Nick Toon is running the 40-yard dash and jumping in the vertical here in Indianapolis today, but the Wisconsin wideout will wait to showcase more of his skills at the Badgers’ pro day on March 7. The son of one of the greatest receivers in Jets history — Al Toon — could be an early-round selection in April’s draft.
“I think first and foremost as a receiver, you want to have good hands. I have great hands and your job as a receiver is to catch the ball. I think I do a great job of that,” Nick told a group of reporters on Saturday at the NFL Combine. “The other thing is I think I’m a complete player, polished in a lot of aspects of the game. Obviously no one is a perfect player, but right now I don’t think I have any glaring weaknesses. I try to work and continue to improve all of the skills that are part of being a receiver and I’ll never stop trying to get better.”
An All-Big Ten second-team selection by the conference’s coaches, Toon is coming off a 64-catch, 10-TD campaign. Those numbers rank third and second respectively in Wisconsin annals and he capped off a wonderful college career with a nine-catch, 104-yard effort against Oregon in the Rose Bowl.
“My potential still definitely is not reached. I still think I have a long way to go,” he said. “By no means have I reached my full potential and I’ll continue to get better as a player.”
Toon broke out his sophomore campaign in 2009, hauling in 54 receptions for 805 yards. He battled through injuries in 2010 but still managed to finish second on the team in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. The 6’2”, 220-pounder did not participate at the Senior Bowl after breaking scar tissue in his left foot, which previously had a stress fracture.
“Obviously the goal is always to be healthy and I struggled with injuries a little bit my last two seasons,” Toon said. “But it’s part of the game. You have to take it for what it’s worth, learn from it, get healthy and move forward. It’s just an obstacle and there will always be obstacles in this game, whether it’s an injury or a dropped pass as a receiver or a blown assignment. Mistakes happen. Nobody’s perfect and you learn from them, try not to have too many of them and move forward.”
Just a youngster when his father retired, Nick doesn’t have many memories of Al’s playing days in New York. He recalled going on the field after his dad’s final game as a pro as well as visiting the Jets’ former practice facility, Weeb Ewbank Hall, in Hempstead on Long Island.
“I remember hanging out at the facility, playing around on the practice field and in the locker room and stuff,” he said.
Al Toon, who played for the Green & White from 1985-92 and was inducted into the Jets Ring of Honor last year, ranks third in franchise history in receptions (517), fourth in receiving yardage (6,605) and tied for eighth in TD receptions (31).
With Plaxico Burress scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent when the league year commences on March 13, the Jets appear to have an opening at the No. 2 position. They can opt to fill the void either in free agency or the draft, and the son of one of the franchise’s legends is confident he can help an NFL club.
“First and foremost you have to catch the ball. That’s your job as a receiver,” said Nick. “I feel I’m an above-average route runner. You have to be good blocker, a playmaker. There are a lot of things that go into being a successful receiver. Those are just a few of the things I think I do well, but I really do well with everything that’s required to be a receiver.”
We had an opportunity to speak with Nick Toon this weekend and we’ll air that exclusive 1-on-1 later this week.
Tags: Al Toon, Indianapolis, NFL Combine, Nick Toon, Plaxico Burress, Wisconsin
Posted in Eric Allen | 32 Comments »
The Sporting News provided great award news for the Jets and their followers by announcing today that it has selected WR Plaxico Burress as its comeback player of the year. You can find the TSN story on Plax’s award here.
The sports magazine selects its comeback player based on a vote of NFL players, coaches and executives. And as eye-opening as the award itself is the fact that Plax was the clear winner. The top four vote getters were:
1. Plaxico Burress, 164 votes
2. Alex Smith, San Francisco QB, 91 votes
3. Elvis Dumervil, Denver DE, 46 votes
4. Matthew Stafford, Detroit QB, 42 votes
Burress earned the award by resuscitating his career with 45 receptions for 612 yard and eight touchdowns, modest numbers by the standards he set with the Steelers and Giants yet solid in light of the 20 months he served in prison following his conviction on weapons charges.
Among Burress’ highlights for the Jets in the 2011 regular season was his three red zone touchdown grabs in the 27-21 victory over the Chargers, making him the 17th player and 14th WR in franchise history to come down with at least three TD catches in a game.
In fact, the 6’5″, 232-pound target and his connection with QB Mark Sanchez were arguably the main reasons the Jets were the league’s No. 1 red zone offense with their 65.5 percent touchdown drive percentage. Burress’ numbers inside the opponents’ 20 were all team-leading stats: 13 receptions, 121 yards, 12 first downs and all eight of his touchdowns.
The last Jets pass-catcher to have a similar red zone impact was Wayne Chrebet, who had 12 catches for 124 yards and nine TDs in the zone in 2002.
Congratulations to Plax on opening up his wingspan, sticking out his big Velcro mitts and coming down with this honor.
DeGuglielmo’s Connecting Flights
Dave DeGuglielmo officially joined the Jets’ reforming coaching staff when head coach Rex Ryan this afternoon announced that he is the Jets’ new offensive line coach. But Dave D has too many Jets connections to have stayed away from the team for much longer.
For starters, he coached up Miami’s OL pretty well for the past three seasons as the Dolphins took four of six from the Jets in their AFC East series.
For the four seasons prior, he came to work in the same Sunday office as the Jets as he coached the Giants’ O-line from ’04-08.
For the five seasons before that, he learned his OL coachcraft at South Carolina under Lou Holtz, who, as all Jets fans of a certain age know, coached the Green & White for 13/14ths of the 1976 season.
And DeGuglielmo first emerged in the trench trade when he was named All-New England first-team guard/center for Boston University. His OL coach for his final three seasons at BU was none other than new Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano. Of course, you could say the Sparano connection was the most important of all, but all things considered it looks like a great fit for coach and team.
Tags: Comeback Player of the Year, Dave DeGuglielmo, Mark Sanchez, Plaxico Burress, Rex Ryan, The Sporting News, Tony Sparano, Wayne Chrebet
Posted in Randy Lange | 126 Comments »
Picture this. The Best Jets Action Photo of 2011 contest heads down the home stretch this week.
More than 1,500 votes were cast for photos in our contest “semifinals” last week and into this morning, with the idea of advancing the five most popular photos into this week’s finals.
We have made the transition from semis to finals just now and we can reveal the identity of the five most popular photos from the lens of team photographer Al Pereira. In chronological order they are:
5. “Mark Sanchez TD” with an unstoppable scoring stretch against Miami.
10. “Matt Slauson Spike” after his dramatic fumble recovery TD at Denver.
13. “Dustin Keller Jam” soaring up to the goalpost against Buffalo.
14. “Plaxico Burress Wingspan” on his big third-down catch, also vs. Buffalo.
18. “Plaxico Burress Stretch” on Plax’s picturesque grab at Philadelphia.
We thank all the fans who have already voted in the semifinals, and we encourage all of you to return here to cast your votes as many times as you like this week in the finals, particularly because of the Slauson factor. The Jets’ left guard rightly has a loyal and committed following that made his photo the leading vote-getter in the semifinals. Nothing wrong with that at all, but fans of the other players and photos in the finals will want to bring everything they can to the table and the ballot box to make sure their voices are heard.
Fans this week can vote for only one photo at a time as this year’s Best Jets Action Photo. The voting will conclude Friday at noon and we’ll unveil the winner shortly after. The photo will be featured in the Jets’ 2012 Yearbook out in the late summer before the start of the ’12 season — when Al P. and the rest of us here at newyorkjets.com will begin working at finding the best action photos for the 2012 season.
Tweeting Machine: 300 Grand
We also want to thank all the fans of the Green & White following us on Twitter. Sometime Sunday twitter.com/nyjets cleared 300,000 followers. That’s quite a number, considering we were at less than 100 followers less than three years ago. Now it’s onward to 400,000 this offseason.
Tags: Best Jets Action Photo, contest, Dustin Keller, Mark Sanchez, Matt Slauson, Plaxico Burress
Posted in Randy Lange | 82 Comments »
There are many ups and many downs to every NFL season, and many of those undulations by the Jets in their recently concluded season were captured mid-wave by our team photographer, Al Pereira, the lensman with the steadiest sea legs out there on the sidelines.
OK, enough with the ocean metaphor. We asked Al to riffle through the photographic Rolodex in his head and come up with, oh, the 22 best action photos from this season. Those photos are on the slideshow that is now live on the newyorkjets.com Fanzone section.
And now we turn it over to you, the most visually discerning fans in the game, and ask you to help us select the Best Jets Action Photo of ’11. And we’ve broken this contest into two parts for your enjoyment. Today we present the contest semifinals.
Those 22 photos, displayed in chronological order, can be viewed up close and personal by clicking on each shot in the slideshow. Take your time to savor each photo. Then vote. Alongside the photo display are five dropdown menus. In each menu, you can vote for one of the 22 semifinal frames. Vote for up to five of your favorite images, then click Submit.
We’ll end the semis, tabulate the results, and begin the finals all next Monday morning, when the five images that you’ve selected as the best of Al’s best will be shown alongside each other one more time. Then you’ll vote for your most favorite photo.
The voting in the finals will end Friday, Jan. 27, at noon ET, with the winning action photo unveiled shortly after.
And so we declare the Jets’ Best Action Photo of 2011 under way. Below is A.Pereira with some little background on his selection process and a skinny on each of his terrific 22. And send us a comment to the Radar on any or all of the photos here if you like. And now, here’s Al …
I’ve never found myself thinking in terms of Rod Stewart lyrics before. Honestly! But when my good friend and venerable Radar Ranger Randy Lange told me of the plans to put this “Best Jets Action Photo of ’11″ contest together, I immediately started hearing “Every Picture Tells a Story” ringing through my head. And you know, in a GOOD way. Rod the Mod was on to something, maybe.
Every picture does tell a story, and the following photos will hopefully speak to you of some of the high points of the season that just finished. These are some of my favorite action shots … we’ll assemble another gallery soon, to include shots like these and also some of the behind-the-scenes views, portraits and other little gems.
For now, I feel honored to present this collection, where you can tell me which you like the best. With a few thoughts for each photo, here is my Best Jets Action Photo of ’11 gallery. Hope you like it!
1. Revis INT Return — I like Darrelle’s eyes in this shot. He makes the pick in the opener against Dallas and becomes a running back … sweet!
2. Folk Game-Winner — Big moment from an emotional night, 9/11/11, and Nick Folk wins it vs. the Cowboys. Not sure who looks happier, but it may be Brunell.
3. Scott Sack — Bart smacking the ball loose on a sack against the Jaguars. Like that you can see where his right hand made the strip … and in a Titans uni to boot!
4. Sanchez Intensity — Love the look on Mark’s face at Oakland. I have a lot of these kinds of shots. He’s a real leader. That “C” looks good. And like the logo on his mouthguard.
5. Sanchez TD — When Mark gets close to the goal line, he’s a juggernaut. My favorite Sanchez TD this year, Superman coming in low vs. Miami …
6. Harris Crunch — I like David burying QBs, which he does quite often. This one resulted in another Revis INT.
7. Mangold Point — Nick is also a strong leader. You can see he’s all business here against the Chargers.
8. Wilson INT — This is a cool interception shot in the SD game. Those are tricky to get because, well, if they were easy to anticipate, QBs would go the other way! Kyle Wilson’s first of his career and you can see the intended receiver’s frustration behind this athletic pick.
9. Holmes TD — Speaking of athletic, Santonio makes plays all the time that almost make me stop shooting just to admire them. Almost. If I did I wouldn’t have been able to catch a great TD like this at Buffalo as he twists through three defenders. That’s “Tone Time” all over!
10. Slauson TD — Matt at Denver. A guard scoring and spiking?? Enough said!
11. ST Gang Tackle — Kickoff coverage swarms over Cassius Vaughn at Denver. Love these kinds of gang shots. You can see how special teams is a real group effort.
12. Pace Pressure — Calvin doesn’t get enough chatter from fans, in my opinion. Nice effort in harassing a QB that had a pretty good year.
13. Keller TD Jam — Dustin is really a great player, great dude, and an even better subject. Good air on the TD spike here at home against Buffalo.
14. Burress Wingspan — Big play by a big receiver in the big home game vs. the Bills. Plax makes it look easy.
15. Sanchez Windup — Good form and a strong look from No. 6 as he gets ready to fire at Washington.
16. Greene Tightrope — Beautiful effort by Shonn at the pylon vs. the Chiefs. High-flying Jet!
17. Pouha Sack — Sione really came on as a leader this year. And he is just eating KC’s Tyler Palko alive!
18. Burress Stretch — One more from Plax, and the prettiest TD of the year, in my opinion — a one-hander at Philadelphia. We liked it so much you can pick the sequence up as Wallpaper if you’d like.
19. Harris Takedown — I like Eli Manning, I really do. Like him best when we’re knocking him around, though. Here David Harris, with assist from Bart Scott, jar the ball loose, but Eli was ruled down by contact. Hmmm…
20. Wilkerson Sack — My favorite sack of the year, from the rookie DE. Eli does NOT look happy here!
21. Keller Reach — Another day, another play for Dustin. He takes it to another level in the red zone at Miami.
22. Cromartie INT — Was happy to capture this one. A real battle for the ball the Dolphins’ Brian Hartline — and a fine pick as the Cro flies!
Tags: Al Pereira, Best Jets Action Photo of '11, Darrelle Revis, David Harris, Dustin Keller, Mark Sanchez, Plaxico Burress, Shonn Greene
Posted in Al Pereira, Randy Lange | 153 Comments »
The wait is almost over for New Yorkers, the Jets, the Giants and Plaxico Burress. Saturday’s Christmas Eve spectacular is just hours away and Burress is ready to soar.
“I’m playing against my old team. It just couldn’t be a better setting,” he told newyorkjets.com in an interview that will air on our Website early this afternoon. “This is what New York City’s all about. The fans are going to be excited, we’re going to be excited. And me myself — I’m going to be amped up, ready to go. I just can’t wait for Saturday to get here.”
Burress, who has been a red-zone sensation with seven of his eight TDs coming inside the opponents’ 20, wants to put points on the board. After his two-plus seasons out of pro football, the magnitude of this contest is something he relishes.
“I would think they’re going to try to keep me out of the end zone. I’m trying my hardest to get in there once or twice or maybe even three,” he said. “I’m going to be excited, I’m going to play my tail off. Those guys know when I play in games like this, I just look to go to another level.”
The last time these teams played was at the old Meadowlands and the Jets didn’t have an answer for the 6’5”, 232-pound Burress. Donning the blue on Oct. 7, 2007, Burress caught five balls for 124 yards, including the game-winning 53-yard TD in the 35-24 win for New York’s NFC representative.
That game was a couple of months prior to the Giants’ title run as Burress torched the Packers in the NFC Championship Game (11-154) and then tacked on the game-winner against the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
A lot has changed since, but Burress remains familiar with many Giants coaches and players.
“I think they’re going to have some different wrinkles for us defensively. I don’t think they’re going to just sit back there and give us vanilla coverages,” he said. “You always have to prepare for different wrinkles and we just have to make adjustments on the fly.
“One thing about a Giants team is they’re always going to be coached well under Coach Coughlin. It’s going to be a physical football game and I’ll say that the team that makes the least mistakes is going to win the game.”
If Burress does reach the end zone, he doesn’t have anything planned out of the ordinary. The 34-year-old is more concerned with helping his team win more than anything else.
“It’s going to be nothing crazy. It’s going to be me just doing what I do, just taking a bow,” he said. “I just want to go out and have an impact. If it’s me drawing double coverage and allowing Santonio or Dustin to catch one, two or three touchdowns, then it’s all the same. I just want to go in there, have an impact and play at a high level and win the game.”
Most people expect a close affair between New York’s two teams and Burress wouldn’t be surprised if it was decided in the fourth quarter.
“It’s going to be a tough game because it is what it is. The loser of this game doesn’t go to the playoffs and they haven’t been to the playoffs in the last two years,” he said. “Nobody wants to sit home and watch football in January — I know that I don’t. It’s going to be physical. Everyone is going to be playing hard until the clocks says triple zeroes. It’s going be one of those games you remember for the rest of your life.”
This will be a weekend to remember for Burress. He’ll play in a meaningful football game on Saturday, and then he’ll be surrounded at home this Christmas with his wife, Tiffany, son, Elijah, and daughter, Giovanna.
“My wife and I were just talking about the other day just where we were 12 months ago outside of football, pertaining to life in general,” he said. “Being home with my kids and my wife for the first time in two years and celebrating Christmas — Christmas morning is definitely going to be emotional, a real heartfelt day for myself. These are the things that you look forward to, being able to have that quiet time with your family and spending holidays with them. These times are precious in life.”
Burress had this to say about the Jets’ “Thursday Night Ice Cream Socials,” as revealed by head coach Rex Ryan earlier in the week.
“Rocky Road baby, I got to have my rocky road,” Plax said with a huge laugh. “Don’t slight me on the marshmallows, either.
“It’s just a good time for us to kick back and go over some of the coverages and different looks that teams are giving us and our own plan. It’s a good time for us to sit down and have that relationship off of the football field, go to the classroom and assess what the defenses are doing to take away some of the things we like to do. For the past few weeks, it’s coming. You can see us progressing in the passing game.”
Jets TV Before, After the Game
If you’re in the New York TV market, you can catch Jets programming before and after the game’s telecast on Fox. Before kickoff, watch Jets Flight Plan presented by JetBlue on WCBS Channel 2 at 11:30 a.m. ET. Featured is head coach Rex Ryan’s Jets-Giants game preview.
Then in the wee hours after the game, catch Jets Huddle presented by Chevyoffers.com at 12:30 a.m. on CBS 2. Host Sione Pouha sits down with Plaxico Burress while Brandon Moore delivers some holiday joy to the kids of the Newark Boys and Girls Club. Then to top off the show in the early hours of Christmas morning, warm up down on the beaches of Aruba for the making of the 2012 Flight Crew Calendar. Check CBS’ listings for any late updates here.
Hall of a Game
The Jets-Giants game has attracted, among others, the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Hall features a Throwback Game of the Week on its Website and this week’s featured game is the Green & Whtie vs. Big Blue. You’ll find the HOF’s presentation here.
Tags: Dustin Keller, New York Giants, Plaxico Burress, Rex Ryan, Santonio Holmes
Posted in Eric Allen | 13 Comments »
As Saturday quickly approaches, the Jets are looking forward to their Week 16 matinee. The bitter taste that remains from the crushing loss to the Eagles in Philadelphia will soon have a chance to be eliminated.
“The beauty of it is we get a chance to put it behind us quick,” said LB Calvin Pace. “This was the perfect week. It was a short week, we didn’t have to travel, everything lined up for us.”
Sunday’s performance was so disappointing, Pace said the team was not subjected to watching any video from Philadelphia. Some chose to watch it on their own time, but Pace had no need to relive the nightmare.
“We just have to keep moving,” said Pace. “It wasn’t anything I want to remember.”
All that concerns the Green & White right now is Big Blue. Come Saturday evening, one team’s season will be on life support. Combine the gravity of the game with the natural rivalry that accompanies two teams who share home digs, and you have the recipe for a unique day.
“It’s funny, this game here. You’ve got two home teams. When do you ever see that?” Pace said. “We just have to come out fast and throw their offense off their rhythm from the start.”
The Giants offense doesn’t shy away from its reputation as a vertical passing team. Their approach may fly in the face of those of past Giants teams, but they’re second in the NFL in yards per completion at 13.38, which is only 0.19 yards behind the Green Bay Packers.
Conversely, the Jets allow 12.52 yards per completion, 24th in the league.
“Watching them on film, you can tell when they start clicking, moving the ball, getting big chunk plays,” said Pace. “Typically, if you look at our season, that’s how we’ve been gashed, with big plays down the field. Darrelle [Revis] and those guys have to be on point, and up front we have to be good, too. It’s going to take all 11.”
Pace knows the threat QB Eli Manning and the Giants offense bring, but also knows his team is ready for the challenge.
“We just have to make him uncomfortable,” said Pace. “He’s just like his brother. If you let him sit back there clean, he’s the greatest ever. We’ll get him to move around a little bit and get some hands in his face.”
LB David Harris did not practice today due to a non-injury-related matter. Reports are that Harris is expected to become a father any day now. Head coach Rex Ryan said, “Yes, he’ll definitely play” on Saturday.
WR Santonio Holmes (hip) was added to the Jets’ list of limited players, now at five. DT Mike DeVito (knee) are S Eric Smith (knee) are expected to play, RB-KR Joe McKnight (elbow/shoulder) is “maybe a game-timer,” and CB Marquice Cole (knee) is “probably not looking that good” to play vs. the Giants.
Both ill Jets WRs, Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Kerley, were back out on the field and full-go during team drills.
For the Giants, their 11-man injury list has the same names, but one player went from limited in Wednesday’s practice to DNP today — RB Ahmad Bradshaw. The Giants’ five other DNPs: TE Jake Ballard, LB Mark Herzlich, WR Mario Manningham, DE Osi Umenyiora and RB D.J. Ware.
Tags: Ahmad Bradshaw, Calvin Pace, Darrelle Revis, David Harris, Eli Manning, Jeremy Kerley, New York Giants, Plaxico Burress
Posted in Andrew LeRay | 13 Comments »
Updated 4:40 p.m. ET
The Jets need us to go green in a big way once again.
Head coach Rex Ryan said he wasn’t challenging Jets fans but rather asking them politely to “Green It” when they select their gamewear for Saturday afternoon’s Jets-Giants collision at MetLife Stadium.
“I remember when we played Cincinnati in a similar situation where we had to win to get into the playoffs,” Ryan said at his daily news conference of the “Win And We’re In” 2009 regular-season finale. “Feeling the presence of our fans, I never thought anybody could beat us that day. I really felt that way and our team went out and played that way.
“And I think if we get that kind of energy out of our fans, it’s going to go a long way to helping us achieve what we want to do and that’s have a huge win on Saturday and keep our playoff hopes alive.”
That night of the 37-0 domination of the equally playoff-bound Bengals was a site and sound to behold, one of the most memorable home games in Jets fandom history.
There have been a few others before and after, of course. First-year NFL linebacker Garrett McIntyre remembered this year’s opening night game, the Sept. 11 anniversary game against the Cowboys.
“I go back to that game,” McIntyre said. “It was the first game of the season so everybody was hyped up for that and the fact it was 9/11. But for us to battle back and the fans were loud and passionate at the end, that was probably the best … but it was my first NFL game, too, so that might have something to do with that.”
Fullback John Conner seconded Mac’s nomination but added another favorite, the Monday night 24-6 win over the Dolphins on Oct. 17.
“I thought the fans did a great job that night. It was a big win for us on national TV,” Conner said. “We had a lot of fun as a team that night. Hopefully we’ll have a lot of people there supporting us and hopefully more fans will be in green than in blue.”
Certainly Giants fans are quite resourceful and will find a way to have representation at this Jets home game for a game that is nearly the same for their own playoff chances. And it is true that the Giants are playing this road game in their home stadium.
As Plaxico Burress, the former Giant and current Jet, noted this afternoon: “I’ve played in one and it’s just a fun game. The New York Jets vs. the New York Giants and it’s a 50-50 kind of crowd and when something good happens, somebody is always cheering. This is an exciting game for the city and definitely for the organization. It’s basically, whoever wins this game wins those bragging rights for the next four years or so. So I’m going to just go out and get this victory in JetLife Stadium.”
But Rex and the Jets are hoping that the first Jets-Giants game at a Green & White home stadium not bearing the name of Big Blue on the outside will help turn this very important trick for their now two-game regular season.
“This is our stadium. I’m sure they feel the same thing,” Rex said. “But the way the stadium is, you’ve got our colors, our fans and everything else. This year we’re 6-1 at home and we’re trying to go 7-1. I think that will tell you that this is our stadium and obviously it’s been a big help for us this year.”
The Jets had 12 players on their first official injury report of the week, topped by rookie WR Jeremy Kerley, who was sent home for a second day with an unspecified illness and did not practice. Another WR with an illness was Burress, who was limited.
Other limited Jets included DT Mike DeVito (knee), G Brandon Moore (hip), S Eric Smith (knee), RB-KR Joe McKnight (elbow/shoulder) and CB Marquice Cole (knee). Among the full-gos was QB Mark Sanchez (neck).
Kerley and McKnight, of course, are two of the Jets’ primary returners, but Ryan was optimistic about Kerley and hopeful about McKnight.
“We feel great about having Cro [Antonio Cromartie] back there as the kick returner if McKnight can’t go,” Ryan said. “Jeremy, when I talked to the trainers, they feel like he’s going to be fine for the game. Even if he’s sick, let’s go, we’ll worry about that later.”
On McKnight, “That one I think’s going to be a gametime deal. He looked OK out there today. I think he’s getting better. But I’m not ready to say he’s going to play.”
Conspicuous by their absences on the list: C Nick Mangold had spend 12 consecutive game weeks on the I-list with his high ankle sprain suffered in Game 2 vs. the Jaguars, while LB Calvin Pace had been reported for seven straight games with a groin injury.
The “Twelve Days of Christmas” injury news from the Giants is that three tight ends, two running backs and one Umenyiora are among the 11 listed players. Among the TEs, Jake Ballard (knee) did not practice in team drills today while Travis Beckum (chest) and Bear Pascoe (ribs) were limited. The two backs are D.J. Ware (knee, DNP) and Ahmad Bradshaw (foot, limited).
Among the other DNPs were DE Osi Umenyiora (ankle/knee), WR Mario Manningham (knee) and LB Mark Herzlich (ankle). Other limited players were C David Baas (neck), S Derrick Martin (back) and WR Devin Thomas (neck).
Tags: Garrett McIntyre, Jeremy Kerley, John Conner, New York Giants, Osi Umenyiora, Plaxico Burress, Rex Ryan
Posted in Randy Lange, Uncategorized | 29 Comments »
CBS analyst Bill Cowher visited a pair of his former receivers this week here at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Cowher, who was the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1992-2006, sat down with both Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes for a feature that will run Sunday on The NFL Today.
The Steelers selected Burress with the No. 8 overall choice in the 2000 draft. He played five years under Cowher, hauling in 261 receptions for 4,164 yards and 22 touchdowns. And now after two years out of football, Burress is writing quite a comeback story with the Jets.
“I think it’s remarkable. It speaks volumes about him and his determination,” Cowher told newyorkjets.com. “I think it’s great when people have a second chance to have an opportunity to do something with it. Plaxico has done that. It’s kind of neat to see him reunited with Santonio. With Dustin [Keller], they have three really quality people at the skill positions. It’s just a good story. I’d like to see him finish the season and finish it strong.”
Burress is averaging a healthy 14.1 yards a reception and his seven TDs pace the Jets. Many people had thought the 34-year-old pro would never be the same on the field after serving 20 months in prison on a weapons charge.
“I’m proud of him and happy for him. I’m happy that he had a chance to redeem himself and get a second chance,” Cowher said. “And he looks good — he looks like the guy, when you throw the ball that you think it’s going out of bounds on third-and-11, he looks like the guy that puts his big old arm span up and catches it. He’s a great target for a quarterback — trust me. He’s a quarterback’s best friend when you look at a target like that.”
Last Sunday, Bills WR Stevie Johnson attempted to poke fun at Burress with his touchdown dance. The latter provided answers on the field with a TD catch of his own and a critical third-down pickup on the winning drive, then acted like a true professional with his postgame comments.
“Nothing was more indicative than last week,” said Cowher. “You get the guy mocking him and the guy in the past may have had more of a redemption-type response, but his was genuine and sincere. It’s just about winning games. I think he’s become not just a better player and teammate but I think he’s become a better person, and that’s also been evident. It’s unfortunate what he went through but sometimes these things in life happen and they happen for the good.“
Holmes, who became the first Steelers receiver selected in the first round since Burress, was the 25th pick of the ’06 draft. Now known for his game-changing plays in Tone Time, it was Holmes who actually capped off his rookie year with a 67-yard OT winner against the Bengals in Cowher’s final game as coach.
“He’s very deceptive, a great route runner and he can run after the catch,” Cowher said. “You saw that at Ohio State and you saw a little bit of that in his first year. Right now he’s developed into a guy who can play big in big games. These two receivers you have have made Super Bowl game-winning catches, so they know what the pressure is like. Pressure is nothing new for these guys.”
Tags: Bill Cowher, Dustin Keller, PIttsburgh Steelers, Plaxico Burress, Santonio Holmes
Posted in Eric Allen | 28 Comments »
Updated, 5:54 p.m. ET
In the knee joint, the Jets took one step back and two steps ahead today.
DT Mike DeVito did not practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, and head coach Rex Ryan’s prognosis remained the same for MDV as it was Monday: “It doesn’t look good for him this week.”
But RB LaDainian Tomlinson and WR Jeremy Kerley, who both came out of Game 9 vs. New England with knee issues that kept them sidelined the next two games, are looking better for a return to action Sunday at Washington.
“I think LT and Kerley looked really, really good to me out there,” Ryan said at his daily news conference. “They looked fresh and ready to roll. That’s a good sign.”
It would be hard statistically to show what the absence of these two players, one venerable veteran, one promising rookie, did to the Jets’ offensive attack. In the last two games the Jets have averaged 110.5 rushing yards compared to a 119.8 figure for the previous five, but that might be attributed partly to Shonn Greene’s sore ribcage. Total-yardage-wise, the average of the first nine games (314.1) is almost identical to the average of the last two (318.0).
But that wouldn’t tell the whole story. Kerley added an element of excitement as the slot receiver and as the improving punt returner. Tomlinson’s pregame fire and in-game contributions are considerable. Perhaps the best thing to be said is that with Patrick Turner emerging in the passing game and Joe McKnight getting more reps behind Greene for LT, if those two return to the lineup it can only help Mark Sanchez and the offense.
“To have Kerley back would be awesome this week. He’s working hard, he got reps in practice today and stuff so it’s looking good, but we’ll see,” Sanchez said in front of his locker. “Same thing with LT. He just provides us one other great perspective, somebody who has been in positions like this, somebody who knows what crunch-time games are like and somebody that has great hands out of the backfield and can run the rock. So it’s big for us.”
And if the Jets can get all hands on deck Sunday at FedEx Field, that will help them in their quest to keep winning these one-game seasons in front of them from now through the end of the regular season.
Plax, Stevie and the Red Zone
WR Plaxico Burress continued to take the high road regarding Bills WR Stevie Johnson, who Associated Press reports was fined $10,000 by the NFL for his post-TD celebration that included him “shooting” himself in the thigh, a reference to Burress’ gun-violation issues of the previous two years.
“I don’t have a problem with Stevie at all,” Burress said. “He’s a very charismatic guy with his celebrations and he’s just trying to have fun. I think he’ll continue to grow as a person.”
Burress continues to pose a threat for anyone trying to cover him in the red zone. With his 14-yard second-quarter scoring catch from Sanchez vs. the Bills, Plax now has six catches inside the opponents’ 20, which is tied in the NFL for the most among wideouts this season with Detroit’s Calvin Johnson and New England’s Wes Welker.
Which segues nicely into this note: The Jets have risen to second in the NFL in the red zone benchmark measure of TD percentage. All four touchdowns Sunday vs. the Bills were RZ scores, giving the Jets 23 TDs in 35 forays inside the opponents’ 20, a 65.7 percent rate that trails only Tennessee (17-for-24, 70.8).
The Redskins have 11 players on their initial injury report of the week. Four starters did not practice — LB London Fletcher (ankle), S LaRon Landry (groin), DE Stephen Bowen (knee) and FB Darrel Young (head). Three more were limited during team drills, including two starters — LB Brian Orakpo (ankle) and RT Jammal Brown (hip). Among the four full-go ‘Skins was QB Rex Grossman (left shoulder).
Chester McGlockton Dead at 42
A sad note today: Chester McGlockton, 42, the four-time Pro Bowl D-lineman who spent the last season of his 12-year playing career with the Jets in 2003, has died, according to the Fayetteville Observer’s Web site.
McGlockton, in his second season as a defensive assistant at Stanford, was reported to have awoken at his home in San Ramon, Calif., this morning experiencing shortness of breath and then an apparent heart attack.
Tags: Jeremy Kerley, LaDainian Tomlinson, Mike DeVito, Plaxico Burress, Rex Ryan, Stevie Johnson, Washington Redskins
Posted in Randy Lange | 42 Comments »
Fourth-quarter magic from the passing game is nothing new for Mark Sanchez and company. And with their season hanging in the balance, Sanchez led the Jets on an absolutely critical 12-play drive that culminated on his 16-yard gamewinner to Santonio Holmes with 1:01 remaining as the Jets moved to 6-5 with a 28-24 triumph over the Bills.
It was the eighth time in the third-year QB’s career that he has led the Green & White to victory after facing a fourth-quarter deficit.
“They collapsed the defense and just left a wide-open hole to the right, so I started running and I was ready to throw it away or get a couple of yards and get out of bounds and save some time,” Sanchez said. “Coach Cavanaugh just reminds us to remain a passer and keep your eyes up. Tone freed up, gave me his hand and let me know where he was going and that was it.”
Holmes has a flair for the dramatic himself, having already caught five game-winning TDs in the final minute throughout his six-year career. But this was a team win and nobody will soon forget Plaxico Burress’ one-handed 18-yard stab of Sanchez’s blitz-beater on a third-and-8 following the two-minute warning.
“I didn’t think he was going to throw it, but he did,” Burress said. “It goes back to practice, him having confidence in myself and Santonio to go out and make plays when we need to. We came up big. He hung in there when times were tough and that’s what it’s all about.”
“It was a big-time catch in a crucial situation and it really gave us a chance to take the lead there,” Sanchez added. “If that doesn’t happen, we have a long field goal ahead of us, so it made it a lot easier on our kick team and gave us an extra chance to win.”
Those two plays were made possible only because of Patrick Turner. With 2:44 remaining and the Jets facing a third-and-8, Sanchez went to his former Southern Cal teammate for 12.
“He’s stepped up in a major way,” said TE Dustin Keller. “Half the people in this locker room probably didn’t even know that he was really in the rotation, that he was a big receiver for us. But when it comes to playing all the different positions and knowing the offense inside and out, he’s like our No. 1 receiver. He knows every single position, and to this point I would definitely give him the most improved player. He’s played his butt off.”
Sanchez’s four TD passes were a career high and Keller (4-61) was on the receiving end of Nos. 1 and 3. DK evened the score at 7-7 on a 3-yard scoring play and then gave the Jets their first lead on a 18-yarder from Sanchez late in the third.
“We had basically a 10-yard in-route and Mark read it and put it between the linebackers,” Keller said of the connection that gave the Jets a 21-14 lead. “I just had to make a little move for the safety to miss and get in the end zone. Once I secured the ball, I definitely was going to get in. I wasn’t going to let anything stop me.”
The Jets walked the tightrope today because of two costly turnovers that resulted in 14 points for the visitors. Drayton Florence picked Sanchez in the second quarter and Antonio Cromartie muffed a punt in the third, leading to Stevie Johnson’s 8-yard scoring reception and Brad Smith’s 36-yarder respectively.
“I think we made it tougher on ourselves. Credit to them for taking advantage of the turnovers we gave them, but there was some miscues and poor execution on our part on offense,” Sanchez said. “We’ll fix those and we have to do better at that to win these games so we’re not in that position at the end where we have to grind it out.”
With 5:44 left and the Bills up, 24-21, Sanchez went to work at his 18. The Jets started out on the ground with Shonn Greene and got 14 yards in addition to 5 for a Bills illegal-use-of-hands penalty. Then No. 6 took over and got Burress for 14 more yards as the home club crossed midfield.
“You never see any nerves or any jitters,” Keller said of Sanchez. “Even if he’s hurting, you don’t see anything on his face. He’s completely poised and calm.”
“He’s done it in the past, so it’s not like it’s anything new,” Greene said. “We have faith and confidence in him, and he went out and did what he had to do.”
The Jets, who were supremely efficient in the red zone with four TDs on their four possessions, got the final score on a second-and-8 from the Bills 16. After losing a few first-team reps to Mark Brunell during the week of practice, Sanchez’s final response came on the move.
Keller said Tone was running an in-route, “so the defensive back was running with him and he slammed on the breaks and took it back to the corner. Mark put it right where it needed to be, he got his feet inbounds, and we took the lead.”
We’ve seen it before. The Comeback Kids rose up once more and they remain alive in the muddled AFC playoff race.
Tags: Buffalo Bills, Mark Sanchez, Patrick Turner, Plaxico Burress, Santonio Holmes, Shonn Greene
Posted in Eric Allen | 84 Comments »