The Jets today made it official, announcing the signing of LB Calvin Pace to a new contract.
Pace is a 10-year veteran who spent the past five seasons working the Jets’ outside ‘backer position. He’s been durable while wearing the green and white, playing in 78 of the Jets’ 86 games, including playoffs, with 77 of them starts. And he’s led the Jets over the past five regular seasons with 28 sacks, including a career-high eight in 2009 and three last season, and 12 forced fumbles.
His sacks are the most by a Jets LB in a five-year span since Mo Lewis put up 33.5 sacks from 1997-2001.
Pace, word of whose signing was reported last week, returns to compete for the starting job and playing time alongside Garrett McIntyre, Ricky Sapp, recently signed unrestricted free agent Antwan Barnes and other outside LB candidates who already on the roster and who will be arriving via the draft and free agency in the coming weeks and months.
Tags: Antwan Barnes, Calvin Pace, Garrett McIntyre, Mo Lewis, Ricky Sap
Posted in Randy Lange | 75 Comments »
General manager John Idzik and the Jets front office made their first major transactions this offseason when the team released four veterans — LBs Bart Scott and Calvin Pace, S Eric Smith and T Jason Smith — and announced that FB/TE Josh Baker has been waived.
Thus 34 seasons of NFL experience and 19 of wearing the Green & White have been removed from the roster, freeing up undisclosed salary cap space in the process. The news release was posted on our site a short while ago.
All had their ups and downs, but we’ll choose to have some up memories today, especially since three of the four (Scott, Pace and E.Smith) made contributions to the Jets’ ’09 and ’10 charges into the AFC Championship Game.
Scott, of course, was the first free agency acquisition of Rex Ryan after he left the Ravens as Scott’s D-coordinator to become the Jets’ new head coach in 2009. He was always a great trash talker, but while opponents occasionally took exception, his teammates seemed to enjoy being the target of Bart’s barbs, or at least rolled with the punches and definitely looked up to No. 57 in the locker room.
“It takes tremendous energy and cardio to talk and practice at the same time,” Scott said after one Jets practice. “I enjoy talking because it forces me not to be able to breathe, so it helps me get in shape faster.”
On a more serious note, in one of his first one-on-one interviews after signing with the Jets, Scott explained his game.
“I try and be violent every opportunity I get,” he told me then. “I feel football is a game of wills, and if you have two people clashing with each other, it’s going to hurt both players, but I’m willing to take the pain longer than I believe my opponent is, even if it hurts me. And I think that’s something the fans will see — a lot of violent attempts and collisions, but they’ll also see me get up and they’ll see me continue to throw and never waver. No jabs, nothing but power blows.”
The pain got the best of Bart only once as a Jet, last season when his 129-game appearance streak (including playoffs) was snapped and he missed three starts for the first time since 2005 due to his mangled toe. But his drive and determination kept him on the field most of the way and he finished his four-year Jets stay with a good record of playing behind the other team’s line of scrimmage. Despite his toe-jam, he had a team-leading 7.0 tackles for loss last year and 28.5 TFLs total, most on the Jets the past four years.
My partner, Eric Allen, will have a blog on his four-year relationship with the Madbacker up in the “On the Inside with EA” menu shortly.
Calvin’s Five Years
Pace had a modest record of production in the sack department. In his five Jets regular seasons, he had 28 sacks, not DeMarcus Ware numbers yet the most by a Jets linebacker in a five-year span since Mo Lewis a decade earlier.
Pace in fact had Lewis’ franchise single-season mark of 10 sacks in 2000 in his sites when he said on the eve of the 2011 season opener about double-digit sacks, “I think about it, I write it down and look at it. And I think you should do that. Sometimes you make your goals, sometimes you don’t make them. But it is something that I do. I’m not going to say I know, but I do think this is the year that I get to those goals.”
CP didn’t get there, finishing with 4.5 sacks in ’11. But often that’s because he wasn’t asked to.
“If you flip it on the other side, DeMarcus vs. me — I’m not comparing myself to him, but there’s a 99 percent chance that he’s going to be the one rushing and the Cowboys are going to probably drop the other guy in coverage,” he said. “For the Dolphins, Cameron Wake’s the same way.
“If you break down the film, look at all the stuff I do. And I’m cool with that, I really am. But when Rex calls my number, I’m going to try and do everything I can to get there for him.”
And when Pace was turned loose — such as for his three sacks combined of JaMarcus Russell and Bruce Gradkowski in the 2009 shutout win at Oakland — he was hellacious to watch.
“The Smith Brothers” and J.Baker
Likewise, E.Smith was always ready to pitch in wherever needed, from the time he became the highest compensatory pick ever selected by the Jets (third round, 97th overall in 2006 — he still holds that distinction) through this past year.
Ryan and coordinator Mike Pettine felt so strongly about including him and his knowledge of the defense (not to mention his general knowledge — he has his master’s degree) that they named him a co-starter at safety with LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell, a distinction he held every week of the past season (even though he was officially credited with just two starts).
“That’s what we’re going to do, and it’s looking good,” the upbeat Smith said in early August at Cortland, all the while knowing that his career-high 14 starts from the previous year were not likely to be matched. “We’re excited about it. I think it’ll be good for us.”
But what was always good for ST coordinator Mike Westhoff, assistant coach (and new coordinator) Ben Kotwica and the Jets’ specialists was Smitty’s hard-hitting contributions on kick and punt coverage.
“We’re going to free up Eric to be back with us a little bit more,” Westhoff said back then, to which Smith replied: “I don’t know how he can get me back more. I was on everything.”
Mostly, he was on the opponents’ return men. His 105 special-teams tackles from ’06-12 (including playoffs) was easily the most on the Jets in that span.
Regarding Baker, we hardly knew ye. The FB/TE from Northwest Missouri State by way of Delaware (he was a Blue Hen along with Super Bowl MVP-to-be Joe Flacco) had three catches in 2011, one going for a touchdown against the Giants on Christmas Eve, the day before his birthday. In the offseason and preseason, he talked optimistically about fitting into the Jets’ new offense. Then in the third preseason game vs. Carolina, Panthers CB Josh Norman landed hard on his right knee and Baker was gone to IR for the year.
We saved J.Smith, the second overall pick in the 2009 draft, for last here because he was the last of this foursome to arrive, late last August via the “change of scenery” trade for Wayne Hunter with the Rams. He played on offense in every game last season, averaging 16 plays a game on offense, primarily as a third TE, and a handful more per game on special teams.
The quirky, friendly big guy gave the definite impression he was fitting into his new surroundings.
“I’m very happy to be a part of this team,” he said in November. “I believe in what we’re doing here. The guys who deserve credit are Austin, Brandon, Nick, Matt and D’Brickashaw. Those guys are working real hard to make sure this truck goes.”
The truck may have pulled up for loading the possessions that this quartet had stored at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center for a while. If it returns with one or two in the future, great, they’d be part of the puzzle moving forward. If not, thanks for stopping by, guys, and providing some good memories in the process. As Ryan said regarding today’s departures:
“They all have the work ethic and attitude that you look for in players and they will always be New York Jets. It was an honor to coach each of these men. They are tremendous people as well as outstanding football players.”
Tags: Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, Eric Smith, Jason Smith, John Idzik, Josh Baker, Rex Ryan
Posted in Randy Lange | 112 Comments »
Here are today’s first-half tweets for the Jets-Titans game at LP Field in Nashville, 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 today: DE Muhammad Wilkerson, C Nick Mangold, S Yeremiah Bell, S Josh Bush, WR Braylon Edwards.
#RL Rob Bironas comes out late to try 46-yd FG, Mo Wilkerson blocks at the line, no good. Bironas now 4-for-5 career vs Jets.
#RL Wilkerson gets Jets’ first FG block since Kris Jenkins vs ARZ in ’08, first road FG block since Shane Burton @ BUF in 2000.
#RL Jets 3rd-and-1 at TEN 25, Tim Tebow first action in 4 games runs forward to get the first down.
#EA TEN helping the Jets on this drive – 3 penalties. Edwards getting in the mix right away on this opening march.
#EA Sanchez has all day to throw the rock right now. Great job by the O-line. TEN was all over Luck last week.
#RL TE Jeff Cumberland appeared to grab 4-yd TD pass from Mark Sanchez, his 3rd TD of yr. But ref Walt Coleman reverses call to no catch…
#RL Nick Folk comes on for 22-yd FG. Good, making Folk 17-for-22 on FGs for the year. Jets lead 3-0 with 4:17 left in 1st qtr.
#RL Kyle Wilson nice third-down tackle on Nate Washington for a 5-yd reception on 3rd-and-8 as 1st quarter comes to an end…
#RL TEN continues as only NFL team not to have scored a 1st-qtr offensive TDs at home. Titans’ only 1st-qtr home TD came on PR in Game 3.
#RL Kyle Wilson nice third-down tackle on Nate Washington for a 5-yd reception on 3rd-and-8 as 1st quarter comes to an end…
#EA This is the Jets’ first lead entering the 2nd Quarter since Week 2 vs. PIT.
#RL Another nifty Robert Malone punt bounces backward from TEN-2 for 53-yd punt gross and net. 14th consec game for Malone with 50-yd punt.
#RL Chris Johnson bursts off RT, goes 94 yds for TD. Longest run vs. Jets since Garrison Hearst went 96 in OT in ’98 opener @ SF.
#RL Johnson 94-yd run is 2nd-longest by opponent in franchise history. Previous 2nd-longest: Sid Blanks, @ HOU Oilers, 12/13/64.
#RL Tim Tebow gets his first full drive as Jets QB, 7 snaps, 6 plays and pen, 22 yards. Has to throw 3rd-and-16 pass away.
#RL Calvin Pace gets his 3rd sack of the season, touching Jake Locker as he scrambles OB for a 2-yd loss on 3rd-and-7. TEN punts.
#RL Garrett McIntyre, starting for LB Bryan Thomas, gets 3rd sack of yr and 2nd big defensive play in 2 games w/ sack of Jake Locker.
#RL Jets go into halftime trailing 3-0. It’s 4th straight game they haven’t scored 1st-half TD, but they won their last 2, over ARZ, JAX.
#RL Jets lead in 1st downs (10-6), possession (15:52-14:08), but Titans lead in yards (198-99), takeaways (1-0) and score, 7-3.
Tags: Braylon Edwards, Calvin Pace, Chris Johnson, Garrett McIntyre, Garrison Hearst, Jake Locker, Kyle Wilson, Mark Sanchez, Sid Blanks, Tennessee Titans, Tim Tebow
Posted in Randy Lange | 86 Comments »
Updated, 4:01 p.m. ET
Thanksgiving is a time for turkey, but Thursday night the Jets and Patriots could give each other indigestoin by grilling up several New York strips.
Jets head coach Rex Ryan had Rob Ninkovich on his mind, if not on his tongue, earlier this week in discussing one of the many challenges the Jets will face against the Pats.
“Number 50, Ninkovich, if that’s how you pronounce his name, he’s a good player. I know him by number,” Ryan said. “He’s forced, I think, five, six fumbles this year, so they do a great job of attacking the football. I think they lead the league in forced fumbles. It’s something they’ve always done a great job of, so we have to make sure we’re protecting the ball at all costs.”
Rex’s research was right on. The Patriots lead the NFL with an impressive plus-20 turnover margin. They’ve done it in large part by leading the league unofficially with 19 forces and officially with 14 fumble recoveries. Ninkovich is tied for third individually with five forces and tied for first with three recoveries.
And Ninkovich has been a Jet-killer the past two seasons. He had the two interceptions of Mark Sanchez last year on Sunday night at MetLife Stadium, one returned for a TD, and his overtime strip sack of Sanchez provided the crushing coda to the Green & White’s 29-26 overtime loss at Gillette last month.
“Ninkovich is one of the best at it, it seems,” Sanchez said. “He’s really getting after the quarterback, he’s getting after the football, and that’s really their whole defense, that’s kind of their MO.”
He’s not alone. Two other linebackers, Brandon Spikes (4 FFs) and Jerod Mayo (3 FFs) are in the top 10, along with rookie DE Chandler Jones (3 FFs). That has the attention of Joe McKnight, who looked to be back at close to full speed from his ankle injury with several nice plays on kickoff returns and out of the backfield at St. Louis.
“From the mistakes I’ve made in the past,” he said with a small smile, “I just have to be more conscious of the ball. I’m always thinking about the ball before I even get the ball.”
He even shared his informal mental checklists with us. Before each kick return it’s something like:
1. Put my mouthpiece in.
2. High-and-tight the ball.
3. Two hands in traffic.
4. Make the kicker miss.
5. Score the touchdown.
Before he gets the ball from Sanchez on a run, he has a similar list:
1. Get the ball first.
2. Two hands in traffic.
3. Keep your feet when you run through the smoke.
4. Make the safeties miss.
5. Score the touchdown.
Needless to say, such emphasis for all the Jets’ skill players will be important tomorrow night. But they are not weaponless in this high-stakes game of strip poker, even if they were to lose a fumble. That’s because they’ve been stripping the ball away from QBs and RBs (and even kickoff returners, as New England’s Devin McCourty knows from five weeks ago) almost as well.
The Jets have 11 forced fumbles this season, tied for fourth in the NFL, and recovered 10, tied for third. And recently, they’ve been on even more of a roll. Their six FFs at Seattle and St. Louis are the most in the league the past two weeks and are the most in back-to-back games since they had seven forces on two occasions in the ’08 season.
The movers and shakers in this area have been DE Muhammad Wilkerson and S LaRon Landry. Wilkerson’s been involved in three separate fumble plays in those two games — two forces and the fumble-return TD vs. the Seahawks, and that’s the most in back-to-back games by a Jets player since Calvin Pace was involved in four fumble plays in consecutive games in ’08.
“I’ve been shouting it from the rooftops since Mo first got here,” NT Sione Po said of Wilkerson’s recent emergence. “His IQ level is more of like a six-, seven- or eight-year player in terms of what he’s playing at, his production and what he does to help this team as a whole. It’s just phenomenal. I’m glad I’m playing on the same side of the ball he is.”
Landry, who has three forced fumbles this year, with two coming against the Rams, declined to give his secrets, other than his patented crunching hits, one of which forced rookie RB Daryl Richardson to cough up the ball Sunday and set up the Jets’ final TD under the Edward Jones Dome. But he provided some general guidelines.
“You’ve got to have a knack for that, man,” he said. “It’s a knack and an attitude. It takes some practice. Part of it is the point of attack, and you’ve got to be aware of what kind of offender you’re going up against, tight end, receiver, running back. And you’ve got to finish. You’ve got to have a knack for it.”
These longtime rivals have shown they’ve got the knack this year. Who’s better at the strip Thursday night may have a lot to say about who comes away with the victory drumstick.
Final Injury Report
The Jets held a short, closed practice at the Atlantic Health Training Center this morning.
Just before 4 p.m., both teams released their final injury reports of the week. The Jets’ injury list seems manageable with seven designated “questionable” for the game: CB Aaron Berry, NT Kenrick Ellis, WR-PR Jeremy Kerley, RB-KR Joe McKnight, NT Sione Po‘uha, LB Bart Scott and QB Tim Tebow. Tebow practiced full today with his sore ribs while the other six were limited.
The 11 probables: TE Jeff Cumberland, DT Mike DeVito, WRs Clyde Gates and Stephen Hill, S LaRon Landry, C Nick Mangold, guards Brandon Moore and Matt Slauson, LB Calvin Pace, RB Bilal Powell and QB Mark Sanchez.
The Patriots listed their three DNPs this week as out for the game: TE Rob Gronkowski (forearm/hip) as expected; DE Chandler Jones, tied for the team lead with six sacks; and G Logan Mankins.
Thirteen Pats are questionable: D-linemen Ron Brace and Trevor Scott, safeties Patrick Chung and Steve Gregory, O-linemen Dan Connolly, Sebastian Vollmer and Nick McDonald, TE Aaron Hernandez, LBs Dont’a Hightower, Brandon Spikes and Tracy White, and WRs Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker. The three probables are WR Julian Edelman, DT Kyle Love and LB Jerod Mayo.
Happy Thanksgiving to all and one way or another we’ll all meet up at the game.
Tags: Calvin Pace, joe McKnight, LaRon Landry, Mark Sanchez, MetLife Stadium, Muhammad Wilkerson, New England Patriots, Rex Ryan, Rob Ninkovich, Sione Pouha, thanksgiving
Posted in Randy Lange | 15 Comments »
Here are today’s first-half tweets for Jets-Dolphins at MetLife 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 Dan Carpenter FG from 33 yds gives MIA early 3-0 lead. Carpenter now 16-for-18 in career FG tries vs the Jets.
#RL Dan Carpenter FG from 33 yds gives MIA early 3-0 lead. Carpenter now 16-for-18 in career FG tries vs the Jets.
#RL Former Jet Jason Trusnik recovers Dan Carpenter onside kick. First opponents’ onside KO recovery since Matt Prater @ DEN in ’10.
#RL Robert Malone rocks 59-yd punt, marking 8th straight game he’s had at least one 50-yd punt in a game.
#RL QB Ryan Tannehill has left quad injury, his return to this game is questionable. Matt Moore is in at QB for MIA.
#RL Jimmy Wilson blocks Robert Malone’s punt, Olivier Vernon catches it in mid-hop in the end zone for TD and 10-0 MIA lead…
#RL Daniel Thomas 3-yd TD run, PAT makes it 17-0 MIA, 14:08 left 1st half. Largest MIA lead over NYJ since 21-3 in 2nd qtr in 2003.
#RL Joe McKnight has an ankle injury. His return to this game is questionable.
#RL Correction on opponents’ blocked-punt-return TD: Last by Jets opponent was Albert Lewis of KC in 1986 playoff game.
#RL Dolphins lead 20-0. Jets have overcome 20-pt 2Q deficits only twice in their history: 1978 at DEN, 2000 vs MIA (Monday Night Miracle),
#RL Nick Folk from 35 yds out, kick is blocked. Last FG block by opponent: Yeremiah Bell as a Dolphin on Folk at MIA in 2010.
#RL Folk’s 11-for-11 FG streak is over. Still ties franchise record for most consec FGs from start of a season that Folk set last season.
Tags: Calvin Pace, Dan Carpenter, Mark Sanchez, Miami Dolphins, Nick Folk, Olivier Vernon
Posted in Randy Lange | 40 Comments »
Here are our first-half tweets for today’s Jets-49ers game at MetLife Stadium, in case you missed them on Twitter. Follow Bob Wischusen, Eric Allen and me for our tweets during the second half and every game, home and away, on https://twitter.com/nyjets.
#RL Jets under Rex Ryan are 16-9 at home since ’09, 12-5 at MetLife Stadium since ’10.
#RL Jets gameday captains for SF: RB-KR Joe McKnight, K Nick Folk, WR Chaz Schilens, TE Konrad Reuland, LB Josh Mauga,
#RL Joe McKnight on the field as CB on Niners third-down play. Joe blitzes from back side, Alex Smith incomplete for Mario Manningham.
#RL Speed shows up on Jets coverage: Rookie Demario Davis illegally blocked in back by Anthony Dixon on punt, Niners 1st-and-10 at their 32.
#RL Niners drive 68 yds to Colin Kaepernick 7-yd keeper TD. Kaepernick 2 carries, 24 yds, Jets run def has given up 104 yds on 12 carries.
#RL Jets’ 7-0 deficit is the first time in 6 quarters that they’ve trailed at home this season.
#RL Sacks were the Jets’ first in two games, Pace’s first of the season, Thomas’ first since 2010.
#RL Jets injuries: TE Dedrick Epps (knee), FB John Conner (hamstring), return to this game is questionable for both.
#RL Back-to-back sacks by Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace force SF to settle for 55-yd David Akers FG try, wide right. Jets ball at their 45.
#RL Robert Malone’s 3rd punt: 41-yd punt, 4.90-second hang time, Ted Ginn fair catch at SF 11.
#RL Sacks were the Jets’ first in two games, Pace’s first of the season, Thomas’ first since 2010.
#RL Personal foul on SF’s Aldon Smith after the play. First down Jets–their 11th first down by penalty this season–at SF 33.
#RL Akers 36-yd FG is good to end the half. Akers now career 5-for-9 on FG tries vs. Jets.
Tags: 49ers, Alex Smith, Bryan Thomas, Calvin Pace, Colin Kaepernick, David Akers, Mark Sanchez
Posted in Randy Lange | 129 Comments »
Moving on to non-Island topics in today’s muted day-after-Miami, LB Calvin Pace came into the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center locker room to clear up a remark he made immediately after the 23-20 overtime win over the Dolphins regarding RB Reggie Bush, who left the game with a left knee injury late in the first half.
“Apparently I said something about Reggie Bush, trying to get him out of the game,” Pace said. “I wasn’t trying to say it as if we were trying to hurt him. I’m sad to see him get hurt. We aren’t running any kind of bounty system or anything like that, and actually, looking at the play, somebody just fell on his knee.
“I guess I need to say things in a different manner, and I’ll do a better job of it next time.”
The word from South Florida today is that Bush’s knee injury isn’t serious and that he may be able to return to action as soon as Sunday when Miami visits Arizona. That’s good news for Bush.
And perhaps not as good for the Jets, who could face him for the second time this season in five weeks at MetLife Stadium. Bush is currently No. 4 on the NFL’s rushing-leaders list this season with 302 yards on 50 carries for a gaudy 6.0-yard average. And it’s an even gaudier 6.5 yards per carry in his three career games vs. the Jets (26 carries, 169 yards).
Figuring Out OT
Sunday’s game was the Jets’ first in overtime under the NFL’s OT rules that were modified for last season. Had they moved into range for a Nick Folk field goal on their first possession and he hit it, the Dolphins and Dan Carpenter would have had the chance to tie it. Since the Jets punted on that first series, Carpenter’s kick was of course for the win.
And with that 48-yarder sailing wide left, Carpenter has begun an unusual new chapter in his career vs. the Green & White. Including Sunday’s first kick from 21 yards out, the Dolphins’ Pro Bowl kicker had made his first 14 field goals against the Jets dating to 2008. But he’ll go into the Oct. 28 rematch having missed two of his last three.
Perhaps Carpenter’s miss and the outcome of the game was preordained, since the Jets have gotten the extra session figured out lately, especially against the Aqua & Coral.
Their last OT games were the back-to-back wins at Detroit and Cleveland in the middle of the 2010 season. In fact, the Jets have won their last three overtime games and their last four on the road.
The Jets are now 19-19-2 all-time in overtime. And that includes a perfect record against their friendly AFC East rivals. They’re 5-0-1 in OT vs. the Dolphins, 2-0-1 at Miami.
Due to overtime, injuries and a few discussions by the replacement refs, the game lasted exactly four hours. The last four-hour game the Jets played: the 2000 Monday Night Miracle in the Meadowlands against the same Fish, a 40-37 overtime win that went 4:10 into the wee hours of Tuesday morning.
Folk’s 33-yard kick to decide things was the fourth gamewinning kick of his Jets career and his third “walk-off” FG. He’s tried six field goals in all to tie the score or put the Jets ahead in the last two minutes of a game or in overtime. He’s missed only one, a 47-yard wide-right miss that would have beaten Cleveland in ’10.
Santonio Holmes won that game vs. the Browns, and he played a big role in Sunday’s triumph. His nine receptions were the most by a Jet since Jerricho Cotchery had nine against Kansas City in 2008, and Tone’s 147 receiving yards were the most by a Jet since Cotchery’s 152 at Tennessee in ’07.
And for trivial trivia, consider that LaRon Landry’s 18-yard interception-return TD was the shortest IR TD by a Jet since Aaron Glenn returned a 13-yarder vs. Ty Detmer and Philadelphia in 1996 and the shortest on the road since Mo Lewis went 15 yards vs. Kerry Collins and Carolina in the “Shovel Pass Game” in 1995.
Late today the Jets announced that LB Bryan Thomas and WR Patrick Turner — BT and PT — have been re-signed. The team also waived DT Marcus Dixon, T Dennis Landolt and CB Donnie Fletcher, who went on the Miami trip in case Ellis Lankster’s low back strain prevented him from playing. But Lankster did play, Fletcher was deactivated, and for 24 hours he’s in the NFL’s waiver system.
Tags: Aaron Glenn, Calvin Pace, Dan Carpenter, LaRon Landry, Miami Dolphins, Mo Lewis, Nick Folk, Reggie Bush
Posted in Randy Lange | 84 Comments »
Updated, 6:25 p.m. ET
The gassers of two weeks ago, in response to some practice brawls up at SUNY Cortland, have almost been forgotten. But in a way, maybe they were the start of something else entirely that must be remembered.
“The one thing I’m concerned with, and I was pushing Darrelle about it, is just that we have to be in unbelievable shape,” head coach Rex Ryan said at this morning’s news conference. “We were talking how I think this can be a really good defense, and I mean a really good defense, but to make sure that we’re on top of everything, keep our communication going, make sure we’re in great shape. And I think that’s something we can do.”
Revis confirmed that for the defense especially, the conditioning they stressed in the offseason program through the extra wind sprints players are doing on their own are all being done with the purpose of combatting the hurryup offenses they’ve been facing and will see again.
“Last year we saw it a lot, especially with the Patriots,” the corner said. “During those games, you can see most of the time they were in empty, five wides. We’ve got to be prepared at all times. Whatever teams throw at us, we’ve got to be well-positioned.”
“It’s trending,” added LB Bart Scott. “You’ve always had to deal with Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, and now look at [Matt] Stafford and Ben Roethlisberger and a lot of people using that ‘muddle huddle.’ And you see some of the college guys, Cam [Newton], in the hurryup and spread offense and kind of looking over to the sideline. It’s something we have to prepare for just in case we get it. It can’t do anything but work for us.”
LB Calvin Pace added that “a good thing about having a good veteran group is that the guys take it upon themselves to try to get to the ball, overdo it, try to get your conditioning done as much in practice as you can. It’s tough to go out and practice and then run gassers and then still have the whole rest of the day in meetings. I think the ideal way is just to try to push yourself as much as you can in practice in preparation for your Buffalo, New England, continuously bring that high tempo.”
Add Miami to the no-huddle mix. And look who the first two division rivals are on the schedule: the Bills at home on opening day, Sept. 9, and the Dolphins in Miami in Week 3, which is likely to be a typically hot South Florida late-September day.
All of which spoke well to this week’s return to late August practices in North Jersey. This afternoon’s session on the Atlantic Health Training Center grass was arguably was the hottest of the year, with heat-index temperatures in the upper 80s, little wind, and the session coming in at a Mangini-esque 2 hours, 25 minutes.
Temps are expected to remain in the upper 80s Thursday and Friday, both practices open to the public, before the Jets run into and attempt to run with Cam Newton and his Panthers in Sunday night’s NBC game.
For Ellis, a Load Lifted
Kenrick Ellis said today that one last big distraction, whether he would miss games for his recent legal problems in Virginia, was lifted when the NFL said Tuesday it would not suspend the second-year DT.
“To be honest, I was so focused on trying to compete here in camp, that was in the back of my mind,” Ellis told me this afternoon. “But yes, it is a relief that that part of it is taken care of and I can really focus on football now, focus on getting better every day, and doing what I’m supposed to do so I can get reps here.”
Bellore: Back or ‘Backer?
The Nick Bellore saga continues this week. Today the second-year linebacker and special-teams leader donned white jersey No. 46 for the entire practice. That’s what as in offense, as in fullback, the position he lined up at during one period late in the Cortland phase of training camp.
“I was with the offense the whole time today, starting with meetings, and I’m staying with the offense the whole week,” Bellore said. “It’s fun. I can’t complain. It gets me on the field.”
It also, perhaps in a small way, will improve the odds of achieving something that’s probably on the Bellore Bucket List.
“An embarrassing fact about me is that I’ve never scored a touchdown — ever,” he said. “I never made it to the promised land.”
Bellore hasn’t given up his green No. 54 jersey or his defensive playbook. But the experiment continues.
WR Jeremy Kerley is back working in team drills, while WR Santonio Holmes is still wearing the red jersey but did some 7-on-7 work. Both are “maybes” for Carolina on Sunday night. Definitely out for the Panthers: NT Sione Pouha (back), S Eric Smith (shoulder/knee), WR Chaz Schilens (ankle) and LB Ricky Sapp (ankle). … Wayne Hunter returned to practice, and he and Austin Howard split time with the ones at RT. … Pace (wisdom tooth) was also back, working on the side, and said he’ll be back in team drills Thursday.
Tags: Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, Darrelle Revis, Florham Park, Kenrick Ellis, Nick Bellore, Rex Ryan, SUNY Cortland, Wayne Hunter
Posted in Randy Lange | 46 Comments »
Rex Ryan opened the Jets’ 2012 full-squad minicamp today with a changeup in his schedule — a morning, pre-practice news conference instead of his usual post-practice briefing.
“I think it’s best for myself,” the Jets head coach said about his time shifting, which he said could be a permanent change for him with the media going toward training camp and the season ahead. “It’ll help me get a chance to meet with [Mike] Pettine and DT [Dennis Thurman] and all the defensive coaches in particular and watch practice. Instead of trying to catch up on all the practice tape on my own, it’ll give me an opportunity to be with my coaches and watch the tape together.”
Another thing it will do is will give Ryan a pre-practice injury list to work from rather than a post-practice list. He read the list to reporters today and it was a long one. However, except for one injury, the players on the list seem to be working through relatively minor things, mostly of the hamstring variety.
Limited practice participants on the list were:
TE Jeff Cumberland (Achilles) — “He’s going to practice. He’s listed as limited. But he’s fine.”
WR Jeremy Kerley (hamstring)
G Brandon Moore (hips) — “It’s really not an injury but I’m just going to list him as limited.”
WR Royce Pollard (hamstring) — “He actually looks pretty good.”
G Matt Slauson (shoulder) — “We’re actually going to watch him go a little bit today. … He’s been rehabbing his shoulder like a madman. He’s benching with one arm what I would squad with my legs, so he’s doing good.”
WR Patrick Turner (hamstring)
Listed as out:
WR Santonio Holmes (hamstring) — “He has some tightness … Our trainers are going to make sure they stay on top of him and monitor him.”
WR Stephen Hill (hamstring)
WR DaMarcus Ganaway (hip)
TE Brian Linthicum (quad)
RB Bilal Powell (hamstring)
WR Jordan White (foot) — “We’re excited about him. He works his tail off. It’s unfortunate that he had that break in his foot, but he’s training hard.”
LB Matt Berning (knee) — Berning has a “pretty serious knee injury.”
Additionally, S LaRon Landry is on the premises for the mandatory camp. He stayed on the sideline and observed practice
“Well, the main thing is to obviously get him ready for the season,” Rex said of Landry’s Achilles/foot rehab. “When you look at his history, he hasn’t been full speed in a lot of the training camps every day, and watching him, I hope that he can get to that point. I certainly don’t want to say that he definitely won’t be or he will be. We’ll just have to wait and see, see how it plays out. Obviously we want him ready for the season.”
Landry is expected to talk with reporters Wednesday after practice for the first time since he signed with the Jets as an unrestricted free agent in March.
Reshaped Wideout Group
With Holmes, Kerley, Turner and second-round rookie Stephen Hill out or limited and Chaz Schilens being monitored, the Jets put a young group of wideouts on the field for Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow, Greg McElroy and company to direct throws to. Pollard did practice during 7-on-7 red-zone drills and snagged a nice pass in the back of the end zone from Sanchez, as did Dexter Jackson.
But even some of the tweaked wideouts jumped in on individual drills on the JUGS machine, including Holmes and Hill.
Hill continues to provide great signs even while limited. He started out 6 yards away from the JUGS and every two catches took a step forward until he was snagging balls from 3 yards away. The rookie from Georgia Tech has learned early on to become one with the leather. Before and after the draft, he already had latched onto a few NFL footballs to practice with in his room.
“It’s a great thing to have a ball with you at all times, just catching, catching, catching,” Hill said. “All the time you want to make sure you’re using your eyes when you catch. If somebody tosses anything to me, I’m making sure I’m catching it with my hands and my eyes and tucking it. No, I don’t drop a whole lot.”
Even the D Likes the New OC
Chalk LB Calvin Pace up as one more Jet who appreciates the contributions of offensive coordinator Tony Sparano.
“I really think the addition of Sparano is helping everybody,” Pace said in regard to the first defense not quite knowing what’s coming at them after six seasons of facing Brian Schottenheimer’s offenses in practice. “We were with Schotty for a few years. We knew the things they were going to do. Every day is almost like playing a game without any kind of preparation, so you’ve got to be quick on your feet, be able to process things quickly.”
Rise and Schein
Sirius XM NFL Radio comes to the Jets’ full-squad minicamp Wednesday morning. Host Adam Schein will open his show at 11 a.m. ET and will chat with players, coaches and team execs as they become available after the second of three minicamp practices.
Fans should keep in mind that the Wednesday and Thursday minicamp practices at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, N.J., will be open to the public from 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. both days, with practices beginning at 11 a.m. both days. Admission and parking are free but limited.
And if the weather is questionable, fans can find updates on newyorkjets.com, Twitter or Facebook or can call the Jets Minicamp Hotline at 973-549-4844.
Tags: Calvin Pace, full-squad minicamp, LaRon Landry, Rex Ryan, Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, Tony Sparano
Posted in Randy Lange | 16 Comments »
The deal for Hayden Smith was finalized and announced Saturday. But who and what exactly have the Jets signed?
Smith is an Aussie athlete who was a Denver Division II basketball player and is still a pro rugby standout? The Green & White have done their share of cross-training over the years but such free agent signings of former wrestlers and basketball players and soccer standouts (think Pete Carroll, Jets, 1994 and Tony Meola) don’t often pay off for any NFL team.
Yet it only takes one once in a while to make it worth while. And Smith has got some things going for him as he attempts to make a little roster room for himself among the Rob Gronkowskis, Antonio Gateses and Dustin Kellers of the league. As Sam Monson said in his latest piece for ProFootballFocus.com today, “
“The first and most obvious thing that Smith has going for him is raw athletic talent. He played basketball in college before taking up rugby. Without meeting the NFL prerequisites for athleticism, Smith wouldn’t have a hope, but from his reported 4.75 40 time and his size, he qualifies. That athleticism is the reason that he was able to ascend rapidly in the rugby world to being a significant member of the US national team, but also (and perhaps more importantly), become a valuable squad player for Saracens rugby club of the English Premier division.”
Smith’s dimensions are a little more impressive than the 6’7″ and 240 pounds we pegged him at Saturday. He worked at the Senior Bowl this year and measured at 6’6″ and 265, a frame that he reportedly moves at 4.75-second speed in the 40. You can watch some of his drills in this YouTube piece, if you haven’t already checked it out.
And you can read Monson’s entire story at ProFootballFocus here. In one of his concluding remarks Monson compares Smith to Martin Johnson, another top rugby lock forward who participated in the 49ers’ 2001 training camp:
“Hayden Smith is a new breed of rugby player, and though he plays the same position as Johnson did, he represents a much more intimidating level of athlete — one that can meet the NFL standards by raw numbers alone.”
As for whether Smith can navigate all the other shoals of making it to an NFL roster, or even a practice squad, we’ll be covering that on newyorkjets.com when we talk with him, Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum and assistant GM Scott Cohen, head coach Rex Ryan and others about this and many other topics as the offseason continues to head inexorably toward the 2012 season.
Five Fun Facts for This Year’s Yearbook
One of the things we do this time of year, besides presenting stories and blogs on current Jets and our annual predraft package, is to begin to fill in the pages of the Jets’ yearbook. One of the tasks in that regard is to come up with a fun factoid for each player who will have a page in the player section of the book — and this year that may mean around 90 factoids for the 90 players who may be coming to camp (assuming the NFL passes the expanded roster limit at its next meeting).
Not all of the facts and notes will find a place in the book, but here are five that are of interest at this early stage of the process. And I’ll pitch five more and five more after that down the road as we head toward Cortland and 2012 training camp.
■ Mo Lewis lives in two of the factoids I’ve roughed out. David Harris had four interceptions last year, the most by a Jets linebacker since Lewis pilfered the same number of picks in 1994. And then there’s Calvin Pace — including the playoffs, CP has totaled 28 sacks in his four Jets seasons, which are the most by a Jets LB in a four-year span since Mo racked up 30.5 sacks from 1997-2000.
■ A neat number on Shonn Greene concerns his knack for not getting tackled in the Jets’ backfield. According to Stats Inc., Greene was “stuffed” (tackled for loss) just 16 times in his 253 carries, a 6.3 percent rate that was second-best among the 53 RBs with at least 100 carries last year and best among the 31 backs with at least 150 carries. That tendency came in handy en route to Shonn’s first 1,000-yard season as a pro, 1,054 to be exact.
■ We duly noted rookie free agent TE Josh Baker’s big contribution to the offense, his 5-yard walk-in touchdown reception against the Giants. But did you know that Baker was born on Christmas Day in 1986 and that his first pro TD came on Dec. 24? An early holiday gift for the young man from Chesapeake, Va. (hometown), Delaware (his first college stop) and Northwest Missouri State (his last college).
■ One stat I didn’t do justice to regarding T.J. Conley’s first season as a pro punter was that he had 32 inside-the-20 punts last season. That’s a pretty good number — in fact, it was tied for third-most in the NFL. And if you add Conley’ 32 I-20’s to Steve Weatherford’s 42 from 2010 that tied the NFL record, the Jets’ 74 inside-the-20s over the past two seasons easily leads the league.
■ And while we did document Joe McKnight’s kickoff-return heroics well, here are a few items that I may not have noted prominently if at all: McKnight’s 31.6-yard average (on 34 runbacks) broke the Jets’ season franchise record of 30.7 (on 22 returns) set by then-rookie Bobby Humphery in 1984. And that averaged was the best in the NFL in the last 25 years. And while it’s possible that kickoffs from the 35 had something to do with McKnight’s success, it bears considering that No. 2 in the league was Green Bay’s Randall Cobb at 27.7, almost four yards less per return than Mighty Joe.
Confirming Jets-Giants Particulars
We tweeted it last week and it’s been up on our schedule page, but in case anyone missed it, the Jets-Giants preseason date and time were firmed up a day after the NFL released the preseason schedule. Jets-Giants SummerFest No. 44 (as in the 44th consecutive summer the teams are meeting) will be held at MetLife Stadium(where else?) on Saturday, Aug. 18, with kickoff set for 7 p.m. ET.
Tags: Calvin Pace, David Harris, Dustin Keller, Hayden Smith, joe McKnight, Mo Lewis, Rob Gronkowski, Shonn Greene, Tony Meola
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