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New Look for Depth Chart, Radar Comments

Posted by Randy Lange on August 5, 2013 – 7:01 pm

To all Radar commenters: I have one bit of news for you and one change of venue to alert you all to.

The news is that the Jets’ first official depth chart of the season is now live on newyorkjets.com. You can find it here. This is the depth chart for the Jets’ preseason opener at Detroit on Friday night.

Keep in mind that even though the depth chart is official, it is not a rigid document. Some players will play ahead of others that they’re listed behind. Some players will not appear at the positions they’re listed at. It’s all a work in progress.

But note the newsworthy listings. QB is officially a “slash” situation, Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith being listed as co-starters at this time. On defense, Quinton Coples is appearing as a starting OLB, and both first-round rookies are being listed as starters — Sheldon Richardson at DT, Dee Milliner at CB.

As for the change of venue, you may have noticed a downturn in blogs appearing in this WordPress platform recently. That is by design. We are migrating all Randy’s Radar blogs and comments from WordPress to our NFL platform. We are consolidating all blogs with all news stories with an eye toward making a consistent and common experience across our Website for all our fans and visitors.

The Radar commenting procedure will not change a lot but one thing will be required to submit comments and that is you must be a member of Facebook. Many of you here on the WordPress version of the Radar are Facebook members, some are not. If not, sign up for Facebook and you’ll still be able to leave your comments at the bottom of my blogs.

Over the next several days we will be phasing out the WordPress version of the Radar, which means that I’ll post your comments here for the next week but eventually comments sent to any WordPress blogs will not be posted. New comments will have to be submitted via Facebook under the blogs from this week forward.


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Coples Expanding into a Defensive Multi-Tool

Posted by Randy Lange on May 2, 2013 – 3:20 pm

Updated, 4:35 p.m. ET

“The plan” was hinted at by Rex Ryan a few months ago and has been referred to a few times since then.

And today, with the Jets veterans working out at the Atlantic Health Training Center during a Phase 2 practice of their offseason program and then meeting with reporters at midday, a little more of “the plan” was revealed in the locker room:

Q will be playing some OLB.

“Yeah, I definitely think it’s going to open up opportunities for me,” the always affable Quinton Coples said with a bigger smile than usual of rushing the quarterback from a standup position. “It’s going to help me get to the quarterback very efficiently.”

There are questions with “the plan,” of course. Coples thinks he’ll still play in the range of 280 to 285 pounds. While that’ll be a load for opposing tackles, tight ends and backs to handle, will it be too big a load for him to carry for 60 minutes a game? Will it take too long to get familiar with playing the run or playing in coverage from a two-point stance? Is Q permanently a ‘backer or will he be a hybrid?

All these things remain to play out and work on throughout the offseason, next month’s full-squad minicamp and Cortland training camp. But one thing Coples repeated today was that it didn’t seem to him that “the plan” was just hatched by the Jets this year.

“I think he had a plan for me, not knowing if he was going to draft me,” Coples recalled of the predraft workout that Ryan put him through at North Carolina’s pro day in 2012. “The workout he had for me at Carolina, I think he had a plan for me as far as playing outside linebacker from there. I think things worked out well. I fell down to 16, he picked me up, so it worked out perfect. Last year was a trial year to see how things went, and now we’ve got more depth on the defensive front, so it’ll be a perfect time.”

To be sure, Ryan and coordinator Dennis Thurman are not declaring a position change. Ryan has reminded that the Jets coach a multiple defense with multiple roles for many of the players in that unit, and Coples, with his versatility, flexibility and athleticism, is one of those players. Coples said today he will still be putting his hand in the dirt quite a bit, depending on the call.

But Ryan gave a greater hint of his thinking during his February remarks at this year’s combine.

“I see Quinton as a guy that can maybe be more of an edge presence than he was that first year,” Ryan said then, “but having him go through that, putting him over a guard, putting him over tackles, even over centers, I think it’s good because when you put him over tight ends, it’s a lot easier to knock those guys back and you have a lot of confidence when you face those double-teams. That was kind of what we did with him, but I’m expecting big things from him. Like I said, I think he’s just now scratching the surface.”

Coples had another way of talking about the implementation of “the plan.”

“Things,” he said, “are starting to develop.”

Hayden’s Continuing Higher Education

Hayden Smith made it through year one as a “cross-training” athlete, someone who wasn’t changing positions but whole sports. The tight end who hails from “Down Under” as well as “a Mile High” and “from Across the Pond” said he’s getting more comfy with the surroundings in this neck of the woods, even though in his second year in the NFL he’s already learning his second offense from new OC Marty Mornhinweg.

“I feel a lot more comfortable the second time around,” Smith said. “I don’t have to spend so much time on the details of the game itself, so at least all that’s kind of taken care of this time so I can just focus on the offense itself. There’s new things to learn there, but there’s a lot of common threads, and that’s just knowing football. So there’s a lot less on my plate from that standpoint.”

That was apparent to at least one interested observer this afternoon.

“Hayden looks sharp for a second-year football player,” QB Mark Sanchez said. “He looks awesome.”

Helping Smith with the transition is coach Steve Hagen, who comes to the Jets this year off of his four-year stint as Cleveland’s TEs coach. He’s in his ninth NFL campaign (the first eight came in two four-year hitches with the Browns) and spent two decades in the college coaching ranks besides.

” ‘Details make you dangerous’ — that’s one of his sayings,” Smith said. “He’s fantastic. The tight ends room is already littered with quotes from him. He’s a very intense guy with a great message and he’s delivering his message well.”

Familiar Voices, New Choir

Mike Westhoff, the Jets’ venerable special teams coach who just retired after last season, and Ray Lucas, the former Jets QB who’s been a mainstay of SNY’s Jets postgame shows for five years, have been added to ESPN New York 98.7 FM’s pregame show, joining host Don LaGreca and analyst and former Jets LB standout Greg Buttle.

“Our radio broadcast is an integral part of our fans’ game-day experience,” said Jets president Neil Glat. “We’re confident that adding two veterans, Ray Lucas and Coach Westhoff, to our already strong roster of on-air talent should enhance our fans’ knowledge and enjoyment of our games.”

Westhoff and Lucas will also make regular appearances on ESPN’s studio programming throughout the season, and Lucas will continue in his role with SNY.

Holt from Downtown … Colorado Springs

Speaking of a Rocky Mountain high (Smith played college hoops for Denver’s Metropolitan State) reminds me we want to wish a fantastic career to John Holt, who was our intern and reporter for most of the last year.

John had a great sports background and writing experience from North Carolina and Ole Miss, and he put that to good use from last year’s training camp all the way through doing the lion’s share of the work on our eight-part predraft position-by-position series. But John’s love is basketball and he’ll get the chance to pursue that goal with USA Basketball’s Web site. Hopefully, he and his dad have safely and successfully concluded their two-thirds-of-the-country drive from Newark to, yes, snowy Colorado Springs.

It wouldn’t surprise us to find a great rivalry spring up in the next few years between John and Nick Gallo, our previous intern/reporter who for the last two seasons has been working with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

All the best out West, Holty.


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Reexamining John Idzik’s Robust Tampa Roots

Posted by Randy Lange on April 2, 2013 – 3:13 pm

An interesting “backgrounder” involving Jets GM John Idzik was posted by Don Banks and Sports Illustrated late last week. It details the places of Idzik and others not in the “Tampa 2″ but in the “Tampa 7.”

“Idzik’s 20-year NFL career leaves him quite familiar with the experience and pressure of working for a franchise desperate for a turnaround,” Banks wrote. “He did, after all, get his start in the league as part of the remarkable collection of front office talent that Tampa Bay amassed in the mid-90s. …

“Incredibly, Idzik is the seventh member of those mid-90s Bucs to come to power in an NFL front office, tabbed to lead Woody Johnson’s Jets after 11-plus years spent in Tampa Bay’s front office, three more in Arizona, and the past six seasons in Seattle’s well-respected personnel operation.”

Besides Idzik, the other six members of the Tampa 7:

■ Current Falcons president/CEO Rich McKay, the former Buccaneers GM from 1993-2003 who hired Tony Dungy as head coach in 1996, starting the process toward the Super Bowl XXXVII title.

■ Jerry Angelo, the longtime Bucs director of player personnel (1987-2000) whose 11-year stint as the Bears’ GM was highlighted by their 2006 Super Bowl run.

■ Current Titans scout Tim Ruskell, who spent 17 years in the Bucs front office and was Seattle’s GM during its lone Super Bowl season of 2005.

■ Mark Dominik, entering his fifth season as the Buccaneers’ GM and a member of the Bucs front office since 1995.

■ Current Tennessee EVP/GM Ruston Webster, now in his fourth season with the Titans after spending four years in Seattle’s front office and 18 years in a variety of roles with Tampa Bay’s (1988-2005).

■ Current Lions GM Martin Mayhew, a starting cornerback for the 1995-96 Bucs, the final two seasons of his eight-year NFL playing career.

It’s a good read as always by Banks, although he clearly didn’t get a hold of Idzik, who remains publicly quiet while privately working hard at retooling the Jets for 2013 and beyond. But back when the I-Man was first hired, he had this to say about his Buccaneer years and what all of his NFL stops have meant in getting him to this point in his career:

“Rich McKay, Jerry Angelo, Tim Ruskell, Ruston Webster — we went on quite a journey in Tampa. We saw it from the bottom to the top. It was very special. To me, all of those experiences have solidified the power of ‘we’ over ‘me.’ That’s something that is going to be very strong here in New York. As it goes there, it goes here in New York, too. It will be based on a collaborative effort. It will be inclusive, it will be well-thought-out and researched.”

There’s a long way still to go before Idzik’s first Green & White team takes the field, but so far, so good.

Antwan’s New Number

We’ll preview new Jets LB Antwan Barnes’ interview with Eric Allen and the Jets Talk Live Crew on Wednesday — EA’s chat with AB will air Thursday on JTL — but for now we can say Barnes has settled on uniform No. 95 with his newest NFL outfit.

“There were a couple of options open, but I’m going to stick with a 90s number,” said Barnes. “I may not be the size for a 90s number, but I can sure play like it, though.”

We didn’t think there was a linebacker size requirement for the 90s as opposed to the 50s, and Barnes looks, if not immense, big enough at 6’1″, 251. He started out at No. 50 with the Ravens (assistant coaches: Rex Ryan and Dennis Thurman) in ’07, but Garrett McIntyre’s got that one here, and he wore 98 with the Chargers (plus two games as an Eagle), but that’s Quinton Coples’ deal here.

The last Jet to wear 95 on the field was NT Martin Tevaseu in last year’s preseason finale at Philadelphia. Now it’s Barnes’ turn.

So Long to an NFL Legend

A head coach that Idzik’s father, John, ran into back when he was offensive coordinator of the Jets in the late Seventies has passed away. Jack Pardee, 76, died Monday of gall bladder cancer.

Pardee was a legend in the game, from his time as one of Bear Bryant’s “Junction Boys” at Texas A&M in the mid-Fifties through 15 seasons as a solid, one-time Pro Bowl linebacker for the Rams and Redskins through 11 seasons as an NFL head coach of the Bears, ‘Skins and Oilers.

The Jets didn’t run into Pardee much as a player, since they didn’t start to play NFL teams until the end of his career. He was the LLB starter and team captain for the Rams in a 31-20 Jets win in L.A. in 1970, and the starter again on the left side for Washington in a 35-17 Jets loss at Shea Stadium in ’72.

They fared worse against him as a coach, losing four of five meetings with his teams. The first was in ’78, when Pardee’s ‘Skins whipped the Jets of Walt Michaels and OC Idzik Sr., 23-3. The only Green & White win came in Bruce Coslet’s first year at the helm, at Houston by 17-12 in 1990. But the Jets paid for that by losing twice the next season to Pardee’s Oilers, 23-20 at home in the regular season and 17-10 in the Astrodome in the ’91 playoffs.

Wherever the game took him, it always seemed to bring him back to the Lone Star State. He coached the “run-and-shoot” offense with the USFL’s Houston Gamblers, then the University of Houston, then the Oilers before ending his NFL coaching career in ’94.

“We lost a great coach and, more importantly, a great man today,” Mike Munchak, current Titans head coach and a player and assistant coach for Pardee, said in a statement. “I truly admired his passion for football and was especially inspired by his love of the history of the game. He often shared stories of his NFL playing days to motivate his players, which has greatly influenced the way that I now coach my players. Coach Pardee will surely be missed.”


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Wilkerson, Coples Put the Licks on Jags’ Henne

Posted by Randy Lange on December 10, 2012 – 4:20 pm

Not surprisingly, Jets head coach Rex Ryan liked the combination of rushing offense and mostly stifling defense that got the Jets past the Jaguars on Sunday. In particular, he enjoyed the play of a few of his young guns on the front line of that defense.

“Muhammad Wilkerson, I promise you he’s getting the Pro Bowl vote from Jacksonville,” Ryan said at his midday news conference today. “It was a dominant performance from Mo. For an interior lineman, he’s just doing an incredible job. Statistically, he had the one sack, but he beat his guy over and over. Backs were having to pick him up — that’s rare when you have interior linemen getting attention from the backs. Usually that’s for the outside edge rushers. It just shows you what teams are thinking of this guy.”

And top draft pick Quinton Coples came on in the second half with one of his most impressive showings as a Jet.

“Obviously, Quinton’s athleticism jumps out at you. We always say he’s country-strong, and he is,” Ryan said. “What we’re starting to do now with him is mixing him up as an inside player, then an outside player. He missed a sack when he went over the top of [Chad] Henne, but he got one sack and he affected three more throws, including that last one at the end of the game. It looked like he was eating that tackle up pretty good over there.”

“I think the pass rush has been incredible,” said DT Mike DeVito of the Jets’ Sunday pressure that produced an unofficial total of 10 QB hits, the most this season. “It’s something we’ve been working on since day one, and to see Mo and Q doing that for us, that’s great. You can do so many more things when you can rush the quarterback.”

The only black mark on Wilkerson’s game actually was incorrectly graded. Referee Al Riveron called No. 96 for a 15-yard facemask penalty on a Henne third-down scramble on the Jags’ TD drive, but replays showed it was No. 98, Coples, who got his finger hooked in Henne’s mask on the play.

Still, that was the Jets’ only penalty of the game, another aspect of the win that pleased Ryan. The Jets are now third in the NFL in fewest penalties and fourth in yards, and they lead the league in both penalty categories since the bye week.

With the push up front and the creative backside play led by Antonio Cromartie and a cast that yesterday included Ellis Lankster, Darrin Walls and Antonio Allen, the Jets rankings continue to rise. If their eighth overall defensive-yardage ranking and their No. 3 against the pass hold through tonight’s Houston-New England game, it will be their highest weekly rankings of the season.

The third quarter’s been the charm for the Jets D the past two games. The Cardinals gained 6 yards in their third quarter and the Jaguars had the same on Sunday. These totals were the best third-quarter showing by the Green & White defense since they allowed the Dolphins 5 yards in their 2007 win at Miami. And they’re the lowest yardage total in any quarter since the ‘Fins had 3 yards in the fourth quarter of their Meadowlands win over the Jets in 2010.

Walking Wounded

WR Stephen Hill has an LCL knee sprain and LB Bryan Thomas has a pectoral muscle strain. The Jets are listing both as day-to-day. As for TE Dustin Keller (ankle), who stayed home from the Jags game, Ryan said, “I thought he was getting better as the week went on, but not to the point where he could play. Adding another day this week [for the Monday night game] , hopefully that’ll get him back on the field.”

This week’s first injury reports from the Jets and Titans won’t be issued until Thursday.

Bucking the Trend

The Jets on Sunday at Jacksonville did something they had never accomplished in franchise history and that no NFL team had achieved in the 19 previous seasons. They went scoreless in the first halves of back-to-back victories.

This is one of those glass-half-full-glass-half empty deals, akin to winning six fourth-quarter comebacks in a season. It’s definitely a good thing that the Jets beat both the Cardinals and the Jaguars despite zero first-half points, but it’s not something they want to make a habit of, such as trying for three in a row next Monday night at Tennessee.

On 10 previous occasions, the Jets went scoreless in back-to-back games. Only once did they win even one of the two games, in 1971 when they won at Miami, 14-10, before losing at New England, 20-0. (The Jets actually went scoreless for the first three quarters in both those games.) The other nine times they were 0-2.

But the Jets aren’t alone in struggling through two games of not being able to put point one on the board in the first 30 minutes. The last NFL team to do it was New Orleans in 1992. From 1993 through 2011, there were 79 occasions when teams went scoreless in the first half of consecutive games. None of them won both. Less than a third won one of the two games.

Another interesting note is that after 19 years of none of these occasions, the NFL has two teams who have qualified for the distinction this season, and in fact did it the last two weeks. The Jets have been joined by the Rams, who beat the 49ers in overtime, 16-13, last week and took out the Bills, 15-12, on Sunday.

“Inside the Jets”

Radio play-by-play voice of the Jets Bob Wischusen hosts tonight’s “Inside the Jets” show at the Grasshopper in Morristown, N.J. The show begins at  7 p.m. tonight and will be aired live on ESPN New York 98.7 FM. Bob’s guests are WR Chaz Schilens, QB Greg McElroy and assistant GM Scott Cohen.


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Hill, Coples, Davis Tackle the Rookie Wall

Posted by Randy Lange on November 28, 2012 – 6:44 pm

In large part, how the Jets finish this season will depend on how their top first-year players finish this season.

Which brings us to our annual “rookie wall” story. The Jets’ top three picks in the April draft all say the wall is a non-issue for them. The two guys on defense, top pick Quinton Coples and third-rounder Demario Davis, say they’re not expecting to hit the wall.

And second-round WR Stephen Hill says he’s already busted through it.

“I’m not going to be the rookie to say no, because I did hit it. And I learned a lot from that time,” Hill said today after the Jets’ first big practice of the week for Sunday’s home game against the Cardinals. “I felt it a little bit during training camp and definitely earlier in the season. It didn’t last as long as some of the guys I talked to said it would — they said it could go on for weeks. They also said it all depends on how you bounce back. It wasn’t even physical as much as it was basically mental.”

But now Hill feels he’s starting to hit his stride again, the stride we saw flashes of in the opener against Buffalo and for most of the game at New England last month. It’s time for his numbers — 38 targets, 16 receptions, 212 yards, 13.3 average, 2.2 YAC average, five drops, three touchdowns — to all take turns for the better.

And his timing is good, because as head coach Rex Ryan told reporters at today’s news conference at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center: “This is a big week for Stephen to step up, and I expect him to. I like the way he played last week. He was confident in that game. I saw that just by the way he was running his routes and everything. He’s to the point where he’s wanting the football. He needs to step up big.”

Nothing like a little pressure from the coach. But that’s cool with Hill.

“It’s definitely not pressure. It’s an opportunity to go out there and get the job done. I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “I feel comfortable, especially running routes, getting off certain jams, reading coverages. I’m definitely getting smarter with situations. I’m just making sure I come out there and do what I have to do.”

Coples has also had his moments. His sack total is still stuck on the two he had against Colts rookie Andrew Luck, although he missed a third in that game when he pressured Luck into an intentional grounding. But he’s still been contributing as he can, seeing almost 40 plays a game on defense and special teams, and he leads the Jets defenders with six tackles for loss and, if you throw in the zero-yard runs and receptions, 8.5 tackles for loss no gain.

“I’m good,” Coples said of in regard to the rookie wall. “I enjoy the game of football, which is a reason why I guess I haven’t hit it. I feel good, my body feels good. I think I’m doing well, getting better and learning what I need to know.”

This, too, is good news for the Jets because Ryan, although not singling out Coples as he did Hill, mentioned the need for more of one of “Q’s” specialties.

“We absolutely notice that we have to get to the quarterback better than we have,” Ryan said. “Here’s a team [in Arizona] with 30 sacks. What have we got, half of that? [Actually, 17] It’s a point of emphasis. I know we have the ability to rush the passer with this group of players. We just have to get it done.”

“That’s an opportunity for me to show what I was brought in to do and get after the quarterback,” Coples said. “I’m definitely excited about that and ready to get after it.”

The other Jets rookie who’s been logging lots of time is Davis. In fact, DD even added in a small way to the pass rush when he was chop-blocked by Stevan Ridley in the third quarter on his way to a potential third-quarter blitz-sack of Tom Brady in the Patriots end zone. Davis doesn’t get credit for a sack (there was none on the play), nor even the safety (it’s credited to the team due to the end zone penalty). But that’s fine by him.

“I was just doing my job, blitzing and going through the gap,” he said. “It was a good team play, but it was just one good play. You try to put a string of those plays together in a game.”

Davis is working hard at that goal as well. He’s been on the field quite a lot lately, in part due to Bart Scott’s toe but also because he’s the future of this D and there’s no time like the present to get some experience. In the last five games, in fact, Davis has been in on 344 plays on defense and special teams, which is the 10th-most on the team in that span and the sixth-most on defense.

And Demario, too, hasn’t felt the RW topple onto him yet.

“I haven’t really felt the rookie wall,” he said. “I’ve heard about it, but it’s not a factor right now. I still feel we’re in the season, five games to go, so I just focus on one game at a time. And I took precautions early on to make sure my body feels good and that mentally I can handle the load.

“You always want to be ready when your number gets called. I always try to go a little harder on scout team during the week against the ones, as much as I can, so that I can make practice harder than the games.”

How well the Jets finish is not just on these three rookies’ shoulder pads, but how they fare will have much to say about the final story of 2012 and for some seasons ahead. For that reason, as Hill said:

“I just want to finish this season hard, as hard as I can.”

Injury Picture

Two of the Jets’ 18 players listed with injuries sat out today’s practice in the fieldhouse: WR Clyde Gates (concussion) and CB Aaron Berry (quad). Five others were limited: QB Tim Tebow (ribs), WRs Jeremy Kerley (heel/hamstring/illness) and Chaz Schilens (concussion/hip), DT Sione Po‘uha (back) and LB Bart Scott (toe). View the Jets’ full injury report here.

“I don’t want to get into specific things,” Ryan said of Tebow’s status for the Cards. “Let’s see how he progresses during the week. We’ll probably have a better, clear-cut picture as the week goes on. Right now we’re going to limit him in practice and we’ll see how he goes during the week.”

The Cardinals listed 10 players today. WR Andre Roberts (ankle) didn’t participate in team drills. Seven were limited: S Justin Bethel (shoulder), WR Laron Byrd (head), DE Calais Campbell (calf), WR Early Doucet (ribs), QB Kevin Kolb ribs), RB William Powell (shoulder) and RB Chris “Beanie” Wells (knee). S Kerry Rhodes (back) was full-go, as was LS Mike Leach (back).


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Rams Win? ‘Past That Now, On to the Pats’

Posted by Randy Lange on November 19, 2012 – 7:43 pm

Rex Ryan and the Jets did in fact enjoy their two-hour plane ride back from St. Louis to Newark on Sunday night, as he suggested they should. And the head coach was still smiling over the Jets’ not-perfect-but-strong-nonetheless 27-13 win over the Rams the day before.

But Ryan and his players had no time to banter or trashtalk too much about their Thanksgiving night home matchup with Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the Patriots.

“Right now we’re just swinging,” Rex said, going into heavy boxing/UFC metaphor. “We’re going to focus on our opponent specifically, but we’re behind where we have to be. We can only focus on ourselves. Like I say, just find a way to punch and swing. We earned where we are and we have to find a way to punch our way out. I’m not even worried about tweaking New England. It’s to a point where we have to focus on just us.”

The Jets did that with an altered schedule, returning to the Atlantic Health Training Center this morning and working out and meeting all day before starting the “first practice of the week” late this afternoon into early evening, which necessitated the lights ringing the complex’s outdoor turf field to be turned on for the session’s conclusion.

If any of the players lose focus now, it might not just be about losing that one-game-at-a-time mentality but also realizing how achy and breaky one’s body is after playing in St. Louis and before taking the field against the Pats’ band of offensive wizards and defensive opportunists three nights later.

“You have to see today like it’s a Wednesday practice,” TE Dustin Keller said from the . “You have to forget about the game yesterday. If you think about the game yesterday, you’re going to make yourself that much sorer.”

“It was a good win for us,” QB Mark Sanchez said. “We’re past that now, on to the next one. We have to try to get as many as we can.”

But only one at a time, CB Kyle Wilson said.

“We’re just really looking to improve this week, get better every day,” said Wilson. “We’re just focusing on New England. That’s all that’s there.”

Gronk Status

One player who may not be there at MetLife Stadium, at least not in uniform, is New England’s Rob Gronkowski. Belichick told Patriots reporters on a conference call today, “I really don’t have anything” on the condition of the monster TE’s left forearm. And the Patriots’ official injury report released this evening only lists him as Did Not Participate in today’s practice, with a “forearm/hip” injury.

Unofficially it was being reported that Gronk fractured the arm while blocking on the final extra point of the Pats’ 59-24 win over the Colts and would be undergoing surgery sometime today.

“They have like five tight ends on their roster, so I don’t know if they will put another guy in that role,” Ryan said. “I’m not sure how they’ll do it. New England’s so multiple, they’ll give you four wides, five wides, a bunch of tight ends, so we’ll see as the game goes on how it affects them.

“Obviously, Gronkowski’s a huge target, especially in the red zone. I never like to see anybody get hurt. I’m not sad that he’s missing our game, but I hope he gets back soon.”

Rams Redux

Sanchez has experienced the lows and highs of life as a quarterback the last two games, specifically when it comes to third-down accuracy.

At Seattle, Sanchez was 1-for-7 on third down, a 14.3% accuracy that was the lowest on that down of any game in his career.

Then at St. Louis, he rebounded with 8-for-9 accuracy at crunch time vs. the Rams. The 88.9% figure is the highest on that down in any game in his career.

On the other sideline, QB Sam Bradford and OC Brian Schottenheimer experienced those highs and lows in the same game. After one quarter, which was Bradford and Coach Schotty’s impressive 13-play opening touchdown drive, the Rams passer had a rating of 135.4 on 6-of-8 for 60 yards and the TD to Brandon Gibson.

The rest of the game, Bradford had to wonder where the magic went. He was 17-for-36 for 110 yards, one more TD to Gibby but one interception to Eric Smith, which all toted up to a 51.9 rating.

Love Those Short Fields

A few more note on the Jets-Rams drive chart. With the Rams help, the Jets finished 10 of their 13 drives in St. Louis territory. And two of those three series they didn’t cross the 50 were the Sanchez end-of-half kneeldowns.

Further, thanks to their three takeaways, the onside kick that Dustin Keller rescued, and a loss on downs after that, the Jets started five drives in St. Louis territory. That all added up to an average start on all drives of the Jets 45.9-yard line.

That is the best average drive start in a road game since we started tracking that number in 1990. There are only three home games that exceeded that number: 2001, Game 13, vs. Cincinnati (46.8), 2003, Game 5, vs. Buffalo (49.8), and 2008, Game 4, vs. Arizona (49.8). That last is the last time the Jets and Cardinals met before they’re set to do it again a week from Sunday. But first, of course, the Jets must figure out ways to maximize their field position and hidden yardage on Thursday night vs. the Patriots.

The Early Injury Picture

This is the week for the special Wednesday Injury Report, Monday Edition. The Jets and Patriots both filed reports after their practices today.

For the Jets, 19 players are on the report but it has the feel of last week’s report, which is to say fairly healthy for November. Only one player didn’t participate today and that’s WR Jason Hill (low back), who hasn’t played in the last two games after being re-signed.

Six players are limited, including WR Jeremy Kerley (heel/hamstring), who participated in only 19 offensive plays and none on specials vs. the Rams as he played through his issues. Also, NT Kenrick Ellis, who left the game after aggravating the knee injury that kept him out the four previous games, said he feels OK and did some work. The other limiteds: RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle), DT Sione Po‘uha (low back), LB Bart Scott (toe) and CB Aaron Berry (quadriceps).

Also for the first time since before the Week 6 game vs. the Colts, C Nick Mangold is no longer being listed with an ankle injury, only with a thumb deal. He’s one of 12 Jets who were full-go today.

For the Patriots, G Logan Mankins (ankle/calf) and rookie DE Chandler Jones (ankle) joined Gronkowski as DNPs. Thirteen players were limited: DT Ron Brace (elbow), S Patrick Chung (shoulder/hamstring), G Dan Connolly (back), S Steve Gregory (hip), TE Aaron Hernandez (ankle), LB Dont’a Hightower (hamstring), WR Brandon Lloyd (knee), OL Nick McDonald (shoulder), DE Trevor Scott (hamstring), LB Brandon Spikes (knee), T Sebastian Vollmer (back/knee), WR Wes Welker (ankle) and LB Tracy White (foot).

Long-Range Holiday

LB Bart Scott is known for his Thanksgiving charity work in the city of Baltimore, where he started his pro career in 2002. Since ’03, he’s fed 250 men in the Helping Us Mission homeless shelter there, and this the fourth Turkey Day that Bart has conducted the dinner from a distance. The Ravens RB Ray Rice hosts in Bart’s absence, but the Madbacker talks with the attendees through Skype. This year’s event is Tuesday night.

Now rookie D-lineman Quinton Coples joins in the holiday cheer. Coples, who has a special affinity for his hometown of Kinston, N.C., gave away 250 turkeys in that town today. “Q” also is here in New Jersey, so his representatives, Millennium Sports Management, and volunteers distributed the birds on his behalf.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rex Cetera

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday Injury Reports

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

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

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


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Jets-Patriots: First-Half Tweets

Posted by Randy Lange on October 21, 2012 – 6:02 pm

Here are today’s first-half tweets for Jets-Patriots at Gillette Stadium, in case you missed them on Twitter. Follow Bob Wischusen, Eric Allen and me for our tweets during each Jets game on https://twitter.com/nyjets.

#RL Jets gameday captains: Mike DeVito, Bryan Thomas, Vlad Ducasse, Lex Hilliard and Marcus Dowtin, making his pro debut.

#RL For the third straight week, the Jets have won the opening coin toss and have deferred. Under Rex Ryan, Jets have deferred 26 times.

#RL Jeremy Kerley has 24- and 26-yard receptions and 3-yard end-around on Jets’ first 6 offensive plays.

#RL Shonn Greene 1-yd TD run. Jets’ first 1st-qtr TD @ NE since 2008. Jets had gone 17 opening-quarter possessions in  last 7 games @ NE w/o a TD.

#RL Jets’ TD comes w/ 6:09 gone in opening quarter. It’s Jets’ first 1st-quarter lead @ NE in last 8 games, since THU night win here in ’08.

#RL But Devin McCourty ties it back up with 104-yd KOR TD. 1st opponent KOR-TD since Ted Ginn for MIA had 2 in third quarter on 11.01.09.

#RL RG Dan Connolly (illness) return questionable. Patriots now playing w/o both guard starters on OFF, both safety starters on DEF.

#RL TE Jeff Cumberland has a hand injury. His return to this game is questionable.

#RL Bad handoff from Mark Sanchez to Shonn Greene results in safety. Only 2nd opponents safety in last 8 seasons.

#RL Quinton Coples gets a third-down sack of Tom Brady. It’s the rookie’s team-leading third sack of the season, all in the last 2 games.

#RL Jeremy Kerley tips a 22-yard pass away from Alfonzo Dennard to himself. Kerley now has 4 catches, 77 yds.

#RL Fourth-down penalty was called on No. 54, Nick Bellore, but replay showed No. 39, Antonio Allen, got a Patriots facemask on the play.

#RL Nick Folk sets up for a 54-yd field goal to end the 1st half. His career long is the franchise-record 56-yder he hit @ DEN in 2010.

#RL Folk’s 54-yard field goal is good. 2 seconds left in 1st half, Jets trail 16-10…

#RL Folk’s kick is tied for the 6th-longest FG in Jets franchise history. He also has the longest at 56 yds, 4 55-yd kicks are tied for 2nd.


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Rivalry Game? S. Hill Feels Strongly Both Ways

Posted by jlholt32 on October 19, 2012 – 4:48 pm

While many label the Jets-Patriots matchup as a rivalry, rookie wide receiver Stephen Hill isn’t approaching it that way.

“I’m just taking it as a regular game,” Hill said this afternoon after practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. “Not doing too much, just going out there and treating it as that next game you’re trying to take to the next level. Just making plays, and going out there to help out the team, so we can get a W.”

Hill, who earlier this season missed two games sidelined with a hamstring injury, made his return to the lineup Sunday for the Jets’ 35-9 win over Indianapolis. No. 84 looked sharp in his first game back as he caught three passes for 23 yards and recorded the third touchdown of his career.

“It was good,” he said. “Not playing for two weeks, I was hurting. So I definitely had to come back as strong as I could to make plays.”

The 6’4″, 215-pounder said he feels no additional pressure heading into Sunday’s AFC East showdown. He said the Jets veterans have spoken with him some about the game but didn’t tell him anything noteworthy.

“They were just like, ‘It’s a big week, divisional week,’ ” Hill said. “That’s it. That’s how they treat it.”

Hill got to experience a special rivalry during his college days at Georgia Tech. Whenever GT would prepare to face Georgia there was always extra buzz and chatter being spread. Hill said the anticipation this week has been almost the same as a Georgia Tech-Georgia matchup.

“I like rivalry games,” he said. “It definitely brings a lot of excitement, of course, to the game. I’m just ready to take this on, especially being now in the NFL. It’s even bigger now.”

Many Jets players have said the level of focus has increased this week in practice. Hill totally agrees. Not only has he been studying the Patriots during film sessions at the Jets’ facility, but he also saved footage of them onto his iPad.

“I feel like this was my best week since I’ve been here,” Hill said. “I’ve been very dialed in, into the playbook and things like that. So I’ve just been reading as much as I can, just to get a feel of what they’re going to throw at us on Sunday.”

There are always challenges on the road, yet Hill said he enjoys the atmosphere of being away from home. A win in Foxboro and the Jets would return home with more enjoyment than they could imagine.

“It would do a lot,” Hill said. “We would be at the top of the division. That’d be great and definitely give us a boost of confidence.”

Coples on Jets-Pats “Logistics”

As a kid, Quinton Coples said he hardly ever watched the Patriots, the opponents the Jets will be facing Sunday afternoon.

“I was a Pittsburgh Steelers fan,” the Jets’ first-round draft selection said. “I watched them against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but no, growing up that wasn’t one of my teams at all.”

Coples will be participating in his seventh game as a pro. So far, there have been ups and down.

The former North Carolina Tar Heel has been informed of the yearly hype surrounding Patriots week. However, he couldn’t decide if Sunday will be the biggest game he’s played in his football career.

“I don’t know,” Coples said. “That’s hard to debate as far as whether it will be my biggest game. But I take every game seriously and I’m looking forward to getting back there and getting after it in this great rivalry.”

Without question, Coples will enter the game with plenty of confidence. Against the Colts he recorded the first two sacks of his NFL career. While the Patriots have the league’s top offense, No. 98 doesn’t seem fazed when analyzing the matchup.

“I think every game is every game,” he said. “At the end of the day, you have to take care of it and make sure you get a win. I’m not too big on turning it up a level. I’m trying to turn it up every game. A rivalry game is definitely a lot more aggressive and a lot more grimy. There’s no telling what could happen. But at the end of the day, it’s fun.”

Coples hasn’t heard anything about New England’s fan base but expects them to be loud and ready, especially considering the Pats are returning home off their heartbreaking 24-23 loss at Seattle.

Like with any rivalry, there probably will be plenty of trash-talking going on throughout this one.

“Since this is going to be my first one, I can’t really speak on it,” Coples said. “I can just go out there and make sure I take care of my job. I think after this first one, I’ll understand the logistics of how crazy this game is.”

Friday Injury Reports

Ryan pegs 10 of his 17 injured players as probable for the Patriots, including TE Dustin Keller (hamstring) and Hill (hamstring), who both strung together two full-go practices for the first time in weeks. Also probable are LBs Bart Scott (toe) and Bryan Thomas (hamstring), who were limited in practice all week.

As for the backup RB situation, the Jets coach didn’t elaborate but is letting the designations speak for themselves. RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle) didn’t participate in practice all week but is listed as questionable for the game, while RB Bilal Powell (shoulder) was also a three-time DNP and is doubtful for the Patriots.

Other Jets doubtfuls: DTs Sione Po‘uha (back) and Kenrick Ellis (knee). Questionables besides McKnight: C Nick Mangold (ankle), who was limited at today’s practice after not going Wednesday and Thursday, and WR Clyde Gates (shoulder).

The Patriots have declared starting S Steve Gregory (hip), rookie RB Brandon Bolden (knee) and LB Tracy White (foot) out for the game. Rookies Tavon Wilson and Nate Ebner are listed as the backup safeties behind Gregory and Patrick Chung.

Bill Belichick has also listed 11 players, all of whom were limited at today’s practice, as questionable for the Jets. Seven are or have been starters: Chung (shoulder), TEs Rob Gronkowski (hip) and Aaron Hernandez (ankle), LB Dont’a Hightower (hamstring), LG Logan Mankins (calf/hip), RT Sebastian Vollmer (back/knee) and WR Wes Welker (ankle).


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Maybin: Coples ‘Deserves’ That Extra Half-Sack

Posted by Randy Lange on October 17, 2012 – 6:43 pm

Quinton Coples assured reporters today that he’s not in a first-round D-line competition with the Patriots’ Chandler Jones.

“We’re cool. I’m cool with all the defensive linemen who came out in my class,” said Coples. “I’m definitely good friends with him. It’s not about keeping track of stats or anything like that. Before the game we’re going to shake hands and then at the end of the game we’re going to shake hands again. It’s not a comparison thing.”

That being said, it helps if Coples can push two full stacks of chips instead of 1½ stacks into the middle of the table next to Jones’ five stacks for the Patriots.

Did I say stacks? I meant sacks, of course. A scoring change by the Elias Sports Bureau credited Coples with a full sack of Andrew Luck late in Sunday’s game, taking away the half sack originally credited to LB Aaron Maybin on the play. For the game and for his pro career, the Jets’ first-round DT has two full sacks.

On some other team, this could occasion some frazzled feelings, or at the very least a little trash talk. But that’s not the way Coples rolls.

“That’s not important to me. At the end of the day, we got him on the ground. That’s all that matters,” he said. “Whether I get 1½ or two for the game, it was a win.”

And Maybin, who’s been searching for his first sack of the season after racking up six sacks in his third NFL season last year, was also upbeat despite having lost that half sack that he had for about three days.

“Quinton had a hell of a game. He deserved it,” Maybin said. “But hey, that was the kind of game that, while I can’t necessarily be satisfied with it, if you asked me if I was pleased who how the defense played and my involvement in the grand scheme of things, I was.”

Maybin in fact was flying around like he did last season. Before almost sneaking in for that late half-sack, he had back-to-back QB hits on Luck at the top of the fourth quarter. Both resulted in incompletions from the Jets 29. And as Bob Wischusen, the radio voice of the Jets, and I were discussing in the locker room, Coples doesn’t get a sack for his heavy pressure of Luck that resulted in the third-quarter intentional grounding, but perhaps he should.

All of this talk is a roundabout way of saying that maybe the Jets’ pass rush is finally coming to life. Coples, Maybin and DE Muhammad Wilkerson, who also had a very fine game, kept Luck on the move all game, and rookie safety Antonio Allen showed that he could get to the QB as well with his first pro sack in his first pro game — and start — as part of a nickel package.

“Quinton, he’s head over heels better than he was at the start of the season. He’s moving faster, progressing faster,” Maybin said. “I’m excited to see him, a young guy, starting to flash. That opens up things for the rest of us. It’s exciting for all of us.”

And that brings us back to the Patriots. It’s never more exciting than to take No. 12 to the turf, be it at Gillette or MetLife. And Tom Brady’s been sacked 13 times in six games already. But then again, he’s been hurrying up, taking those short drops and flicking the ball to Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd and Rob Gronkowski with amazing frequency.

“I’m just studying Brady, his moves, his offensive tendencies. It’s just a matter of us getting as many details as possible,” Coples said. “This is a rivalry game and we want to make sure we come out on top.”

“At this point,” added Maybin, “I’m trying not to internalize the game so much to where it’s just about him. The game starts and ends with Tom, but there’s so much more that you have to keep track of with their offense. You can’t zone in on Brady alone.”

But at the end of the day, Coples and Maybin wouldn’t mind if the Jets can go into Foxboro and come out with an AFC East victory and if, in the process, they and their defensive mates can rack up some hurries, hits and sacks on Tom Terrific.

Getting in His Face(mask)?

Coples was asked about grasping Luck’s facemask rather blatantly in the third quarter. Some speculated that Luck had a few choice words for Coples at the end of the play, but Coples said the former Stanford QB was quite gracious.

“He just said to me, ‘I know you didn’t mean it,’ ” Q recalled. “We were both in ‘game mode’ at the time, but we talked about it after the game. He wasn’t sweating it at all. We got to know each other before the draft. I definitely think my draft class was very open. The bonds of friendship were there. Regardless of where we went, when we see each other we definitely recognize each other and make sure we speak to each other.”

More civility on the field of battle? What’s the NFL coming to?

Another Roster Move

Rex Ryan announced at his news conference that FB John Conner, the Jets’ fifth-round pick in 2010 who answered to the nickname of “The Terminator,” was terminated, although perhaps only temporarily. Conner, who’s had knee and hamstring injuries that have limited him to 50 offensive snaps over three games, was waived/injured.

Taking his roster spot, the Jets signed free-agent rookie LB Marcus Dowtin from the practice squad. Ryan said re-signing Conner “down the road could be a possibility.” If he’s still available at that time, needless to say.

Injury Reports

The Jets take two steps forward, then one step back in their team health. In the step-back area, RBs Joe McKnight (ankle) and Bilal Powell (shoulder), injured on the same third-quarter series Sunday, both did not participate at today’s practice. Ryan wasn’t tipping his hand on either player: “We’ll see about their availability as the week goes on.”

Five other Jets DNPs were DT Kenrick Ellis (knee), WR Clyde Gates (shoulder), C Nick Mangold (ankle), DT Sione Po‘uha (back) and S Eric Smith (knee). And there were four limited players: WR Stephen Hill (hamstring), TE Dustin Keller (hamstring), LB Bart Scott (toe) and LB Bryan Thomas (hamstring).

The steps forward were the departure of six Jets from the injury list altogether: LBs Nick Bellore and David Harris, CBs Antonio Cromartie and Aaron Berry, TE Jeff Cumberland and T Austin Howard.

The Jets’ 17–player injury list, the shortest it’s been in five weeks, is now available here on newyorkjets.com.

For the Patriots, two players were DNPs up in Foxboro, Mass., today: RB Brandon Bolden (knee) and LB Tracy White (foot).

And 11 Pats were limited: S Patrick Chung (shoulder), WR Julian Edelman (hand), S Steve Gregory (hip), TEs Rob Gronkowski (hip) and Aaron Hernandez (ankle), LB Dont’a Hightower (hamstring), G Logan Mankins (calf/hip), C Nick McDonald (shoulder), CB Sterling Moore (knee), T Sebastian Vollmer (back/knee) and WR West Welker (ankle).


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