Updated postpractice, 4:12 p.m. ET
Five words uttered at the top of Rex Ryan’s news conference today were music to Jets fans’ ears:
“Revis is cleared for contact.”
And five more words (two in a contraction) offered by Darrelle Revis at his locker after practice made the music sweeter still:
“I’ll be playing Sunday.”
However, as the Jets head coach cautioned inquiring minds in the media room here at the Atlantic Health Training Center, Revis’ availability to start on the corner at Miami on Sunday is still not a fait accompli.
“I don’t want to be saying something that isn’t true,” Ryan said when asked if being cleared for contact is the final hurdle for No. 24′s returning to action. “I’m going to be leaning on the doctors and trainers. Hopefully, he’ll play, but I guess we’ll see. … I can say I expect him to play, but again, I’m going to lean on the doctors and trainers.”
The one thing Ryan would say is that Revis would practice full today, and he did. That was the first time he practiced full since Bart Scott accidentally kicked him in the back of the helmet late in the Buffalo opener. He didn’t participate in the first two practices after suffering a mild concussion, then was limited the Friday before Pittsburgh and for Wednesday’s practice, all while trying to clear the hurdles of the NFL’s concussion protocol.
“I felt yesterday I could practice full contact, but it’s still protocol … I couldn’t hit anybody yesterday, nobody could touch me,” he said. “Usually when you’re injured, you have to wear the red jersey. I told them I didn’t want to wear it. I felt like I could play full-contact.
“But today it felt good. I actually got a little press in on some guys. … Contact actually feels good today, hitting guys and guys hitting you back.”
Ryan wasn’t going to give a premature game status for Revis, but he did allow that he’s happy that he’d been cleared for contact.
“Without question I’m happy about that, for his sake,” the coach said. “He loves to play, and he’s healthy. I think that’s a big thing. If he’s not the premier defensive player in the league, he’s certainly up there, and having him, as a player, as a player, you’re happy for that also.”
The Dolphins’ happiness was perhaps in inverse proportion to the Jets’. As rookie QB Ryan Tannehill said Wednesday about the prospect of making his first visit to Revis Island: “He’s a great player. You can’t put it any other way. He has good ball skills, good speed, plays tight coverage, man-to-man pretty much the whole game. He’s an All-Pro corner for a reason. We have to have a game plan for it and find ways to attack him.”
Revis was asked if he could be a boost to the Jets’ defense for the important divisional matchup.
“I’m just one guy,” he said. “We have tremendous guys there on defense. I’m just happy to be back. I’m ready to do my job and that’s to compete and play.”
The Rest of the I-Reports
Other tentative pluses for the Jets’ injury report: TE Dustin Keller (hamstring) and S Eric Smith (hip/knee), both not participating yesterday, were limited in today’s practice.
On the tentative minus side, the Jets added one more player to their now 20-player list and downgraded another.
Rex said CB Ellis Lankster “has a low back issue. He hurt it during practice yesterday. So we’ll keep him out of practice and hopefully get him back later in the week.” Lankster, who saw extended action as the Jets’ third DB at Pittsburgh, was limited Wednesday by the mid-practice back strain and is a DNP today.
Rookie DT Quinton Coples (illness) also didn’t participating today. Neither did FB John Conner (knee), LB Bryan Thomas (hamstring) and S LaRon Landry, who’s been sidelined for the third Thursday this season to help his ongoing recovery from his heel issue.
The Dolphins have added starting OLB Kevin Burnett (foot) to their list as not participating today. Also, WR Marlon Moore (hamstring) was downgraded from limited to DNP. The rest of their 10-man report remains the same as the day before.
LaRon Landry followed up his late hit out of bounds on C.J. Spiller in the opener (offset by a Bills holding) with calls of a late hit on Emmanuel Sanders and a horsecollar tackle on Antonio Brown on Sunday.
Ryan said it’s “human nature” for officials to want to keep on eye on Landry during games, but the coach said while his veteran safety hits hard, he hits legal.
“I love the fact that LaRon’s got a reputation as a huge hitter,” he said. “There’s not anybody who’s going to say he’s not a clean player. He’s a clean player. But he’s a hitter. Yeremiah Bell is a hitter, too, but they’re going to do it within the rules.”
Rex cited LB Calvin Pace as an example of that as well, when he had several hard but textbook and legal hits of Ryan Fitzpatrick in the opener.
“You can tell our players are very mindful of that,” he said of hitting with their shoulders and not leading with their helmets. “We’re trying to be as physical a team as we can with in the confinements of the rules. We’re not trying to injure anybody, but we’re trying to hit and be physical.”
Another Long Conversion
A Revis return wouldn’t hurt the Jets defense, which considers itself better than many of its mid-to-low NFL rankings after two weeks of games. One thing the “D” really want to avoid is what happened on the Ben Roethlisberger-to-Mike Wallace touchdown pass in front of CB Antonio Cromartie: opponents’ third-and-long conversions. The 37-yard TD strike, after all, came on third-and-16.
Last year you’ll recall the Jets allowed eight conversions on third or fourth down with 11-plus yards to go. In 2010 they allowed 13 such plays (including two on Roethlisberger passes and one on a Big Ben run in the two meetings with the Steelers). That’s the most allowed in back-to-back seasons since the 22 third/fourth-and-long conversions in 1979-80 (19 in ’79 alone). In the 20 seasons from 1980-2009, the Jets allowed about six of those conversions a season, about the same rate as the Jets offense converted.
Talk about your backbreaking plays. Cutting way back on these unlikely chain-movers would do a lot to help the Jets defense return to top-10 form.
Tags: Ben Roethlisberger, Buffalo Bills, Darrelle Revis, Dustin Keller, Ellis Lankster, Eric Smith, injury list, LaRon Landry, PIttsburgh Steelers, Rex Ryan
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