It was the 1-on-1 passing drills early in today’s Jets training camp practice, and Isaiah Trufant was running stride for stride with Vidal Hazelton, a 5’8″ corner working to rise above a 6’2″ wideout.
What’s more, Trufant was trying to do the impossible so far this camp: pick off rookie QB Geno Smith.
On this play, 5’8″ stood tall.
“Was that Geno?” Trufant said, genuinely seeming not to know that Smith, who reportedly hadn’t been intercepted in the first four days of camp, had finally been picked. “He’s an exceptional athlete. He has great placement on the ball. As a DB, it’s always tough to try and go get those picks. Sometimes they can fall in there for you, sometimes you’ve got to go get them.”
It’s a great story that Trufant was able to go get this one and has looked good back in his role of nickel corner and back-end buzzsaw. He was having a decent season last year, topped by his showing vs. Wes Welker up at New England in Week 7, only to suffer a season-ending knee injury two weeks later at Seattle.
“I started to feel myself again a little bit in minicamp,” he said of his rehab process. “Then that break helped a lot. Really within that break it started to come around.”
Isaiah Trufant knows it’s never going to be easy. He’s only a third-year NFL player but you can make him a 10th-season player if you count in his seasons with the Spokane Shock, Kansas City Brigade and Arizona Rattlers in the Arena leagues and the UFL’s Las Vegas Locomotives. Now he’s in camp with Dee Milliner, the first-round pick who was in pads but limited at today’s practice and was conducting his own news update with reporters about 20 yards behind us.
“I don’t worry about those things,” Trufant said about such personnel issues as a first-round pick costing the former free agent a roster spot. “I just focus on me doing the best things I can do. Some things may be out of my hands, out of my control. I can’t dwell on those things.”
He’s therefore not dwelling much on the Jets’ Week 2 date with the Patriots in Foxboro, Mass., when he could, if things break well and the game plan calls for it, be covering Danny Amendola, not Welker, who’s now a Bronco.
“It could be,” Trufant said. “I’m just going to be ready for whatever position I’m put in. Whether it’s special teams or defense, I’ve got to be ready.”
Both Smith and Mark Sanchez had down days throwing the ball. Sanchez returned to run with the first offense. He threw a screen that was batted in the air and almost picked off by a roaring Muhammad Wilkerson, and suffered a pick by Antonio Cromartie. Sanchez also threw one TD pass but Stephen Hill couldn’t hold onto another. Yet Hill made a beautiful leaping snag of a Sanchez downfield throw.
Head coach Rex Ryan on Sanchez: “I think everybody gets enamored with anybody who can throw a 96-mile-per-hour fastball. Mark certainly has a good enough arm to play in this league, he’s done it.” … Ryan on Geno: “Holding the football concerns me a little bit. If I could point to a negative, we’re going to take some hits. But along those lines, he has confidence, he’s got poise, he’s hanging in there, and he’s very accurate with the football.”
Ryan said third-round rookie Brian Winters got some work at guard with the ones today because Stephen Peterman had “a little bit of a shoulder.” “But certainly we said there’s going to be competition at that guard spot.” … First-round DL Sheldon Richardson didn’t practice due to some dental issues. “One tooth needs to come out,” said Rex, “and he maybe needs a root canal in another.” … Today’s attendance: 1,333.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Danny Amendola, Geno Smith, Isaiah Trufant, Mark Sanchez, Muhammad Wilkerson, Rex Ryan, Vidal Hazelton, Wes Welker
Posted in Randy Lange | 26 Comments »
This week we’re assembling, with the help of our partners at the Daily News, this year’s Training Camp Pullout Section, which will appear in the News this week and will be available to fans arriving at SUNY Cortland for the first practices open to the public beginning this Friday, July 26.
In pulling together the content for this section, I spoke with several Jets assistant coaches, who gave of their time away from the Atlantic Health Training Center to discuss some of the things Jets fans can expect to see when they arrive at our upstate New York summer headquarters to watch practices.
I also asked them to go back into their personal vaults for one or two poignant memories of training camps when they were the players and not the coaches. These reminiscences will not appear in the pullout, but we’ll pop several of them up here on the Radar over the next four days to whet everyone’s appetite for the footballs that are about to fly.
Batting leadoff is Anthony Lynn, the Jets’ running backs coach who has added the title of assistant head coach this year. Lynn opened his trip down memory lane by explaining why he feels the Cortland experience is important to the current crop of Jets.
“Really, anytime you go off somewhere and get into this daily routine of dawn to dusk, it’s mentally challenging and physically challenging,” Lynn said. “You try to prepare your mind for it. You know it’s going to be hard.”
How difficult is the experience? Lynn went back to his playing days, when he and TE Shannon Sharpe and the rest of the Broncos in the late Nineties encamped at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.
“I looked forward to those training camps, but I also prepared my mind mentally for them, too,” he said. “A lot of times you’d go to sleep in the dorm at night and the next morning you’d wake up and the guy next to you was not there. A lot of teams had ways to signal things like that. For us, Shannon Sharpe rang a bell that would wake everyone up. We heard the bell, we knew someone had tapped out.”
Some have argued that with the new rules in place, camp is not as tough as it was in those days. Lynn doesn’t see it that way.
“In a way the rules have made it more intense,” he said. “When I played, we were in camp for five or six weeks. You could be a little more laid back because you had time.
“Now camp is 3½, four weeks. It’s very intense. That’s why I like going away to Cortland. To me, that’s when the team is built, when the chemistry is set. You see who the leaders and who the followers are going to be. There’s nothing wrong with being a follower, but at training camp you see the leaders emerge. I always looked forward to that and I still do today.”
Grantland Celebrates Wilkerson
Grantland.com is the website started by ESPN personality Bill Simmons in 2011 that covers sports and pop culture. And recently Grantland trained its eye on Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson in Robert Mays’ story headlined The All-22 All-Star Team: Muhammad Wilkerson and the New Versatility. It’s a thoughtful study on Mo’s game complete with Xs-and-Os type analysis and a few embedded videos.
The All-22 Team, Mays explains, is an attempt to provide insight on the NFL’s 22 most underappreciated players, and Mo classifies as such, although the way he finished the second half of 2012, I don’t think he’ll continue to qualify in 2013. In a key paragraph in the piece, Mays explains why new Jets DC Dennis Thurman loves Wilkerson:
Plenty of players can shift between these two spots, but few have the strength to hold up in the 3-4 and the quickness to be truly effective in the 4-3. Fewer still can make that sack and then hold up as a nose guard just a few plays later. Outside of Justin Smith, it’s hard to think of a player who’s as useful in as many different roles. “There’s a saying that we have, ‘The more you can do,’ ” Thurman says. “The more you can do, the more you increase your value. And he has tremendous value.”
Tags: Anthony Lynn, Denver Broncos, Muhammad Wilkerson, Shannon Sharpe
Posted in Randy Lange | 12 Comments »
Two things can be said right off the bat about Jets DE Jake McDonough. He does his homework. And he takes inspiration wherever he finds it.
Both of those traits come together when the rookie free agent from Iowa State channels Mike DeVito just a little bit.
“Coming in here, I knew who wore No. 70 before I did,” McDonough told me this week. “I obviously checked into it. I know how Mike came in here as an undrafted rookie, just like me, and now he’s in Kansas City making a lot of money.
“For me, coming in as a free agent, Mike’s story inspired me. Maybe I can follow in his footsteps.”
The connection with DeVito was solidified during some video review in a defensive meeting after an OTA practice.
“I had made a play or something, and Rex said, ‘Attaboy, DeVito.’ “
Head coach Rex Ryan admitted to the flashback.
“This young man, I like him. He’s tough. He competes,” Ryan said recently. “You recognized the size, the length of the kid — he certainly looks the part.”
McDonough’s length is 6’5″. His weight, he wants any fan who checked out his ISU bio, is not 280, hasn’t been in a while, but is closer to 305-310. But that’s a good thing for how he’s being used these days.
“I was a noseguard in college. Now I’m a defensive end,” he said. “I’m playing a whole new position — and I’m loving it. Learning from Mo [Muhammad Wilkerson, of course] he’s a heck of a guy to learn from. Especially watching film of him and seeing how he does things inspires me to perfect my craft.”
McDonough did a fine job at his craft with the Cyclones. He didn’t miss a game his last three seasons, and after last season he was named Iowa State’s Defensive Lineman of the Year and was a first-teamer on the Big 12 coaches’ all-conference team.
Even more inspiration these days comes from DL coach Karl Dunbar, assisted by Jeff Weeks. Dunbar’s unit is starting to round into the kind of impact group he was known for when he coached with the Vikings.
“Karl’s the best D-line coach in the league, in my opinion,” Ryan said. “And I think you’re seeing all our linemen starting to take off under Karl’s tutelage.”
Needless to say, there won’t be a lot of loose spots on the 53-man roster come Sept. 8. But depending on how Quinton Coples is classified (DE or LB?) and where first-rounder Sheldon Richardson lines up, there could be a spot behind Wilkerson.
“If he doesn’t make the team,” said Ryan, “it’s not because of his work ethic or anything else. He’s a hard-playing kid.”
Tags: Jake McDonough, Jeff Weeks, Karl Dunbar, Mike DeVito, Muhammad Wilkerson, Rex Ryan
Posted in Randy Lange | 59 Comments »
Players were stretching and sprinting on the outside turf field at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center this morning, and the middle grass field was dotted with small cones and larger day-glo orange yard-markers — G, 20, 40, 40, 20, G.
The new season has hit another milestone with the start of the Jets’ voluntary offseason program.
Among the players on hand are the roster’s entire quarterback contingent plus key players from both sides of the ball — DE Muhammad Wilkerson, LB David Harris, CB Antonio Cromartie and tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson — to get started on Phase 1 of the program, a two-week period during which activities are limited to strength and conditioning and physical rehabilitation only, under the guidance of strength coach Justus Galac and his staff, Paul Ricci, Pierre Ngo and intern Jason Oszvart.
“For us it’s really about reducing the injuries and creating an atmosphere for the player to train in that is exciting,” Galac told Eric Allen for Jets Talk Live recently. “They come in there and they’re ready to work. For the players, my job is to make them bigger, faster and stronger — we all know that.
“But it always comes back to being an explosive player, not only working on our explosive power for the big guys and the hips and the hang cleans and the jumps, but the speed work, and that comes back to the skill players and working with plyometrics. Really building a foundation program where, when they walk out after the workout, they feel more explosive, they feel stronger, they feel bigger, and they feel like they got a good workout in.”
The Jets’ program is one of 32 around the NFL that is getting under way these days. Eight teams got started April 1-2, while three won’t get cranking until a week from today. For the other 21, today’s the day to welcome players back to facilities start sweatin’ to the sounds of 2013.
Article 21 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement establishes an official, voluntary nine-week program for each club that is conducted in three phases. After Phase 1, Phase 2 for each team’s offseason schedule consists of weeks 3-5 during which on-field workouts may include individual player instruction and drills as well as team practices conducted on a “separates” basis. No live contact or team offense vs. defense drills are permitted.
Phase 3 consists of the final four weeks of the program, during which teams may conduct a total of 10 days of organized team practice activity — OTAs. No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills are permissible.
The Jets’ OTA workouts have been scheduled for May 20, 22-23, 28 and 30-31, and June 3-6. The Green & White’s mandatory minicamp is set for June 11-13.
RFA Tender Offers Signed
The Jets announced today that RT Austin Howard has signed his tender offer as a restricted free agent. This comes a week after TE Jeff Cumberland signed his RFA tender offer to remain with the team. Howard was tendered at a second-round level. Cumberland was a right-of-first-refusal tender.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Austin Howard, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, David Harris, Muhammad Wilkerson, offseason strength and conditioning program
Posted in Randy Lange | 29 Comments »
As we come off the holiday and into the bright, harsh sunlight of 2013, we’re awaiting any developments in the Jets’ postseason plans along with the start of the playoffs. While in neutral in that area, here are a few loose ends that we wanted to tie up from the season finale at Buffalo:
For many skill position players, their 40 time is important. For Jeremy Kerley, his “40″ plays are paramount.
Kerley had a pair of 40-yard receptions from Mark Sanchez at Buffalo — the slip screen that converted third-and-16 in the second quarter (which as we noted Sunday was the longest third-down conversion completion since Sanchez-to-Braylon Edwards on third-and-21 in 2009 Game 5 at Miami, Edwards’ first game as a Jet) and the sideline grab over Stephen Gilmore in the third quarter.
This generated several 40-yard factoids:
■ It was the first time in 41 games that the Jets completed two 40-yards-plus passes in a game. The last time was 2010 Game 10 vs. Houston, when Sanchez hit Santonio Holmes for a 41-yard TD, then found Edwards late for the 42-yarder that set up Holmes’ comeback-securing second TD.
■ It was the first time a Jet had two 40-yard receptions in the same game since the 2009 AFC Wild Card Game at Cincinnati, when TE Dustin Keller nabbed 45- and 43-yarders from Sanchez.
■ It was the first time a Jets WR had two 40-yarders in the same game since 2007 Game 15 at Tennessee, when Jerricho Cotchery caught 48- and 41-yarders from Chad Pennington.
■ And just for fun, I went back to the last time a WR caught two 40-yarders in a Jets victory. That was Santana Moss, who had a 65-yard TD and a 43-yard catch from Pennington in the 2003 Game 9 overtime win at Oakland.
Here’s some related trivia:
The Jets’ last seven 40-yard pass plays have all involved Kerley. He had five 40-yard receptions this season. And he completed the 41-yard pass to Matt Mulligan in the 2011 season finale at Miami and the 42-yarder to Clyde Gates vs. San Diego.
All we can say is, Jeremy, keep ‘em comin’ … and maybe if you can cut back on your NFL-record number of punt fair catches from this season as well, that would be AOK, JK.
Third-Down D Lost Its Grip
The Jets defense put together a strong piece of third-down efficiency since the end of the New England Thanksgiving turkey. Through the first third-down situation of the third quarter Sunday, the D had allowed just seven conversions on 63 third-down plays. That’s an 11.1% rate that’s great in anyone’s book.
However, the defense couldn’t hold on after that as the Bills converted six of their last nine third downs, including a pair of Brad Smith “Mizzou”-style runs, for the 4-yard touchdown and a 16-yard pickup.
And it sometimes gets overlooked in assessing “crunch-down” defense but from Arizona on, opponents converted on six of seven fourth downs, including Tashard Choice’s late 13-yard dash on Sunday.
Still, the Jets finished 12th in the NFL with an opponents’ third-down conversion rate of 30.2%, and that was quite an improvement from 31st at a 40.8% rate after the Patriots game.
Muhammad Wilkerson had only one roughing-the-passer penalty marked off against him all season, back in Game 6 vs. Andrew Luck and the Colts. And it didn’t really look like a flaggable offense when Mo crushed Ryan Fitzpatrick hard in the pocket, not late, no helmet-to-helmet, no blow to the head, in the third quarter and was called for roughing by ref Terry McAulay.
Wilkerson evidently didn’t think so either, because on the next series he popped Fitz again, quite legally, then looked at McAulay with his hands out, as if to say, “Was that one OK, ref?”
The Jets took four penalties for 45 yards on the day at Buffalo, one of which was quite unusual — when LB David Harris jumped offside on a Fitzpatrick hard count on the Bills’ opening drive. It was the Hitman’s first penalty of any kind in 33 games, or since getting served for a facemask against BenJarvus Green-Ellis in the 2010 AFC Divisional Round Game at New England, and Harris’ first presnap penalty in his six-year career.
The team totals were still in keeping with the Jets’ emphasis on cutting down on penalties in the second half of the season. They finished fourth in the NFL for fewest penalties with 83 and third for fewest penalty yards with 708. The last time they had less than their 233 yards in penalties from Games 9-16 in an inseason eight-game span was in ’07.
Turnover Tale of Woe
We wrote about how important it was for the Jets to come up with a big takeaway/giveaway effort in our advance for the game at Tennessee. It didn’t work out that way, of course, as the Jets went minus-5 in that game, the centerpiece of their turnover travails late in the season.
Mark Sanchez had 18 interceptions, eight lost fumbles and 26 individual giveaways for the second straight season. And the offense had a 17.5% turnover drive rate (34 GAs, 194 drives) that was third-highest in the NFL behind Kansas City (18.8%) and Philadelphia (17.9%).
But the defense didn’t lighten the load down the stretch. The Jets had no interceptions their last three games, and the Mike DeVito force/Yeremiah Bell recovery of C.J. Spiller’s fumble to open the third quarter was the only FF and FR in the last five games.
Revising that GA/TA stat we mentioned last week, the Jets combined for a minus-14 turnover margin for the season, their lowest since the 1996 team went minus-20. And their minus-15 over the final six games equaled the lowest inseason six-game TO margin in franchise history, set in the final six games of the ’76 season.
Tags: Buffalo Bills, Chad Pennington, David Harris, Jeremy Kerley, Mark Sanchez, Muhammad Wilkerson, Santana Moss
Posted in Randy Lange | 355 Comments »
Here are today’s pregame tweets for the Jets-Bills game at Ralph Wilson 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 Weather for Jets-Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium today: ptly cloudy, temps in high 20s (wind chill around 9°), winds gusting to 20 mph.
#RL Jets 50-54 all-time vs BUF, 23-28 in western NY. But Jets have won last 6 in rivalry, 8 of last 9, and last 4 on the road.
#RL Mark Sanchez last 6 starts vs BUF: 6-0 record, 77-for-129 passing (59.7%), 941 yds, 11 TDs, 3 INTs, 3 sacks, 101.0 rating.
#RL Ryan Fitzpatrick last 5 starts vs Jets: 0-5 record, 80-for-152 passing (52.6%), 876 yds, 9 TDs, 6 INTs, 9 sacks, 73.2 rating.
#RL Jets’ Shonn Greene needs 11 rush yds to reach 1,000 yds for 2nd straight season, 2 TDs to become 11th Jet w/ 10 rush TDs in season.
#RL BUF’s CJ Spiller in ’12 opener vs NYJ: 14 atts, 169 yds, TD. First Jets opp w/ two 40+ runs in 1 game since Barry Sanders (@ DET ’97).
#RL Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson last 10 games: 5 sacks, 3 forced FUMs, 1 FUM-return TD, 4 PDs, 3 penalties forced, 1 blkd FG.
#RL Rookie DE Quinton Coples (5.5) and Wilkerson (5.0)–former Hargrave MA teammates–are 1-2 for Jets sack leadership.
#RL Jets K Nick Folk: 18-for-23 on FGs this season. Career vs BUF: 10-for-12. @ Ralph Wilson: 7-for-9.
#RL Bills K Rian Lindell: 21-for-22 on FGs this season. Career vs NYJ: 25-for-27 on all FGs, 17-for-17 on FGs from 42 yds/closer.
#RL Jets HC Rex Ryan is 5-0 since ’10 vs BUF HC Chan Gailey. Gailey is 0-6 all-time vs Jets (0-1
#RL NYJ inactives: QB Greg McElroy CB Ellis Lankster LB Bryan Thomas C Caleb Schlauderaff TE Dustin Keller WR Chaz Schilens (6 inactives).
#RL Jets roster at 52 players, including RB John Griffin, signed from practice squad during the week. Griffin is active, will wear No. 21.
#RL BUF inactives: QB Tarvaris Jackson WR Kevin Elliott S Da’Norris Searcy G Keith Williams DT Jay Ross T Chris Scott DE Mark Anderson
#RL CB Donnie Fletcher, LB Ricky Sapp, DT Damon Harrison also active for Jets.
#RL Today’s referee is Terry McAulay. It’s his 11th Jets game as ref since ’01. Jets have won 4 of last 5 he’s officiated in.
#RL Jets wearing white jerseys, white pants for today’s game. Jets in white/white: 2-3 this season (wins vs BUF, STL), 16-12 u/ Rex Ryan.
#RL Jets D has held opponents to 6 conversions on their last 58 3rd downs. (0-for-2 vs NE, 0-15 vs ARZ, 2-16 @ jax, 2-13 @ TEN, vs SD 2-12)
Tags: Buffalo Bills, Mark Sanchez, Muhammad Wilkerson, Nick Folk, Ralph Wilson Stadium, Rex Ryan, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Shonn Greene
Posted in Randy Lange | No Comments »
Rex Ryan refers to his last news conference of the work week jocularly as “Fast Friday,” since the Q&A session is normally a bit shorter and lighter than the Wednesday or Thursday sessions.
Today was a changeup. Maybe “Fast Yet Furious Friday.”
“There was a report this morning that was untrue,” Ryan told reporters at the top of his afternoon news conference regarding a Daily News story under the headline that Ryan “would welcome firing if Gang Green fails to make over offense.”
“I was disappointed and quite honestly mad as a hornet.
“The fact is, and it’s simple, this is the only team I want to coach, period. Anybody who knows me knows I’m telling the truth. Has it been perfect? No. Would I like this player or that player? Sure, anybody would. But this is my team, these are my players.”
The coach was irritated over several issues. It was stated in the story that “Ryan declined comment about his future when reached by The News,” although Ryan said, “When I had a conversation with this reporter, it wasn’t reported that way in the article, and the headline reads a certain way.”
The coach also disputed the impression provided through quotes from unnamed sources that he was trying to influence owner Woody Johnson into a particular endgame scenario after the season concludes at Buffalo on Sunday and that he might also be trying to set up a landing spot with another team.
“I called Mr. Johnson as soon as I read the article,” Ryan said. “I let him know that absolutely, 100 percent is not my intention, no way in heck. I’m not putting an ultimatum to this man that hired me, no chance.
“This is his football team. I take it as my team, the guys I coach, the football part of it, that’s how I approach it. But at the end of the day, it’s Mr. Johnson’s team. I feel honored he hired me to do a job. I’ve told you from day one what an opportunity I had. This is the fact — I always wanted to be a head coach, but to be the New York Jets head coach, it’s unbelievable.
“The Jets were the first professional team my dad ever coach, eight years. This was my team growing up. The fans, I identify with that because I was one of them also. Now I’m the head coach of their football team, too.
Ryan said he also spoke to the team this morning about the story, “probably a little more passionate, emotional or whatever you want to call it” than he was speaking to reporters. He said he brought the matter up on all these fronts to make sure his perspective on the subject is heard.
“I want to be the Jets head coach for the next 15 years. And there’s probably a lot of fans out there that hope that isn’t the case, but I’m just telling you from my heart that this is the job I’ve always wanted and that’s it,” he said. “I just wanted to make sure everybody understood how I feel about this team. I don’t want to go anywhere, I don’t want to coach anywhere but the New York Jets, period. I want everybody to know it.”
Look Ahead at the 2013 Sked
Each NFL team’s schedule for the following season is always known by the end of the final game of the regular season, and that’s the case again this year. Almost all of the Jets’ 2013 opponents are set. Ahead of Sunday’s full slate of games, here’s how the ’13 sked is shaping up:
Opponents Already Determined: Home — Buffalo, Miami, New England, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Tampa Bay. Away — Buffalo, Miami, New England, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Carolina.
Opponents Yet to Be Determined: Home — AFC West. Away — AFC South.
The Jets play the team in the South and the team in the West that finish in the same standings spot in their division as the Jets finish in the AFC East. The Jets will come in either second or third. They would be second with a win over Buffalo and a Miami loss to New England because they would then finish tied with the Dolphins at 7-9 and would have the edge based on better division record than the ‘Fins (3-3 to 2-4). The Jets can’t finish fourth even with a loss to the Bills because then, even though both would be 6-10, the Jets would still get third place based on better record in common games (6-8 to 4-10).
So where the Jets finish will determine whether they will travel to the second-place Colts or the third-place Titans, and whether they will host the second-place Chargers or the third-place Raiders.
We’ll have those questions answered late Sunday afternoon, shortly after the end of the Jets-Bills and Dolphins-Pats games, both kicking off at 1 p.m. ET.
Friday Injury Picture
The big injury news for the Jets today was that DE Muhammad Wilkerson (concussion/knee) practiced full today and is being listed as probable for the Bills. Also, CB Ellis Lankster (concussion) was limited and is questionable for the game. There was no change in QB Greg McElroy’s concussion situation. McElroy is listed as doubtful but Ryan has said he’s not playing and that Mark Sanchez will start.
TE Dustin Keller (ankle), WR Chaz Schilens (knee) and LB Bryan Thomas (chest) all didn’t participate at today’s practice and are also doubtful, and WR Braylon Edwards (hamstring/knee) was limited and his game status is also questionable. The other 18 Jets were all full-go and are probable for the Bills.
Buffalo’s report lists three players ruled out for the game: DE Mark Anderson (knee), starting TE Scott Chandler (knee) and S Da’Norris Searcy (groin). Nine of the 11 other injured Bills were limited at today’s practice in western New York but are listed as probable, including seven starters: LB Nick Barnett (knee), S Jairus Byrd (ankle), G Andy Levitre (knee), RB C.J. Spiller (shoulder), DT Kyle Williams (ankle), DE Mario Williams (wrist) and C Eric Wood (knee).
Tags: Buffalo Bills, Daily News, Ellis Lankster, Greg McElroy, Mark Sanchez, Muhammad Wilkerson, Rex Ryan, Woody Johnson
Posted in Randy Lange | 39 Comments »
We’ll start the week with a few passing fancies, either or both of whom could find themselves fancied by Rex Ryan and Tony Sparano in the Jets’ offensive game plan for Buffalo on Sunday.
Hayden Smith, after short careers as a small-college basketball player and a high-level rugby performer, has been getting his feet wet in this, his first season as a 27-year-old NFL rookie tight end. It just so happened that Tim Usasz, one of his rugby buds and a fellow Australian, was in the New York area and came over to the Sunday game at MetLife Stadium against San Diego to watch his countryman play his new game.
Smith said Usasz’s immediate reaction when, late in the first half, Smith let Chargers LB Melvin Smith leak past him into the Jets backfield was, “Uh-oh, looks like Hayden made a mistake.”
That’s just what he and the Jets wanted the Chargers to think. Immediately, Greg McElroy pivoted from right to left and floated a pass with perfect touch and location past Ingram’s flailing outstretched left hand and into the hands of the former lock forward for the USA at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
“Probably the one similarity between rugby and football is running with the ball,” Smith said about his nifty 19 yards of YAC on the 16-yard play behind a D’Brickashaw Ferguson block to the Jets 41, converting a third-and-9 in the process.
“The funny thing about it was they called the play and I knew it was coming to me, and just as we got out there, there was a timeout, so I had about five minutes to think about it,” Smith said, referring to that American TV marketing concept of the five-minute-long two-minute warning. “We’ve had the play up for a couple of weeks, but we just hadn’t had the opportunity to call it until Sunday. It’s a great play, we got the look that we wanted and executed it well, so it was all positive.”
Smith’s been active for four games now, with 14 plays on offense and 13 on special teams. Sunday’s pass was the first ball thrown to the 6’6″, 255-pounder. He looked like he knew exactly what to do with it, and it would be nice to see confirmation of that perception a few more times in Sunday’s season finale at “the Ralph.”
The other passing-game nugget worth noting was that Jeremy Kerley is currently the only player in NFL history who has thrown two or more passes and completed each one for more than 40 yards.
Yeah, I know, that’s a fun fact that won’t last very long. JK’s one of only 54 players who have completed every pass they’ve thrown as pros with at least two completions. And the minute one of his Wildcat passes hits the turf, he’s out of this club forever. But until then, Kerley’s 41-yard strike to TE Matt Mulligan at Miami in last year’s season finale and his 42-yard play-action chuck to Clyde Gates against the Chargers makes him an army of one.
The only members of this exclusive group who have more than Kerley’s 83 passing yards are Packers punter Ron Widby (2-for-2, 102 yards, 1972) and Broncos WR Arthur Marshall (2-for-2, 111 yards in 1992-93).
Now Kerley could etch his name in stone if he keeps it up. The NFL record-holder for most consecutive completions from start of career is St. Louis backup QB Billy Donckers, who hit all six of his career passes in 1976-77, followed by a certain University of Florida QB by name of … Kerwin Bell, who completed all five of his throws for the Colts in 1988.
Kerley’s on-the-money throw to Lex Hilliard on Sunday was wiped out by an illegal formation, so he’s still got to hit his next five to grab that Hall of Fame-esque distinction. No pressure, Jeremy.
As for if Kerley will be used in a similar Wildcat role against the Bills, head coach Rex Ryan said today, “It’s certainly a possibility, and if it’s something they have to prepare for and I wasn’t going to do it, I probably wouldn’t say it, either.”
Wilkerson on the Sideline
Muhammad Wilkerson is on the Jets’ injury report for the first time this season. The DE, who’s been on a tear for better than half a season, is listed with a concussion and a knee injury and did not participate in today’s team drills.
“That would be a big concern” if Mo can’t go, Ryan said this morning at his news conference. “He’s one of the best interior linemen in the league. Hopefully, he’ll get that kind of respect when the Pro Bowl voting comes out. But forget all that. I’d like Mo to play and I am concerned he can’t practice today.” Ryan said he thought Wilkerson underwent concussion testing after Sunday’s game and that Rex didn’t hear about Wilkerson’s injury status until Tuesday. Merry Christmas.
By the way, the NFL will be making the initial unveil of its AFC and NFC Pro Bowl rosters tonight at 7 p.m. ET on NFL Network. We’ll have a separate story on the Jets’ Pro Bowlers live on our site shortly after the announcement by the league.
The Rest of the Injury Picture
The other DNPs today were Keller (ankle), WR Braylon Edwards (hamstring/knee), CB Ellis Lankster (concussion), LB Bryan Thomas (chest), WR Chaz Schilens (knee) and CB Aaron Berry (hamstring).
The other 18 Jets on the report were all full-go for the team drills at today’s practice, which started outside on the Atlantic Health Training Center turf field, then headed indoors when the rain/snow started coming down shortly in the early afternoon.
Among the full participants were QB Greg McElroy (abdomen) and NT Sione Po‘uha (back), who’s listed as full for the first time in 13 weeks and for only the sixth time in this season’s 46 game-week practices. Way to work all the way “back,” Sione. You’ll find the Jets’ full injury report here.
The Bills list 15 players of their own. DNP — S Jairus Byrd (ankle), TE Scott Chandler (knee), G Andy Levitre (knee), WR Ruvell Martin (non-injury-related), S Da’Norris Searcy (groin), DT Kyle Williams (knee). Limited — DE Mark Anderson (knee), LB Nick Barnett (knee), RB Dorin Dickerson (ankle), WR Marcus Easley (hamstring), CB Justin Rogers (foot), LB Chris White (hamstring), C Eric Wood (knee). Full — RB C.J. Spiller (shoulder), DE Mario Williams (wrist).
“Inside the Jets”
Tonight’s “Inside the Jets” radio show, scheduled for tonight, is going on live as scheduled at 7 p.m ET on ESPN 98.7 FM at the Grasshopper in Morristown, N.J. Larry Hardesty is hosting. Due to this afternoon’s snowstorm in the area, no players will be appearing at the restaurant but players will be calling into the show.
Tags: Buffalo Bills, Greg McElroy, Hayden Smith, Jeremy Kerley, Muhammad Wilkerson, San Diego Chargers, Sione Pouha
Posted in Randy Lange | 40 Comments »
Here are today’s pregame tweets for the Jets-Chargers 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 Weather for Jets-Chargers today, 1 pm ET kickoff, at MetLife Stadium: mostly sunny, low 40s, winds close to 10 mph out of SW.
#RL Jets 14-17-1 all-time vs SD but have won 5 of last 7, incl PO wins @ SD in ’04 and ’09 and last yr’s 27-21 win over Chargers at MetLife.
#RL Greg McElroy gets first pro start for Jets. G-Mac got “relief win” in only previous appearance in 7-6 win over ARZ 3 wks ago.
#RL Chargers’ Philip Rivers is 1-2 career vs Jets with passer line of 62-of-97 (63.9%), 727 yds, 5 TDs, 5 INTs, 3 sacks, 82.3 rating.
#RL Jets RB Shonn Greene needs 49 rushing yds today to reach 1,000 rushing yds for 2nd consecutive season.
#RL Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson in last 9 games: 4 sacks, 3 forced FUMs, 1 FUM-return TD, 3 PDs, 1 intl grounding forced, 1 blkd FG
#RL Wilkerson, rookie DE Quinton Coples–former Hargrave MA teammates–are tied for Jets lead with 4 sacks each.
#RL Jets D on a run: Have held opponents to 4 conversions on their last 46 third downs. (0-for-2 vs NE, 0-15 vs ARZ, 2-16 @ jax, 2-13 @ TEN).
#RL Jets K Nick Folk is 17-for-22 FGAs this season. SD’s Nick Novak, former Jets K, is 15-for-17 FGAs this season.
#RL Jets wearing green jerseys, white pants today. They’re 3-3 this yr, 12-10 under Rex Ryan since ’09 in green/white.
#RL Today’s referee is Pete Morelli. It’s his 9th Jets game as ref. He also had Jets games @ SD in ’04 (34-28 win) and ’08 (48-29 loss).
#RL NYJ inactives: WR Mardy Gilyard CB Aaron Berry, CB Donnie Fletcher LB Ricky Sapp Davis DL Damon Harrison G Caleb Schlauderaff TE Dustin Keller
#RL Greg McElroy, Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow all active for this game, 1st game this season all 3 Jets QBs have been active in a game.
#RL SD inactives: RB Edwin Baker LB Jonas Mouton LB Demorrio Williams OL Stephen Schilling WR Mike Willie TE Ladarius Green DT Aubrayo Franklin
Tags: Greg McElroy, Mark Sanchez, MetLife Stadium, Muhammad Wilkerson, Pete Morelli, Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
Posted in Randy Lange | 6 Comments »
Here are today’s pregame tweets for the Jets-Titans game at LP Field in Nashville, in case you missed them on Twitter. Follow Bob Wischusen, Eric Allen and me for our tweets during each Jets game on https://twitter.com/nyjets.
#RL Weather at kickoff for Jets-Titans is expected to be partly cloudy, possible showers, temps around 50, southerly winds.
#RL Jets 17-22-1 all-time vs Titans/Oilers but have won 5 of the last 6 since the team moved from HOU to TEN, and 3 of last 4 at LP Field.
#RL In first 23 games of rivalry, Jets were 8-14-1 with minus-22 turnover margin. In last 17 games Jets are 9-8 with +13 TO margin.
#RL Mark Sanchez is 1-0 vs Titans. In ’09 Game 3, Sanchez completed 17 of 30 (56.7%) for 171 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 81.4 rating in 24-17 win.
#RL Jets RB Shonn Greene in last 8 games: 154 atts, 666 yards, 4.3 avg., 5 TDs. He needs 117 yds to reach 1,000 for 2nd straight yr.
#RL Jets DE Mo Wilkerson in last 8 games: 4 sacks, 3 forced FUMs, 1 FUM-return TD (@ SEA), 2 PDs, 1 intl grounding forced
#RL TEN QB Jake Locker playing Jets for first time. Locker in 8 starts this yr is 2-6 with 10 TD drives, 9 TD passes, 9 INTs, 4 lost FUMs.
#RL TEN RB Chris Johnson has 1,037 rush yds, 4.7 avg. this season. Johnson in 2 games vs Jets: 32 atts, 143 yds, 4.5 avg, 0 TDs, 0-2 record.
#RL Titans are minus-12 in TO margin in 6 homes games, tied for lowest home margin/game in NFL with Chiefs at minus-2.0.
#RL Jets K Nick Folk playing TEN for 1st time in career. He’s 16-for-21 FGs this yr, 5-for-last-10, 5-for-6 in 4th qtr/OT, 3-for-4 from 50+.
#RL Jets wearing white jerseys, green pants for 2nd straight game. Jets in white/green u/Rex Ryan: 3-4 since ’09, 1-0 this season.
#RL Today’s referee is Walt Coleman. It’s Walt’s 18th Jets game as ref since 1995. Jets have lost last 8 games Coleman has refereed.
#RL NYJ inactives: QB Greg McElroy CB Aaron Berry LB Bryan Thomas DL Damon Harrison G Caleb Schlauderaff TE Dustin Keller WR Stephen Hill
#RL TEN inactives: QB Rusty Smith WR Damian Williams LB Colin McCarthy LB Xavier Adibi G Mitch Petrus T Daniel Baldridge DE Scott Solomon
#RL TEN K Rob Bironas career vs Jets: 4-4 on FGs, 4-4 on PATs.
#RL TEN is only NFL team that has scored no 1st-qtr offensive TDs at home. Titans’ only 1st-qtr TD at LP Field came on PR in Game 3.
Tags: Chris Johnson, Jake Locker, LP Field, Mark Sanchez, Monday Night Football, Muhammad Wilkerson, Nick Folk, Shonn Greene, Tennessee Titans
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