Updated, 8: 10 p.m. ET
Mike Tannenbaum this evening gave reporters the ultimate final official word on the trade that sent Wayne Hunter to St. Louis and brought 2009 second-pick-of-the-draft Jason Smith to the Jets: It’s official.
“I want to thank Wayne for everything he’s done,” the GM said .”I really wish him well, and he’s going to see a lot of familiar faces in St. Louis. We won a lot of games with Wayne. And with that said, now we’re looking forward to Jason.”
Tannenbaum said Smith, entering his fourth NFL season, could play “a couple of snaps” in the Jets’ preseason finale at Philadelphia on Thursday night. But Mr. T stressed that the plan now is that Austin Howard, who replaced Hunter as the RT starter on Sunday night against Carolina, is the starter going forward and Smith is the Jets’ new backup LT and RT and blocking TE.
Why didn’t Smith succeed as a Ram? “It could’ve been a number of things,” Tannenbaum said, “the coaching change, some inconsistencies there. For us, it was more about what we think he can do. He has very good movement skills for somebody his size [6'5", 308], he can play both sides, we like his range. Again, I think he has to learn from what happened in St. Louis, but with that said, he’s coming here with a fresh start.”
Some reporters probed the GM on if that fresh start could lead to a fresh starter down the road. A natural question given Smith’s high draft status, but Tannenbaum, while stating only the current plans, gave the background that led him, head coach Rex Ryan, offensive coordinator Tony Sparano and OL coach Dave DeGuglielmo to giving Howard the chance to win the starting role.
“That was an evaluation that was going on in Cortland every day, watching Austin in 1-on-1s,” he said. “It’s good to have the competition we have, to go against Aaron Maybin, Calvin Pace and Quinton [Coples] every day, and Austin was really starting to hold his own more and more. It’s like, ‘This looks pretty good. OK.’ Then he goes out against Cincinnati and looks OK. Then the Giant game he played pretty well. Then obviously there were more reasons to be encouraged against Carolina.”
Speaking of Maybin, Tannenbaum would sure like to see Smith blossom into a success story as has Maybin, the 11th overall pick in that ’09 draft who enters his second season as a Jet as one of their biggest big-play makers on the defensive side of the ball.
“Sure, we hope so. Sometimes they work out that way,” he said. “Sometimes a change of scenery works, sometimes it doesn’t.
“Aaron deserves all the credit for Aaron. He’s worked incredibly hard, he’s a great person, he comes in with great enthusiasm. And Jason’s set up for success. His work ethic and character are tremendous. All the research we did on him leads us to believe he’s going to come in and give himself the best chance to be successful.”
Rex’s rundown on the injured Jets’ availability for the Sept. 9 season opener vs. Buffalo:
“My biggest concern will be Eric Smith, I think, right now. That’s probably our biggest concern with his hip.”
“I feel good about [Jeff] Cumberland, David [Harris], Yeremiah Bell and Dustin [Keller] with his hamstring. Unless something happens there, we feel pretty confident all those guys will be ready to play.”
WRs Santonio Holmes, Jeremy Kerley and Chaz Schilens: “I think all three will play in the opener. Schilens seems to be getting better each day. It was good to see Tone out there [vs. Carolina], and Jeremy did a nice job on punt return.”
“Sione [Po‘uha], by the way, I think he’s doing much better right now.”
This evening the Jets announced they have been awarded punter Spencer Lanning off of waivers from Cleveland. Lanning, the first-year man out of South Carolina, lost the Browns’ punting battle to ex-Jet Reggie Hodges, but actually had better numbers than Hodges in the preseason with a 50.5-yard gross and a 43.5 net on four punts. “We brought in a punter who’ll compete with T.J.,” Tannenbaum said. “I wouldn’t rule out further changes between now and Friday and probably through the weekend.”
Joe McKnight was excused for personal reasons from today’s practice. … G Brandon Moore underwent a minor medical procedure and was also not at practice.
Tags: Brandon Moore, Eric Smith, Jason Smith, joe McKnight, Mike Tannenbaum, Rex Ryan, St. Louis Rams, Trade, Wayne Hunter
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