipment staff and past winners of the award. In 2011, Conner’s No. 38 jersey will hang in the equipment room, where it will be visible to all players, reporters and others who come into the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center locker room.
NFL Fines Jets
The NFL announced today that the Jets have been fined $100,000 for violating league rules in the sideline tripping incident involving strength coach Sal Alosi. The team issued a brief statement regarding the fine: “We will comply with the League’s decision.”
Tags: Buffalo Bills, Damien Woody, James Ihedigbo, John Conner, LaDainian Tomlinson, Mark Sanchez, Matt Slauson, Rex Ryan, Shaun Ellis
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