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It’s Official: Jets Sign Calvin Pace to New Deal

Posted by Randy Lange on April 22, 2013 – 6:16 pm

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.


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Reexamining John Idzik’s Robust Tampa Roots

Posted by Randy Lange on April 2, 2013 – 3:13 pm

An interesting “backgrounder” involving Jets GM John Idzik was posted by Don Banks and Sports Illustrated late last week. It details the places of Idzik and others not in the “Tampa 2″ but in the “Tampa 7.”

“Idzik’s 20-year NFL career leaves him quite familiar with the experience and pressure of working for a franchise desperate for a turnaround,” Banks wrote. “He did, after all, get his start in the league as part of the remarkable collection of front office talent that Tampa Bay amassed in the mid-90s. …

“Incredibly, Idzik is the seventh member of those mid-90s Bucs to come to power in an NFL front office, tabbed to lead Woody Johnson’s Jets after 11-plus years spent in Tampa Bay’s front office, three more in Arizona, and the past six seasons in Seattle’s well-respected personnel operation.”

Besides Idzik, the other six members of the Tampa 7:

■ Current Falcons president/CEO Rich McKay, the former Buccaneers GM from 1993-2003 who hired Tony Dungy as head coach in 1996, starting the process toward the Super Bowl XXXVII title.

■ Jerry Angelo, the longtime Bucs director of player personnel (1987-2000) whose 11-year stint as the Bears’ GM was highlighted by their 2006 Super Bowl run.

■ Current Titans scout Tim Ruskell, who spent 17 years in the Bucs front office and was Seattle’s GM during its lone Super Bowl season of 2005.

■ Mark Dominik, entering his fifth season as the Buccaneers’ GM and a member of the Bucs front office since 1995.

■ Current Tennessee EVP/GM Ruston Webster, now in his fourth season with the Titans after spending four years in Seattle’s front office and 18 years in a variety of roles with Tampa Bay’s (1988-2005).

■ Current Lions GM Martin Mayhew, a starting cornerback for the 1995-96 Bucs, the final two seasons of his eight-year NFL playing career.

It’s a good read as always by Banks, although he clearly didn’t get a hold of Idzik, who remains publicly quiet while privately working hard at retooling the Jets for 2013 and beyond. But back when the I-Man was first hired, he had this to say about his Buccaneer years and what all of his NFL stops have meant in getting him to this point in his career:

“Rich McKay, Jerry Angelo, Tim Ruskell, Ruston Webster — we went on quite a journey in Tampa. We saw it from the bottom to the top. It was very special. To me, all of those experiences have solidified the power of ‘we’ over ‘me.’ That’s something that is going to be very strong here in New York. As it goes there, it goes here in New York, too. It will be based on a collaborative effort. It will be inclusive, it will be well-thought-out and researched.”

There’s a long way still to go before Idzik’s first Green & White team takes the field, but so far, so good.

Antwan’s New Number

We’ll preview new Jets LB Antwan Barnes’ interview with Eric Allen and the Jets Talk Live Crew on Wednesday — EA’s chat with AB will air Thursday on JTL — but for now we can say Barnes has settled on uniform No. 95 with his newest NFL outfit.

“There were a couple of options open, but I’m going to stick with a 90s number,” said Barnes. “I may not be the size for a 90s number, but I can sure play like it, though.”

We didn’t think there was a linebacker size requirement for the 90s as opposed to the 50s, and Barnes looks, if not immense, big enough at 6’1″, 251. He started out at No. 50 with the Ravens (assistant coaches: Rex Ryan and Dennis Thurman) in ’07, but Garrett McIntyre’s got that one here, and he wore 98 with the Chargers (plus two games as an Eagle), but that’s Quinton Coples’ deal here.

The last Jet to wear 95 on the field was NT Martin Tevaseu in last year’s preseason finale at Philadelphia. Now it’s Barnes’ turn.

So Long to an NFL Legend

A head coach that Idzik’s father, John, ran into back when he was offensive coordinator of the Jets in the late Seventies has passed away. Jack Pardee, 76, died Monday of gall bladder cancer.

Pardee was a legend in the game, from his time as one of Bear Bryant’s “Junction Boys” at Texas A&M in the mid-Fifties through 15 seasons as a solid, one-time Pro Bowl linebacker for the Rams and Redskins through 11 seasons as an NFL head coach of the Bears, ‘Skins and Oilers.

The Jets didn’t run into Pardee much as a player, since they didn’t start to play NFL teams until the end of his career. He was the LLB starter and team captain for the Rams in a 31-20 Jets win in L.A. in 1970, and the starter again on the left side for Washington in a 35-17 Jets loss at Shea Stadium in ’72.

They fared worse against him as a coach, losing four of five meetings with his teams. The first was in ’78, when Pardee’s ‘Skins whipped the Jets of Walt Michaels and OC Idzik Sr., 23-3. The only Green & White win came in Bruce Coslet’s first year at the helm, at Houston by 17-12 in 1990. But the Jets paid for that by losing twice the next season to Pardee’s Oilers, 23-20 at home in the regular season and 17-10 in the Astrodome in the ’91 playoffs.

Wherever the game took him, it always seemed to bring him back to the Lone Star State. He coached the “run-and-shoot” offense with the USFL’s Houston Gamblers, then the University of Houston, then the Oilers before ending his NFL coaching career in ’94.

“We lost a great coach and, more importantly, a great man today,” Mike Munchak, current Titans head coach and a player and assistant coach for Pardee, said in a statement. “I truly admired his passion for football and was especially inspired by his love of the history of the game. He often shared stories of his NFL playing days to motivate his players, which has greatly influenced the way that I now coach my players. Coach Pardee will surely be missed.”


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Jets-Titans: First-Half Tweets

Posted by Randy Lange on December 17, 2012 – 10:10 pm

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.


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Jets-Jaguars: 1st-Half Tweets

Posted by Randy Lange on December 9, 2012 – 2:24 pm

Here are today’s first-half tweets for the Jets-Jaguars game at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, 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: Tim Tebow and LaRon Landry.

#RL JAX won opening coin toss, deferred. It’s 4th time opponents have won toss, deferred this yr. Jets record in first 3 games: 3-0.

#RL Mardy Gilyard makes catch on 3rd down, comes up inches short of 1st down. Gilyard’s first NFL reception since 2010.

#EA Antonio Cromartie was in there at WR on the first play from scrimmage.

#RL Jags in RZ, but Garrett McIntyre hits Chad Henne as he throws, Bart Scott picks off. Jets’ 1st takeaway in 4 games all-time at JAX.

#RL Jags in RZ, but Garrett McIntyre hits Chad Henne as he throws, Bart Scott picks off. Jets’ 1st takeaway in 4 games all-time at JAX.

#RL That’s the first time this season JAX has been prevented from scoring in the red zone after 25 successful chance (14 TDs, 11 FGs).

#RL Bart Scott’s INT was his first since 2006 with Baltimore.

#RL Robert Malone gets off 50-yd punt (49-yd net), 13th consec game he’s had at least one 50-yd punt, longest streak by Jets P since ’91.

#EA That was Bart Scott’s first regular season pick as a Jet. He now has 4 INTs in his career.

#EA Stephen Hill, who stepped up last week with 5 catches, getting looked at on the sideline. Hopefully the rookie’s right leg is OK.

#RL Jets WR Stephen Hill has a knee injury, his return to this game is questionable.

#RL Josh Scobee hits 31-yd FG to give JAX 3-0 lead over Jets. Scobee FG-kicking career vs Jets: 7-for-8. Scobee this season: 21-for-22.

#EA All turnovers are reviewed. Don’t think the TD will stand, but the Jets have 2 turnovers in +territory now.

#RL Jets D has no sacks of Chad Henne but pressured him into 3 incompletions for their first three-and-out series this afternoon.

#RL Josh Scobee 55-yd FG attempt to end 1st half is wide left. Scobee hit a 55-yder vs. Jets in Game 2 last season. Jets trail at half 3-0.


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STS*: Fake Punts Are No Trickery, Just Execution

Posted by Randy Lange on October 20, 2012 – 12:14 pm

If the Jets execute a fake punt every other game, does it no longer qualify as a fake?

As special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff said this week in response: “I’d rather execute than trick. That’s me as a coach. I don’t think we really tricked anybody.”

But to be sure, the Jets have out-executed three opponents in the past four weeks. That’s 3-for-3 on Tim Tebow-triggered plays. The only other time in the last 30 years that the Jets have reeled off three fake punts for first downs  was in 2009, when they went 4-for-4. Add in fake field goals and the only time besides ’12 and ’09 that the Green & White went 3-for-3 was in 1987. (

“We have to execute. That’s what it comes down to,” said linebacker and “tight end” Nick Bellore. “But I think we’ve got a lot of confidence in what we’re doing right now.”

Bellore worked in tandem with Tebow to pull off the 23-yard jump-pass conversion on fourth-and-11 at the Colts 40 on Sunday. Who’d a’ thunk it that Nick, who’s picked off a few passes over his years in the game but doesn’t remember ever catching a pass, would have gotten wide-open, taken TT’s pass flawlessly, and then motored and leaped for 14 yards after the catch?

“YAC. That’s what they brought me here for,” Bellore said Friday.

Westhoff said there was never a doubt in his mind that No. 54 would get it done.

“Nick’s just athletic, and when we did it in practice, he caught it well,” Coach Westy said. “I think there was one time when we did it in practice that he didn’t report. Now our officials caught it and they were going to throw the flag, and then he was begging them — he knew I would kill him — he said, ‘Please don’t tell him, don’t tell him.’  So that did happen, but no, I have a lot of confidence in Nick.”

The confidence in the first two plays was of a different sort. Tebow kept for 5 yards on fourth-and-3 from the Jets 25 at Miami, then two weeks later he bulled ahead for 3 yards on fourth-and-1 from the Jets 24.

For both runs Tebow plowed off his left side with the short snap from Tanner Purdum, with the help of some strong blocking from Garrett McIntyre, Josh Mauga and Konrad Reuland. I’s all in a day’s work for Reuland, a tight end, but Mauga (since IR-ed) and Mac, they’re used to shedding blocks, not blocking sheds.

“It’s a little different,” McIntyre said, “but it’s pretty easy, just get off the ball as hard as you can and block the guy.”

Easy to say when it’s the Dolphins’ punt-block team, but the Texans smelled a rat and sent out their first defense to try to stop the potential primetime fake. The 255-pound McIntyre found himself going up against 284-pound starting DE Antonio Smith.

“It was crazy for a second, but there was a big bubble next to him and Tim found the bubble. He’s given me a little props for my blocks,” Mac said. “Running these fakes is great in the fact that we can help extend the drive. That’s an awesome feeling.”

Indeed, the Jets turned a three-and-out series into a 15-play field goal drive against the Dolphins, another three-and-out into a seven-play drive vs. Houston, and Bellore’s beautiful catch-and-run turned a six-play punt possession into an 11-play, 70-yard touchdown march vs. Indy.

Dare we say a drive-extending out-execution against the Patriots might be extremely helpful as the Jets compete up at Gillette Stadium with the Pats? OK, we dare not. And as Bellore reminded:

“Against New England, it’ll be tough. I’m not saying the other teams we ran our plays against weren’t tough, but we’re playing a lot  of really, really good special teams units this season.”

But then as Westhoff reminded reporters on Thursday, “I’d run more of ‘em than that if we could. We have them up all the time. Many times on fakes you catch someone totally unprepared. That really has not happened too much with us, especially after we’ve run them, because people now know and they’re going to gear up for it.

“But we still think we can do it.”

Malone’s Monster Game

Kudos to Malone for his five-punt, 52.0-yard gross, 48.0 net game vs. the Colts. The net is actually a franchise mark of sorts, equaling the best net in a game, minimum of four punts, by a Jet since 1976. Brian Hansen previously held that distinction alone with his five punts in the Astrodome against the Houston Oilers on Dec. 24,1994.

“Last week, his first punt we were disappointed in — he tried to muscle it,” Westhoff said of a ball that Malone told me was blown out of his hand a bit by the early Meadowlands gusts and still hopped out of bounds for a 50-yard gross and net. “After that I thought he was outstanding. He’s got a very strong leg, a powerful leg. I think he’s got a lot of future ahead of him. Now he’s got a lot of things to do to work out his technique, his drops, to get all those things consistent, but he’s worked at it very well.”

Westhoff is certain the Patriots will have Wes Welker returning punts Sunday, so if Malone’s got a bunch more of those 5.13-second hangtimes in that powerful leg (that’s my unofficial average for his last four punts of the day), it will help Ellis Lankster and ‘Zaiah Trufant to keep WW thinking fair catch and help the Jets in the all-important field position battle.

*Special Teams Saturday


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STS*: McKnight’s Patience Paid Off in Primetime

Posted by Randy Lange on October 13, 2012 – 9:08 am

With his second kickoff-return TD as a pro and with his average again inching upward toward 30.0 yards per return, Joe McKnight was asked this week how good he can be as an NFL return man.

“Devin Hester’s the best now. Hopefully I can have my name next to his or around his somewhere. That’d be great,” McKnight said. He went on to explain that when he was an eighth-grader in River Ridge, La., he already had some notion that he’d like to follow in Hester’s fast footsteps some day.

“I used to look up to him. He wore No. 4 and I wore No. 4,” Joe recalled. “I always wanted to go to the University of Miami. I was a big Clinton Portis fan and a big Devin Hester fan.”

Interesting that McKnight knew at that tender age that he wanted to be like a top UM return man and a top ‘Canes RB. The storyline a few weeks back was that he was being made into a (temporary) defensive back and that he thought Rex Ryan and the Jets were saying he might not be wanted as a back.

Not true, said Rex. For the time being, McKnight is back at RB and got his most plays (9) and touches (4) of the season on offense on Monday night. And he made like a superback on his 100-yard return down the left sideline to juice up the Jets and the fans for their close-but-no-cigar 23-17 loss.

In fact, ST coordinator Mike Westhoff is serious in saying that he thinks in terms of running the ball when he draws up those now famous kickoff returns of his.

“All of our plays are based off of running plays,” Westhoff said. “That’s what they look like and what they should look like, where we’re going to try to double and trap and wall and run a counter off of that. It’s very similar to what an offense would run on an off-tackle play. We blocked it well. We blocked it very well. And we hit it.”

Indeed, McKnight took the “handoff” from Houston kickoff man Shayne Graham at his goal line and proceeded to use his speed and cuts to get the Jets back in the game. First game the double team by his two-man wedge, Garrett McIntyre and Konrad Reuland, on the Texans’ Bryan Braman, with McIntyre then sliding up and taking out Troy Nolan. Downfield a little further, Nick Bellore and Bilal Powell applied the second double-team, boxing up Jesse Nading.

Simultaneously, to McKnight’s right, Ellis Lankster neutralized Shiloh Keo and new signee Lex Hilliard continued his impressive first night in green and white by delaying Mister Alexander’s outside rush toward the ball.

McKnight slalomed past through the “gate” opened by Reuland and Lankster, then exploded past the diving Alexander and stiff-armed Graham. Suddenly it was a footrace with rookie safety DeVier Posey. McKnight won, squeezing past Posey along the left sideline and curling the ball inside the pylon as he dived into the end zone.

“I felt like I had to make some plays. The first couple of games I was disappointed that I didn’t get to break anything,” he said. “But I didn’t want to try to press the issue and go out and look for stuff. I just had to be patient and wait till they came to me.”

And while he was waiting, he was making a few things happen elsewhere on teams. He also is a part of the Jets’ kickoff cover team that also features Lankster and ‘Zaiah Trufant as their advance team. It was No. 25 you saw blurring by on your TV screen, in part because of his speed and in part because of a shove in the back from Braman that started the Texans out at their 4-yard line late in the opening period.

McKnight’s always gives his blockers their props — “It’s a give-and-take,” he said. “You give me something, I give you something.”

He means that literally. Last year he dished out an iPad and some high-end headphones. For this return, he said he’s planning on presenting a 50″ TV from a recent interview to either Reuland or Bellore.

And he wouldn’t mind continuing to play early Santa in the weeks ahead. Might the Colts’ cover team be in danger? They’re 25th in opponents’ kickoff-return average.

“We got some good double-teams this week,” he said, respectfully but confidently, “and next week we’re going to try to do the same.”

*Special Teams Saturday


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Run D Wants to Spend Time in Miami’s Backfield

Posted by Randy Lange on September 20, 2012 – 9:32 am

Rex Ryan said nothing much good comes out of a loss except possibly the learning. And what the Jets may have learned is that their run defense can be all that it thought it was before C.J. Spiller creased them a few times on opening day.

“We’ve got to put the loss behind us,” DE Muhammad Wilkerson said of the Sunday slipup in Pittsburgh, “but we were challenging ourselves all last week about being physical up front. We just wanted to come out and attack the challenge.”

“We need to bounce back still from that first game,” said DT Mike DeVito. “We kind of took the pedal off the gas there and let the Bills run for some yards. We want to be the top run defense in the league. We’re capable of doing that. So now it’s just digging ourselves out of that hole that we started off in.”

By a few measures, the run defense was outstanding in Pittsburgh. The Steelers needed Ben Roethlisberger to carry them on his broad shoulders because their backs were finding no room in gaining 66 yards on 28 carries.

A big component of those figures were seven Jets tackles behind the line of scrimmage (six on running plays, one on a pass) for minus-22 yards. Led by Wilkerson (2.5 TFLs) and LB Garrett McIntyre (2.0 TFLs, two sacks), those two team figures were both the most in a game in four seasons under Ryan. The last time they had seven TFLs was in the 2007 home win over the Steelers. The last time they racked up more than 20 yards in losses was when they went 7-for-27 at Buffalo in 2004.

On their own, TFLs in a game aren’t great predictors of victory. But they can be an important part of a defensive game plan that can shut down a potent ground game and turn an offense one-dimensional, especially if led by a rookie QB.

Kind of like what the Jets’ run defense would like to do Sunday at Miami. Job One: Prune Reggie Bush.

“They’ve got a great back with Reggie,” Wilkerson said. “He’s a fast guy, so again we’ve got to be physical up front and don’t let him get outside to the edge, because if we do that, it’ll be a problem.”

Bush has been a feast-or-famine type runner over the years. Among the 56 NFL backs with 500 carries since 2006, he’s sixth in percentage of 10-yard-plus runs but he’s also fourth in percentage of “stuffs,” or being tackled for loss. So far this season he’s been feasting — his 241 rushing and 312 yards from scrimmage are both second in the league (behind Spiller, coincidentally).

“With a guy like that, this takes all 11 guys to stop him,” McIntyre said. “We’ve got to create lots of penetration. We’ve got to set edges. That’s huge this week.”

Especially because as poised as Ryan Tannehill has sometimes looked, he’s a rookie who’s been sacked four times, thrown three INTs to one TD and passed to a rating of 62.6.

Tannehill’s comfort in the pocket will be dependent on Bush’s comfort in running the ball and moving the chains.

“It’s going to be a great challenge for us,” DeVito said. “That’s they key to the game, who we play as a defensive front.”

Revis and the Walking Wounded

The Jets’ injury list keeps growing each week. Today’s first report of the week is up to a season-high 19 players. But the good news is that 11 of them were full-go in practice today. And the news is cautiously optimistic on the key-player front as well.

CB Darrelle Revis? “He has not been cleared for contact. He has been cleared for practice,” said Ryan. “We’ll see how that goes.” Revis was in fact limited today.

TE Dustin Keller? Did not participate in practice but sounded confident again that he’ll be ready to play at Miami.

QB Mark Sanchez, who appeared on the list as full participation with a low-back twinge? “I just found out about it today,” Ryan said. “I don’t think it’s that serious.”

Also DNPs were LB Bryan Thomas (hamstring), S Eric Smith (hip/knee) and FB John Conner (knee). Said McIntyre about getting a second start for BT at OLB: “I’ve got to prepare like I’m going to be the guy and whatever happens, happens. I’ll do whatever role they want me to do, whatever it means, as long as we get wins. The more depth we have, the better we are.”

The Dolphins have listed nine players on their Wednesday list. Backup DT Tony McDaniel (knee) didn’t participate Starting CB Richard Marshall (back) and backup WRs Anthony Marshall (hamstring) and Marlon Moore (hamstring) were all limited. Five ‘Fins were full practice.

McKnight Prognosis: Two-Plus Plays

Ryan was pressed about two play-related situations by reporters. One predictably involved the Tim Tebow Wildcat, which went from eight plays vs. Buffalo to three at Pitt. How much will we see the ‘Cat vs. the ‘Fins?

“That’s the beauty of it because we control it,” the head coach said. “The media’s not going to drive it and the opponents, they’re not going to have any idea what we’re going to do with him,” the head coach said. “I think I know the answer but I’m not going to give it to you. I think it’s in our best interests that our opponents don’t know exactly. Will the Wildcat really be featured this week or is it more back-burnered? I think that plays into our advantage.”

As for kickoff man McKnight, Ryan said his one play on offense, on which he ran for 12 yards with a handoff from Tebow, was a function of him being “a little nicked. We’ll see. I think he’ll have a bigger role this week.” How big? “I would think he’d play a bigger role than one snap.”


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Revis, Keller, Thomas Ruled Out for Pittsburgh

Posted by Randy Lange on September 14, 2012 – 2:47 pm

Rex Ryan didn’t wait until gametime Sunday, or Saturday before the team’s flight, or for the first question to be asked today. The Jets head coach said at the top of his afternoon news conference that CB Darrelle Revis, along with TE Dustin Keller and LB Bryan Thomas, will not travel with the team and so those three starters will not play Sunday when the Jets take on the Steelers at Heinz Field.

“We’re just following NFL protocol,” Ryan said about Revis’ mild concussion suffered late in the opener against Buffalo. “Darrelle’s been cleared for non-contact, but he hasn’t been cleared for contact.

“We say it all the time. It’s really about the decal on the side of the helmet. We say guys who step up to replace a guy, they have to play as well, maybe a little better. In this case, we’ll take a little less.”

Kyle Wilson, the Jets’ first-round draft choice in 2010, is the player who will be stepping into Revis’ shoes as a starting corner opposite Antonio Cromartie. Wilson, who made the third interception of his career vs. the Bills, has started 12 games as a pro, but in 10 of them he was a slot corner. In only two games in 2010, in Game 3 at Miami and Game 16 vs. Buffalo, did he start on the outside.

Ryan said the Jets have faith in him to handle this next starting assignment against the heavy hitters in the Pittsburgh wideout corps.

“We have a lot of confidence that Kyle will step up in the starting role,” the coach said. “He’s a guy who over the last two years spent time with Darrelle in the offseason, training with him, learning football from him. I think that tells you about Kyle’s commitment. He wants to be a great player. Why not learn from the best?”

For the first time this week, Revis participated in practice, putting on his helmet and jogging out to participate in position drills and also getting in limited work during team drills.

At TE, Ryan said of Keller’s sore hamstring that “he kind of tweaked it a little bit Wednesday. It’s just best that he sit out, miss this game, and be ready to go next week.”\

Jeff Cumberland, the third-year man who had career highs of three catches and 33 yards off the bench on Sunday, is in line to make his first NFL start for Keller, the Jets’ leading pass-catcher the previous two seasons. Konrad Reuland, the first-year waiver pickup who saw action in more than 20 plays vs. the Bills, also will play, and the Jets re-signed Dedrick Epps off the Bears practice squad to their active roster to also help with the TE depth.

Reporter John Holt will have a Q&A with Cumberland that will be posted a little later this afternoon.

Thomas, who started vs. Buffalo after missing the final 12 games last season with a torn left Achilles tendon, suffered a left ankle injury vs. the Bills that he said is unrelated to the Achilles issue. But he was rehabbing furiously this week to get on the field for the Steelers.

“I’ve been in there getting treatment four times a day to give them the confidence to say that I can go out there and play,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s a trainers decision, a doctors decision, but I want to prove to them that I can go out there and do it, no matter what. Especially coming off the injury from last year. I missed some games and that was tough last year. I don’t want to miss any this year.”

However, B.T. will miss at least one, with Garrett McIntyre, who started three consecutive games last season at Denver, vs. Buffalo and at Washington, in line to get this start. Aaron Maybin may also see his snaps go up.

The Rest of the Report

On the flip side of the injury list, Ryan did report that 11 of his listed players practiced full during team drills today and are all probable for the Steelers, including DT Sione Po‘uha and S Eric Smith, who both sat out the Jets’ opener against the Bills. Also full/probable were Cromartie, DT Mike DeVito, WR Stephen Hill, WR Jeremy Kerley, S LaRon Landry, LB Josh Mauga, G Brandon Moore and WR Chaz Schilens. Limited in practice and questionable for the game are FB John Conner (knee) and CB Isaiah Trufant (ankle).

The Steelers’ Friday report lists LB James Harrison (knee) and S Troy Polamalu (calf) as questionable after not participating in team drills today, while RB Rashard Mendenhall (knee) is listed as doubtful.

Another Tebow Rumor Put to Rest

Tim Tebow spoke with reporters again today and predictably, he was asked about a story early in the week in which an unnamed NFL source said the backup QB will be looking to move on from the Jets after this season if he doesn’t become a starter. Tebow found the report amusing.

“That’s what these guys told me about a little bit ago. I find that pretty funny,” he said. “It’s about as true as me living in Hoboken, I think. I guess it’s just part of what you have to deal with, rumors and stuff like that, I don’t know. All I can say is I love being here as a Jet, I’m thankful for it and I want to be here for a long time. I guess you just have to put up with stuff like that.”

That was an earlier rumor, that Tebow had set up shopt in the New Jersey city of Hoboken. He was asked if he had anything against the town.

“Nothing,” he replied, “except everybody says I live there, still to this day.”


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Garrett McIntyre Savors His Tebow Takedown

Posted by Randy Lange on August 1, 2012 – 1:54 pm

Garrett McIntyre knows his pelt in the twos-vs.-twos red zone period at this morning Jets training camp practice is not one to hang on his wall. But he still took a little satisfaction out of “sacking” Tim Tebow in the drill.

“I actually had a chance to sack Tim in the game last year — a real chance — and he made me look bad,” the second-year linebacker said, referring to last year’s 17-13 loss in Denver. “So I know his ability to make people miss. He’s strong. Anytime you can get your hands on him, you feel good, but it’s got to be a collective defensive thing, it’s not one guy, because he’ll make one guy miss.”

McIntyre didn’t miss this time. The second defensive front got good pressure and forced No. 15 to improvise, right into the arms of No. 50, who was coming off the defense’s right edge and pushing back LT Austin Howard.

“It’s just understanding the rush lanes,” Mac said, “knowing that Tebow’s going to scramble a lot and you can’t just run up the field on him. Our goal as a front, especially if we’re rushing four, is to contain him, which is not easy. I just came under. I don’t know who was on the other side but they did a good job of flushing back to me.”

Later in that same drive, McIntyre put a lick on Terrance Ganaway that knocked the rookie RB to the grass. The hit looked and no doubt felt good but drew a mild rebuke from head coach Rex Ryan, since this was not a full-tackling drill.

“You’ve got to treat each other well,” he said. “I was kind of off balance a little bit so I happened to fall on him. We like to be physical on this side of the ball, but we also like to take care of the other guys. We’re teammates, so that’s why I’m looking forward to Cincinnati.”

Some might think McIntyre’s a bubble ‘backer but he rightly feels a lot more comfortable this summer than he did last year, when he was a first-year NFL player who had been to three NFL camps and played for two years with the Arena League’s SabreCats and two years with the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger Cats.

“That probably would’ve been my last shot with the NFL. I would’ve gone back to Canada. I had a job waiting for me up there,” he said. “Now, I do, I believe I belong in this league. I just had to get in first. That’s the hardest part, especially the second time. The best chance you have is coming right out of college, then very rarely you get opportunities after that. So I’m blessed to just have gotten an opportunity and now I’m going to make the best out of it.”

Tempo and Soft Tissue

Santonio Holmes was the latest Jet — in fact their latest WR — who has had to sit out some reps. A little gimpy in previous days. Holmes was on the sideline for the first offense’s two-minute drill at the end of practice.

“Santonio was just one of those soft-tissue type of things,” said head coach Rex Ryan at today’s midday news conference. “That’s why it’s fortunate. They’re not major injuries. But those things keep adding up and we’re trying to figure out why.”

There have been more hamstring/calf-type pulls this year than in previous summers, so this morning’s return after Tuesday’s off-day began with a 20-minute stretching period before practice. Ryan and OC Tony Sparano have talked about the wideouts, who’ve been the hardest-tweaked, and one possible reason for the minor injuries is Sparano’s up-tempo approach, which often this camp has resulted in the Jets getting in twice as many plays in a particular period as they had originally scripted it for.

“I’m not saying anything against what we did in the past, but we were not even close to this kind of tempo,” Ryan said. “But this is who we are offensively, and that’s not going to change. We’re not slowing up. This isn’t just great for our offense but it’s great for our defense. A lot of no-huddle teams gain an advantage because the other teams aren’t working at that level. And I think we are.”

Practice Notes

Vlad Ducasse was another injury concern, but the third-year man said he feels fine after playing LG, hitting the turf, then limping off. Ducasse also played a few reps at RG for the first time this camp, part of the Ryan/Tony Sparano/Dave DeGuglielmo push to get their O-linemen familiar with multiple positions.

In general Vlad says camp is going well, including GM Mike Tannenbaum’s description of him as “a young, ascending player.” “It always gives you confidence every time they talk positively about you. It makes you want to push yourself to get better every day,” he said. “This year I put a lot of pressure on myself to show something, so we’ll see.”

Could this be one of the key days in the kicking competition? For the in-practice FG period, Nick Folk hit from 35, 37, 44 and 46, Josh Brown from 39, 41, 47 and 49. Then Folk nailed a 51-yarder but Brown banged his 51-yarder high off the right upright. Then in the two-minute period, Mark Sanchez rescued his drive with a third-and-long completion to Dustin Keller to set up a Folk 51-yard “game-winner,” which he drove through. … Antonio Allen had his third INT in two practices on an off-line fade into the end zone from Tim Tebow for Dexter Jackson.

Rex Cetera

Veteran reporters and fans who followed the Jets more than a decade ago could be forgiven if they had a flashback this morning. On the sidelines and then walking off in close proximity to each other today were Aaron Glenn and Laveranues Coles. Glenn, the Jets’ Pro Bowl CB, is now a pro personnel assistant with the Jets. Coles, the 459-catch WR for the Green & White, is a pro personnel intern this summer. The two went up against each other during the ’00 and ’01 training camps back at Hofstra University.

S Tracy Wilson was waived this morning. The roster is now at 86 players. … Ryan said Saturday night’s Green & White scrimmage will be held for the first time in Cortland Stadium, on the school’s new turf field. “We’re going to put it in the stadium and the fans will get a better view,” Ryan said. “In the past we held these on the grass fields, but now the turf field’s so nice that we think we can do that. I think it’ll be a good experience for the fans and it’ll be a great experience for us.” … Today’s attendance: 2,361.


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Odds Aren’t Quite as Long for Bellore This Time

Posted by Randy Lange on May 30, 2012 – 3:35 pm

We’ve been hearing a lot about the bodily transformations going on in the Jets locker room thanks in part to the guidance from strength coach Bill Hughan and his staff. Bart Scott’s dropped 20 pounds and is looking, in Mike Pettine’s words, “is running around like a young Bart.” Kenrick Ellis has shed 15 pounds from last year’s 346-pound playing weight and wants to get rid of 5 more. Joe McKnight told us he’s added 15 pounds of muscle and lost no speed.

Add Nick Bellore to the list. As he walks through the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center locker room, there’s a sense that his back muscles are rippling just a little bit more than the mind’s eye recalled a year ago, when he was the Jets’ undrafted rookie find out of Central Michigan.

But the Jets’ second-year linebacker and kick-coverage leader said the numbers in his case might lie.

“I weigh about the same as last year, around 245,” Bellore said. “But I’ve improved my body. Moving around, I can tell how I’m looking and how I feel. I’ve got the size to be able to handle my linebacker duties and I still have my speed for all the special-teams stuff.”

For Bellore, that’s important. Mike Westhoff and Ben Kotwica, watching glumly as the Jets had to release their top three ST tacklers/performers from the ’10 team in Lance Laury, James Ihedigbo and Brad Smith, needed some holdovers and new talent to step up and fill the void. They got that from the likes of Josh Mauga, Garrett McIntyre and Jamaal Westerman … and Bellore.

The Jets early on noted that Bellore could be one of their undrafted signees who might be able to break through to the roster. And they were right. He led the Jets with 22 solo and 31 total kick-coverage tackles (Mauga was second with 14 and 20). Many of the stops came for the kickoff team, which was sixth in the NFL in opponents’ average start after kickoffs (21.2-yard line) and third in the league in inside-the-20 stops on KO returns (26, behind New England’s 30 and Atlanta’s 28).

Bellore acknowledges he’s got a leg up on all the new guys in green trying to gain spots on the six special units.

“I think camp’s going to be easier for me,” he said after the last OTA practice of last week. “I know what’s around the corner. I’m more comfortable. I can just play football. That first year, you’ve got to meet everybody, get to know everybody.”

Now he’s got to fend off those who are out to bump him down the depth chart if not off the roster. The most dangerous player for Bellore probably is third-round rookie Demario Davis, whom Westhoff was very pleased to hear had fallen to the Jets with the 77th pick of last month’s draft. He has the speed and smarts to make an impact on specials right away and the upside to grow into a player at inside ‘backer behind David Harris and Scott, which is where Mauga and Bellore now reside.

“Demario’s a nice kid and a good football player. He picks things up fast,” Bellore assessed. “I have to take special teams and lead the group by making plays. Dave’s in front of me and he’s a great player. We have a bunch of great inside linebackers. I’m just continuing to learn so I don’t miss a beat.”

Bellore knows what’s ahead. He knows it won’t be easy. But he knows he’s done it before and he plans to do it again.

“It’s never going to be easy for me,” he said. “I’m always going to have to fight the odds.”


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