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Keller’s Hitting His Stride Once More

Posted by jlholt32 on October 24, 2012 – 6:40 pm

Updated, 7:10 p.m. ET

After catching all seven passes thrown to him for 93 yards and scoring a fourth quarter touchdown during Sunday’s overtime loss to the New England Patriots, Dustin Keller appears to be in a familiar spot.

“I’m finally getting into the swing of things and starting to get a real good feel for the passing game and all that stuff, because when you’re gone for a while, you don’t see those looks for a little while and it’s kind of a little weird when you first get out there,” the tight end said this afternoon after practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. “But I feel back in the swing of things and pretty much back to where I was.”

Keller had missed four games earlier this season due to a hamstring injury, but returned to the Jets lineup against Indianapolis on Oct. 14. In that game, he had one catch for 6 yards on the only pass thrown his way by Mark Sanchez. However, in Foxboro, the QB/TE duo were able to regain their strong connection.

“I think there’s a major comfort level,” Keller said of his relationship with Sanchez, “and also at the same time, if there’s anything that feels a little cloudy in our minds, we both are comfortable enough to come up to each other and be like, ‘What were you thinking on that play?’ Just so we’re thinking alike. We both know exactly what each other is thinking. I try to do that anytime there’s a little bit of a question in my mind on any play.”

No. 81’s touchdown against New England came on the final play of the 92-yard drive that cut the Patriots’ lead to 23-20 with just under six minutes remaining in regulation. Sanchez threw the pass in a tight window and Keller was able to haul in the 7-yard reception in the middle of the end zone.

“The whole play worked because Mark put it in the only spot they couldn’t get it,” the fifth-year TE said.

As the Green & White gear up to take on the Miami Dolphins for the second time this season, Keller has been encouraged with how the Jets receivers have progressed since Santonio Holmes, their No. 1 WR, went down with a season-ending foot injury on Sept. 30.

“I think all the guys have done a great job of picking up the slack since Santonio’s been out,” Keller said. “Everybody has been picking up a little bit. Obviously there’s not one guy that’s going to pick up all the production and do all the things that Santonio was doing for us. But the guys that are here have been doing a great job.”

The Dolphins didn’t have an answer for Holmes when the teams first met last month. Tone finished that day with nine receptions for 147 yards and the Jets picked up their lone road victory of the season, leaving Sun Life Stadium with the 23-20 overtime victory. Keller was sidelined for the matchup but still analyzed the team’s performance.

“I think we did some good things the first game,” he said. “We were lucky enough to pull away the game. I don’t think we played our best football, but we did enough in each area, special teams, defense and offense, to win the game.”

Heading into their second meeting, Keller believes the Jets have an advantage against the Miami pass defense, which is allowing 284.8 yards per game, 28th in the NFL. But regardless of what the stats indicate about Miami, Keller knows how important Sunday’s contest is. And when you consider that the Jets enter their bye week after the game, it makes things even more critical.

“I feel like all AFC East games are rivalry games,” Keller said. “Anytime you’re going to get a team twice in a season, that’s a rivalry to me. But it’s always a tough game. All the AFC East games are tough, but for some reason, Miami, it seems like it’s been a big one for us.”

Rex and Reggie

The week before the Jets faced the Dolphins last month, Jets head coach Rex Ryan made comments describing how his team planned to contain  running back Reggie Bush that drew some heat after the fact.

At the time, Ryan said, “Obviously, we have to do a great job of getting a lot of guys to him and getting him on the ground. Put some hot sauce on him, if you will.”

The Jets defeated Bush and the Dolphins, 23-20, in overtime. Bush produced 61 yards on 10 carries before leaving the game with a knee injury late in the second quarter. Late in the third quarter, Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis went down with a season-ending torn left ACL.

Days after the game, Bush said: “It’s like the old saying, what goes around comes around. They talked all week about putting hot sauce and this and that, and they ended up losing their best player for the rest of the season. So it’s sad that it happened because of that, but I’m going to be back.”

As the AFC East foes prepare to meet again Sunday, Ryan was asked about the topic during his news conference this afternoon and explained the theory behind his statement.  

“I never was saying that we were going to try to injury Reggie Bush,” Ryan said. “That’s not even close. He’s going to get our attention. I’m sorry, but he’s the type of player that’s going to warrant our attention and we’re going to give it to him, there is no question. That was what I meant by my comments. If it was taken differently, out of context or whatever, I apologized for that. Trust me, we know when he’s in the game. He is still going to get our attention.”

Ryan added that he never wants to see a player get hurt. He said as bad as he wants to beats Tom Brady, he would never want to see the Patriots QB out due to injury.

“Shoot, I’m a football fan as well as a coach,” he said. “This game is great because of the players and the talent that plays in this league.”

Bush enters Round 2 with the Green & White having started all six of Miami’s games with 98 rushes for 434 yards and three touchdowns.

Wednesday Injury Reports

The swelled-up Jets’ injury list continues to come back to earth slowly. The list now has 16 players, equal to its shortest Wednesday of the season. New to the list are TE Jeff Cumberland (wrist, did not participate) and G Vlad Ducasse (knee, full), but off the list completely are Keller, WR Stephen Hill and LB Bryan Thomas.

Eight players were DNPs for today’s practice. Besides Keller, they were NT Kenrick Ellis (knee), C Nick Mangold (ankle), RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle), LB Calvin Pace (who was kicked in the shin vs. the Patriots), RB Bilal Powell (shoulder), LB Bart Scott (toe) and S Eric Smith (knee).

McKnight is being brought along carefully after injuring the ankle against the Colts. As he said today, “If Coach Westhoff can play with a rod in his leg, I can play with a sore ankle.”

Also, NT Sione Pouha (back) was limited, as he was last Thursday and Friday. “I’m encouraged he’s out there giving it a shot this week,” said Ryan. “Big Bo” has missed the last three games and four of the seven this season.

The Dolphins’ list, on the other hand, is short by almost any standard. Only five players are listed by coach Joe Philbin: DNP — CB Richard Marshall (back) and DT Randy Starks (non-football); Limited — S Jimmy Wilson (ankle); Full — LB Koa Misi (hamstring) and RB Daniel Thomas (concussion).

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Posted in John Holt | 33 Comments »

33 Responses to “Keller’s Hitting His Stride Once More”

  1. By Howie D on Oct 24, 2012 | Reply

    Keller is a big-time player, and we need more big-time players. Problem is T’baum often fails to recognize big-time players, even when they’re on his team.

  2. By scjoe on Oct 24, 2012 | Reply

    I think it goes with out saying how important this Miami game is going to be. Going 3-5 in to the bye with road games coming up vs Seattle and St.L and a home game vs NE. There is not much room for error. Seattle on the road will be extremely tough. Of course the 2 most important in that stretch has to be Miami and NE. On that same note, take a real close look at Miami’s upcoming schedule. A loss to then this week would be devastating. Bank that!

  3. By sal cottone on Oct 24, 2012 | Reply

    Glad Keller is back, seems to be the only reciever Sanchez can hit on a regular basis. What Iam thinking about is between the running game and the QB play, how is it they are still in it. And that goes for every team in the so so called once mighty east, which in reality the past few years were the Pats and the Jets. What we all want is one year get an RG3 type player at the QB position, but I will settle for all the defensive players including Rex to drop this diet thing, and start pounding again, and Sanchez become a man and maybe salvage his carrer. Maybe woody and Jerry should talk about swapping QB’s.

  4. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Oct 25, 2012 | Reply

    Keller is okay, no more, and I don’t think he has the potential to ever be that much better, partly because he’s already every physical asset he has just to be as good as he’s been for us. Definitely not worth what Mr T will probably overpay him.

  5. By Charliejet on Oct 25, 2012 | Reply

    According to Gregg Rosenthal, Bart Scott has officially been benched with
    Demario Davis becoming the starter. I hope so.

  6. By IRA on Oct 25, 2012 | Reply

    I have always said Keller is the player that makes their offense click. He opens things up for other players and Sanchez and him have a great connection like West and Goodrich use to have back in the days. And while i like Holmes as a WR Sanchez seems more comfortable back there without him. maybe he isn’t pressured now to throw the ball to Holmes and can look to spread the ball around more.
    This week if it is a bad rain it really favors the Fish. They better be able to stop Bush or at least contain Bush this week.
    This will be an ugly game but i see and hope for a Jets 17-16 win.
    GO JETS!!!!

  7. By SCfromNY on Oct 25, 2012 | Reply

    If the Jets lose this game with all it’s obvious importance I will predict that the season is over. Another 8-8 season which I really hope fans will stop thinking of IF the Jets could get into the playoffs at 8-8. When you play for 2nd place you don’t desearve anything. I like Keller. He is very good at catching balls even those off target. I would like to see him more physical trying for YAC rather than falling down.It would be interesting to see kellers skill if his QB put the ball in a better place so he wouln’t have to stop or turn back to catch it. WHY IS TEBOW STILL ON THIS TEAM??? The experiment is over. Get a draft choice for him or trade for a LB / WR / OL / DL . . . ANYTHING.

  8. By steven on Oct 25, 2012 | Reply

    Put in the Aussie. He’s big, fast, strong and tough. He will help the team. He won’t do worse than anybody else on the team

  9. By steven on Oct 25, 2012 | Reply

    PS……What linebacker or db is going to be able to cover him? NOOOOOT.

  10. By jimmy on Oct 25, 2012 | Reply

    One high pass across the center of the field he is done. sanchez will give it to him

  11. By Byrdman on Oct 25, 2012 | Reply

    This is the pivotal game that will define our season – If Rex is unable to beat a rebuilding team with a rookie starting QB and receivers whose names are known only by diehard fans with dolphin programs – It will certainly tarnish his reputation as a brilliant defensive mind. Anyone else think they should blitz Landry more often ? I think they could utilize Landry like the Steelers do Polamalu, up in the box jumping around threatening the blitz, tackling anything that gets past the d-line, in general..wreaking havoc! Jets may (finally) have a guy that can contain Welker, Trufant’s speed and quickness covering the slot, seemed to frustrate WW last week. Kerley has made Holmes expendable, he looks like our own version of Welker !

  12. By jetsfan80 on Oct 25, 2012 | Reply

    Keller is in the top half of the league as far as tight end talent goes, but I agree with ’64 Tom here. I wouldn’t overpay at the tight end position.

  13. By GaryC on Oct 25, 2012 | Reply

    what tanny needs to do now is touch base with the ravens with Lewis out for the year and see if they would take Scott for a pick and they can plug him in to be their middle linebacker,for some reason I don’t think they will take the bait.

  14. By Byrdman on Oct 25, 2012 | Reply

    Think Keller’s blocking has improved quite a bit and he has proven to be one key piece to the puzzle offensively. Wish he were about 6’7″ but maybe Jets can find a power forward type to pair with Keller. ANYBODY but Jeff Stumblebum – Yeah the Rugby kid is intriguing but he’s still sitting there on the practice squad, he might have all the physical tools (size, speed, can catch) but lacks the concentration or memory to learn the playbook. I’m curious to see what (if anything) Tebow could bring to TE, put him in motion, get him the ball out on the edge. Seems like almost any other OC could design a few creative plays for Tebow There’s a ton of NFL history where athletic college QB’s didn’t cut it as NFL QB’s but, thrived at another position

  15. By uncle joe on Oct 25, 2012 | Reply

    Keller is a short tight end with average hands and blocking ability,but he seems like a good soldier and team player. Doubt many teams will blow us out of the water for his services so at a fair price I would like to see him back.

  16. By reno on Oct 25, 2012 | Reply

    So jet fan whosit says Keller is OK Must be true since he seems to be the resident expert on a sport he so obviously never played. Did not Keller lead the entire team in recptions last year ? I mean if he did that would be a little better than OK would it not? When you say OK who are you supposed to be comparing him to Lyn Swan ? You gotta love these easychair QB.s that second guess everthing and eveyone while the sip thier cocktail in their cozy dens and then pronounce grades on players when the only “sport ” they ever played was golf and the called it early after 11 holes becuse it began to drizzel.

  17. By uncle joe on Oct 25, 2012 | Reply

    I’ve said it a million times here, addition by subtraction. Without Holmes this offense will get better each week.Should’ve kept Edwards, would’ve been ALOT cheaper and he is a great blocker. Maybe we can send him to Denver for our Tebow trade picks back!

  18. By uncle joe on Oct 25, 2012 | Reply

    And give Trufant a long term deal now before Belichick swoops in and grabs him!

  19. By Tom Spicer on Oct 25, 2012 | Reply

    This is a must win we can ot go into the bye at 3 & 5!

  20. By uncle joe on Oct 25, 2012 | Reply

    And Maybin should keep his mouth shut and keep in good graces with the other 31 teams because his time here might be coming to an end soon.

  21. By Tom Spicer on Oct 25, 2012 | Reply

    I said Landry was a big pickup in the offseason & I was mocked about how he is always hurt. Meanwhile like I said he is arguably the best player on our D right now. Worst case he is our 3rd best if you put him any lower than that you have not been watching the games!

  22. By reno on Oct 25, 2012 | Reply

    Keller is a very good TE and with a top 10 QB would in fact be great. I use to play this postion so I think I know what I am talking about. Do you realize how difficult most of the blocking asigments are for a TE? Probably not but many times where a good run is sprung or a blitz sack avoided it is because of a key block by a TE. Keller is not a great blocker but he is becomeing a good one and I have seen many difficult key blocks he has made. Do you even know what postion he is typically called on to block in lets say a even a simple sweep ? By the nature of the position a TE is going to get creamed on many receptions often by the LB. Do you know what it takes to take a hit like that and hold on or even concentrate on the ball ? con’t’

  23. By reno on Oct 25, 2012 | Reply

    Why do you think TE are getting bigger? Sure it’s for blocking but also because they are vunerable and have to take tremrendous hits, by LB”s and SS,s and hold on, and get those few extra yards. When your in the huddle and the call your # and you just know it’s the wrong play at the wrong time and then you line up and it feels like the LB is staring right at you and you just know he smells the play and he is ready, and you know your going to get totally rocked, and then he shouts something at you. Well ,untile you know that feeling in the pit of your stomach you can;t judge. I respect and admire Dustin Keller he is tought, makes the tought plays and holds on he is not an OK TE he is a good one. I know what it takes.

  24. By JetBlue on Oct 25, 2012 | Reply

    Keller is a nice to have player but lets not go to deep into the pocket to sign him. Spend the money on rebuilding through the draft. Stop trading draft picks for guys like Tebow and Sanchez and learn how to evaluate talent so you get value in every round. Before free agency, teams had to have good scouts or they got bad players. The departure of The Terminator was just another indicator of this organization’s inability to draft players that fit into thier system. That’s probably because we don’t have a system. Are we a defensive team? A running team? A wide open passing team? A well balanced team? This team lacks identity. It starts at the top.

  25. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Oct 25, 2012 | Reply

    reno, as you see above, everyone but you discusses Keller in terms of his relative worth per how he matches up against other TE’s in the league, in which direction the position is going, and just how much money he’s worth on a team that’s recently made some very curious contract decisions. Your post? Airheaded praise and juvenile personal insults directed at someone you don’t and never will know. Next you’ll tell me I have a $5 trillion tax cut that I actually don’t have, but I tune that noise out just like I tune out uninformed folks like you. So try actually watching a few games and applying what little on-the-field experience you have to that and you might learn something about this game, this team, and why folks post here as they do.

  26. By Mike Jet Vet on Oct 25, 2012 | Reply

    Keller is a slightly oversize Wide out. very good hands and player. He’s average for a Modern day TE . anyone watching today’s game understands how football has evolved , Sanchez Rex Tony whom ever, uses him more as a slot receiver short yardage up the middle, without traditional Blocking capability and in today’s game, That makes him average at best. But for us the jets he make a FEW plays does his job wow he’s a super star,Look at good teams around the league . They have big strong receivers catching the long ball on a regular basis. Than Have TE’s blocking catching long short over the middle screens whole package

  27. By MIKE on Oct 25, 2012 | Reply

    Seems like 10 years ago Keller was making that really annoying first down move after each and every catch he made from Favre. Now he only does it when it matters. He has developed to be a very nice receiver.

    Keller makes the 2008 draft seem much better if you just think of him being out first round pick instead of Vernon Gholston. I do believe the Jets moved up to 32nd overall to take him.

  28. By sal cottone on Oct 26, 2012 | Reply

    The pats will go after him, They seem to like our TE’s for some reason. Being Holmes was brought up, I put him in with the load of other busts TheTatenbaum Ryan braintrust has stuck us with. I liked the effort the seecondary is doing without Revis, and no pass rush as usuall. What gave ryan his name as a defensive guru was the Ravens squad , and there pass rush and the vacum they have in thier secondary, plus being a Ryan. The Defense here has softened each year since he has been head coach!

  29. By JetBlue on Oct 26, 2012 | Reply

    Pretending you were playing TE in your backyard when you were 8 yrs old doesn’t make you an expert on talent. Some advice: Come back in and post your opinions without coming down on long-time posters like 64Tom. If you read all of the posts, you’ll find that we can disagree, and even throw a little sarcasm at each other, but it is not personal. Bring it on, but respect the Blog. BTW, Sanchez/Rex/Tanny together make up the worst QB/Coach/GM in football. Find a tandem that is worse than those three.

  30. By scjoe on Oct 26, 2012 | Reply

    JetBlue…Well said bro!!!

  31. By AirForceOne on Oct 26, 2012 | Reply

    I will not argue that Keller may not be the greatest TE, but he is Mark’s security blanket though torn and tattered some, when he has it he is a lot more comfortable than he would be with a shiny new one! Which he may not even like or use! So we shouldn’t empty our bank to resign him, we should do what we have to, to keep him on the team.

  32. By Allan O'Dane on Oct 26, 2012 | Reply

    You know when you have a medicore team? when every game is a must win. Dustin Keller is on the radar of the Atlanta falcons. And knowing the NYJ ( Mike T. ) they will find a way to let him go. They say Tebow is overrated? maybe overhyped but not overrated. This kid has a lot talent..tough as they come. Ryan/Sparano are just not using him enough in key situations. I say inside the 10 give it to the kid. And just like 64tom said..what is our identity? Even rex doesn’t know

  33. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Oct 26, 2012 | Reply

    MJV, your comments today about Sanchez, Keller, and the Jets’ O in general are very impressive, very rooted in reality instead of the usual nonsense that Rex tries to sell when talking about the O. JetBlue, re this reno person, I just made a similar post but it was also directed at Randy, who surprises me when he prints stuff like this. When someone insults someone apart from the question of his comments about football, what is the attacked person to say? “You never played anything but golf, too?” I can understand people railing at each other that they know nothing about football, though I try not to say things like that, because at least they’re still talking about football. Randy does a great job but he might step it up on this pt.

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