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WR Ryan Spadola Makes a ‘Dream’ Catch

Posted by Randy Lange on August 1, 2013 – 2:28 pm

Ryan Spadola made one of the plays of Jets training camp at this morning’s SUNY Cortland practice. It could be that one play that propels him into the coaches’ consciousness as they start to trim down their wide receiving corps.

Spadola, the undrafted free agent from Lehigh, took off down the right side for the second offense in the practice-closing two-minute drill and made the diving fingertip grab of a roughly 50-yard fourth-down pass from Geno Smith, stepping up in the pocket, in front of Ellis Lankster.

“I was running for a while,” Spadola said. “I didn’t look back for the ball till I was 30 yards down the field, so I was really digging. I thought the ball was never going to come down. I laid out for it and fortunately it fell right in my hands and I was able to bring it in.”

Ryan Spadola knows he has to do more than just make one long reception on the sixth day of camp.

“Pretty much all eyes are on you when you have a deep ball like that,” he said. “Your receivers are supposed to be the playmakers and make big plays in big situations. So for me so far this camp, that was the highlight. But I’m not going to sit on that. I’ve got to continue to get better. I’m just taking that as one play to learn from and keep every single rep just like that.”

While you may not have heard of Spadola’s exploits before this, the 6’3″, 200-pounder from Howell, N.J., is no stranger to the long ball or lots of catches. He had his career year as a Lehigh junior with 96 catches for 1,614 yards (16.8-yard avg.) and 11 touchdowns. In his three varsity seasons, he had 232 catches for 3,611 yards (15.6) and 24 TDs.

“Going into my senior year, defenses used different matchups against me so it took away that vertical threat and we altered our offense a bit so I was more of a horizontal guy,” he said. “But early in my college career, I had a reputation for vertical plays and I feel comfortable going up and taking the ball in the air when it’s deep.”

Why the Jets? Spadola’s from Howell, N.J., down by the Jersey shore, and the Jets showed a lot of interest in him as a free agent addition. What’s more, as a kid, his father, Don, took him to Jets games. When Don died during Ryan’s high school years, he told lehighvalleylive.com earlier this year, “my dream [to play in the NFL] became our dream.”

It will take more than a dream for Spadola to make the Jets. A bundle of plays like today will be helpful.

Rex Cetera

Top draft pick Dee Milliner, in pads Wednesday, was in drills Thursday, getting some reps with the second defense in 7-on-7′s and then some snaps with the ones in the two-minute drill, during which he made a swipe on a pass that he tipped, didn’t deflect, but that was caught out of bounds. Head coach Rex Ryan wasn’t committing to it but said there’s a chance Milliner could participate in Saturday evening’s Green & White Scrimmage.

Greg McElroy had a strong two-minute drive, hitting Konrad Reuland, then K.J. Stroud twice, then RB John Griffin for the short TD. … Head coach Rex Ryan at today’s news conference mentioned two young offensive players who have “popped up” this camp: WR Vidal Hazelton and C Dalton Freeman. … Former Jets special teams guru Mike Westhoff was at camp today. One touching moment came during practice when Santonio Holmes, still rehabbing his foot, came over to Mike and gave him a hug. … Today’s attendance in the off-and-on rain: 662.


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Isaiah Trufant: The Man Who Picked Off Geno

Posted by Randy Lange on July 31, 2013 – 2:29 pm

It was the 1-on-1 passing drills early in today’s Jets training camp practice, and Isaiah Trufant was running stride for stride with Vidal Hazelton, a 5’8″ corner working to rise above a 6’2″ wideout.

What’s more, Trufant was trying to do the impossible so far this camp: pick off rookie QB Geno Smith.

On this play, 5’8″ stood tall.

“Was that Geno?” Trufant said, genuinely seeming not to know that Smith, who reportedly hadn’t been intercepted in the first four days of camp, had finally been picked. “He’s an exceptional athlete. He has great placement on the ball. As a DB, it’s always tough to try and go get those picks. Sometimes they can fall in there for you, sometimes you’ve got to go get them.”

It’s a great story that Trufant was able to go get this one and has looked good back in his role of nickel corner and back-end buzzsaw. He was having a decent season last year, topped by his showing vs. Wes Welker up at New England in Week 7, only to suffer a season-ending knee injury two weeks later at Seattle.

“I started to feel myself again a little bit in minicamp,” he said of his rehab process. “Then that break helped a lot. Really within that break it started to come around.”

Isaiah Trufant knows it’s never going to be easy. He’s only a third-year NFL player but you can make him a 10th-season player if you count in his seasons with the Spokane Shock, Kansas City Brigade and Arizona Rattlers in the Arena leagues and the UFL’s Las Vegas Locomotives. Now he’s in camp with Dee Milliner, the first-round pick who was in pads but limited at today’s practice and was conducting his own news update with reporters about 20 yards behind us.

“I don’t worry about those things,” Trufant said about such personnel issues as a first-round pick costing the former free agent a roster spot. “I just focus on me doing the best things I can do. Some things may be out of my hands, out of my control. I can’t dwell on those things.”

He’s therefore not dwelling much on the Jets’ Week 2 date with the Patriots in Foxboro, Mass., when he could, if things break well and the game plan calls for it, be covering Danny Amendola, not Welker, who’s now a Bronco.

“It could be,” Trufant said. “I’m just going to be ready for whatever position I’m put in. Whether it’s special teams or defense, I’ve got to be ready.”

Rex Cetera

Both Smith and Mark Sanchez had down days throwing the ball. Sanchez returned to run with the first offense. He threw a screen that was batted in the air and almost picked off by a roaring Muhammad Wilkerson, and suffered a pick by Antonio Cromartie. Sanchez also threw one TD pass but Stephen Hill couldn’t hold onto another. Yet Hill made a beautiful leaping snag of a Sanchez downfield throw.

Head coach Rex Ryan on Sanchez: “I think everybody gets enamored with anybody who can throw a 96-mile-per-hour fastball. Mark certainly has a good enough arm to play in this league, he’s done it.” … Ryan on Geno: “Holding the football concerns me a little bit. If I could point to a negative, we’re going to take some hits. But along those lines, he has confidence, he’s got poise, he’s hanging in there, and he’s very accurate with the football.”

Ryan said third-round rookie Brian Winters got some work at guard with the ones today because Stephen Peterman had “a little bit of a shoulder.” “But certainly we said there’s going to be competition at that guard spot.” … First-round DL Sheldon Richardson didn’t practice due to some dental issues. “One tooth needs to come out,” said Rex, “and he maybe needs a root canal in another.” … Today’s attendance: 1,333.


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Greg McElroy’s Making the Most of His Reps

Posted by Randy Lange on July 30, 2013 – 4:31 pm

Geno Smith has gotten headlines the last few days for his still interception-less training camp during 7-on-7 and team drills. But what about Greg McElroy? He hasn’t thrown a pick, either.

That’s not to say that McElroy’s time at SUNY Cortland has been perfect, but the experience has still been good.

“There are, like, two throws that I’d really like to have back. One was an inaccurate throw and the other was a throw that just got away from me a little,” the redheaded third-year Jets signalcaller recalled. “I’d like to think I’m a bit of a perfectionist. If there’s one play, until I get it right and get an opportunity to do it again, I’m going to remember that play, remember what I did wrong and how I can improve it in the future.

“There’s certainly a lot of things to improve on, but I’m pleased with the way the first few days of camp have gone.”

Most reporters and many fans are consumed with how the starting quarterback battle between Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith is going. But more than a few Jets followers also would like to hear from McElroy, so I tracked him down before lunch today to see how he’s faring and where his head’s at.

And one thing that came through clearly from G-Mac, the kid from Southlake, Texas, who quarterbacked a national title team in high school and another one even more famously at Alabama, is that he’s not consumed by the fact that head coach Rex Ryan and the Jets’ offensive coaches have not included him in a three-way camp battle for No. 1.

“My goal this camp is to improve on one individual aspect every single practice, and that’s all I focus on,” he said. “I’m pleased to be out there, and I’m just glad to be given reps and I try to make the most of that.

“Another one of my goals is to try to help Mark, Geno and Matt [Simms] any way I possibly can. That’s been what I’ve done over the last few years, try to help out the other guys around me and try to make them better. And that doesn’t just stop at quarterback. That goes to every position. I try to know as much about the offense as possible so if there is a situation where someone needs help, I would love to be able to assist them in any way possible.”

All the while, he’s continuing to pick up the nuances of coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s West Coast scheme. You hear about QBs having to learn two systems in two years or three in three, but counting his senior year at Alabama he’s had four different coordinators in four years, plus three other coordinators in his first three seasons with the Crimson Tide.

“I wouldn’t say I’m used to it but I’ve experienced it before. It’s a great challenge,” McElroy said of learning a new system, adding, “It’s been a treat learning the West Coast system. It’s a system you’ve grown up watching, a system you feel like you knew a lot about — until you actually get your hands on the playbook. Then it’s quite different than what you expected.”

Mac said he appreciates the attention to detail that Mornhinweg, RBs coach Anthony Lynn and OL coach Mike Devlin pay to the running game.

“So much of the time you hear about the West Coast being passpasspasspasspass, but Coach Mornhinweg’s done such a great job of going through our run installs. It’s really been a point of emphasis for us,” he said. “Marty’s a terrific offensive mind. He’s been in this league a long time and every player on that field has a tremendous amount of respect for him. He’s done a great job.”

McElroy will continue trying to do a great job in his role, whether it’s pushing Sanchez and Smith for a few reps with the ones or fighting off Simms for the No. 3 job. His attitude would probably help make him a good pastor or teacher or coach. But right now he’s got another job to do.

“I get to wake up and put on pads and I get to go out and practice football and learn and discuss football and play the game I was playing at 5 years old in my front yard,” he said. “This is still a dream come true. I have an opportunity to play for this organization, to play for Rex, and I appreciate every second that I’m out here and I won’t ever take it for granted. Whatever my role may be, I want to do it the best I possibly can.”


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Kenrick Ellis Is Hard at Work on His Craft

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

Updated, 4:42 p.m. ET

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rex Cetera

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

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

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

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


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Geno Smith Grabs the First Offense Controls

Posted by Randy Lange on July 28, 2013 – 6:40 pm

The defense seemed ahead of the offense in the conclusion of today’s first full-pads practice of Jets training camp, but that was OK with Geno Smith, who got in some shots of his own while running the first offense.

“It felt good to have the pads on. Guys were out there hitting, getting back to football,” Smith said late this afternoon, standing near the Cortland Stadium turf field where the Jets finishing up their morning practice that was truncated by heavy rain and lightning. “It felt really good to see guys out there competing. The offense and the defense did a really good job out there.”

It was Smith’s turn to work with the first offense, and while that unit was on fire in its first day of full-pads contact (but not taking runners to the ground), Smith seemed comfortable in moving around in the pocket, avoiding the multiple pressures, and finding some of his receivers. He hit Jeff Cumberland downfield in position drills (more on that from reporter Josh Citron in a little while) and then a big 40-yarder to Stephen Hill.

Geno shrugged off any significance of getting his turn with the ones.

“I think going against the first-team defense is a lot different because those guys have a lot of veterans on that side and they know what they’re doing, they know how to disguise things, so it makes it a bit tougher,” he said. “But I think it all helps us out, especially me being a young guy, it helps me out seeing a defense that’s so experienced, just to get a chance to compete against those guys.”

Mark Sanchez took his turn with the twos and went 5-for-7 passing to Smith’s 4-for-6. Afterward, No. 6 told reporters, just a short distance away from No. 7′s media gathering, that no matter which unit he’s working with, he likes the Jets’ juice up here in central New York.

“I love the energy we have here,” Sanchez said. “I love what we’re building here in Cortland. I think we’ve got a ton of talent. Now we’ve just got to use it the right way and trust the coaches to do that. … We’ve really turned the page from last year. I think we’ve got a good group.”

The positivity didn’t end for either QB regarding one of the hot topics of the last 24 hours, GM John Idzik’s Saturday statement that “I have a pretty big role” in the ultimate starting QB decision and head coach Rex Ryan’s agreement today that “at no time is it a one-man show. It’s always a team decision. That’s the way it’s always been.”

Mark on his relationship with Idzik: “John has an open line of communication, as do I. Things have been good. We’ve talked about the ballclub, we’ve talked about whatever comes up. It’s been good.”

Geno on the QB call that will be made in several short weeks: “I just come out here and do my job, which is to compete. Like I’ve always said, they’re going to make the decision. The only thing I can do is take care of what I can control, which is manage every single rep I get on the field and make sure I prepare myself for the classroom.”

Rex Cetera

DT Kenrick Ellis and DE Muhammad Wilkerson were very active for the first D, especially against the run, while LB Josh Mauga made some plays for the twos. … TE Kellen Winslow and WR Braylon Edwards, on that Ryan “pitch count,” were not in pads for the p.m. session. … The attendance for the short one-period-long morning workout before the suspension and for the afternoon stadium practice was a combined 990.


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An Opening for John Griffin to Run Through

Posted by Randy Lange on July 27, 2013 – 2:45 pm

We can’t dub him “Johnny White Shoes Griffin” just yet, but John Griffin has looked speedy in the Jets’ backfield at their SUNY Cortland training camp and it’s not just the white footwear.

“Really, I’m just taking advantage of the opportunity I’ve got right now,” Griffin, the Jets’ new No. 24, said after today’s second practice of camp. “I know we’ve got a couple of guys hurt and Mike [Goodson]‘s not here right now. So I’m really just trying to take advantage of the opportunity that’s been given to me. I know I’ve worked hard so I know I’m ready for it.”

Griffin looks ready. The 5’11″, 208-pounder has gotten his opening with Chris Ivory and Joe McKnight both being sidelined at times so far with injuries and Goodson not reporting, and he and his shoes have flashed. It could be getting free to scoot off tackle or taking a screen and zipping down the green and white rapids for a big gainer.

He feels he can be a complete back. As a Northeastern junior, he had a 200-yard rushing game and a 1,000-yard season in 2009. As a receiver, he’s been hot and cold, mixing in a few drops with his crowd-pleasing downfield forays, but he knows one of the answers to that.

“I like to think I’m a pretty good route-running back,” he said. “I probably need to strengthen my hands a little bit, do some more off the field. But I pretty much like doing it all.”

As for the white shoes, it’s not a tribute to Joe Namath or Billy Johnson, just a sartorial thing that some of the Jets backs started this spring.

“I remember Joe [McKnight] and Mike [Goodson] wore them one day, we all did, and we kind of stuck with them,” he said. “Actually, Antonio Cromartie gave these shoes to me.”

It’s taken Griffin a while to get going in the pros, but he finally made his NFL debut with nine special teams plays for the Jets in last season’s finale at Buffalo. Maybe there are more plays where that came from if he and his shoes continue to flash this summer.

Comings and Goings

Griffin and the Jets backs were joined on the roster by newly signed Chad Spann (5’9″, 198). Spann’s claim to fame was that he led all FBS players in 2010 with 22 rushing TDs in 11 games for Northern Illinois, but he’s only made it to Tampa Bay’s and Pittsburgh’s practice squads. He wore No. 34 in white (Donnie Fletcher is 34 in green) at today’s practice. … Also, CB Aaron Berry, who tore an ACL early in Friday’s first practice of camp, was placed on injured reserve.

Clyde Gates was still motoring in day two, ripping down the right sideline to gather in a Geno Smith longball in 11-on-11 drills. … Antonio Allen had a nice 7-on-7 zone interception of Mark Sanchez trying to hit Stephen Hill with a deep ball. … Rex Ryan says he likes what first-year WR Vidal Hazelton has shown so far, “and not because he got into a little whatever.” That whatever was a short but intense chin-to-chin confrontation with Cromartie after Cro hit Hazelton hard after a reception in positional drills. … Including a kick each in a two-minute drill at the end of practice, Nick Folk was 4-for-5 and Billy Cundiff 2-for-5 on field goals into a good Cortland cross-breeze.


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Another First for Rex: A Run with the Bulls

Posted by Randy Lange on July 8, 2013 – 4:22 pm

130708-rex-ryan-running-with-the-bulls-650Updated, 5:00 p.m. ET

We all know that Rex Ryan lives life just a little on the edge, not to mention on point, as in the point of a bull’s horn.

The New York Jets are confirming this afternoon that Ryan participated in this year’s annual running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. That iconic event glorified by Hemingway in 1926 and in numerous books, magazines, movies and commercial endeavors ever since now lists the Jets’ fifth-year head coach among its aficionados, not to mention one of its participantes.

Ryan, on vacation with his family, threw his hat into the ring — or more precisely into the Plaza de Toros — with a Sunday run, then he participated with the crowd again this morning in the famous north central Spanish town situated near the border with France and the Bay of Biscay.

People are injured every year in the running and one man was killed in the event in 2009. But we can also report that Ryan came out of this brush with the bull unharmed, and with more than a few stories to pass on to his coaches, his players, the media and the fans once he retakes the Jets podium at training camp in two-plus weeks.

Social networking coordinator Laura Clemente has posted a tweet on Rex with the bulls here and the link to the Instagram photo is here.


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Kyle Wilson Wraps Up Best Offseason as a Pro

Posted by Randy Lange on June 13, 2013 – 3:23 pm

Updated, 3:38 p.m. ET

There’s something different about Kyle Wilson this offseason, and it’s a lot more than the absence of the trademark dreadlocks the cornerback wore his first three seasons in green and white.

“I’m excited about where Kyle is,” head coach Rex Ryan said this morning before the start of the final practice of the Jets’ full-squad minicamp at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. “This is the best [offseason] he’s had, and its not close. I’ve been proud of the way he’s come into these OTAs, the way he’s competing.”

Wilson said there are no big secrets to the offseason he’s had.

“I’m just using my experience to my advantage,” he said. “I know exactly what to look for, I know why we’re calling stuff in different scenarios. I try to use that to think like a coach out there so I’m not having rookie mistakes. But you can see things and understand what we’re trying to do defensively to put myself in a better position.”

Wilson has a couple of things going for him in the Jets’ post-Island world. When Darrelle Revis went down for the season at Miami in Game 3, Kyle moved into Revis’ left corner spot for the last 13 games and 14 overall opposite Antonio Cromartie, giving him his most playing time as a pro — he averaged almost 60 defensive snaps a game playing either outside or in the slot.

The other element is the drafting of Dee Milliner ninth overall. Many assumed Milliner, the Alabama corner, was taken to plug into the starting lineup after Revis was traded to Tampa Bay the week of the draft.

“That’s wrong,” GM John Idzik said at the time. “It may be perceived that way, but the reality is Dee was one of our highest-ranked players, regardless of position on the board, so we took him.”

And the offseason reality has been that Milliner has been sidelined by his shoulder rehab as expected while Wilson has been picking up where he left off.

Motivation? “Yeah, it’s going to do something,” Wilson said in the locker room today before he and his teammates split for their last extended downtime of the year before the start of training camp. “But me just staying focused is going to help me out and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”

“Certainly there’s going to be competition for that spot,” Ryan said. “Dee will have every opportunity to compete for that as well. You take a guy with the ninth overall pick for good reason. We’ll see how it goes.”

“Right now my focus is it doesn’t matter to me who’s here and who’s not here,” Wilson said. “I don’t think anything is going to change the way I go out there and perform on the field. That’s really my focus of getting better, doing my best personally to help out the team.”

Geno Comments a Day Later

Rookie QB Geno Smith clarified his no-comment responses to several questions at the end of his Wednesday locker room news conference regarding his attending Jets West, the independent get-together of Jets skill players that Mark Sanchez holds back in his Southern California stomping grounds.

“When you guys asked me about Jets West yesterday, myself and Mark, we hadn’t met to discuss that,” Smith said. “It kind of caught me off guard because it’s not on my schedule. Basically I didn’t comment because I was always taught if you don’t know what you’re answering, not to comment on it. We hadn’t talked about it.

“But from my understanding, it’s something that’s done annually, all the guys go out there, and it’s been a great event. Mark hasn’t officially extended the hand to me, but I’m pretty sure there’s no problem there. I’m more than willing to go there, get some work, and work with the guys, because it helps team bonding. I fully support that.”

Rex Cetera

Ryan on the minicamp and offseason: “I’m happy where the team’s at. Clearly we have a long way to go in a lot of areas, but we threw so much at our guys. I’m really proud of the preparation our guys showed, and obviously I think we made a lot of strides in our strength and conditioning. We’ve got a ton of stuff to improve on, we know that. This is just the beginning of the process.”

Receivers’ hands showed up better today. Stephen Hill had a nice go-route, wrong-shoulder grab of a Geno pass over Josh Bush during the final practice inside the Jets’ fieldhouse. Veteran tryout WR Mike Sims-Walker also had a nice grab. … Demario Davis and Aaron Berry had nice aggressive interceptions. … Ryan on the possibility of signing tryout WR Kellen Winslow: “I’m not going to discuss that now but I see exactly what you see. … You can certainly feel his presence.” … RB-KR Joe McKnight tweaked his ankle Wednesday but finished that practice and worked today.


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Jets’ Toughest Quarter of ’13? Games 5-8

Posted by Randy Lange on June 12, 2013 – 7:21 am

As promised, two weeks after we broke out a blog on the first quarter of the Jets’ 2013 regular-season schedule, it’s time to post up some tweet-sized bullet points for each game on the slate in the second quarter of the season, Games 5-8.

Game 5 — @ Atlanta, Georgia Dome, Monday, Oct. 7, 8:40 p.m.

■ Jets trail series 6-4. Last win vs Falcons: 28-3 in Meadowlands in 1998. Last road win: 28-14 at Atlanta-Fulton Co. Stadium in ’86.

■ In teams’ last game in ATL, in ’05, Jets QB was Vinny Testaverde, Falcons QB Michael Vick, who ran for pair of TDs in 27-14 MON night win.

■ In teams’ last meeting in ’09, Falcons prevailed 10-7 on 6-yd TD pass from Matt Ryan to TE Tony Gonzalez with 1:38 to play.

■ This is scheduled to be Jets’ only MON night game, last primetime game of season. Last time they played fewer than 3 in primetime: 2008.

Game 6 — vs. PITTSBURGH, MetLife Stadium, Sunday, Oct. 13, 1 p.m.

■ Jets trail series 16-4 but have won 2 of last 4 and last 2 at home: ’03 Curtis Martin snow game by 6-0, ’07 game after bye 19-16 in OT.

■ ’07 win set up by Leon Washington’s 33-yd OT punt return, Mike Nugent’s 38-yard FG. Jets should see Leon, Mike in 2 following weeks.

■ Ben Roethlisberger career vs Jets: 98-for-168 (58.3%) for 1192 yds, 5 TDs, 7 INTS, 18 sacks for 72.8 passer rating, 4-2 record.

■ WR Santonio Holmes, PIT’s 1st-round pick in ’06, vs his former team in 3 games w/ Jets (incl POs): 11 catches, 129 yds (11.7 avg), 2 TDs.

Game 7 — vs. NEW ENGLAND, MetLife Stadium, Sunday, Oct. 20, 1 p.m.

■ Jets lead series at home 27-25, despite losing last 2, both in primetime (37-16, SUN night, 2011; 49-19, Thanksgiving night last yr).

■ This will be the first time Jets have played NE twice in season’s first 7 weeks since 2000, when they were 2-0 vs. Pats after Game 6.

■ Tom Brady in Meadowlands vs Jets since 2001: 223-for-356 (62.6%) for 2702 yds, 20 TDs, 6 INTs, 97.6 passer rating, 9-2 record.

■ Leon Washington w/ Jets (’06-09) vs. w/ SEA (’10-12): rush avg. 4.7 to 4.2; receiving avg. 7.9-6.9, PR avg. 9.4-10.3, KR avg. 25.5-26.2.

Game 8 — @ Cincinnati, Paul Brown Stadium, Sunday, Oct. 27, 4:05 p.m.

■ Jets lead series 15-7 after winning last 3 at home (last: 26-10, Thanksgiving night ’10) and most recent game at PBS (24-14, ’09 AFC WC Game).

■ Rex Ryan, DL coach under DC Marvin Lewis on Ravens from 1999-2001, is 3-0 vs Lewis as HC, and Jets are 5-1 overall vs Lewis’ CIN teams.

■ Among Bengals they’re expected to face: K Mike Nugent. His first 4 NFL seasons w/ Jets he was 75-for-92 (81.5%) on FGs. Last 3 yrs w/ CIN he’s 67-for-80 (83.8%).

■ Second 4 games of 2013 schedule is the Jets’ toughest quarter. In ’12 ATL, PIT, NE & CIN combined for 43-21 record (.672) and 3 PO berths.


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Rex on Winslow, Tebow and TEs in General

Posted by Randy Lange on June 11, 2013 – 4:27 pm

The weather gods had not been Jets fans in the recent past, but today they lifted the rainclouds long enough for the Jets to take to the grass fields at the Atlantic Health Training Center in front of 1,111 season ticket holders.

Head coach Rex Ryan held his news conference before today’s practice start, and tight ends were on the minds of several questioners — the TEs they have on the roster, the one former standout tight end who was invited to participate in today’s practice, and the ex-Jet who may or may not end up at that position for the Patriots.

Rex was asked about the position and ticked off the players already on the roster.

“With Jeff Cumberland, obviously, he’s the starter right now. If we were going to have a game tomorrow, he would be our starter,” Ryan said. “He’s a big, fast guy that I think has improved over the years. His blocking, I think, has really improved. I’ll be excited to see how he progresses.

“Then you have Konrad [Reuland] and Hayden [Smith], guys with experience. Then you have ‘the BC Kid’ [Chris Pantale] and ‘The Coach,’ Mike] Shanahan, who are working their way out there. And we’ll see about Winslow. I’m excited about seeing Kellen.”

That’s the former standout. Kellen Winslow Jr., who caught 438 passes and 23 touchdowns combined in four years with Cleveland, three years with Tampa Bay, and one — game, that is — with New England. Winslow, former Jacksonville WR Mike Sims-Walker and DT Leger Douzable were all invited to this minicamp as unsigned veteran free agents.

“Obviously, Kellen was a tremendous player in this league for a long time, one of the premier receiving tight ends in the game, so we’ll see how he responds,” Ryan said. “Obviously it’s going to be recovery more than anything else, how healthy he is. Because clearly the skillset that he has, the young man was a tremendous player.”

Finally comes the ex-Jet who’s now maybe a Patriots tight end. Tim Tebow was signed by the Patriots and one of the rumored stories out of Boston was that Pats coach Bill Belichick is considering using Tebow not just at QB behind Tom Brady and Ryan Mallard but perhaps also as a TE.

Even though the Jets ended the TT experiment a month and a half ago with his release two days after the end of the draft, nine of the 24 questions asked of Ryan today (37.5% of the questions) were about Tebow.

“All these questions are probably better served by being asked of New England and Belichick. I’m sure you’ll get the answer from him,” Ryan said.

But one more time Rex gave a Tebow eulogy.

“I’m happy for the young man to get another opportunity in the league,” he said. “We’ve already mentioned that it didn’t work out here. Obvoulsy, Tim had more success in Denver than he did here, so it is what it is.”

And wouldn’t it be interesting if Winslow, who played that one game for the Pats, then asked to be released and the Pats concurred, sticks with the Jets while Tebow does what he does with the Pats.

But Winslow, talking with Jets reporters after practice, said that’s still a little way down the road.

“Rex and I used to go at it when he was with the Ravens. He’s an awesome coach, man, one of the best defensive coaches in the league,” Winslow reminisced. “My job is just to make plays and however it works out, that’s how it works out. I’m a playmaker and my job is just to make plays. I’m just trying to make the team.”


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