The way the week’s hype has gone, you might think Aaron Maybin had been traded for Brad Smith and those two are the only ones playing against their former teams in Sunday’s Jets-Bills matchup.
But the Jets have two other former Bills on the roster, and one who’s been contributing on special teams the past two games, in Ellis Lankster.
“At Ralph Wilson Stadium, the Bills have a great crowd, a great situation,” Lankster told me today. “I enjoyed my time there but now I’m a Jet all the way and I’m ready to get at Buffalo.”
Lankster began his NFL career as the Bills’ seventh-round selection in 2009 and played in 10 games that season with three tackles and a pass defense. He was a final cut by Buffalo last year and filled his 2010 season by signing on with the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He came to the Jets as a reserve-future signing in January, then was a final cut again this September.
But the coaches and the front office didn’t forget Lankster’s major preseason contribution, the 67-yard interception-return TD in the summer finale against the Eagles. He was re-signed Oct. 11 and played against the Patriots and Dolphins, contributing four special teams tackles in those two games.
With Isaiah Trufant (hamstring) missing time (Trufant is questionable for Sunday), Lankster has also been getting time as a flyer in the Jets’ vise, and if he gets to reprise that role again vs. the Bills, he’ll be going up against an old friend.
“I’ll get to go up against Leodis McKelvin,” he said. “He was a good friend when I was there. In training camp, me and Leodis, our rooms were right across from each other. I used to take pointers from him and [safety] George Wilson all the time.”
Now he’ll be trying to wire McKelvin along with his vise partner so that Jeremy Kerley can shake and bake on a punt return or three up at Ralph Wilson.
The two other ex-Bills on the Jets are Maybin, whom I visited with today in the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center locker room and will write about in my Sunday morning advance on the game, and TE Shawn Nelson, who will be profiled in a story by Andrew LeRay later this afternoon. Head coach Rex Ryan said Nelson is not yet ready to suit up and won’t play against the Bills, whom he played for in 2009 and last year.
The Jets’ four players who had been limited in team drills at Thursday’s practice were limited again today and all four are listed as questionable for the Bills.
Regarding WR Plaxico Burress (low back), Rex Ryan said at today’s news conference, “The thing with Plax is that he’s sore. … You think he’ll be fine but sometimes those backs are troublesome. So hopefully he’s feeling good when we play on Sunday.”
It’s a similar view for both D-linemen on the list, Mike DeVito (knee) and Kenrick Ellis (ankle).
“I don’t feel great about it right now,” Ryan said. “If we were going to play tomorrow, I would say probably not. This one could really be a gametime decision for both those guys.”
The five other injured Jets all practiced full and are probable for the Bills: LB David Harris, DT Marcus Dixon, C Nick Mangold, LB Calvin Pace and DE Ropati Pitoitua.
For the Bills, DT Kyle Williams (foot), T Demetrius Bell (shoulder) and CB Aaron Williams (chest) have been listed as out by coach Chan Gailey. LB Chris Kelsay (calf) and T Chris Hairston (ankle) are questionable. And QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, with his reported chest bruise, WR Donald Jones (ankle) and G Andy Levitre (shoulder) and RB Johnny White (illness) are all probable.
Tags: Aaron Maybin, Brad Smith, Buffalo Bills, Ellis Lankster, Kenrick Ellis, Leodis McKelvin, Mike DeVito, Plaxico Burress, Shawn Nelson
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