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Kenrick Ellis Is Hard at Work on His Craft

Posted by Randy Lange on July 29, 2013 – 3:08 pm

Updated, 4:42 p.m. ET

For a couple of periods in Sunday’s afternoon practice, Kenrick Ellis looked like the beast that ate Cortland, as the player the Jets envisioned him being when they took a chance on him in the third round in the 2011 draft. No. 93 was knifing past the first-string O-line, making tackles in the backfield and blowing up running plays like an unstoppable defensive tackle should.

“Yesterday Kenrick Ellis decides to totally dominate the 9-on-7 period,” head coach Rex Ryan confirmed at this afternoon’s news conference. “Today we made sure we blocked him, I don’t think there was any doubt about that, whether we were doubling him or whatever it was.”

Ellis noticed that as well. I asked him after this morning’s second padded practice at SUNY Cortland if he could recall a personal highlight from camp so far. He instead chose a lowlight from today’s session.

“You know what? The highlight of my practice was when I got double-teamed and got my butt kicked by 66, Willie [Colon], and 77, Austin [Howard]. And that just showed me I have so much more to work on, man. That’s what stood out to me, not being able to dominate those guys.”

I gently reminded Kenrick that it was in fact a double-team block, their 648 pounds against his 346. Maybe he was being a little hard on himself?

“If you take your craft seriously, double-team or not, you’re still supposed to be able to impose your will,” he said. “They got the best of me.”

That may sound like the Ellis who was fighting to keep his head above water his first two NFL seasons, but I detected just a little smile at the corner of his mouth, a sense that while he’s still talking a nose-to-the-grindstone approach, he knows he’s starting to make those big strides that many want to see.

He gave a little hint of that when he was asked about the Sunday practice.

“It’s a competition,” he said. “We have a bunch of guys on the D-line, so what you do every day is just try to stand out from the rest. You have to come in here with a mentality like ‘I want the job.’ Damon Harrison wants the job. Antonio Garay wants the job. Everybody wants the job. We’re just going to have a healthy competition, compete every day and battle and see who gets it.”

It’s still too early to call the starting D-line, but Ellis, who got that Colon-Howard butt-whooping in line drills, came back in team drills to put a roaring pressure up the middle on Geno Smith, forcing either a hurried incompletion or a sack, depending on who’s scoring.

But one thing is clear no matter who the scorer is. Kenrick is coming on.

Rex Cetera

First-round draft pick Dee Milliner, after agreeing to contract terms Sunday night, spent a good portion of today getting from Alabama to Cortland, N.Y. He is expected to talk with Jets reporters this evening around 7:30 p.m. ET. When he holds that news conference, newyorkjets.com will carry it live.

QB update: Both Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith hit Jeremy Kerley with touchdown passes in 7-on-7 drills today. Sanchez threw a short-zone interception to LB Josh Mauga, who’s had a couple of strong days with the second defense. Smith continues without an interception in 7-on-7 and team drills but also suffered a couple of big pressures that would have been sacks in live action. “Geno’s not throwing picks,” Ryan said, “but we don’t want to be taking sacks. That’s one area he can improve his game, but I’m certainly impressed he hasn’t thrown a pick.”

The kickers were smoking today for the second straight day. Nick Folk was dead-on from 40, 44 and 49 yards, while Billy Cundiff nailed a 53-yarder to end the last two-minute drill of the day, then converted from 42 and 46 in the FG drill to end practice.

Today’s attendance was 970. Tuesday is an off day for the players. Thursday should be a crowd-pleaser as Ryan said he thinks the first live goal-line drills of camp will be held that morning, and goal line will also be a part of Saturday night’s Green & White scrimmage. … Pat Kirwan and Tim Ryan were here this morning taping interviews for their SiriusXM NFL Radio show that airs daily from 3-7 p.m. ET.


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Jets-Rams: Pregame Tweets

Posted by Randy Lange on November 18, 2012 – 12:40 pm

Here are today’s pregame tweets for Jets-Rams at the Edward Jones Dome, 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 It’s a crisp, sunny day in St. Louis, which of course won’t affect Jets-Rams inside the Edward Jones Dome. Kickoff around 1:02 pm ET.

#RL Jets trail Rams in all-time series 9-3. Rams are 5-1 at home vs Jets, 2-0 in Jones Dome with 30-10 win in ’98, 32-29 OT win in ’04.

#RL NYJ inactives: QB Greg McElroy, DT Damon Harrison, G Caleb Schlauderaff, G Hayworth Hicks, TE Hayden Smith, LB Marcus Dowtin.

#RL Jets wearing white jerseys, white pants today. They’ve gone white-white 4 times this season (1-3), 27 times u/ Rex Ryan (15-12).

#RL Today’s ref is Jerome Boger. It’s his 11th Jets game as ref since ’06. Boger also officiated ’09 Jets-SD playoff game.

#RL RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle) is active for Jets after missing SEA game. NT Kenrick Ellis (knee) is active after missing last 4 games.

#RL STL inactives: QB Austin Davis WR Steve Smith S Darian Stewart RB Terrance Ganaway FB Brit Miller OL Chris Williams DT Matt Conrath

#RL Jets D wants to maintain the pressure. First 5 games they registered a sack every 30.8 QB dropbacks. Last 4: sack every 12.8 dropbacks.

#RL Jets O wants to get off the schneid: Last 25 drives: 1 TD, 1 FG, 1 blocked FG, 14 punts (9 3-and-outs, 1 blocked punt), 5 turnovers.

#RL Jets’ gameday captains: LB Bart Scott, CB Antonio Cromartie, T Austin Howard, former Rams T Jason Smith, LS Tanner Purdum.

#RL Ex-Jets with Rams: starting C Rob Turner, TE Matt Mulligan, T Wayne Hunter, QB Kellen Clemens, RB Terrance Ganaway (inactive), OC Brian Schottenheimer

#RL New addition Kahlil Bell, former CHI back, also active and should make his Jets debut today. Wearing uniform #21.


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Greene Said ‘Change’ Did Not Refer to Jets QBs

Posted by Randy Lange on November 15, 2012 – 5:17 pm

Updated, Friday, 7:25 a.m. ET

Shonn Greene wanted to set the record straight.

The Jets tailback made a point to tell the team’s beat reporters after today’s practice that he didn’t say what Michael Silver of Yahoo Sports said he said under the headline “Jets RB Shonn Greene is right: Time for team to hand ball to ‘terrible’ Tim Tebow.”

“I think the quotes were totally out of context,” Greene said. “It was that we’re 3-6 and things need to change. I said nothing about changing the quarterback, nothing about any single person on this team. I’ve been here four years and I never once said anything about anybody on this team.”

Greene’s agent had set up the interview with Silver on Tuesday. The first he heard of the piece was when a friend texted him the article after it posted Wednesday night.

“I was shocked,” he said. “First of all, the article was supposed to be a feature on me and where I’m at right now, and how it turned into me saying this about this person and that person, I don’t know.”

One of the key quotes Greene took issue with was Silver quoting him saying, “You feel bad for Mark, but at the same time you want to win. We’re not here to protect people’s feelings.”

“I never said that,” he said, adding he didn’t bring up QB Mark Sanchez’s name at all. “What I said was we’re 3-6 and some things need to change. We need to win.”

This Jet-on-the-media story comes on the heels of head coach Rex Ryan’s critiquing of the unnamed Jets who were quoted on Tim Tebow in Tuesday’s Daily News, both to his team and to reporters at Wednesday’s news conference.

“First you get yesterday, now today with me. It’s just ‘C’mon, like, really?’ ” Greene said. “We just want to play football. That’s all we want to do.”

Greene said his relationship with Sanchez was unharmed by the story.

“I let him know about it through a text,” No. 23 said. “We’re not worried about that. We’ve got a game to play.”

Thursday Injury Reports

It’s good to see big Kenrick Ellis moving around again. The 346-point nose tackle seems to be nearing a return to action after sitting the last four games with the knee injury he suffered vs. Houston and not even practicing the first three weeks after the injury. He’s listed as full-go in practice this week, along with 12 other teammates, and he could help in trying to corral ninth-year man Steven Jackson, the 240-pound feature back whom Ryan today called “a big-time playmaker who’s as big as he ever was, strong, determined, and still has speed and all the skills.”

Also on the Green & White I-report, WR Stephen Hill stayed home for a second day with an illness but Ryan said, “I’m hopeful he’ll be able to play” on Sunday. S LaRon Landry (heel) also didn’t practice, as per his usual late-week schedule. And RB Bilal Powell, listed as limited before practice, also was a DNP. Powell may have gotten his concussion Sunday when he was shoved by Seattle’s Malcolm Smith and fell into what appeared to be an accidental knee shot from Leon Washington as he was tackled after a punt return.

For the Rams, WR Austin Pettis (toe) did not practice today, while LB Mario Haggan (thigh), new to the list, and DE Eugene Sims (knee) and S Darian Stewart (knee) were all limited.

Alumni News

John Schmitt, Joe Namath’s Super Bowl III center, visited the Jets training center today, as usual impeccably clothed in suit and tie. Schmitt just celebrated his 70th birthday on Monday but he doesn’t look a day over 60. Maybe that’s because of the 60 hours he still puts in every week running his businesses.

Former Jets RB -KR-PR extraordinaire Bruce Harper will be among the sports world luminaries at the 16th annual “Teddy Dinner” at the Hilton Garden Inn on Staten Island, N.Y., tonight. Teddy Atlas, is, of course, the celebrated boxing trainer and ESPN Friday Night Fights analyst and a former Jet himself as a consultant in Eric Mangini’s regime. This year’s gala will benefit the victims of Hurricane Sandy throughout the New York area from Staten Island to Rockaway.

Pass and Catch

A little unfinished business from Seattle that may interest only me:

Golden Tate had the first-quarter 38-yard touchdown reception from Russell Wilson and the fourth-quarter 23-yard TD pass to Sidney Rice. A TD catch and a TD pass in the same game … that doesn’t happen often, does it?

No, it doesn’t. The only other time an opponent did it in franchise history was on Oct. 1, 1961, when the Jets were the Titans, the game was in the Polo Grounds, the opponent was the Boston Patriots, and Gino Cappelletti had an all-around scoring day. Cappelletti threw to Larry Garron for a 27-yard TD on a fake field goal, caught a 32-yard strike from Butch Songin and kicked three field goals and three PATs, accounting for 24 of the Pats’ points in the Titans’ 37-30 win.

The Jets have also done it twice to opponents: Curtis Martin at Tampa Bay in 2000 (the “Flashlight Game”) and Freeman McNeil in ’83 at Miami.

It’s the first time it’s happened in the NFL since 2009, when Mewelde Moore turned the trick for Pittsburgh vs. San Diego, and it’s only the 12th time since 1960 that a wideout was the player who threw and caught a TD pass in the same game.


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McKnight, Ellis Won’t Make the Trip to Seattle

Posted by Randy Lange on November 9, 2012 – 1:32 pm

Updated, Saturday, 12:10 p.m.

The Jets will be traveling to Seattle today without two contributors they thought might have been available for the Seahawks after an otherwise healing bye week. Head coach Rex Ryan announced at his news conference today that RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle) and NT Kenrick Ellis (knee) will stay home.

“We’re going to keep them back here,” Ryan said before the team hops buses for Newark Liberty Airport and the six-hour flight to the Pacific Northwest this afternoon. “Kenrick was limited in practice. He’s just not quite ready to play. Hopefully next week he’ll be ready to go.”

Ellis hurt his knee in the Oct. 8 game against the Texans and hadn’t practiced at all until Thursday and today, when he was limited for the first time. But the nose tackle position will be manned as it was last week by Sione Po‘uha, who made his first start in four games and got in 21 plays against Miami after working through his own back injury, as well as rookie Damon “Snacks” Harrison.

McKnight, one of the NFL’s top kickoff returners for the second straight season, injured his ankle against Indianapolis on Oct. 14, played on the ankle at New England and vs. Miami, but aggravated the injury against the Dolphins.

“Joe is one of those type of deals where if he can get 25 percent better by not playing in a game, it’s probably time to do that,” Ryan said. “We’re going that route and hopefully we’ll be able to get him back so he can practice and play.”

The Jets have listed Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson as the backup kickoff returners to McKnight on their weekly game-notes package for reporters, but a new alternative roared into action when speedy second-year WR Clyde Gates ripped off a 47-yard return with the second-half kickoff vs. the ‘Fins and might have become the eighth different Jet to return a kickoff for a touchdown under special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff, had he not run into rookie Demario Davis near midfield.

The rest of the Jets injury report was pretty much the same all week. Six players were limited at today’s practice at the Atlantic Health Training Center, but Ryan said, “I believe all of them will play” at Seattle. Those six: C Nick Mangold (ankle), G Brandon Moore (hip), RB Bilal Powell (shoulder), LB Bart Scott (toe), S Eric Smith (knee) and Po‘uha. WR-PR Jeremy Kerley (heel) today became the 17th player listed on the injury report this week but practiced full and is probable for the Seahawks. Also, G Hayworth Hicks, signed this week from Indy’s practice squad, did not make the trip and has been ruled out for the game.

Update: Sorry, due to computer issues en route to Seattle, I couldn’t post the Seahawks’ injury report/game status. Here it is now:

Out — LB K.J. Wright (concussion), G James Carpenter (concussion).

Doubtful — DE Greg Scruggs (oblique).

Questionable — DT Clinton McDonald (groin).

Probable — WR Doug Baldwin (ankle), DE Red Bryant (foot), S Kam Chancellor (quad), WR Braylon Edwards (knee), DE Jason Jones (ankle), RB Marshawn Lynch (back/wrist), G John Moffitt (knee), CB Richard Sherman (illness).

Statement for the Region

Ryan wore a new baseball cap to today’s “Fast Friday” news conference. The logo on the front said it all: “NJ/NY STRONG.”

“I’m going to wear this hat at the game on behalf of our organization,” Ryan said. “Basically, it’s just to let people know, especially people in our region that were affected by Hurricane Sandy that our thoughts and prayers are with them. Hopefully they’ll see this hat on the sideline and they’ll understand that we’re with them and thinking about them, and also that we’re representing our region when we go up there and play this game.

“If they can get something encouraging out of our performance, that certainly motivates us and drives us as well.”

On Thursday owner Woody Johnson said the Jets are donating $500,000 to the relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which last week devastated the New Jersey/New York area, and are dedicating their Thanksgiving night game against New England at MetLife Stadium to helping and honoring all those affected by the storm.


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Seattle Will Mark Marv Albert’s 100th Jets Game

Posted by Randy Lange on November 8, 2012 – 5:51 pm

Updated, 7:30 p.m. ET

Sunday in Seattle, Marv Albert will turn 100.

How’s that again?

No, Albert, the legendary announcer of NBA, NHL and NFL games in New York and around the country, is not celebrating his 100th birthday. But he will be calling his 100th Jets game on network television when the Green & White take on the Seahawks.

“Great. Now it becomes an emotional game for me,” Albert told me by phone from Portland with his trademark sardonic wit.

In reality, Albert didn’t know that he’d done 99 Jets games over the years, but it’s true. The man who many in the New York area of a certain age remember as the Knicks and Rangers play-by-play man as they were growing up and has become known as “The Voice of Basketball” for his extensive NBA work, also has a long career as one of the NFL’s stable of game announcers. My TV records before ’65 are spotty but Marv may be only the third announcer to call 100 Jets games, joining Curt Gowdy and Charlie Jones in that exclusive club.

“I go back as a kid listening to the Titans. I remember listening to Bob Murphy and Merle Harmon during the Harry Wismer era, which was rather unorthodox,” Marv reminisced about the first owner of the AFL franchise that grew into the Jets.

“Over the years, the memories that stand out to me are the success of the Sack Exchange and that particular era. What a great team that was to cover for me. Those teams reminded me of the Knicks of the Seventies and the Islanders of the Eighties. Not only were they a good team but they were terrific to talk to, just a great group.”

Some memorable Jets games he worked were the 1994 Dan Marino “fake spike” game against Miami and the ’92 game vs. Kansas City in which Dennis Byrd suffered his paralyzing injury. He also called three Jets playoff games, including the winning home effort over the Chiefs in ’86.

But before Albert got to Klecko, Gastineau, Lyons, Salaam, Kenny O’Brien, Wesley Walker, Byrd and the rest, he began calling Jets games in the somber late Seventies. He started out on NBC in 1977 and his first Jets game was in fact the ’77 season opener against the Oilers in the Astrodome, “a terrible place to do TV.” His partner that day — and in fact the partner with whom he called the most Jets games over the years, 28 in all — was Paul Maguire.

He also worked the Jets with other NFL names such as Len Dawson, John Brodie, Bob Griese, Cris Collinsworth, Bob Trumpy, Randy Cross, Sam Wyche and former Jets kicker Jim Turner.

“The networks finally got wise to keeping the same people together,” Marv recalled. “Early on, they would switch people around, switch producers, which was not good if you wanted to get accustomed to your partner.

Albert was paired with Joe Namath — “a real kick for me,” Marv said — for nine Jets games in 1987-88. His Parcells period — “Bill was a lot of fun” — was for five games in 1991-92. His last Jets game for NBC was Game 2 in 1997 with Cross. The AFC franchise was picked up by CBS in ’98 and although he worked the occasional Jets Monday night game on Westwood One Radio from 2002-09, he didn’t work the NFL on CBS until last season, when he was teamed up with Rich Gannon. Marv and Rich will be doing their fifth Jets game together on Sunday at CenturyLink Field.

“I love working with Rich. In terms of breaking down an offense, he’s worked with so many quarterbacks and even spent some time with Mark Sanchez a couple of years ago,” Albert said. “He has such a great feel and his remarks, which we’ll get into Sunday about Sanchez and Tim Tebow and what’s going on there are right on target.

“But what’s great is he’s so passionate in terms of he just loves sitting down with the coaches and the offense. Before each game we usually sit down with the head coach, the offensive and defensive coordinators, the quarterback and maybe one other player. And they’re asking Rich questions. That used to happen with Bill Parcells a lot. And I find that happens with Rich. He’s so respected around the league.”

As for what Marv sees for him, Gannon, the Jets and their fans on Sunday, he said, “The strange thing is they can still make the playoffs. But I think it’s a tough game Sunday with that crowd, and it’s a game the Jets have to win. It’s so hard if they don’t win here.”

And, Albert admitted, “From a TV point of view, we wouldn’t mind seeing Tebow.”

Injury Watch

Some good news on the Jets’ injury front was second-year DT Kenrick Ellis doing limited work during team drills. It’s the first practice Ellis has been able to work even on a limited basis since hurting his knee against Houston on Oct. 8.  Injury report update: TE Jeff Cumberland (wrist) was full-go for the first time in two weeks. DT Damon Harrison (thumb) was added to the list as fully practicing. S LaRon Landry (heel) as usual was listed as limited after being full-go Wednesday and likely full on Friday.

The Seahawks had some good and bad to report. The good: WR Braylon Edwards (knee) was limited today after not practicing Wednesday. The bad: CB Richard Sherman (illness) and DE Greg Scruggs (oblique) were added today as DNPs. RB Marshawn Lynch (back/wrist) also was another of the ‘Hawks’ now eight DNPs, sitting out his second practice this week.


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Po’uha’s Back, Ready to Rumble with DL Mates

Posted by Randy Lange on November 7, 2012 – 7:49 pm

Sione Po‘uha is back in the mix. And “back” is the operative word.

“I’m feeling well. I’m feeling like my old self,” the Jets’ veteran nose tackle said in the Atlantic Health Training Center locker room following today’s first big practice of Seahawks week. “I’m just glad to be able to contribute to the team again and to be there for my teammates.”

More than a few of us speculated if that might ever happen again. “Big Bo” came up with his sore lower back in August during the Jets’ Cortland training camp. He was inactive for the opener against Buffalo, started the next three games at nose, then was deactivated for the next three, before starting again two Sundays ago vs. Miami.

He has spent every practice day this season on the injury report, including two-plus weeks when he didn’t practice at all. And when he was seen around the Atlantic Health Training Center locker room, it was usually to say, “I can’t talk today. Got to get rehab.”

When all of that happens to a 33-year-old man who’s spent much of his previous seven seasons getting into three-point stances and crashing into opposing offensive linemen and running backs like a 325-pound bighorn sheep, well, I asked him this afternoon if he ever worried during this season if he might have reached the end of the line as an NFL player.

“Nah. It was just another challenge, another obstacle in the road,” he said with a smile that didn’t seem to be derived from pain shooting up his torso. “Everybody’s road in the NFL is never easy. A lot of guys have physical, emotional, spiritual things they just have to go through in this league.”

Yet when I asked him if this was possibly the toughest physical challenge he’s had to endure in his distinguished, still maturing career, he didn’t disagree.

“I think it is,” he said after a pause. “I missed some significant games. But I accepted that challenge, I accepted the journey. And one of the things that keep me going is that at the end of the day, it’s all about helping my teammates.”

It’s always been about more than just Big Bo for Po‘uha. He’s become a steadying influence, a big-brother-figure on the D-line. Certainly Muhammad Wilkerson and Mike DeVito have becoming reliable defenders, rookie DT Quinton Coples has shown flashes, and NT Kenrick Ellis was and is on his way to that same status except for his knee injury. But missing his presence in the middle hasn’t helped the line move along smoothly this season.

And now Sione’s back, seemingly ready to rock and roll in the second half of the season. First up is a tough test with Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks. Po‘uha said his and his teammates’ approach this week through Sunday will be simple.

“It’s all about executing, each of us doing our part,” he said. “Seattle’s got a great running back but it’s all about the game plan we’ve got from Rex and Coach Pettine. It’s all about preparing and getting out there and making it happen.”

And Bo is back with his Bros to try to make it happen for the Green & White in Seattle’s hostile environs four days from now.

Rex Cetera

Jets head coach Rex Ryan was asked his reaction to being ranked the most overrated head coach in the NFL in one of those Sports Illustrated player polls. Rex laughed.

“My first thought was I saw who was second and I said, ‘Hey, I finally beat Bill Belichick,’ ” Ryan said of the rankings, which listed the Patriots’ head coach as the second-most overrated HC in the NFL.

“Like gollee, it hadn’t been a tough enough year,” he said, turning serious. “Nah, I wasn’t offended by it. You know what? The overrated thing, it is what it is. At the end of the year we’ll see who’s overrated.” A few sentences later, he added: “As long as they want to come here and play and I’m overrated, that’s fine. But I want ‘em to come here and play.”

Regarding the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field, Ryan said their homefield advantage extends beyond this year’s 4-0 record and the ‘Hawks’ 52-24 home mark since ’03, fifth-best in the league in that span.

“You think it’s an indoor-type atmosphere, with the noise level when you get there, even though it’s an outdoor stadium,” he said. “I don’t know the exact number, but since ’05, I believe there’ve been 113 false-start penalties on opponents when they’re playing games at Seattle. That shows you it’s a tangible thing. That talks about the noise and how much that 12th man gets involved there in Seattle.”

The 12th man was in effect for the Jets’ last visit to the ‘Link in 2008, then known as Qwest Field. Besides the fans throwing snowballs at anybody in Jets green that day thanks to that rare Seattle snowstorm, the officials threw three flags for presnap penalties on the Jets that day — two on offense, one for a Damien Woody false start and one for an illegal formation, and one on then-punter Reggie Hodges for a delay of game.

However, the Seahawks didn’t take full advantage of their HFA that day. They got three false-start penalties called on their O-linemen as well.

Wednesday Injury Reports

The 15 players on the Jets’ injury list to start this week may sound like a lot but it’s the fewest players they’ve had on any daily report this season. NT Kenrick Ellis (knee) and RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle) didn’t participate in practice, while limited players besides Po‘uha were LB Bart Scott (toe), TE Jeff Cumberland (wrist), C Nick Mangold (ankle), G Brandon Moore (hip), RB Bilal Powell (shoulder) and S Eric Smith (knee). You can find the Jets’ full injury report here.

The Seahawks are listing 11 players, with seven of them not practicing in Seattle today. Among them are former Jets WR Braylon Edwards (knee) and former Jets twice-annual foe RB Marshawn Lynch (back/wrist). Other DNPs were DE Red Bryant (foot), G James Carpenter (concussion), S Kam Chancellor (quadriceps), DT Clinton McDonald (groin) and LB K.J. Wright (concussion).

DE Jason Jones (ankle) was limited and WR Doug Baldwin (ankle), G John Moffitt (knee) and C Max Unger (finger) were full-go.\


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Areas of Focus for an Upward 2nd-Half Trend

Posted by Randy Lange on November 5, 2012 – 4:23 pm

Florham Park, the home of the Jets’ Atlantic Health Training Center, was battered around a bit by last week’s superstorm, but the borough is now almost back to full power.

Rex Ryan posited today that his players in several ways are trying to do the same.

“We know we’re in a bottom-line business and that’s wins and losses. For football, that’s really all that matters,” the Jets head coach said at today’s welcome-back news conference. “Our focus is strictly on improving as a football team and getting ready to go compete and do what we can to win against Seattle.”

On special teams, the Jets have committed “things that we really don’t do.” His run defense, he said, “has been poor, but it’s getting better. The last 100 rushes, I think we’ve given up 3.1 a carry. We’re getting better but we’re still not where we want to be.”

Same thing in the running game: “Our last 100 carries we’re averaging 4.3 a carry, something like that. We’re getting better, not exactly where we want it to be but we’re making strides.”

Takeaways and giveaways have been spotty (minus-1 overall in TO margin, a costly minus-2 in the red zone). “These are things that we’ve challenged our team, to make us successful,” he said. “Those are the main areas we have to improve.”

His players mostly left the area last week in different directions from Sandy’s path across New Jersey and into Pennsylvania. Mike DeVito went northeast to his Maine home, LaRon Landry (Virginia) and Aaron Maybin (Maryland) went to the southwest. Others hung in the area.

But it seems all worked during their time away, as would be expected.

CB Antonio Cromartie watched two football games while he was away — Alabama-LSU and Seattle-Minnesota. A special focus of the Seahawks’ win over the Vikings was the play of rookie QB Russell Wilson, who threw three first-half touchdowns. S LaRon Landry religiously worked out every day and kept up the long-term rehab on his heel, neither unexpected. LB Aaron Maybin, another workout monster, kept up with Seattle and with the defense’s first-half video cut-ups on his iPad. The stories in all other corners of the locker room were the same.

And in the coaches’ offices as well.

“It’s almost like ‘Hey, everybody stay out of the building … except coaches, of course,” Ryan said. “A lot of coaches would take their work stations, their computers home with them. A lot of preparation was that way. You’re never too far away from your work, that’s for sure. And obviously, you want to make sure that they’re protecting their families and that they’re there with their families in these trying circumstances.”

Ryan was asked what the coaches came up with.

“We got a bunch of suggestions, so I hope they’re good,” he said with a laugh. “We’re certainly looking at them.” Any hints of radical new concepts, plays, personnel for the second half? “I don’t want to get into specific things,” he said, “but I guess we’ll see.”

Will any of it make a difference? Last week we broke out the performances of the NFL’s 3-5 teams since 2002, and the prognosis is not good, although by no means hopeless, and that’s how some of the Jets’ defenders see it.

“The months of November and December, that’s when most teams are made anyway,” Cro said. “I think the biggest thing for us is just to make sure we take care of the things we need to take care of one week at a time.”

“We definitely have the resources to get back into this thing,” said S Yeremiah Bell. “We have the players, we have the coaching staff and we have the want-to. The thing is going to be just us on Sundays, just going out there and executing.”

Ryan said the first thoughts and prayers last week and early this week are for all affected by the hurricane, and then the next thoughts are only for that next game on the schedule, not the scenarios for any playoff stretch run (even though the Jets weren’t hurt at all by Buffalo’s loss, which drops them into a third-place tie in the AFC East at 3-5, and Miami’s loss at Indy to go to 3-4).

But Rex also had an energy about him to get back to the grind and see what these Jets with their backs to the wall and their noses to the grindstone can do.

“I know we’re not where we want to be, we’re not even close. We’re not sniffing the playoffs, we’re not sniffing anything right now,” he said. “But I want to get there. I’m excited about the prospects in front of us.”

First things first: A great week of work is needed, then a win at formidable CenturyLink (formerly Qwest) Field, before anyone outside the Green & White base of operations will be jumping back on the bandwagon.

How Big a Homefield Advantage?

All Jets asked today vouched for the advantage the Seahawks enjoy in CenturyLink Field, previously known as Qwest Field, née Seahawks Stadium. It’s loud and proud and the 12th Man is ready to rock its ‘Hawks on to victory.

But how does the advantage stack up in the league? By home winning percentage alone, pretty good. Since ’03, one year after they moved into the place, when they went 8-0 at home, Seattle’s regular-season home percentage is .684 (52-24), tied for fifth in the NFL over that span.

But another way to measure HFA is how much better a team plays at home than on the road, as measured by winning percentage margin. In that same span, the Seahawks’ home percentage of .684 (52-24) compared to their road percentage of .351 (27-50) is plus-.333. That margin is second-best in the NFL over that span, trailing only the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium (plus-.382).

The Health Picture

Ryan said LB Bart Scott (toe), NT Kenrick Ellis (knee) and RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle) would sit out today’s practice but wasn’t ruling them out of practices the rest of this week. Additionally, some of the banged-up Jets such as NT Sione Po‘uha, S Eric Smith, TE Jeff Cumberland, C Nick Mangold, G Brandon Moore and RB Bilal Powell were limited but involved in today’s practice.

Rex: “I’m excited to get the team healthy and make this push the second half of the season.”

The Seahawks went into Sunday’s 30-20 win over Minnesota with an eight-player injury list and in the game starting OLB K.J. Wright reportedly suffered a concussion. The teams’ official injury reports won’t be filed until Wednesday afternoon.


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DT Kenrick Ellis Prognosis: MCL, Out 4-6 Weeks

Posted by Randy Lange on October 11, 2012 – 4:51 pm

The Jets’ injury picture had its ups and downs and situations that could have been worse.

In the snakebit category, Rex Ryan said the word on NT Kenrick Ellis is that he has an MCL sprain and could miss four to six weeks.

Then there was Eric Smith’s situation. He’d been coming back slowly from hip and knee issues suffered in the preseason opener at Cincinnati. He got in close to 45 snaps during the Texans game. But at Wednesday’s practice, he landed hard on his knee.

“It was a scary moment,” Ryan said. “Erick goes up to knock a ball down and comes down on his leg. It’s just a sprained knee, but I think he’s probably going to miss this week with it. Honestly, I thought it was going to be much worse than that. I think we’ve got enough of these, but fortunately it doesn’t look like it’s going to be too long.”

Otherwise, the Jets appeared to be healing OK. LB David Harris (hamstring), LB Bart Scott (toe) and WR Jeremy Kerley (finger/illness) were all limited Wednesday but full today, and S LaRon Landry (heel) was also full. TE Dustin Keller and WR Stephen Hill remained limited with their hamstring issues but Ryan said both remain on target to return to action on Sunday. C Nick Mangold didn’t practice again but the coach said, “I think Nick will probably be able to go.” He also wasn’t ruling out DT Sione Po‘uha (low back) but said he’s more likely in the questionable category at this point.

The Colts had their own good news/bad news health reports. Good news: LB Dwight Freeney (ankle) practiced full today in Indianapolis. Bad news: LB Robert Mathis (knee) remains a DNP and coordinator Greg Manusky said today that Mathis won’t play against the Jets. OLBs Jerry Hughes and Justin Hickman are expected to see extended playing time in Mathis’ absence.

And RB Donald Brown (knee) has been reported to be out for the next two or three weeks, meaning that rookie RB Vick Ballard will start Sunday for the Colts, giving the visitors four rookie starters on offense, five if you include third WR T.Y. Hilton.


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Moving Forward from SF; Holmes X-Rays Negative

Posted by Randy Lange on October 1, 2012 – 3:24 pm

Updated, 5:45 p.m. ET

For some games, there are no silver linings. It’s all just dark clouds.

Hopefully for the day only, though. Now is there a chance that the Jets’ 34-0 loss to the 49ers on Sunday is a harbinger for the season?

Well, there is a chance. But the Jets are hardly throwing in the towel. Today and tomorrow are off days for the players, yet many will be at the Atlantic Health Training Center searching for mirrors and solutions. And the coaches are closeted here over the next two days doing the same from their end of the operation.

“I think it was pretty evident after the game,” head coach Rex Ryan said at today’s midday news conference of these coaches-only sessions. “Once you win, sometimes it’s harder to look, sometimes you don’t take as close a look at yourself as you need to. After you get beat like this, it’s not hard to. It’s something I just felt we needed to do.

“We have to come up with solutions. If we keep repeating the same things, how can we expect the results to change? That’s the challenge to the coaching staff. We’ve got to put our guys in the best positions to be successful and move forward.”

What gives Rex and the players confidence that they can right the ship?

“Because you have to,” guard Brandon Moore said on a conference call with reporters today. “There’s no other option.”

I think it was Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy who put it elegantly in an interview that aired Saturday on Sirius/XM NFL Radio. With the Packers coming off a difficult setback of their own (the last-second defeat at Seattle, which admittedly was not a 34-point home loss), McCarthy was asked about the mindset of his team.

“We welcome the opportunity to show how much we appreciate this game and how well we respond to adversity,” he said, or words to that effect.

There’s another reason not to raise the white flag for the Jets, even with the undefeated Texans riding into town for a primetime showdown with the Jets a week from tonight. History says things will get a lot closer in a week’s time.

Since 2000, for example, 25 teams lost home games by 34 or more points, by an average score of 42-6. Ooof. Their composite record in their next weeks’ games: 10-15 and an average score of 22-18, still in favor of the opponents but a lot

The success stories: The 2011 Tim Tebow Broncos lost at home to Detroit, 45-10 in Week 8, then went to Oakland and pillaged the Raiders, 38-24. The 2007 non-Tebow Broncos lost at Mile High to San Diego, 41-3, in Week 5, then hosted Pittsburgh and prevailed, 31-28. The ’05 Browns were smelted by the Steelers at home, 41-0, in Week 16, the finished up by beating Ryan’s former team, the Ravens, 20-16.

The Jets’ record in similar situations — 34-point home loss — showed no wins in five tries but with improved play the following week and the weeks after that. In 2002 they were crushed at home by the Patriots, 44-7, but overcame their 1-4 start to finish 9-7 and in the playoffs.

Open it up to performance after difficult defeats on the road and we have the ’06 playoff team that lost at Jacksonville, 41-0, and Rex’s ’10 model, which suffered their post-Jim Leonhard-injury letdown in the 45-3 rout at New England, then won four of their next six, including two road playoff games.

Of course, history reveals failures to bounce back from such adversity as well. It’s up to Ryan, his coaches and his players to show what it’s going to be in 2012.

“We have to challenge ourselves, and that’s what I think our team will do,” he said. “That’s why I needed the time away for the players. We can focus on the game, obviously, and focus on the solutions. By Wednesday we have to have some solutions ready to go.”

Holmes: Good News, No Break

Ryan said WR Santonio Holmes had X-rays on his left foot, injured early in the fourth quarter Sunday, and the results were negative, no break. He understands it’s not an Achilles injury but had no other details while the team doctors and trainers wait for the MRI results to return. How soon could Tone return? “Obviously, it looks doubtful for this week,” the coach said. “Further than that, I’m not sure.”

He didn’t rule out signing a wideout or a player at another position but said he and GM Mike Tannenbaum “will certainly look at those possibilities” that give the Jets the best chance to be successful.

Berry Juice?

One of those possibilities is CB Aaron Berry. The Jets hadn’t announced this addition but Ryan confirmed that Berry is coming aboard.

“We feel Aaron has a chance to be successful on and off the field here, and if we didn’t believe that, we wouldn’t bring him here,” Ryan said. “As a player, he has the physical skillset we look for in our corners, and No. 1 is man cover skills. He has that.”

But the 5’11”, 180-pound third-year man out of Pitt also comes with baggage, two arrests in a month that led the Lions to cut him July 23 and the NFL to suspend him for three games for violating the league’s personal-conduct policy.

“Everybody’s made mistakes in our lives. I’ve always talked about it, and certainly I’ve made more than my share,” the coach said. “But we do background checks, Matt Cavanaugh was on the staff at Pitt when he was there. We feel good about Aaron.”

Rex had no timetable for how quickly Berry can get up to speed, but one result of the signing is that “We can put Joe McKnight back full-time at running back.” McKnight was pressed into potential emergency duty as a cornerback and who knows, may still pop up there down the road. He was in on two first-quarter plays against the Niners, blitzing from the slot both times.

McKnight also got in two kickoff returns vs. SF for 73 yards and the NFL’s defending KOR leader moved up to 10th in the current rankings with a 27.1-yard average on 10 returns.

Update: The Jets announced the signing of Berry, while TE Dedrick Epps was waived/injured. Berry will wear uniform No. 22.

Inside the Jets

Tonight’s guests on the weekly “Inside the Jets” show on ESPN 98.7 FM will be LB Aaron Maybin and DT Kenrick Ellis. As usual, the show will air from 7-8 p.m. ET and will be hosted by voice of the Jets Bob Wischusen from The Grasshopper Off the Green in Morristown, N.J.


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Ryan Not Yet Ready to Place Revis on IR

Posted by Randy Lange on September 28, 2012 – 2:55 pm

Updated 4:17 p.m. ET

The Jets all this week have listed Darrelle Revis as out of Sunday’s game against San Francisco, but they have not placed him on injured reserve yet. And head coach Rex Ryan said at his news conference this afternoon that the reason for that is not because the team hasn’t gotten around to it.

“I’ve talked to Darrelle and all that,” Ryan said of his All-Pro corner, who tore his left ACL at Miami last Sunday. “Let’s see what happens when he goes through surgery. Because if there’s that 0.0002 percent chance that he can play in a Super  Bowl or something, why would you take that option away from him?”

Ryan said there obviously is no intention of trying to rush Revis back from knee surgery in two or three weeks if he would be at risk on the field. And the coach said there hasn’t been anything in particular that has caused him, GM Mike Tannenbaum and the team’s medical and training staffs to think the injury might not be a season-ender.

“I think it’s a thing where let’s get through the surgery. You don’t have to make a snap decision, ‘Let’s just place him on IR, replace him with somebody,’ ” Rex said. “If you’re fortunate enough to get there, if he does well with the surgery, is healthy for that, is targeted for that, why wouldn’t you believe in  yourself enough to give yourself that opportunity.”

He said he’s not saying a Revis return this season could happen. But is he thinking about? “That’s probably true,” he said with his Rexian smile.

“I just know our trainers are confident that Darrelle’s going to come back from this injury at some point, they think he’s going to be 100 percent. Now when that time is, I don’t know. I feel great about that and we feel great about that, being Jets fans and in this organization. I think we’ll have a much better understanding to it after he has the surgery.”

Scoring Change No. 1

Revis hasn’t been seen around the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center during media periods this week, but there was a leather relic that was placed in his locker early on. A football rested in one of the locker’s cubicles, white athletic tape wrapped in a band around its middle.

On the band was written in marker: “#24 / Fumble Rec / 3rd Qtr / 9/23/12 / MIA.”

It was the ball that Revis pounced on for the fumble recovery at the Dolphins 26 with 14:08 left in the third frame, his last takeaway perhaps this season before he tore his ACL a little over 10 minutes of clock time later.

NFL equipment teams routinely rescue footballs during a game that have significance to the players who  scored with them, intercepted them or recovered them. Each ball gets wrapped in tape and the player’s number and details of the play are scrawled on it. Then the ball is left for the player, who passes it on to commemorative artists for special painting and printing. The ball comes back ready for the player’s trophy case or mantel.

Perhaps it’s no more poignant, but a scoring change involving that very football was made this week by the Elias Sports Bureau. That play was originally scored by the Dolphins stat crew as a fumble by RB Daniel Thomas, recovered by Revis but forced by Kenrick Ellis. From one angle, it did appear that Ellis performed the strip. From another, it looked as if Revis ripped the ball out of Thomas’ grasp. No replay angles gave a really clear view of who forced the fumble.

After further review and consultation, Elias ruled that Revis should get the force along with the recovery. Recoveries are official statistics, forces are not, but all are duly noted by Elias, the NFL and other statistical purveyors. It’s the third forced fumble of Revis’ career and his first since 2008, while the opponents’ recovery was the fifth of his career.

Scoring Change No. 2

Another scoring change from the Dolphins game was the 5-yard loss that Tim Tebow absorbed on his third-quarter Wildcat play from the Miami 2. It was scored as a running play but was changed to a sack because it was determined that Tebow was intending to throw to Jeff Cumberland, who was covered in the end zone. So it was a pass play, and because the passer was tackled behind the line, it became a sack.

That change ripples through the Jets’ statistics. It was, for instance, officially Tebow’s first pass play as a Jet. With 5 more rushing yards, the Jets break their tie with San Diego to hold 17th in the NFL’s rushing yards/game category. OK, not so impressive. With 5 fewer net passing yards, their 300-yard net game becomes a 295-yard game. (But Sanchez is still credited with a 306-yard individual passing game, the sixth 300-yard outing of his career.)

The change also gave the sack to DT Randy Starks, who’s become something of a Jet-killer lately. Who can forget Starks’ big game in last season’s finale at Miami: two interceptions and one sack of Sanchez.

And who was it that swatted away Nick Folk’s first gamewinning field goal attempt that was nullified because head coach Joe Philbin called the timeout a second before the kick? R.Starks.

The Icing on the Cake

Finally, it should be noted before the 49ers get here that while Philbin’s icing attempt didn’t work, Rex Ryan’s did. The Jets called timeout before Dan Carpenter’s 48-yard try to win it six minutes into overtime and Carpenter proceeded to hook his second kick of the day wide left from that area on the Sun Life Stadium field.

OK, so maybe Rex’s timeout worked and maybe Carpenter would have missed it either way. But that’s the beauty of icing the kicker. We’ll never know for sure what caused the miss, but the bottom line says the timeout worked its magic.

Which raises a trivia question: When was the last time the Jets successfully iced a kicker trying to win a game with a field goal in the last two minutes of regulation or overtime? Answer below.

Friday Injury Reports

The Jets are listing five players as limited at today’s practice and questionable for the 49ers: FB John Conner (knee), TE Dustin Keller (hamstring), LB Bart Scott (toe), LB Bryan Thomas (hamstring) and WR Patrick Turner (hamstring).

Will Keller be ready to roll after sitting out the last two games? “We’ll find out,” Ryan said. “I’m not willing to rule out any one of those guys, Keller, Thomas, Turner, Conner and Scott.”

However, rookie WR Stephen Hill (hamstring) is doubtful for the Niners, and Rex verbally modified that status to “very doubtful.”

One more Jet was added to this week’s list making it 21 players, the same number that last week’s list ended at. That player is RT Austin Howard (back), but he practiced full and is probable for the game. So are Sanchez (low back), S LaRon Landry (heel), S Eric Smith (hip/knee) and the 10 other Jets who had been full-go all week.

Update: For the 49ers, the good news for the Jets is that TE Vernon Davis appeared on today’s injury report. The bad news: Davis (back) practiced full and is probable for the game. So are LB Patrick Willis and P Andy Lee. The three other players on the list all week are questionable: WR Ted Ginn (ankle), RB Brandon Jacobs (knee) and NT Isaac Sopoaga (ankle/knee). Sopoaga did not practice all week.

Rex Cetera

Ryan said the Jets “had a great day of practice” today and “a great week of practice” in preparing for the Niners. “Obviously, you’ve got to be on top of it when you look at this football team, how multiple they are in their formations, shifts, motions. You have to be on top of it, and I think our guys are. I think you’re going to see a great effort from our defense against their offense, and the same thing with our offense. … We talked about their personnel earlier in the week. It’s going to be a challenge no doubt. I think we’re ready to roll.”

CB Antonio Cromartie has said he thinks he’s the best cornerback in the NFL after Revis. Ryan says bravo: “I love it. Now he has to go out there and prove it. But I absolutely love it. As a corner, you have to have that kind of confidence. That’s not half the battle but it’s a big part of the battle. If you think you’re good enough to go out there and man up on the best receivers in the league, you’re certainly going to be challenged. And he’ll have that opportunity to prove it. I’m happy he feels that way.”

The wide receivers’ 97 yards after the catch at Miami was their most YAC in a game in the Sanchez/Ryan era of Jets football. In fact, it’s the most by the wideouts since they had 106 at San Diego in Brett Favre’s third game as a Jet, and the most in a victory since at least 1995. This number got a big boost from Jeremy Kerley’s 55 YAC on his 66-yard catch-and-run with Sanchez late in the third quarter.

Answer to the trivia question (no prizes awarded): The Jets last successfully iced the Chargers’ Nate Kaeding in the 2004 AFC Wild Card Game. Herm Edwards called the timeout with 4:23 left in the first overtime period, then Kaeding went wide right from 40 yards out. Then-SD coach Marty Schottenheimer tried to do the same with Doug Brien. It didn’t work as Brien put through the gamewinner from 28 yards out with five seconds left in the OT.


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