Updated, 3:15 p.m. ET
Nick Folk, the winner and still champeen.
With the Jets’ announcement that Josh Brown had been released today as the team reduced its roster to one under the 75-player maximum, Folk has prevailed as the Jets placekicker after kicking for his job for the second straight preseason.
Last year he outdueled journeyman Nick Novak. This offseason Brown, the long-ball veteran with Rams and Seahawks experience, figured to provide even stiffer competition. And he did. But after Nick went 3-for-3 against the Panthers while Brown went 1-for-2 with a miss from 45 yards out (albeit after Kenrick Ellis’ false start moved the kick 5 yards back), the decision by head coach Rex Ryan and special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff was made.
But the Panthers game wasn’t the only input. The training camp competition up at SUNY Cortland and back in North Jersey was close, and I don’t have any official or unofficial tally, but on most days when the two alternated two kicks at a time, moving 2 to 3 yards back with each kick, Folk seemed to have the edge on many days.
Now the key will be how Nick kicks all season long. As Westhoff told me back in late July at the start of camp about Folk vs. Brown, “It’ll be an interesting battle. Josh is a very viable candidate and makes for a very competitive kicking competition. It’s a good battle. They’re both pretty good. They can do it. And I think we needed that situation because Nick’s inconsistencies are frustrating.”
An example of that was Folk’s 24-yard miss on the opening drive of the Jets’ home loss to the Patriots last season.
“Now, can he turn around and make the kick that beat the Colts and go to the next playoff game? Yes. But you can’t miss that. That’s disappointing,” the coach said. “To his credit, we put him in a competitive situation. He’s fighting right now, he’s doing well. It’s a good, honest competition.”
The samples are not significant, so take this for what it’s worth, but every one of the previous three preseasons, in 2009 with Dallas and 2010-11 with the Jets, Folk missed at least one preseason field goal try from under 50 yards. In ’10, one of his misses was a 62-yarder, but he also was wide from 46 and on a point after. Last summer he missed from 43 and 52.
This summer, of course, he had no PAT tries. But he was 4-for-4 on his FG tries, from 22, 30, 38 and 46.
Five Other Moves
The Jets also waived five players, including FB-TE Josh Baker, who suffered a serious knee injury in the second quarter vs. the Panthers and was waived/injured. Also cut were WRs Stanley Arukwe and Wes Kemp, RB Jeremy Stewart and LB Damario Ambrose.
This year’s final cutdown to 53 players on each team’s active/inactive list is this Friday (all NFL games will be played Wednesday and Thursday) by 9 p.m. ET.
There was general praise for Austin Howard in his first right tackle starting assignment for the Jets on Sunday night.
“I thought Austin had a nice game for us,” said head coach Rex Ryan.
“I was just proud of our offensive line,” said Mark Sanchez, who was taken down once on a coverage sack in 2½ quarters Sunday vs. three non-coverage sacks in two quarters vs. the Giants. “I was proud of the way Austin Howard competed. That’s not an easy spot to jump into.”
Howard is a man of few words and most of them modest. He hit all the right notes about “I feel like I’m progressing and we’re progressing as an offense” and “We have to watch the film.”
“This opportunity has been a huge blessing,” he said. “I’m so grateful to be out on the field with the veterans and to go out and play the game. I feel it’s been a progression since my first start.”
That’s something many may not know or realize. Howard had a start for the Eagles at LT in the final preseason game in 2010 — against the Jets, of course — and had one regular-season start, in the ’10 season finale for the Birds vs. the Cowboys.
Here’s one other interesting fact about Howard from the Panthers game: He was the only Jet to play in 100 percent of his unit’s plays. The offense was on the field for 69 plays on Sunday and so was Howard. And add in the six special-teams plays he appeared in and the big guy from Davenport, Iowa, led the Jets last night with 75 snaps. Next-most plays? TE Dedrick Epps with 58 plays, 57 on offense.
Tags: Damario Ambrose, final cuts, Jeremy Stewart, Josh Baker, Josh Brown, Nick Folk, Stanley Arukwe, Wes Kemp
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