Rex Ryan was right about Joe McKnight getting “a ton of playing time” against Buffalo today at NMS.
The Jets head coach and his staff have decided to rest RBs LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene for the Bills, meaning that fourth-round rookie McKnight will get his first career start and will get the bulk of the carries against the Bills’ 32nd-ranked run defense.
It could be a recipe for a breakout game for McKnight, the former Southern Cal star, taking handoffs at least for the first couple of series from his former USC quarterback, Mark Sanchez. But if he tires or gets dinged up, who carries then? Well, fifth-round rookie John Conner is listed as a fullback but one could see Conner getting some leather time as well. Aside from Tony Richardson, that’s the Jets’ RB depth for today’s game.
Also, starting cornerbacks Darrelle Revis (hamstring) and Antonio Cromartie (groin) will also rest as inactives, meaning that first-rounder Kyle Wilson will be making the sixth start of his rookie season — but only his second as a base-defense CB — and second-year man Marquice Cole will be making his first pro start.
Mark Sanchez is still in line to start at QB for the Jets but is likely to give way early on to Mark Brunell, who then probably will yield in the fourth quarter to Kellen Clemens and perhaps even a cameo role for Brad Smith behind center.
The new corners, backed up by veterans Drew Coleman and just-activated Isaiah Trufant, will be going against a depleted Buffalo WR corps. Steve Johnson is the Bills’ go-to guy and he’s active, but David Nelson and Donald Jones have been declared out with injuries, leaving rookie Naaman Roosevelt and first-year man Paul Hubbard in reserves.
Capping the Jets’ inactive list, safeties Eric Smith (concussion) and James Ihedigbo (knee/ankle) and tackle Damien Woody (knee) have also been IA-ed to get one more week to recover before the Jets return to full-strength mode for their AFC Wild Card Game next week.
This puts several Jets in position for landmark appearances. TE Jeff Cumberland and CB Trufant will be making pro debuts, second-round OL Vladimir Ducasse has played on ST in one game but for all intents and purposes will be making his pro debut, and DT Jarron Gilbert will be making his Jets debut.
For the Bills, the interesting news is that starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is being listed as the third QB due to his knee injury suffered last week vs. New England. That puts the starting job in the hands of Brian Brohm, who started only one other game in his pro career, late last season for the Bills.
Other Buffalo inactives: Jones, T Ed Wang, DT Kellen Heard, G Colin Brown, TE Mike Caussin, WR David Nelson and DE John McCargo.
Besides Brohm and Roosevelt for Nelson, the other starting shakeups for the Bills include Eric Wood for Geoff Hangartner at C, Chad Rinehart for Wood at RG, Erik Pears for Mansfield Wrotto at RT and Leodis McKelvin for Terrence McGee at CB.
And the Opponent in Round 1?
The Jets could know by around 4 o’clock who they’ll be playing in next week’s playoff game. If the Jets lose to the Bills and the Chiefs win at home over Oakland, the sixth-seeded Jets would then be going to Kansas City, Kansas City, here they come, to play the third-seeded Chiefs.
But if the Jets lose while the Chiefs lose, Indianapolis vs. Tennessee would decide whether Indy or KC is the three seed. More on that two graphs down.
And if the Jets win while the Ravens defeat the Bengals and the Steelers lose at Cleveland, all 1 o’clock games, the Jets would get the fifth seed and would play the four seed. And if KC loses, the 3 and the 4 seeds would be decided by Jacksonville at Houston and Indianapolis vs. Tennessee, both 4:15 starts.
If the Colts win, they’d get the 4 and the Jets would then be going back to Lucas Oil Stadium for the third time in a little over a year. If the Colts lose and the Jaguars win, the Jets would then be visiting ALLTEL Stadium as an 11-5 road team playing the AFC South champion Jaguars at 9-7.
There’s also a little wrinkle in the uniforms for today’s game. The Jets are wearing green jerseys and green pants for only the second time this season and the fourth time under Ryan. They won this year’s game in the final minute at New Meadowlands Stadium over the Houston Texans.
And the Bills are adorned in their white jerseys and white pants, with red and blue trim. Rare to get two teams each wearing predominantly one color.
Carl Cheffers is today’s referee. He’s presided at two previous Jets games, both victories for the Green & White — at Tennessee against the then-undefeated Titans in 2008 and at Tampa Bay last season.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Buffalo Bills, Darrelle Revis, joe McKnight, LaDainian Tomlinson, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Shonn Greene
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