The weather gods had not been Jets fans in the recent past, but today they lifted the rainclouds long enough for the Jets to take to the grass fields at the Atlantic Health Training Center in front of 1,111 season ticket holders.
Head coach Rex Ryan held his news conference before today’s practice start, and tight ends were on the minds of several questioners — the TEs they have on the roster, the one former standout tight end who was invited to participate in today’s practice, and the ex-Jet who may or may not end up at that position for the Patriots.
Rex was asked about the position and ticked off the players already on the roster.
“With Jeff Cumberland, obviously, he’s the starter right now. If we were going to have a game tomorrow, he would be our starter,” Ryan said. “He’s a big, fast guy that I think has improved over the years. His blocking, I think, has really improved. I’ll be excited to see how he progresses.
“Then you have Konrad [Reuland] and Hayden [Smith], guys with experience. Then you have ‘the BC Kid’ [Chris Pantale] and ‘The Coach,’ Mike] Shanahan, who are working their way out there. And we’ll see about Winslow. I’m excited about seeing Kellen.”
That’s the former standout. Kellen Winslow Jr., who caught 438 passes and 23 touchdowns combined in four years with Cleveland, three years with Tampa Bay, and one — game, that is — with New England. Winslow, former Jacksonville WR Mike Sims-Walker and DT Leger Douzable were all invited to this minicamp as unsigned veteran free agents.
“Obviously, Kellen was a tremendous player in this league for a long time, one of the premier receiving tight ends in the game, so we’ll see how he responds,” Ryan said. “Obviously it’s going to be recovery more than anything else, how healthy he is. Because clearly the skillset that he has, the young man was a tremendous player.”
Finally comes the ex-Jet who’s now maybe a Patriots tight end. Tim Tebow was signed by the Patriots and one of the rumored stories out of Boston was that Pats coach Bill Belichick is considering using Tebow not just at QB behind Tom Brady and Ryan Mallard but perhaps also as a TE.
Even though the Jets ended the TT experiment a month and a half ago with his release two days after the end of the draft, nine of the 24 questions asked of Ryan today (37.5% of the questions) were about Tebow.
“All these questions are probably better served by being asked of New England and Belichick. I’m sure you’ll get the answer from him,” Ryan said.
But one more time Rex gave a Tebow eulogy.
“I’m happy for the young man to get another opportunity in the league,” he said. “We’ve already mentioned that it didn’t work out here. Obvoulsy, Tim had more success in Denver than he did here, so it is what it is.”
And wouldn’t it be interesting if Winslow, who played that one game for the Pats, then asked to be released and the Pats concurred, sticks with the Jets while Tebow does what he does with the Pats.
But Winslow, talking with Jets reporters after practice, said that’s still a little way down the road.
“Rex and I used to go at it when he was with the Ravens. He’s an awesome coach, man, one of the best defensive coaches in the league,” Winslow reminisced. “My job is just to make plays and however it works out, that’s how it works out. I’m a playmaker and my job is just to make plays. I’m just trying to make the team.”
Tags: Chris Pantale, Hayden Smith, Jeff Cumberland, Jets minicamp, Kellen Winslow, Konrad Reuland, Mike Shanahan, Rex Ryan, Tim Tebow
Posted in Randy Lange | 29 Comments »
Updated Saturday, 4:50 p.m. ET
Next week’s draft is a big event for the Jets’ extended family. Fans are aware that CB Desmond Trufant out of Washington is Isaiah’s younger brother and Matt Elam, the Florida safety, is Abram Elam’s kid brother. But that’s just the start of the draft prospects with a little green and white in their blood.
Austin Peay QB Jake Ryan is the son of Pat Ryan, the Jets’ 13-year backup and sometimes starting QB from 1978-90. Pat, in fact, was 12-9 as a starter during Ken O’Brien’s stay with the Green & White, and that included starts in both of the 1986 playoff games, the win over Kansas City and the double OT loss at Cleveland.
Penn State RB Michael Zordich’s dad, Mike, also a Nittany Lion, went on to play 12 NFL seasons as a safety, the first two of which came with the Jets in 1987-88 after he was drafted in the ninth round of the ’86 draft by San Diego. The elder Zordich’s big green play was an interception-return touchdown to crown the Jets’ 1988 home-opening win over the Houston Oilers.
Then there’s North Carolina OL Brennan Williams. His father, Brent, began his NFL career as seventh-rounder in that same ’86 draft by New England, then went on to play 11 pro seasons. His last five games came as a member of the Jets in 1996.
And one name that initially got past me and the NFL’s media department but not past Radar regular GaryC is T.J. McDonald, the Southern Cal safety and son of Tom McDonald, not an ex-Jets player but a celebrated Trojans and NFL safety who came on this year as the Jets’ new DBs coach.
Where do all the Jets’ relatives figure to go? Desmond Trufant is possibly the third-best corner in this draft and should go in the second half of the first round. Matt Elam is perhaps the top strong safety prospect in this draft and could go low in Round 1 or in Round 2. T.J. McDonald and Brennan Williams are potential third- or fourth-rounders. Michael Zordich and Jake Ryan are possible undrafted free agent signees.
Familiar Names at Predraft Play 60 Clinics
A number of current and former Jets are slated to be involved in the NFL Play 60 Youth Football Festival being held next Wednesday and Thursday at Chelsea Waterside Park between 23rd and 24th Streets in Manhattan.
TE Jeff Cumberland, LB Demario Davis, WR Clyde Gates and RB John Griffin will be involved in conducting some of the clinics on Wednesday afternoon. Former Jets S James Ihedigbo, now with the Ravens, will also be a clinician, as will retired QB Mark Brunell, in town as we mentioned a few days ago to announce the Jaguars’ second-round pick from the Radio City podium on Friday night.
The players will team with third-through-ninth-grade students from schools in New York and New Jersey as part of the league’s youth health and fitness campaign. Students will learn NFL FLAG drills and Heads Up Football skills from USA Football coaches and will participate in activities with the players.
For the first time in this annual predraft event, two Thursday evening clinics are open for public registration. A parent or legal guardian may sign up his/her child (ages 6-13) at www.1iota.com. Space is limited.
Tags: Abram Elam, Brent Williams, Clyde Gates, Demario Davis, Isaiah Trufant, Jeff Cumberland, John Griffin, Mike Zordich, NFL Draft, NFL Play 60, Pat Ryan
Posted in Randy Lange | 61 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 »
Mark Sanchez has had an “excellent week of practice,” Jets head coach Rex Ryan said today.
“I see a lot of energy from him, I see him bouncing around,” Ryan said at his news conference at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center following this morning’s final practice before Sunday’s game at Jacksonville. “You can tell he feels good, he feels good about the plan, he feels confident.”
Yet Sanchez, playing for the first time since Ryan pulled him in the third quarter of the Arizona game last Sunday, could be without one of his biggest security blankets of the past four seasons. TE Dustin Keller (ankle) did not practice again today and is listed as doubtful for the Jaguars.
“With me, doubtful usually means he’s not going,” Ryan said. “It’s unfortunate, but this is like the sixth time this season we haven’t had Dustin.”
If Keller is inactive for the Jags, it will be the fifth game he’s missed this season, and he had one-catch contributions in the Buffalo opener and the Indianapolis game sandwiched around that early four-game hiatus due to his aggravated hamstring injury.
DK is on pace for 48 targets, 37 catches and 423 yards, which would all be career lows since his 2008 rookie season. He was the Jets’ receptions leader in 2010 and ’11, the first Jets TE with that distinction since Mickey Shuler in 1984-85.
That’s a difficult security blanket to reweave, but Jeff Cumberland has at least filled in well in his first full, healthy season with the Green & White. His 35 targets, 21 catches, 233 yards are close to Keller’s line and his two TD catches match Keller’s scores. And even with Keller missing for a stretch, the tight end numbers this year are pretty close to the previous three seasons, with the average yards per catch at the position (11.3) the lowest since 2008 yet not far off the Keller-influenced 11.5 for the position in ’09.
Injury Statuses for the Game
As for the rest of the Jets’ injured players, only WR Clyde Gates (concussion) has been declared out, and NT Damon Harrison (ankle) is the only other “doubtful.” There are three questionables: QB Tim Tebow (ribs), WR Stephen Hill (knee) and NT Sione Po‘uha (low back), all of whom were limited in practice.
All 17 other Jets on the report are probable for Jacksonville, including RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle/ribs), who practiced full. Click here for the full report.
Jacksonville’s final report is one of extremes. Six of their 13 injured players are out for the Jets: RBs Maurice Jones-Drew (foot) and Rashad Jennings (concussion), WR Cecil Shorts (concussion), OL Mike Brewster (hand), CB Aaron Ross (calf) and DE George Selvie (concussion).
The other seven are all probable: S Dwight Lowery (foot), CBs Derek Cox (hamstring) and Rashean Mathis (groin), D-linemen Tyson Alualu (calf) and Austen Lane (foot), C Brad Meester (foot), and FB Greg Jones (thigh).
A Tale of Two “Strengths”
ESPN has noted that the Jets have gone from first in the NFL to last in one interesting measure: strength of schedule.
In the first 12 games of the season, Jets opponents’ combined record is 83-59-2, a .583 winning percentage that is first in the league. In other words, the Jets had the NFL’s toughest schedule (based only on opponents’ combined record) in the first three-quarters of the season.
The final four Jets opponents’ composite record is 15-33-0, a .313 percentage that is 32nd in the league. The Jets’ final quarter is the league’s “easiest” finish. Ominously, with Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati at least two games ahead of them for AFC Wild Card berths, that favorable final quarter may not be enough to provide a 2009-like storybook regular-season stretch run into the postseason grid.
But as Mike Westhoff said this week, “I’m a big believer that until someone tells us that we’re not in it, we can finish strongly and be in this thing, so that’s how I’m seeing it every week. You just don’t know in our crazy business, and it’s our responsibility to fight through that to the very end.”
And ours as well.
Tags: Dustin Keller, Jacksonville Jaguars, Jeff Cumberland, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan
Posted in Uncategorized | 30 Comments »
Here are today’s first-half tweets for the Jets-Cardinals game 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 Jets gameday captain vs ARZ: LB Calvin Pace, backed up by David Harris, Bart Scott, Demario Davis, Nick Bellore, Garrett McIntyre, NT Sione Po‘uha.
#RL Jets win toss, defer. Since 09 Jets have won opening toss and deferred 29 times (6 times this yr). Jets record in pvs 28 games: 12-16.
#RL Jets stop Cards on their 1st 3rd-down attempt of the game, Eric Smith PD, Donnie Fletcher on blitz vs QB Ryan Lindley.
#RL Jets run defense stops ARZ on 3rd-and-1 and 4th-and-1, get ball back for the offense at Jets 18 following Sanchez INT on first off play.
#RL Nick Folk 46-yd FG attempt off left upright, no good. Folk now 5-of-7 at home this year with only other miss a blkd try vs MIA.
#EA Bilal Powell off to a good start in the backfield. He has quality vision and continues to be an asset in pass pro.
#EA Jets D doing what they’re supposed to do. Zona last in the NFL in 3rd down conversions (28.4%) entering – now 0 of 3 today.
#RL S Kerry Rhodes has his 2nd INT of Mark Sanchez. 1st Jets opponent w/ 2 1st-quarter INTs since LA Rams’ Kirk Collins in ’83.
#RL Ryan Lindley’s rushed third-and-8 pass incomplete, Jets defense has now stopped Cardinals on all 5 third-down plays.
#EA Jets have held Beanie Wells to 1 yard on 7 attempts. They are winning the battle up front against a young line.
#RL LaRon Landry makes his 2nd INT of season, on Ryan Lindley longball intended for rookie WR Malcolm Floyd. Landry returns to ARZ-38.
#RL Nick Folk tries to convert from 52 yards out. This try hits the right upright. He’s 0-for-2 with two uprights, game continues scoreless.
#RL Nick Folk had hit his previous 4 FG tries from 50-plus yards before the 52-yard miss.
#RL Jets defense in last 6 drives has an INT, a fourth-and-1 stop and 4 three-and-outs.
#RL Defense bringing it today: Cards had 33 drive yards on their opening series and have 26 yards combined on their last 6 series.
#RL Rookie WR Stephen Hill grabs 6-yd pass for first down. Hill now leads all receivers in this game with 4 catches for 37 yds.
#EA Stephen Hill has 4 receptions in the first half. The rookie’s career-high was 5 in Week 1 vs. BUF.
#RL Rex Ryan challenging spot of Dustin Keller completion, a foot short of 1st down. Ryan’s been successful in 12 of previous 17 challenges.
#RL Rex now 13 of 18 on replay challenges. Keller gets 1st down, Jets have it 1st-and-10 at ARZ-44.
#RL Rashad Johnson goes 40 yds on fake punt snap. Longest fake by Jets opps since 40-yd pass from Rohn Stark to Michael Prior vs IND in ’90.
#RL Ex-Jets K Jay Feely hits 48-yd FG as time expires in first half. Cards lead 3-0 over Jets at halftime.
#RL Jets lead at half in yards (146-115), 1st downs (9-4), possession (17:14-12:46), Cards lead in takeaways (3-1) and score (3-0).
#RL First 3-0 Jets game at halftime since 2011 Game 8 (@ BUF, Jets 3-0), first at home since 2010 Game 7 (vs GB, Packers 3-0).
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, Dustin Keller, Jay Feely, Jeff Cumberland, Kerry Rhodes, Mark Sanchez, Patrick Peterson, Rex Ryan
Posted in Randy Lange | 87 Comments »
Rex Ryan’s message to his team, reporters and fans today, less than a day after the bitter disappointment of 29-26 in overtime at New England was that the best of 2012 is yet to come.
“We’re a better team right now, playing much better, than we were three weeks ago as a football team,” the Jets head coach said after experiencing a fourth-quarter comeback and blown lead all in the same game against their division uber-rivals. “I’ve seen this team improve on the practice field and with the games we’ve been playing.
“We’re just not there yet. We’ve just got to keep going, getting a little better. We’ve got to win these type of games. That’s what’s got to drive our team to prepare and get better. Obviously, that’s our mission. We’ve got to do something this week, which is something we haven’t done since I’ve been here, and that’s sweep Miami.”
Last year the Jets finally figured out how to beat the ‘Fins at home with their 24-6 Monday night win at MetLife Stadium. But they went from playing with house money with a hard-fought victory at Gillette Stadium to playing yet another one of those virtual must-win games. If the Jets are intent on showing the improvement Rex talks about, they’ll need to take a win and a 4-4 record into their bye week, then come out angling for a 5-3 or 6-2 regular-season finish to at least be in the postseason conversation.
A strong finish is obviously not out of the question. Yes, there’s the Thanksgiving night return match with the Patriots, and three of the four improved NFC West opponents, and a three-out-of-four-on-the-road finish, crowned by the Bills lying in wait for some opening-day revenge at the Ralph.
Yet none of the Jets’ remaining eight foes has a record better than 4-3, and the combined schedule strength is a very manageable .463 winning percentage (25-29). Very manageable, that is, if the Jets are intent on proving their coach right and overcoming the injuries and reversals of fortune they’ve suffered so far.
“We’re making strides, and not by luck or anything else. It’s by design,” Ryan asserted. “Guys have approached that in the classroom and on the practice field. We’re not where we need to be yet. We need to keep working hard and start winning games like this.”
The pessimist would say what makes the Jets think they’re ready to beat New England if they couldn’t do it Sunday, when they were 1:37 away from such a big triumph. The optimist would say that instead of house money, let’s shift sporting metaphors from poker to tennis. Let’s not worry about the Pats for five weeks but when it’s time, let’s hold serve.
One reason for the optimism is that while the Jets couldn’t keep Tom Brady in check when it counted, yielding a pair of 54-yard drives to Stephen Gostkowski field goals to pull the game out, they showed for the first time that, as imperfect as the offense sometimes was, it finally outgained the Patriots. The final tally was 403 yards to 381. Not a wide margin, yet perhaps significant since the Patriots had outgained the Jets in 17 of the previous 18 games in the series, by an average of 89 yards a game.
Additionally, the Jets cleared 400 yards of offense for the first time under coordinator Tony Sparano, in fact for the first time in 20 games since they last visited that figure at Oakland in last year’s Game 3. And we’re not sure what this says about reaching 400 in this day of NFL football, but the last time the Jets gained 400 against the Patriots was in the bad old year of 1996, when they put up 422 yards.
If Mark Sanchez can avoid the big pick on the throw into the red zone, if Stephen Hill can hold on to a crunch-time pass, if Jeremy Kerley is emerging as a dynamic pass-catcher, if Dustin Keller is really back to form, if the protection can hold up and get better still …
If, if, if. Yet with all the ifs, the Jets still matched the Pats in drive yardage (including penalties) at 387 apiece, still mounted six scoring drives, still rang up 26 first downs — tied for second-most first downs of the Ryan era (behind 28 in OT at Cleveland in 2010) — and have put together 10 regulation quarters in which they’ve outscored opponents, 71-41, since their San Francisco earthquake.
“We can’t go back in the past,” RB Shonn Greene said this afternoon about any inspiration he might draw from the progress he feels has been made since the 49ers game. “This loss right here hurts being that we fought so hard.
“But if we win this game [over the 'Fins], we can be right back where we were this past game. That’s how messed up this division is.”
The NFL at large has been scrambled a bit this season as well. But the teams that fix their problems quickest will be the ones standing in January. “We’ve got to learn from the mistakes we made in this game,” said Ryan, “and move forward.”
The Plays Are the Thing
Who had the most reps at New England? If you said rookie LB Demario Davis, go to the head of the class. Davis was in for a career-high 69 snaps on defense, in part package-related and in part Bart Scott big-toe-related. And DD was also in for a team-high 29 special-teams plays, giving him 98 plays in the game, second only to the Patriots’ Devin McCourty, who was in for 102 plays.
“We had Bart playing out there with a toe that most guys would’ve taken the last three weeks off with,” Ryan said. “Bart would’ve jumped out there, but from a physical standpoint, there was no way he could’ve played that spot and been as effective as Demario, who I thought for the most part played well. There were a couple of plays I’m sure he wishes he had back, but for the most part he played pretty well.”
Davis finished unofficially with six tackles on defense plus one more in kick coverage. Scott logged nine defensive plays and had one solo tackle, taking down Stevan Ridley for a 1-yard loss in the third quarter.
TE Jeff Cumberland anticipates returning to action after the bye week from a hand injury that has required a cast. … Joe McKnight and his sore ankle seemed to come out of the game fine. He had 23 yards of offense, 116 yards on kickoff returns and is sixth in the league with his 29.6-yard return average. … Nick Folk has equaled the franchise record he set last year by hitting all 11 of his field goal tries from the start of a season. … If you need a yard, call Greene. He converted on both of his third-and-1 carries Sunday and is 7-for-7 for the season. No one else in the NFL is better than 5-for-5 on third-and-1. And he has two 1-yard scoring runs this season, including the one to cap the Jets’ opening drive yesterday.
“Inside the Jets”
G Matt Slauson, RB Lex Hilliard and RB Jonathan Grimes are the three Jets guests on tonight’s “Inside the Jets” radio show from Grasshopper Off The Green in Morristown, N.J. The show will be hosted by voice of the Jets Bob Wischusen and will air live on ESPN 98.7 FM from 7-8 p.m. ET.
Tags: Demario Davis, Jeff Cumberland, Jeremy Kerley, Mark Sanchez, New England Patriots, Rex Ryan, Tom Brady
Posted in Randy Lange | 92 Comments »
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.”
Tags: Aaron Maybin, Bryan Thomas, Darrelle Revis, Dedrick Epps, Dustin Keller, Eric Smith, Garrett McIntyre, injury report, Jeff Cumberland, Konrad Reuland, Kyle Wilson, PIttsburgh Steelers, Rex Ryan, Sione Pouha
Posted in Randy Lange | 44 Comments »
It’s awfully quiet here at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center.
The Jets’ 2012 training camp officially kicks off with player check-in day next Thursday, but that will take place 200 miles to the northwest at SUNY Cortland. Anticipation is building and you wonder which players are going to make some noise this summer.
“I think you need to watch out for Joe McKnight. People ask me and he’s my sleeper for the team,” said TE Dustin Keller. “Obviously nobody is low on Joe, but I think he has so much more upside than people even realize. He’s a great running back, he can catch the ball out of the backfield and he can do so many different things for you. He’s a good special teams guy, returning punts and kickoffs, whatever. He’s definitely a major X-factor for us.”
Keller, who has led the Green & White in receptions each of the past two seasons, says the Jets are going to become more reliant on their ground game than they were in 2011. Last year they rushed the ball 43% of the time (443 rushes in 1,030 plays). In Mark Sanchez’s second season, the team had an almost even balance at 49% (534-1,087). And in Rex Ryan’s first season as head coach and Sanchez’s rookie campaign, the Jets kept on the ground on 59% of their plays (607-1,030).
“I think the identity of Coach Sparano’s offense is obviously ‘Ground and Pound.’ That’s something he wants to instill in the team, that we are a run-first team, but we definitely can still throw the ball,” Keller said. “We have a lot of weapons out there. We went and made some things happen in the draft with Stephen Hill, obviously Santonio is there, Patrick Turner and Jeremy Kerley — so many guys that can make big plays out there. Just to think, with those types of guys at the receiver position and it’s still our secondary option, it kind of has to make you excited for what’s coming up in the season.”
The element of explosion was often absent from the Jets offense last year and a lot of teams dared them to beat them down the field. So in response, the Green & White picked up Chaz Schilens in free agency and then happily moved up to get Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill in the second round. And with LaDainian Tomlinson moving on into retirement, McKnight is going to get more opportunities carrying the rock and running pass patterns down the field. Kerley, coming off a solid first pro season, has dynamic feet and should be a handful in the slot.
More speed and more quickness on the field should equate to more space to roam.
“I think with the addition of Stephen Hill and you already have Jeremy Kerley, guys that can stretch the field and put that pressure on a defense way down the field, that’s going to make things a lot easier for guys such as myself working the middle of the field or guys like Santonio on the outside,” Keller said. “It’s going to draw a little bit of attention away and hopefully we can get those 1-on-1 matchups and take advantage of them.”
Jets TV will air our full exclusive 1-on-1 with Dustin Keller next week here on newyorkjets.com. We visited with Dustin on location down in South Carolina where he owns a number of McAlister’s Delis and that television feature, focusing on his restaurant business, will be seen during the season on “Jets Flight Plan,” which will air again on WCBS-TV.
Tags: Chaz Schilens, Dustin Keller, Jeff Cumberland, joe McKnight, Rex Ryan, Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, SUNY Cortland, Tony Sparano
Posted in Eric Allen | 38 Comments »
The Jets are licking their wounds today following their 34-24 loss to the Raiders on Sunday, and perhaps one wound came from an unexpected source. Head coach Rex Ryan differed with Jets icon Joe Namath, who on ESPN’s Michael Kay Show this afternoon had some questions about the Jets’ preparation under Ryan.
“I’d welcome Joe to come out here and watch our guys prepare,” Ryan said at today’s early evening news conference at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. “He’d see a team that prepares as well as any team I’ve been around. I disagree with him.”
ESPN’s Website quotes Namath as telling Kay, “It starts at the top. Coach Rex Ryan I think has been doing a great job getting the team to two championship games. But if there’s one thing about the athlete, if you keep telling him how good he is, he’s going to start believing it, to the point that he may not be preparing not quite the way he should. He may be losing some respect for the other team.”
“I’m not going to change who I am because Joe Namath said something,” Ryan said when asked about the comments. “So Namath can come in here. If he can still throw, maybe we’ll have him as a backup quarterback. But he doesn’t know our team. He’s on the outside, even though he’s a jet, and once you’re a Jet you’re always a Jet. But he’s not in these meetings. He’d be shocked at the preparation.”
But Ryan said this week’s preparation will be key after he said he made some specific remarks to the team right after coming off the O.co Coliseum field Sunday.
“I think immediately after a game, it’s more just raw emotions so you’re not in a teaching mode then — at least I’m not,” he said. “The next day you’re back to let’s correct this, so you’re back to being a teacher. These guys are professionals. No use yelling at ‘em again after you’ve already had at ‘em once. It’s not just about them, it’s about me. As the week goes on, let’s get this thing going. How are we going to get this thing fixed?
“Like I’ve said, it’s a long season. We’re certainly not starting off with a bang, but I have confidence we’ll get it fixed.”
At the same time the Jets’ medical and training staffs will continue to fix a few of the Jets injuries. One player who won’t be coming back this season is TE Jeff Cumberland, who suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon early in the second quarter.
CB Antonio Cromartie came down with bruised ribs and a bruised lung, but Ryan said of that injury, “I think he’s more day-to-day. We’ll see how he progresses, how he is Wednesday. It’s painful right now, hard for him to take a real deep breath, but some of these young guys, they recover quick.”
C Nick Mangold, who sat out the Raiders with a high ankle sprain from the Jacksonville game, could be closer to a return for the Ravens, Ryan said. “He’s probably day-to-day as well,” the coach said. “I don’t think he’ll practice Wednesday, but he seems to be progressing, so hopefully we’ll have him back.”
And QB Mark Sanchez suffered a “minor break” of his nose, which is not expected to limit him in his preparations for Baltimore on Sunday night.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Jeff Cumberland, Joe Namath, Nick Mangold, Rex Ryan
Posted in Randy Lange | 76 Comments »
Dustin Keller and the Jets’ tight ends have had a quiet camp.
It’s not like they haven’t played well, but the storylines on offense have focused on Mark Sanchez’s continued emergence as a leader, the Big Ten Trio otherwise known as Holmes, Mason and Plax, Shonn Greene’s promotion to the workhorse role in the backfield, and injuries/depth along the offensive line.
“We don’t mind being the silent killers,” DK told newyorkjets.com this week. “Whoever’s getting publicity — we’re not worried about that. It’s a whole team thing. As long as we’re going out there and winning, we just want to make sure we’re doing our part. I think we’re more than capable of doing that.”
Keller, a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses with his size/speed combo, led the Jets in catches last season with 55. Ben Hartsock, a 6’4”, 270-pounder who was the Green & White’s No. 2 tight end in 2010, departed in free agency and inked a deal with the Carolina Panthers. Known almost entirely for his blocking skills, Hartsock totaled two receptions in his two seasons with New York’s AFC representative.
Despite the Hartsock departure, the Jets feel good about their tight ends. Matt Mulligan, a third-year veteran, is a grinder who can help in the run game and on special teams. And Jeff Cumberland, a second-year player who played mostly wideout at Illinois, flashed his receiving skills against the Texans with team highs of six catches and 77 receiving yards.
“He did a great job, he definitely did his thing,” Keller said. “It just shows that we’re going to be able to do a lot of two-tight-end stuff this whole entire year and it will always keep the defense guessing. It just gives us another weapon.”
The 6’4”, 260-pound Cumberland has been more effective as a blocker than he was a year ago in Cortland, so that only bodes well for more playing time. While the Jets starters (minus C Nick Mangold, G Brandon Moore and WR Plaxico Burress) didn’t score in their only trip inside the 20 on Monday night, Keller anticipates better red zone efficiency in 2011.
“With some of the pickups we got — especially Plax being a big receiver — I think it’s going to be huge for us,” he said. “You’ll definitely see increased production there.”
The Jets also brought in Tom Moore as a consultant and Keller has enjoyed his time with the wise former Colts offensive coordinator.
“He’s been huge for me because he’s been giving me the ins and outs, things to look at and how to recognize this and that,” Keller said. “He’s been a great guy for me to have here.”
Moore experienced tremendous success in America’s Heartland with Peyton Manning at the controls as they often found a way to get the ball into the hands of TE Dallas Clark.
“I haven’t looked at any of his tape,” Keller said of Clark. “It’s been more so that I’ve looked at my old tape with [Moore] and he’s told me what he likes, what he thinks I should correct and what to look for.”
While Clark was injured last season and limited to just six games, he caught 100 balls and had 10 receiving TDs two years ago. It’s safe to say Keller probably won’t get triple digits anytime soon because of the Jets’ balance and he is looking forward to seeing the Ground & Pound in action once again.
“I think it keeps us well-rounded,” he said. “Some guys can go in there and give Shonn some relief and give him a little bit of a break because we’re three, four deep at that position. It’s going to be exciting to see how it plays out.”
Rex Ryan has said the Jets will let it fly some more in the fall and Keller thinks the sky’s the limit for his attention-grabbing quarterback.
“He’s done a great job, great decision making and a great leader so far,” DK said of Sanchez. “I think he just gets better and better as time goes on.”
Tags: Derrick Mason, Dustin Keller, Jeff Cumberland, Mark Sanchez, Matthew Mulligan, Plaxico Burress, Santonio Holmes, Tom Moore
Posted in Eric Allen | 26 Comments »