Players were stretching and sprinting on the outside turf field at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center this morning, and the middle grass field was dotted with small cones and larger day-glo orange yard-markers — G, 20, 40, 40, 20, G.
The new season has hit another milestone with the start of the Jets’ voluntary offseason program.
Among the players on hand are the roster’s entire quarterback contingent plus key players from both sides of the ball — DE Muhammad Wilkerson, LB David Harris, CB Antonio Cromartie and tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson — to get started on Phase 1 of the program, a two-week period during which activities are limited to strength and conditioning and physical rehabilitation only, under the guidance of strength coach Justus Galac and his staff, Paul Ricci, Pierre Ngo and intern Jason Oszvart.
“For us it’s really about reducing the injuries and creating an atmosphere for the player to train in that is exciting,” Galac told Eric Allen for Jets Talk Live recently. “They come in there and they’re ready to work. For the players, my job is to make them bigger, faster and stronger — we all know that.
“But it always comes back to being an explosive player, not only working on our explosive power for the big guys and the hips and the hang cleans and the jumps, but the speed work, and that comes back to the skill players and working with plyometrics. Really building a foundation program where, when they walk out after the workout, they feel more explosive, they feel stronger, they feel bigger, and they feel like they got a good workout in.”
The Jets’ program is one of 32 around the NFL that is getting under way these days. Eight teams got started April 1-2, while three won’t get cranking until a week from today. For the other 21, today’s the day to welcome players back to facilities start sweatin’ to the sounds of 2013.
Article 21 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement establishes an official, voluntary nine-week program for each club that is conducted in three phases. After Phase 1, Phase 2 for each team’s offseason schedule consists of weeks 3-5 during which on-field workouts may include individual player instruction and drills as well as team practices conducted on a “separates” basis. No live contact or team offense vs. defense drills are permitted.
Phase 3 consists of the final four weeks of the program, during which teams may conduct a total of 10 days of organized team practice activity — OTAs. No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills are permissible.
The Jets’ OTA workouts have been scheduled for May 20, 22-23, 28 and 30-31, and June 3-6. The Green & White’s mandatory minicamp is set for June 11-13.
RFA Tender Offers Signed
The Jets announced today that RT Austin Howard has signed his tender offer as a restricted free agent. This comes a week after TE Jeff Cumberland signed his RFA tender offer to remain with the team. Howard was tendered at a second-round level. Cumberland was a right-of-first-refusal tender.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Austin Howard, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, David Harris, Muhammad Wilkerson, offseason strength and conditioning program
Posted in Randy Lange | 29 Comments »
A note out of the owners’ meetings in Phoenix. The NFL has announced its 2012 Performance-Based Pay distributions, and one Jet made it into the top 10 with his bonus: right tackle Austin Howard, whose league bonus was a cool $261,431.
Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict was the chart-topper with his $299,465 bonus in the NFL program that compensates players for playing time based on their salary levels. About $110.72 million will be distributed to players for their performance during last season.
Players have been paid nearly $700 million cumulatively since the inception of the Performance-Based Pay program, which was implemented as part of the NFL’s 2002 CBA with the NFL Players Association. The pool returns this year after not being in effect for the 2010 and ’11 league years.
Under the system, a fund is created and used as a supplemental form of player compensation based on a comparison of playing time to salary. Players become eligible to receive a bonus distribution in any regular season in which they play at least one official down.
Performance-Based Pay is computed by using a “player index.” To produce the index, a player’s regular-season playtime — total plays on offense, defense and special teams — is divided by his adjusted regular-season compensation — full season salary, prorated portion of signing bonus, earned incentives. Each player’s index is then compared to those of the other players on his team to determine the amount of his pay.
Unofficially, Howard participated in 1,073 of the Jets’ 1,074 offensive plays, missing his one play in the 29-26 overtime loss at New England in October. With his special teams work added in, he was in for 1,132 plays, the most by an offensive player on the Jets last season and second-most on the team behind LB David Harris’ 1,196 plays.
New Rules in the Books
The NFL passed six new rules for the coming season, with several worth noting here. The famous or infamous Tuck Rule, depending on your rooting interests, is no more, or at least has been modified so that when a passer loses the ball as he brings it back toward his body, it is now a fumble rather than an incompletion. Reportedly the rule passed, 29-1, with Pittsburgh the only team voting in favor of keeping the old Tuck Rule and New England and Washington abstaining.
Another rule that has drawn attention is the restrictions placed on ballcarriers and defensive players regarding forcible contact with the crown of the helmet. A number of current and former players have voiced some concerns and criticisms of this rule, but Jeff Fisher, Rams head coach and competition committee member, said after a 15-minute conversation with Eddie George, his former power back on the Titans, George changed his mind and said he would be in favor of that.
New Jets RB Mike Goodson also agreed. On his conference call with Jets reporters this afternoon, he said about striking a defender with the crown of the helmet, “I never thought you were supposed to do that anyway, so that probably won’t affect me that much.”
Tags: Austin Howard, Jeff Fisher, Mike Goodson, Performance-Based Pay, Vontaze Burfict
Posted in Randy Lange | 78 Comments »
Late Tuesday the NFL finally released its official list of available free agents in four different categories for the signing period that began at 4 p.m. While most of you already are aware of this information and a lot more, for those who haven’t heard and in the interest of bookkeeping, here is a summation of what the release reads regarding the Jets:
Restricted Free Agents who received Qualifying Offers from their Prior Clubs and are subject to the First Refusal/Compensation system of the NFL CBA
T Austin Howard, Round 2
TE Jeff Cumberland, right of first refusal
The Round 2 designation for Howard is the pick a new club, if it were to sign Howard to an offer sheet, must send to the Jets, its own choice or a better choice in the round for the April draft. In Cumberland’s case, there is no compensation for a new club that would like to sign him to an offer sheet but the Jets still retain the right to match the offer and retain Cumberland. Offer sheets may be submitted up until Friday, April 19, one second before midnight.
Unrestricted Free Agents with four or more accrued seasons
S Yeremiah Bell
DT Mike DeVito
WR Braylon Edwards
K Nick Folk
RB Shonn Greene
RB Lex Hilliard
TE Dustin Keller
S LaRon Landry
G Brandon Moore
WR Chaz Schilens
G Matt Slauson
LB Bryan Thomas
Players with fewer than four accrued seasons who received no Qualifying Offer or minimum tender from their Prior Clubs
TE Dedrick Epps
LS Tanner Purdum
The fourth category is players who have been designated Franchise Players, but the Jets did not so designate anyone.
Tags: Austin Howard, Brandon Moore, Dustin Keller, Jeff Cumberland, LaRon Landry, Nick Folk, restricted free agents, Shonn Greene, unrestricted free agents, Yeremiah Bell
Posted in Randy Lange | 88 Comments »
Here are today’s first-half tweets for the Jets-Bills game at Ralph Wilson Stadium, in case you missed them on Twitter. Follow Bob Wischusen, Eric Allen and me for our tweets during each Jets game on https://twitter.com/nyjets.
#RL Jets gameday captains: G Brandon Moore, DT Mike DeVito, T D’Brickashaw Ferguson, WR Jordan White, CB Darrin Walls
#RL Shonn Greene has 17 yards on 3 carries, has reached 1,000 rushing yards for the second straight season.
#RL Nick Folk 47-yd FG is good. Folk now 19-for-24 on season, 11-for-13 career vs BUF. Jets lead 3-0…
#RL Jets have 2 TDs, 2 FGs on 16 opening drives this season.
#EA Entering Week 17, teams averaged 5.1 a carry on the Bills D. Jets ran 9 times on that 1st drive for 42 yards — a 4.7 average.
#RL Jets lead the NFL with 27 inside-the-20 kickoffs but ex-Jet Brad Smith doesn’t cooperate, going 27 yds on KO return to BUF 31.
#RL With BUF punt, Jets opponents have gone their last 6 opening drives w/o scoring a point. (4 TDs, 2 FGs on 16 opening drives overall.)
#RL LB Bryan Scott nabs Mark Sanchez pass, goes 20 yds for BUF TD. 2nd INT-return TD vs. Sanchez this season, 7th in his career.
#RL Lex Hilliard’s first catch in 6 games goes for 7 yds on 3rd-and-7 for 1st down at BUF 44 as 1st qtr comes to an end.
#EA Giveaways have been a problem the entire season. The Jets now have 36 and that was the 19th INT.
#RL Nick Folk 2-for-2 on FGs today, although his 23-yarder just got over the crossbar after tip by Alex Carrington. Folk on year: 20-for-25.
#EA Powell almost equaled a career-long with that 18-yard run. He had a 19-yarder vs. the Cards on Dec. 2.
#EA With 51 yards on the ground, Greene is up to 1,040. He needs only 15 yards to set a career-high (1,054 in 2011).
#RL Bilal Powell 33-yard reception wiped out by Austin Howard hold. So Jeremy Kerley goes 40 yds on third-and-16…
#RL Jets’ longest 3rd-down conversion on a pass play since Mark Sanchez-to-Braylon Edwards for 34 yds on 3rd-and-21 @ MIA in 2009.
#RL Nick Folk 28-yd FG gives Jets 9-7 lead. Folk’s first 3-FG first half since 2010 Game 5 vs. MIN.
#RL CJ Spiller 66-yd TD catch/run longest reception by opposing RB in road game since Fred Taylor 72 yds w/ Mark Brunell pass @ JAX ’02.
#RL Jets CB Donnie Fletcher has hamstring injury, his return to this game is questionable.
#RL Jets hold edges in yards (204-132), 1st downs (13-4), possession (23:04-6:46) but Bills have 14-9 halftime lead.
#RL Jets’ 23:14 first-half possession time is their most in 1st half since 2009 “Win and We’re In” Game 16 vs CIN (24:50).
Tags: Austin Howard, Bilal Powell, Brandon Moore, Braylon Edwards, Buffalo Bills, C.J. Spiller, Mark Sanchez, Nick Folk, Ralph Wilson Stadium, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Shonn Greene
Posted in Randy Lange | 152 Comments »
It was a typical Wednesday practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center this afternoon.
Yet from an outsider’s perspective it never appeared that way.
Two days of uncertainty regarding who the Jets’ starting quarterback at Jacksonville would be came to an end this morning when head coach Rex Ryan announced that he would be sticking with Mark Sanchez.
“It wasn’t too big of a shock to the guys,” wide receiver Jeremy Kerley said.
“It really was no news to take in,” right tackle Austin Howard added. “Personnel decisions are made by Rex, the GM and the owner. They’ve been here a long time to make those decisions.”
Just three days ago, as the Jets were facing the Arizona Cardinals, Ryan decided in the third quarter that it was the appropriate time to pull Sanchez from the game. The QB had struggled mightily all afternoon, throwing three interceptions in his first nine pass attempts, and also was sacked three times. The benching proved to be the first time the fourth-year QB had been taken out of a game as a pro.
“I think quarterbacks get a lot of the blame for everything, good or bad,” Kerley said. “But I think it falls a lot on his shoulders, good or bad. But we’re an offense. We don’t point fingers. We take the blame for what we put out there.”
With backup quarterback Tim Tebow unavailable to go due to broken ribs, third-stringer Greg McElroy entered the game and led the Jets to the come-from-behind 7-6 win.
“I think for Greg, it just gives him the confidence,” tight end Konrad Reuland said. “Whenever his number is called in the future, he has the confidence to go out there, and he knows he’s led a comeback victory already in his career, threw a touchdown pass on his first drive. So I don’t know how you wouldn’t have confidence after the way he played. I think in the long run, it might make this team stronger, because now we have three quarterbacks that have experience what it’s like to lead teams to comeback victories and win games in the NFL.”
On Monday, Ryan said he needed more time to make his decision and he wanted to make sure to get feedback from several of his coaching counterparts before announcing anything.
“It was Rex’s decision,” cornerback Ellis Lankster said. “We’re not mad or anything. We’re just going to follow Rex’s decision and going to play behind him.”
The players had the previous two days off from practice, but that didn’t mean the QB chatter wasn’t heard around them.
“I was walking into stores and people were asking me about it,” Lankster said. “I was like, ‘I don’t know. I haven’t been to practice or anything yet.’ So I didn’t know what it was going to be.”
Other players simply ignored the matter.
“I don’t really pay much attention to it,” guard Brandon Moore said. “It’ll get figured out. That’s why Rex is the head coach and he makes those decisions. I’ve got to worry about the game plan.”
While the decision wasn’t an easy one for Ryan to make, it’s clear that year four for Sanchez hasn’t been as smooth as many anticipated it would be. The Jets offense ranks 31st in the NFL and No. 6 has thrown 13 interceptions and had 18 turnovers through the team’s 12 games this season.
“I think everybody does the best job they can,” rookie WR Jordan White said. “Nobody goes in there and wants to mess up at any position. You just do the best you can. Some things might not go your way sometimes, but what can you do but come back to work the next day and get back to it. That’s what everybody’s done.”
The issue with Sanchez has never been his drive. Many of teammates say he’s one of the most dedicated people inside the locker room.
“Mark’s a very hard worker,” fullback Lex Hilliard said. “Week in and week out, he’s here constantly, sometimes till 10 or 11 o’clock at night.”
Reuland, who also was Sanchez’s teammate at Mission Viejo High School, described a story of when their school lost in a California Interscholastic Federation championship game during Sanchez’s junior year and how that loss inspired the QB.
“They didn’t have a state championship in California back then,” Reuland said. “But it was basically as far as you could go. It was a big loss and he bounced right back the next season and led us to a No. 2 ranking in the country, undefeated [season]. He bounced back from that.
“That was definitely an adverse situation because we were expected to win it all. But I don’t think he would be here, at this level, if he didn’t know how to overcome adversity. Look at his career at USC. He battled for three years before getting a chance to start. As soon as he did, he took advantage of it.”
The players were going to support Ryan’s decision either way. But now that it’s been made, everyone was pleased it didn’t drag out.
“I think the clarification is good on all parts, receivers, tight ends, running backs,” Kerley said. “The whole offense, we needed that.”
And what seemed to impress Sanchez’s teammates most was the way the quarterback processed the situation he’d been dealt.
“Hats off to Mark,” Howard said. “He handled it like a pro.”
“He was very supportive of Greg,” Reuland said. “And I know it was tough for him, but at the same time he was very supportive. I feel like Mark just wants to win like all of us. Obviously deep down, it’s got to hurt a little bit. But at the same time, I think he did a good job of cheering us on and I feel like he’s going to bounce back.”
While many probably have lost belief in Sanchez, the people who truly count most have not.
“I got a lot of faith in him,” Lankster said.
“He’s going to put his best foot forward and give the team the best shot he’s got,” Hilliard said. “So that’s all you can really ask for.”
It’ll be interesting to see how Sanchez performs Sunday in Jacksonville. But one big question was answered today and people have to accept it one way or another.
“I think with Mark, it’s literally just he’s a couple of great plays away from being right back to where he’s been in the past,” Reuland said. “Everyone in here has been through a time where they were a little down on themselves or whatever and all it takes is one or two plays to get right back out of it — ‘Oh, wait, yeah, I can do this.’ So I think that’s going to happen. I think that’s going to happen in this game.”
Wednesday Injury Reports
The Jets’ injury list is at 22 players today. New to the list: WR Stephen Hill didn’t practice with a knee injury, DT Mike DeVito (shin) was full-go and so was FB Lex Hilliard (finger). Two other DNPs were WR Clyde Gates (concussion) and TE Dustin Keller (ankle). Four limited players: RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle/ribs), G Brandon Moore (hip), NT Sione Po‘uha (back) and QB Tim Tebow (ribs). The Jets’ full injury list can be found here.
The Jaguars listed eight players who didn’t practice today, among them RBs Maurice Jones-Drew (foot), Greg Jones (thigh) and Rashad Jennings (concussion), centers Brad Meester (foot) and Michael Brewster (hand), WR Cecil Shorts (concussion), CB Aaron Ross (calf) and DE George Selvie (concussion).
Limited were CB Derek Cox (hamstring) and DE Austen Lane (foot). Full were DT Tyson Alualu (calf) and CB Rashean Mathis (groin).
The Elias Sports Bureau has revised the scoring of three plays, all of them sacks, in the Jets-Cardinals game. The Cards’ final offensive play of the game was originally scored a split sack between DE Muhammad Wilkerson and LB Bart Scott, who swarmed rookie Ryan Lindley, but upon further review, the full sack has been given to Wilkerson, which lifts him past Bryan Thomas’ 2.5 sacks and into the team lead with 3.0 sacks.
The other two sack revisions were both on Arizona takedowns of Mark Sanchez. The early-second-quarter sack split between LB Sam Acho and DT Darnell Dockett now goes fully to Acho. And the late-second-quarter sack divvied up between S Adrian Wilson and DT David Carter now goes all to Wilson.
Tags: Austin Howard, Brandon Moore, Jacksonville Jaguars, Jeremy Kerley, Jordan White, Konrad Reuland, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan
Posted in John Holt | 70 Comments »
Right tackle Austin Howard has a name for the situation. “When it’s third-and-short,” he said, “it’s go time.”
And the Jets have green-lighted themselves to the head of the NFL when it comes to converting those plays. For instance, of all the runners who have picked up every third-and-1 they’ve attempted this season, Shonn Greene is first among equals, going 7-for-7 in his carries.
If we extend the definition to third-and-1-or-2 and fourth-and-1-or-2, when the Jets run the ball in those situations, they’re the only perfect team left in the NFL at 13-for-13, and they have also led the league for 2011-12 (27-for-33, 81.8%), 2010-12 (49-for-61, 80.3%), and 2009-12 (76-for-98, 77.6%).
“We definitely want to be the aggressor, be physical on those plays,” said Howard.
“We don’t do any gimmicks, we don’t do anything tricky like that,” LG Matt Slauson added. “Anthony Lynn has a great plan every week. But when you have a line like ours and a big bruiser-type running back like Shonn, we want that responsibility on us. We feel like we’re big and strong and we’re able to get that yard.”
Lynn, the Jets’ RBs coach since ’09, explained the philosophy behind the Green & White’s third-and-short success.
“We want to have more completions and rushing attempts than anybody we play. If you do that, you’re going to win a lot of football games,” Lynn said. “But in order to do that, you have to be able to extend drives. And if you’re committed to running the football, you’re going to find yourself in third-and-short a lot. So we spend a lot of time in the offseason studying that situation and what fits our personnel the best. We really take time and we game-plan it.
“Shonn is built for that situation. He’s a power guy, and a lot of times he gets you more than 1 yard. And when there’s nothing there, you have to have a guy who can win, and he’s done a good job of that. But our double teams up front on the line, those have been outstanding also. Vertical push is something we emphasize a lot in our offense.”
It’s not just about short yardage for Greene and the Jets’ blockers but also about goal line, with many of the same concepts applied to both. But when it comes to GL, it’s been a mixed back for the Jets. Greene’s had two 1-yard touchdown runs this season, vs. Buffalo in the opener and at New England to successfully conclude the opening drive Sunday.
But goal line, considered by the Jets to be plays inside the opponents’ 5-yard line, hasn’t been nearly as successful as the garden-variety short-yardage plays.
“Toward the end of this season, I hope we get back into the top five in the league,” said Lynn. “Right now we’re on the outside looking in. We had a terrible series the last time we played Miami. Those guys do a heck of a job in both situations, short yardage and goal line.”
Indeed, a first-and-goal at the 3 led to a Mark Sanchez end zone interception and a first-and-goal at the 1 yielded only a Nick Folk field goal in the Jets’ overtime win. Meanwhile, the Dolphins scored on a pair of 1-yarders in Game 3, by RB Daniel Thomas and FB Jorvorskie Lane.
This game could also come down to who can do a better job at moving the ball that final 36 inches at key times in the game. And as Slauson said, when the Jets offense is in that situation and a run is called, “We just expect we are going to get it.”
What Goes On in the Pile …
It was one of those small but delightful and ultimately fairly significant plays that happens during the course of many NFL games. Recall late in the first quarter of the Jets-Patriots game when Shonn Greene caught a pass, was hit by LB Jerod Mayo and lost the ball. After Greene was surrounded by no fewer than five Patriots and a few of his teammates joined in, who should come out of the pile with the ball but No. 87 in green and white.
Where did Konrad Reuland come from?
“I was on the other side of the field,” Reuland recalled. “I saw the ball get knocked loose and I saw Shonn kind of straddling the ball, almost, reaching for it down by his legs. I knew he was going to be fighting for it with three or four guys.
“And I just said, you know what? I’m going to dive in there and see if I can find this thing and get a hand on it.”
Nineteen seconds of real time passed from when Reuland muscled Devin McCourty out of the way and burrowed into the mass of bodies to when he popped back out holding his prize aloft and saying, audible on the game video: “I got it! I got it!”
The CBS broadcast team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms captured this unlikely turn of events as they analyzed the replay.
“Yeah, it’s definitely a fumble,” said Simms. “And what a job by Reuland getting under this pile and getting that football.”
Nantz: “Look, he’s nowhere even in the frame here … he’s still not in the frame.”
“He’s still not in the frame,” Simms echoed.
Nantz: “I tell you what, then he comes in at the last minute. Great play by Reuland.”
RBs coach Anthony Lynn was also in agreement. “That was an outstanding play by Konrad. You talk about hustling to the football.”
Needless to say, the Jets ultimately lost the game in overtime, but it’s not too hard to see Reuland helping to keep this game close with his recovery. The Pats, who had just opened a 14-7 lead, would’ve had the ball back at the Jets 49. Another quick six for Tom Brady and friends and things could’ve snowballed. Instead, the Jets punted, the Patriots took over at their 20 and also punted. Close game on.
Reuland wasn’t necessarily known as a fumble mole before, but he said he did the same thing for San Francisco in a preseason game this summer.
“The way I look at it,” he said, “until they’ve ruled it the other team’s ball, I’m fighting for it because you never know.”
One perhaps final note: The Patriots statistical crew didn’t award the recovery to Reuland. They said Greene recovered his own fumble. Perhaps the play will be reviewed and the record set right. But as No. 87 said, “I’m willing to give it Shonn. Let him get credit for it. Either way, the fact that our team got it is what counts.”
Friday Injury Reports
LB Bart Scott (toe) is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game with the Dolphins after sitting out all three practice this week for the first time since injuring his big toe early against the ‘Fins in Miami in Week 3. Scott is joined by RB Bilal Powell (shoulder) and NT Kenrick Ellis (knee) as doubtfuls.
But the rest of the squad seems to be ready to suit up for the rivalry game, and that includes NT Sione Po‘uha (back), S Eric Smith (knee), C Nick Mangold (ankle), TE Jeff Cumberland (wrist) and RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle), all listed as questionable. All were limited at today’s practice except for McKnight, who was a DNP for the third time this week.
“For Sione, it’s not just about being able to protect yourself but being effective,” Ryan said. “I feel good about that. I think Sione will play.”
The rest of the Jets were full practicers and are probable for the game.
The Dolphins added two players to Friday’s report in DE Cameron Wake (neck, limited), and S Reshad Jones (heel, full). But they seem in fine health for the game with Wake, Jones, RB Daniel Thomas (concussion), LB Koa Misi (hamstring) and S Jimmy Wilson (ankle) listed as probable, while starting CB Richard Marshall (back) didn’t practice today and is listed as out.
Tags: Anthony Lynn, Austin Howard, Jim Nantz, Konrad Reuland, Matt Slauson, Miami Dolphins, Phil Simms, Rex Ryan, Shonn Greene, Sione Pouha, third-and-1
Posted in Randy Lange | 36 Comments »
Today’s practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center was kind of a cooling-down day from Rex Ryan’s special “Bloody Nose Wednesday, Special Thursday Edition” that he conducted the day before.
“We put in an extra period Wednesday, a little eight-minute period,” said the Jets head coach of the idea suggested by OL coach Dave DeGuglielmo to fire up the team in general and two areas in particular, the rushing offense and the run defense. “It was ones vs. ones, your base power boss running game against the defense. It was all runs, one play-actoin. We put our guys out there, put the ball down and said, ‘Let’s have at it.’
“I challenged our guys to really compete against each other, and the only way you get better is when you go full-speed against each other. And that’s what we did. It was an outstanding period, to the point where I’m like, ‘Oh, man, is that it?’ The period was over and I wished we could keep going.”
There are obvious restrictions, both CBA and coaching-wise, on having slam-bam practices like this. Only one full-pads practice is allowed per week, so Thursday was it for the Jets. It wasn’t tackling to the ground — that’s a sure way to get some more in-season injuries — but it was close.
“The backs, the quarterbacks, the receivers, we took care of them,” said rookie DT Quinton Coples. “But in the trenches, it was a dirty world.”
“We just had to get back to fundamentals,” said LB Nick Bellore. “Sometimes you get caught up in keeping each other healthy, but sometimes you’ve just got to go full-speed.”
“I don’t think it’s fun for nobody,” said Coples. “It’s old-school football, best man wins every rep.”
While it wasn’t necessarily fun, it seems the players as well as Ryan and his coaches knew something had to be tried, to help the OL work on staying on its blocks, the DL to get off blocks and cut down on the coaches’ count of 17 missed tackles vs. San Francisco, and equally important to jolt the team from any lingering 49ers doldrums in time to tackle the undefeated Texans on Monday night.
Ryan said the eight minutes of pad-popping intensity was worth it.
“It was just the focus, guys really competing against each other, knowing that’s what we have to do to get better,” he said. “If you’re not working hard, you’re not going to get better. So it’s a win-win situation. When you put that kind of emphasis on it, you’re taking care of each other by competing at a 100 percent level against each other.”
Will it achieve the desired effects? We’ll see the results in three nights’ time.
We checked in with RT Austin Howard the other week about the music he listens to as he warms up to play in a game. He gave a few names of his favorite old-school pregame performers — Sam Cooke and Marcel Howard.
That Cooke guy we’ve heard of. But Marcel who?
Austin’s brother, of course.
“Marcel lives in Chicago and one of his hobbies is putting together beats, tracks,” Howard said. “He sends them to me usually Friday night or Saturday night when I get to the team hotel.”
A Windy City musician, then?
“It’s just one of his hobbies, but he has worked with some artists,” he said. “He does all instrumental music. He has his own unique style, not specifically hip-hop, whatever he feels.”
If Howard appears to be feeling it against the Texans’ J.J. Watt, Connor Barwin, Brooks Reed and company, we could credit the all-in-the-family tunes that got his mind right in the hours before opening kickoff.
Friday is like Thursday this week when it comes to injury reports.
And just as they have most weeks this year, they’ve added another player to their report as the week has gone on. Today it’s RB-KOR(-DB?) Joe McKnight, who was sent home with an illness and did not participate in practice. He’s the 25th Jet listed this week.
There are three other changes from Thursday’s list. LBs Bart Scott (toe) and Bryan Thomas (hamstring) were limited after not working yesterday. And S LaRon Landry (heel) spent his usual middle practice day of the week as a DNP.
Ryan was non-committal about his non-participants, in particular TE Dustin Keller and WR Stephen Hill, both sidelined with hamstring issues. “The fact that they’re now out another day of practice isn’t good,” he said, adding, “I know they’re making improvements, they’re making strides.”
The Texans added LG Wade Smith (knee) as a DNP today. Along with C Chris Myers (back, full) and G Antoine Caldwell (ankle/knee, limited), their three interior OL starters are on the list. So are three of their biggest skill players: RB Arian Foster (hamstring, full), WR Andre Johnson (groin, limited) and TE Owen Daniels (thigh, limited). They’re listing 17 players on their latest report.
Mangold Jersey App Opp
Laura Clemente tells us that there’s a one-of-a-kind opportunity ahead for all you Nick Mangold fans to get a No. 74 jersey signed by none other than No. 74 himself. If you’re not at Monday night’s Jets-Texans game at MetLife Stadium, then you’ll no doubt be tuned in to ESPN. While you’re watching, check into the game with the Viggle app via your Smartphone or iPad for that opportunity to win the jersey. You can download the Viggle app from the App Store or Google Play.
Tags: Austin Howard, Dave DeGuglielmo, Houston Texans, Nick Bellore, Nick Mangold, Quinton Coples, Rex Ryan, San Francisco 49ers
Posted in Randy Lange | 28 Comments »
Austin Howard described what his pregame routine might sound before he takes those first reps under the Jets’ right tackle spotlight against Mario Williams and the Buffalo Bills on Sunday afternoon.
“You get the music going and you start focusing on specific plays, different scenarios that may happen throughout the game,” said Howard, the 6’7″, 333-pound third-year man who’s been a Jets starter for all of three preseason games. “You just really get focused and zoned in on what you’ve got to do.”
What music might be on the Howard iPod? “I like hip-hop, sometimes I like slow music,” he said. “I like a wide variety. I couldn’t tell you that I have a favorite artist. I even like the old school artists, like Sam Cooke.”
Now Sam Cooke is someone from my generation. But what does that tell us about how Howard will fare under the blare of the opening-day playlist against the Bills’ vaunted rebuilt D-line? By about 4:15 Sunday afternoon, will it be a “Wonderful World” (No. 2 on the U.S. R&B charts in 1960) for him or will he have found himself on a “Lonely Island” (No. 10, 1958)?
We’ve seen any number of Jets offensive linemen come and go over the years. Some hold up quite well and settle in for long careers in green and white; others impersonate the turnstiles at the MetLife Stadium gates.
We’ll know soon enough how things will go for Howard, but from this week’s practice and his time before the reporters in the locker room, he seems to be warming to the task at hand, not just on Sunday but for a longer haul. His patter is generally on the safe side, but his jaw his set, his stare is steady, and he even has allowed a smile to flash across his serious demeanor the past three days.
He’s very much in the O-line group mindset, deflecting questions of Super Mario into how the Jets’ line will show up against Williams and Mark Anderson at the ends and Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus at the tackles.
“As a unit, we’ve been preparing our butts off. Our coaches have made sure we’re prepared in the classroom, on the field, run-blocking schemes, pass-blocking schemes. They’ve made sure to prepare us in every aspect of the game, so we’re really excited and really looking forward to this weekend.”
But how about when it’s M.Williams at left end vs. Howard at right tackle, no TE help, no backs chipping out of the backfield, mano a mano?
One means of comparison for Howard and for Jets fans is how he did against Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware in his only prior regular-season start, at left tackle in the final game of the 2010 season for the Eagles, who had locked up the NFC East title and were locked in at the No. 3 seed. How does he rate Ware vs. Williams?
“They both have good motors, a lot of different moves, a lot of things you have to prepare for,” he said. “You have to study them very intently, take every opportunity you can to learn their different moves.”
And how did he fare vs. Ware?
“I gave up a couple of sacks to DeMarcus,” he said, unflinchingly. “That was a game I learned from and I’ll always remember.”
Whether he’ll have good memories or bad from Sunday’s first RS start as a Jet remains to be seen. Howard is tipping his hand only a little as to what he thinks is ahead.
“Honestly, I have no expectations. I know I have to go out there and be prepared for anything and everything,” he said. “People are going to watch who they’re going to watch. My thing is I expect more out of myself than anybody else expects out of me.”
And if it all works out for the O-line, the offense and the Jets in general, Howard and friends will be “Having a Party” (No. 4, 1962) come Sunday night.
The Jets’ injury list has 16 players on it, with only two listed as out for the Bills: S Eric Smith (hip/knee) and T Dennis Landolt (knee).
Ryan adds Sione Po‘uha to his “Out” list, saying the NT “won’t play,” although Big Bo is listed as questionable on today’s report.
Rex said “everyone else should be up, ready to go.” That includes TE Dustin Keller (hamstring) and DT Mike DeVito (calf), both of whom were limited in today’s team drills and are listed as questionable. But Keller was upbeat Thursday about his availability, and DeVito today said several times, “The calf’s 100 percent.”
G Brandon Moore (hip) and LB Bryan Thomas (ankle) were limited today but are probable, and nine players were full-go at practice and are probable, including S LaRon Landry (heel, DNP on Thursday) and WRs Santonio Holmes (ribs), Chaz Schilens (ankle) and Stephen Hill (calf).
Buffalo’s short list had two interesting groin developments today: Brad Smith was a full participant in team drills and is probable, while No. 1 WR Stevie Johnson was limited and is questionable.
Tags: Austin Howard, Buffalo Bills, DeMarcus Ware, Dustin Keller, Mario Williams, Mike DeVito, Sione Pouha
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The Jets’ offense could get that little extra boost it’s been searching for the previous two preseason games with Rex Ryan’s announcement this afternoon that both WRs Santonio Holmes (rib) and Jeremy Kerley (hamstring) are probable to get in their first reps of the summer games on Sunday night against Carolina.
“Unless there’s a setback, I think both those guys are playing,” Ryan said at today’s news conference following the final open practice of training camp at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center.
Minutes earlier, Kerley said in the Jets’ locker room that he hoped to learn he would be green-lighted for the Panthers.
“I think it’s very important,” he said. “I’ve got to get my timing back, get my feet underneath me. I’m hoping to get a couple of reps in, 15 or so.
“I hope it’ll be a big spark,” he added of what Nos. 11 and 10 could provide to the only NFL offense yet to score a touchdown in a preseason game. “It’ll put some new legs out there and give Mark [Sanchez] some more targets.”
Some other seemingly, hopefully, minor injury issues crept up during Friday’s midday practice.
S Yeremiah Bell “had a little knee thing, nothing serious, but if there’s any issue at all, we won’t play him,” Ryan said.
Same with DT Mike DeVito, who had “a calf injury today. That’s not a good thing for a D-lineman. If there’s anything to that, he won’t play.”
Also out of this national-TV game are DT Sione Po‘uha, CB Ellis Lankster and S Eric Smith. Dinged up but probable for action are KR-RB Joe McKnight, WR Patrick Turner, TE Jeff Cumberland and LB-FB Nick Bellore.
Returning to Returns
Both Ryan and Kerley agreed that it would be nice to get JK some punt returns. He is, after all, listed as No. 1 on the PR chart, the incumbent returner, yet his hammy has kept him sidelined since the first week of camp while rookies Jordan White and Royce Pollard and third-year CB Kyle Wilson have done all the punt-returning in the first two games.
“Definitely, definitely,” Kerley said of that idea. “That’s not something you can just roll out and do. Hopefully I get a rep there.”
“Yeah, we’d like to see that,” Ryan said. “But again, we’re going to make sure he’s ready to go opening day. The same thing with Holmes. Is that 10 plays, 12 plays? We just want to be real cautious here. We need these guys.”
We may be jumping the gun a little on this because even with a punt return or two vs. the Panthers, it wouldn’t help Kerley to bust a move for a punt-return TD at the expense of re-busting his hamstring. But the second-year man is aware of the Jets’ dearth (no relation to James) of scores off of punt returns. They’ve had none in the preseason since 2008 and none in the postseason since 2004 and none in the regular season since ’02. Here is the short list of players who’ve had punt-return TDs for the Jets in the new millennium:
|10.27.02||RS||Santana Moss||vs. CLE||63|
|11.03.02||RS||Santana Moss||@ SD||52|
|8.21.04||PS||Ian Smart||@ IND||59|
|1.15.05||PO||Santana Moss||@ PIT||75|
|8.07.08||PS||Dwight Lowery||@ CLE||62|
Ryan huddled the whole team for a relatively long time before the end of this relatively short practice. There were no brawls today but the message was “team” again, similar to the one he had for his players up in Cortland after their second day of infighting.
“I thought it got a little chippy there during practice,” he said. “We don’t need that. I love the competition. I want guys going full-speed, competing against each other to the whistle. But things after the whistle, hitting a player when he’s in a vulnerable position, shoving a guy after the whistle, grabbing hold of the ballcarrier, we don’t need to do that. We don’t need to do things after plays, especially with our own guys. I just wanted to make sure I reminded them of that and that we’re a team.”
Rex’s recommendation to Austin Howard on handling the glare of publicity as the new RT starter: “You’ve just got to do your job. I think that’s where the focus needs to be, and that’s it. Whether we’re looking at right tackle or left guard, whoever it is, obviously there’s more media covering us than with other teams. He’s just got to focus on doing his job, executing his assignments, and when in doubt, listen to Brandon.” That’s Brandon Moore, next door at RG, of course.
Attendance at today’s final open practice of Jets training camp was 2,772. Attendance for past two days at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center: 5,157. Attendance for all Jets open offseason and preseason practices, at SUNY Cortland, MetLife Stadium and AHJTC: 46,157. Thanks to all who came out to cheer on the Jets.
Tags: Austin Howard, Brandon Moore, Carolina Panthers, Jeremy Kerley, punt returns, Rex Ryan, Santana Moss, Santonio Holmes
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‘Rex Ryan has made a decision about his right tackle situation, and that is for Austin Howard to be the starter for Carolina on Sunday night and for Wayne Hunter to return to his role from 2009 and most of ’10 as the Jets’ “sixth lineman,” filling in at tackle, guard and tight end when needed.
“The more I went back and looked at where we’re at as a football team, and getting feedback from coaches and knowing the history of Wayne, the success that Wayne has had basically as a sixth man, I’ve decided that’s the way we’re going to go,” Ryan said at his news conference this morning before the Jets hold their open practice early this afternoon. “I’m going to put Wayne in that role where he really excelled.
“He’s played 10 years in this league. You don’t bluff your way into the NFL for 10 years. Ten minutes, maybe, but not 10 years,” Ryan said. “We focus on the bad plays. Everybody’s got some bad plays. He’s not the only one who didn’t perform up to expectations last season, and that starts with me. Again, I’m looking at the big picture. This man can help us in this particular role. He’s done it, and I’m excited to get him back in this role.”
Setting Hunter aside, is Howard now the permanent RT starter for the Jets?
“I want to see Austin with this group, going against Carolina’s starters,” the coach said, delaying declaring the third-year man who arrived signed off of the Ravens’ practice squad last November as the new permanent right-side tackle. “Let’s see how he performs this week. We’ll have a better understanding of how he works with his teammates, Brandon Moore and company. He certainly has a great skillset. Here’s a huge man that can bend. We always say he comes off the line with a flat back, which is unusual for a man that size. This guy has power when he comes off with a flat back.”
Ryan said Howard, the Jets’ largest offensive player at 6’7″ and 333 pounds, played “extremely well … he was really moving people” in the preseason opener at Cincinnati, when he started while Howard rested with a sore back, and did “all right” Saturday night vs. the Giants.
The coach also deferred talk of the Jets being in the trade for a tackle now, whether via trade or waiver pickup after a trade for a tackle after Monday’s league cutdown to 75 players and the final cuts four days later after the final preseason games to 53 players.
“We’re always looking,” he said. “Mike Tannenbaum and Scott Cohen and JoJo [Wooden], they’re always looking to help improve this team. Whether we can improve this team with a tackle or a corner or whoever, certainly we’re not going to shut ourselves out of that possibility.”
After the Bengals game, back at SUNY Cortland, Howard said his view of his role on the Jets had not yet expanded toward the regular season.
“Nothing’s set in stone,” he said. “As far as the season goes, right now I’m not even looking to the season. I’m just focusing on this preseason, getting better every game and kind of focusing on things like technique and staying in the playbook and making sure that I can do whatever the coaches ask me to do.”
Now what the coaches are asking him to do has changed. We’ll have more from Howard, Hunter and others later this afternoon after practice from the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center locker room.
Ryan said his Sanchez/Tebow quarterback rotation for the Panthers on Sunday is “We’ll play Mark into the third quarter, and we’ll play Tim to finish out the game.” … Joe McKnight went to the side midway through Wednesday’s practice with a shin issue. Ryan didn’t have an update on McKnight this morning. … Latest on the availability of WRs Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley for the Panthers: “I was encouraged yesterday. Both of them were running around pretty good. We’re increasing their workload. So I’m hopeful they’ll play.”
Tags: Austin Howard, Carolina Panthers, Rex Ryan, Wayne Hunter
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