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 »
It was a typical Wednesday practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center this afternoon.
Yet from an outsider’s perspective it never appeared that way.
Two days of uncertainty regarding who the Jets’ starting quarterback at Jacksonville would be came to an end this morning when head coach Rex Ryan announced that he would be sticking with Mark Sanchez.
“It wasn’t too big of a shock to the guys,” wide receiver Jeremy Kerley said.
“It really was no news to take in,” right tackle Austin Howard added. “Personnel decisions are made by Rex, the GM and the owner. They’ve been here a long time to make those decisions.”
Just three days ago, as the Jets were facing the Arizona Cardinals, Ryan decided in the third quarter that it was the appropriate time to pull Sanchez from the game. The QB had struggled mightily all afternoon, throwing three interceptions in his first nine pass attempts, and also was sacked three times. The benching proved to be the first time the fourth-year QB had been taken out of a game as a pro.
“I think quarterbacks get a lot of the blame for everything, good or bad,” Kerley said. “But I think it falls a lot on his shoulders, good or bad. But we’re an offense. We don’t point fingers. We take the blame for what we put out there.”
With backup quarterback Tim Tebow unavailable to go due to broken ribs, third-stringer Greg McElroy entered the game and led the Jets to the come-from-behind 7-6 win.
“I think for Greg, it just gives him the confidence,” tight end Konrad Reuland said. “Whenever his number is called in the future, he has the confidence to go out there, and he knows he’s led a comeback victory already in his career, threw a touchdown pass on his first drive. So I don’t know how you wouldn’t have confidence after the way he played. I think in the long run, it might make this team stronger, because now we have three quarterbacks that have experience what it’s like to lead teams to comeback victories and win games in the NFL.”
On Monday, Ryan said he needed more time to make his decision and he wanted to make sure to get feedback from several of his coaching counterparts before announcing anything.
“It was Rex’s decision,” cornerback Ellis Lankster said. “We’re not mad or anything. We’re just going to follow Rex’s decision and going to play behind him.”
The players had the previous two days off from practice, but that didn’t mean the QB chatter wasn’t heard around them.
“I was walking into stores and people were asking me about it,” Lankster said. “I was like, ‘I don’t know. I haven’t been to practice or anything yet.’ So I didn’t know what it was going to be.”
Other players simply ignored the matter.
“I don’t really pay much attention to it,” guard Brandon Moore said. “It’ll get figured out. That’s why Rex is the head coach and he makes those decisions. I’ve got to worry about the game plan.”
While the decision wasn’t an easy one for Ryan to make, it’s clear that year four for Sanchez hasn’t been as smooth as many anticipated it would be. The Jets offense ranks 31st in the NFL and No. 6 has thrown 13 interceptions and had 18 turnovers through the team’s 12 games this season.
“I think everybody does the best job they can,” rookie WR Jordan White said. “Nobody goes in there and wants to mess up at any position. You just do the best you can. Some things might not go your way sometimes, but what can you do but come back to work the next day and get back to it. That’s what everybody’s done.”
The issue with Sanchez has never been his drive. Many of teammates say he’s one of the most dedicated people inside the locker room.
“Mark’s a very hard worker,” fullback Lex Hilliard said. “Week in and week out, he’s here constantly, sometimes till 10 or 11 o’clock at night.”
Reuland, who also was Sanchez’s teammate at Mission Viejo High School, described a story of when their school lost in a California Interscholastic Federation championship game during Sanchez’s junior year and how that loss inspired the QB.
“They didn’t have a state championship in California back then,” Reuland said. “But it was basically as far as you could go. It was a big loss and he bounced right back the next season and led us to a No. 2 ranking in the country, undefeated [season]. He bounced back from that.
“That was definitely an adverse situation because we were expected to win it all. But I don’t think he would be here, at this level, if he didn’t know how to overcome adversity. Look at his career at USC. He battled for three years before getting a chance to start. As soon as he did, he took advantage of it.”
The players were going to support Ryan’s decision either way. But now that it’s been made, everyone was pleased it didn’t drag out.
“I think the clarification is good on all parts, receivers, tight ends, running backs,” Kerley said. “The whole offense, we needed that.”
And what seemed to impress Sanchez’s teammates most was the way the quarterback processed the situation he’d been dealt.
“Hats off to Mark,” Howard said. “He handled it like a pro.”
“He was very supportive of Greg,” Reuland said. “And I know it was tough for him, but at the same time he was very supportive. I feel like Mark just wants to win like all of us. Obviously deep down, it’s got to hurt a little bit. But at the same time, I think he did a good job of cheering us on and I feel like he’s going to bounce back.”
While many probably have lost belief in Sanchez, the people who truly count most have not.
“I got a lot of faith in him,” Lankster said.
“He’s going to put his best foot forward and give the team the best shot he’s got,” Hilliard said. “So that’s all you can really ask for.”
It’ll be interesting to see how Sanchez performs Sunday in Jacksonville. But one big question was answered today and people have to accept it one way or another.
“I think with Mark, it’s literally just he’s a couple of great plays away from being right back to where he’s been in the past,” Reuland said. “Everyone in here has been through a time where they were a little down on themselves or whatever and all it takes is one or two plays to get right back out of it — ‘Oh, wait, yeah, I can do this.’ So I think that’s going to happen. I think that’s going to happen in this game.”
Wednesday Injury Reports
The Jets’ injury list is at 22 players today. New to the list: WR Stephen Hill didn’t practice with a knee injury, DT Mike DeVito (shin) was full-go and so was FB Lex Hilliard (finger). Two other DNPs were WR Clyde Gates (concussion) and TE Dustin Keller (ankle). Four limited players: RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle/ribs), G Brandon Moore (hip), NT Sione Po‘uha (back) and QB Tim Tebow (ribs). The Jets’ full injury list can be found here.
The Jaguars listed eight players who didn’t practice today, among them RBs Maurice Jones-Drew (foot), Greg Jones (thigh) and Rashad Jennings (concussion), centers Brad Meester (foot) and Michael Brewster (hand), WR Cecil Shorts (concussion), CB Aaron Ross (calf) and DE George Selvie (concussion).
Limited were CB Derek Cox (hamstring) and DE Austen Lane (foot). Full were DT Tyson Alualu (calf) and CB Rashean Mathis (groin).
The Elias Sports Bureau has revised the scoring of three plays, all of them sacks, in the Jets-Cardinals game. The Cards’ final offensive play of the game was originally scored a split sack between DE Muhammad Wilkerson and LB Bart Scott, who swarmed rookie Ryan Lindley, but upon further review, the full sack has been given to Wilkerson, which lifts him past Bryan Thomas’ 2.5 sacks and into the team lead with 3.0 sacks.
The other two sack revisions were both on Arizona takedowns of Mark Sanchez. The early-second-quarter sack split between LB Sam Acho and DT Darnell Dockett now goes fully to Acho. And the late-second-quarter sack divvied up between S Adrian Wilson and DT David Carter now goes all to Wilson.
Tags: Austin Howard, Brandon Moore, Jacksonville Jaguars, Jeremy Kerley, Jordan White, Konrad Reuland, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan
Posted in John Holt | 70 Comments »
Right tackle Austin Howard has a name for the situation. “When it’s third-and-short,” he said, “it’s go time.”
And the Jets have green-lighted themselves to the head of the NFL when it comes to converting those plays. For instance, of all the runners who have picked up every third-and-1 they’ve attempted this season, Shonn Greene is first among equals, going 7-for-7 in his carries.
If we extend the definition to third-and-1-or-2 and fourth-and-1-or-2, when the Jets run the ball in those situations, they’re the only perfect team left in the NFL at 13-for-13, and they have also led the league for 2011-12 (27-for-33, 81.8%), 2010-12 (49-for-61, 80.3%), and 2009-12 (76-for-98, 77.6%).
“We definitely want to be the aggressor, be physical on those plays,” said Howard.
“We don’t do any gimmicks, we don’t do anything tricky like that,” LG Matt Slauson added. “Anthony Lynn has a great plan every week. But when you have a line like ours and a big bruiser-type running back like Shonn, we want that responsibility on us. We feel like we’re big and strong and we’re able to get that yard.”
Lynn, the Jets’ RBs coach since ’09, explained the philosophy behind the Green & White’s third-and-short success.
“We want to have more completions and rushing attempts than anybody we play. If you do that, you’re going to win a lot of football games,” Lynn said. “But in order to do that, you have to be able to extend drives. And if you’re committed to running the football, you’re going to find yourself in third-and-short a lot. So we spend a lot of time in the offseason studying that situation and what fits our personnel the best. We really take time and we game-plan it.
“Shonn is built for that situation. He’s a power guy, and a lot of times he gets you more than 1 yard. And when there’s nothing there, you have to have a guy who can win, and he’s done a good job of that. But our double teams up front on the line, those have been outstanding also. Vertical push is something we emphasize a lot in our offense.”
It’s not just about short yardage for Greene and the Jets’ blockers but also about goal line, with many of the same concepts applied to both. But when it comes to GL, it’s been a mixed back for the Jets. Greene’s had two 1-yard touchdown runs this season, vs. Buffalo in the opener and at New England to successfully conclude the opening drive Sunday.
But goal line, considered by the Jets to be plays inside the opponents’ 5-yard line, hasn’t been nearly as successful as the garden-variety short-yardage plays.
“Toward the end of this season, I hope we get back into the top five in the league,” said Lynn. “Right now we’re on the outside looking in. We had a terrible series the last time we played Miami. Those guys do a heck of a job in both situations, short yardage and goal line.”
Indeed, a first-and-goal at the 3 led to a Mark Sanchez end zone interception and a first-and-goal at the 1 yielded only a Nick Folk field goal in the Jets’ overtime win. Meanwhile, the Dolphins scored on a pair of 1-yarders in Game 3, by RB Daniel Thomas and FB Jorvorskie Lane.
This game could also come down to who can do a better job at moving the ball that final 36 inches at key times in the game. And as Slauson said, when the Jets offense is in that situation and a run is called, “We just expect we are going to get it.”
What Goes On in the Pile …
It was one of those small but delightful and ultimately fairly significant plays that happens during the course of many NFL games. Recall late in the first quarter of the Jets-Patriots game when Shonn Greene caught a pass, was hit by LB Jerod Mayo and lost the ball. After Greene was surrounded by no fewer than five Patriots and a few of his teammates joined in, who should come out of the pile with the ball but No. 87 in green and white.
Where did Konrad Reuland come from?
“I was on the other side of the field,” Reuland recalled. “I saw the ball get knocked loose and I saw Shonn kind of straddling the ball, almost, reaching for it down by his legs. I knew he was going to be fighting for it with three or four guys.
“And I just said, you know what? I’m going to dive in there and see if I can find this thing and get a hand on it.”
Nineteen seconds of real time passed from when Reuland muscled Devin McCourty out of the way and burrowed into the mass of bodies to when he popped back out holding his prize aloft and saying, audible on the game video: “I got it! I got it!”
The CBS broadcast team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms captured this unlikely turn of events as they analyzed the replay.
“Yeah, it’s definitely a fumble,” said Simms. “And what a job by Reuland getting under this pile and getting that football.”
Nantz: “Look, he’s nowhere even in the frame here … he’s still not in the frame.”
“He’s still not in the frame,” Simms echoed.
Nantz: “I tell you what, then he comes in at the last minute. Great play by Reuland.”
RBs coach Anthony Lynn was also in agreement. “That was an outstanding play by Konrad. You talk about hustling to the football.”
Needless to say, the Jets ultimately lost the game in overtime, but it’s not too hard to see Reuland helping to keep this game close with his recovery. The Pats, who had just opened a 14-7 lead, would’ve had the ball back at the Jets 49. Another quick six for Tom Brady and friends and things could’ve snowballed. Instead, the Jets punted, the Patriots took over at their 20 and also punted. Close game on.
Reuland wasn’t necessarily known as a fumble mole before, but he said he did the same thing for San Francisco in a preseason game this summer.
“The way I look at it,” he said, “until they’ve ruled it the other team’s ball, I’m fighting for it because you never know.”
One perhaps final note: The Patriots statistical crew didn’t award the recovery to Reuland. They said Greene recovered his own fumble. Perhaps the play will be reviewed and the record set right. But as No. 87 said, “I’m willing to give it Shonn. Let him get credit for it. Either way, the fact that our team got it is what counts.”
Friday Injury Reports
LB Bart Scott (toe) is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game with the Dolphins after sitting out all three practice this week for the first time since injuring his big toe early against the ‘Fins in Miami in Week 3. Scott is joined by RB Bilal Powell (shoulder) and NT Kenrick Ellis (knee) as doubtfuls.
But the rest of the squad seems to be ready to suit up for the rivalry game, and that includes NT Sione Po‘uha (back), S Eric Smith (knee), C Nick Mangold (ankle), TE Jeff Cumberland (wrist) and RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle), all listed as questionable. All were limited at today’s practice except for McKnight, who was a DNP for the third time this week.
“For Sione, it’s not just about being able to protect yourself but being effective,” Ryan said. “I feel good about that. I think Sione will play.”
The rest of the Jets were full practicers and are probable for the game.
The Dolphins added two players to Friday’s report in DE Cameron Wake (neck, limited), and S Reshad Jones (heel, full). But they seem in fine health for the game with Wake, Jones, RB Daniel Thomas (concussion), LB Koa Misi (hamstring) and S Jimmy Wilson (ankle) listed as probable, while starting CB Richard Marshall (back) didn’t practice today and is listed as out.
Tags: Anthony Lynn, Austin Howard, Jim Nantz, Konrad Reuland, Matt Slauson, Miami Dolphins, Phil Simms, Rex Ryan, Shonn Greene, Sione Pouha, third-and-1
Posted in Randy Lange | 36 Comments »
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
Tags: Garrett McIntyre, Indianapolis Colts, Josh Mauga, Konrad Reuland, Mike Westhoff, New England Patriots, Nick Bellore, Robert Malone, Tim Tebow, Wes Welker
Posted in Randy Lange | 19 Comments »
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
Tags: Bilal Powell, Ellis Lankster, Garrett McIntyre, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, joe McKnight, Konrad Reuland, Mike Westhoff, Nick Bellore
Posted in Randy Lange | 37 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 »
There is no telling how long the three newest Jets will stick around. But all three waiver acquisitions come with good character references on the Green & White payroll.
TE Konrad Reuland, as you may have heard, is pretty close with Mark Sanchez.
“We used to play AAU basketball together, in sixth grade. We were seventh at the nationals that year,” Reuland reminisced for reporters in front of his new locker in the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on Monday evening. “I was a year behind him in high school [at Mission Viejo HS in California] and we finished second in the country when he was a senior and I was a junior.
“We still both go back to the same place in the offseason, we throw together in the offseason. I think the timing’s there.”
Sanchez’s input was solicited by the Jets, but Mike Tannenbaum, Scott Cohen and the Jets’ pro personnel people made the waiver claim for other reasons as well. With Josh Baker’s season-ending knee injury, Hayden Smith’s continued seasoning on the practice squad, Dustin Keller’s squeaky hammy and Jeff Cumberland coming off a concussion, another tight end on the roster doesn’t hurt.
And at 6’4″, 260, Reuland’s got Cumberland’s size and it is hoped he’ll be throw a few effective blocks on the perimeter for the Jets’ ground game.
Have the Jets told him how he fits into the offensive scheme?
“It’s so early, my first day, so I’m not really 100 percent sure,” he said. “I’ve always tried to be a guy that can do everything. I don’t like to be categorized as a blocking tight end or a receiving tight end. It’s what I strive for.”
San Fran liked Reuland’s striving enough that Jim Harbaugh, his coach at Stanford, brought him to the 49ers as an undrafted free agent after last year’s lockout. He’s been a Niners final cut twice. Last season they brought him back to the practice squad for the whole season. This year he said there was a possibility of another return but “I wasn’t holding my breath.”
The other two waiver pickups had the Sparano/Miami connection. Clyde Gates was profiled Monday by reporter John Holt. And Isaako Aaitui, is more than just the letters in a couple of bad Scrabble racks. He is the other ex-Dolphin, a 6’4″, 315-pound DT, who said he was reeling just a bit from his release by the ‘Fins, who signed him to their practice squad for a week last season, when Sparano was their head coach, then re-signed him on Jan. 30 before making him a final cut on Friday.
“It’s been a shocking moment, still,” the UNLV product said. “The good part for me is that I’ve got another opportunity and I’ve got to take advantage of it.”
Aaitui (his name is pronounced ee-sah-AH-ko ah-ah-TOO-ee), like Reuland, is a first-year player who has some versatility to him. In other words, he’s not just a backup at the now crowded nose tackle position that includes Sione Po‘uha, Kenrick Ellis and undrafted FA Damon Harrison.
“Right now they want me to learn both” DT and NT, Aaitui said. “It doesn’t really matter to me what they want me to be. I’m going to do everything they’re telling me to do and do it at a high level.”
Versatility, picking up the system quickly, plain old determination and just a dash of health and roster luck will be key for these players to stick around long enough to get past Buffalo and maybe get on the plane for Pittsburgh the week after.
Updated: 7:48PM ET
Two Late Cuts Announced
The Jets this evening announced two roster cuts and no signings. One signing is imminent, though, because one of the cuts was punter T.J. Conley. The team was working out some new players this afternoon, among whom was at least one punter, but no announcement has been made about the new kicker’s identity.
The other cut, as luck would have it, was Aaitui. We’ll leave the section about Isaako above in place just as a reminder of how fleeting a player’s stay on a team at this time of year can be.
Also, the Jets have not confirmed reports tonight that their new punter is former Charger Robert Malone.
Tags: final cuts, Isaako Aaitui, Konrad Reuland, Mark Sanchez, Tony Sparano, waiver acquisitions
Posted in Randy Lange | 55 Comments »