Updated, Dec. 21, 11:58 a.m. ET
Mike DeVito is about to wrap up his sixth season in the NFL.
He’s played in 80 career games and all 80 have been with the New York Jets.
He’s producing a career year in 2012 with a career-bests 60 tackles and a career-best 8.0 tackles for loss/no gain. He was also drew a holding call against Tennessee on Monday, the third time he was held this season, another career high. But it’s also the final year of his contract.
“It’s definitely strange,” DeVito said in the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center locker room after practice this afternoon. “I’m looking at it like nothing’s guaranteed. I mean, I have two games left and then I don’t know what’s going to happen next year. So I’m going to enjoy every minute I get a chance to be on this field, be with these guys and play in these last two games because you just don’t know.”
DeVito sure played like he was enjoying himself Monday night against Tennessee. In that game, he finished with a team-best eight tackles and two of his eight takedowns proved to be tackles for loss when Titans RB Chris Johnson was carrying the ball.
After one of those takedowns of Johnson, ESPN broadcast analyst Jon Gruden said of DeVito: “He’s an excellent football player. He can stuff the run.”
The performance also was the first time in a game in the past two seasons that DeVito led the Jets defense in tackles.
“I kind of took this mindset Monday I’m just going to go out there and have fun and enjoy it and enjoy this time,” No. 70 said. “I definitely was happy with that. Obviously [there are] plays I can get better at though, and I’m going to continue to try and get better each week.”
The tackle total at Tennessee wasn’t a season high for DeVito, but the number certainly caught head coach Rex Ryan’s eye.
“Mike DeVito. he had eight tackles — that’s impressive,” Ryan said at his news conference this morning. “When you watch that game, that might have been his top game since I’ve been here. He was absolutely tremendous.”
Twice this season DeVito recorded nine tackles, against the Dolphins in Week 3 and vs. Houston in Week 5.
“I feel confident out there,” he said. “I feel good and I feel like I can continue to get better. I feel like I haven’t peaked at my talent. I’m not satisfied.”
Except for the second quarter 94-yard TD run — on which DeVito may have been the only Jet to get a hand on Johnson — he and his Jets defensive teammates contained the Titans’ star RB.
“That was so frustrating,” DeVito said of Johnson’s touchdown, “because when you look at the stats, I think it was 20 carries for 28 yards and then they had that one long run. But we can’t let that happen. That’s something we had talked about all week, going into the week, was you can have 20 carries for 28 yards but Chris Johnson can break that one. It’s frustrating, but we learned from it. We saw the mistakes and are moving forward.”
As the Green & White continue preparing for this week’s game against San Diego, DeVito said the Chargers’ offensive line might be the most physical bunch the Jets defense has faced all year.
“I really like their offensive line,” he said. “They’re tough up front. Every time we play against these guys it’s always a battle up front.”
Possibly a good sign for the Jets is that San Diego won’t have primary RB Ryan Mathews, who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday. However, DeVito doesn’t see Mathews’ absence necessarily working as an advantage for the Green & White.
“It will be a good challenge for us up front,” he said, “because when you have an offensive line like that, it doesn’t matter who’s back there.”
It will be the final home game of the season for the Jets at MetLife Stadium and DeVito states his family will be in attendance. But will he be playing in his final home game with the franchise? Only time can determine that answer.
“I’m a New York guy,” he said. “My family is over here and has been here for six years. Obviously I love this organization, and I love the people here, so we’ll see how it plays out.”
Thursday Injury Reports
TE Dustin Keller (ankle), S LaRon Landry (heel) and CB Aaron Berry (hamstring) were the three players who did not participate in team drills at today’s practice. G Brandon Moore (foot/hip) was a DNP Wednesday but was full-go today. Five Jets were limited: WR Braylon Edwards (hamstring), DT Sione Po‘uha (low back), LB Ricky Sapp (ankle), LB Bryan Thomas (chest), and WR Chaz Schilens (calf/knee), who didn’t practice a day ago. Fourteen players were full, including new listees K Nick Folk (back) and WR Mardy Gilyard (illness).
For the Chargers, LB Takeo Spikes (hamstring) and DT Aubrayo Franklin (knee) remained not practicing and LB Demorrio Williams (ankle) remained limited. Two players limited Wednesday, RB Ronnie Brown (hamstring) and LB Donald Butler (groin), were full today.
Tags: Chris Johnson, Jon Gruden, Mike DeVito, Rex Ryan, Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers, Tennessee Titans
Posted in John Holt | 68 Comments »
It was a busy short week in Florham Park, N.J., after the Jets’ Monday night triumph over the Dolphins. As we look ahead to Sunday’s critical game between the 3-3 Jets and the 4-1 Chargers, let’s empty out the notebook.
Bolts Backs Are Pass Game Threats
Since LaDainian Tomlinson arrived in New York, you’ve always been inclined to think about Philip Rivers and the Chargers’ vertical passing game first in regards to the SD offense. But Ryan Mathews, a second-year back out of Fresno State, is averaging an impressive 4.9 yards a carry and has scored three times on the ground in 2011. The Chargers are ranked ninth overall in rush yards per game at 122.8 per contest.
So the rush attack is solid, but Mathews and Mike Tolbert are paying dividends in the passing game as well. In fact, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune wrote this week that the backfield pair are on pace for more combined yards (1,574) than any RB tandem in history and their pace of 154 receptions would put them only four fewer than the total that the Jets’ Richie Anderson and Curtis Martin combined for in 2000.
“They have a lot of weapons on their offense,” said ILB David Harris. “When they’re not throwing the ball downfield to Vincent Jackson and [Antonio] Gates, they have good running backs who come through the line and are checkdowns for Philip Rivers. He does a great job of finding the open receiver. Their two running backs are first [Tolbert: 28 catches, 231 yards, 2 TDs] and third [Mathews: 20-261] on the team in receptions, so they’re the main focus of their offense. We have to do a good job of keeping them in check.”
While the Jets’ defensive struggles against perimeter runs have been noted time and time again, the Green & White quietly are tied for third in the NFL with 17 sacks and tied for second with 14 takeaways. Mike Pettine’s unit also leads the NFL in third-down defense (28.6 percent conversion rate by opponents) and they’ll be challenged by a Chargers offensive unit that also paces the NFL (56.5 percent).
“It’s a good matchup for both teams to try to stop each other,” said CB Darrelle Revis. “I think that’s the biggest thing. We’ve been great on third down and we’ll see on Sunday.”
If you’re at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, you would be well served to keep your eyes on LaDainian Tomlinson. Not only will he get the start against his former team but he could provide an emotional spark early for the Jets.
“I’m super excited,” said WR Santonio Holmes. “I hope he rushes for more than 200 yards on Sunday, and it will definitely be my duty to make sure I block those guys down the field so he can get his job done, just to show those guys that they let go a valuable aspect of their team, a leader, and a guy who’s a future Hall of Famer.”
While Tomlinson might not don a C on his jersey, make no mistake that he is one of this team’s most important leaders.
“I think his leadership carries around the locker room,” Holmes said. “It shows on Sundays before the game. Even the little things that he comes and talks to me about as far as running some routes and the way he has to run these specific routes that we run in practice. He comes and talks to me a little bit. We share a lot of information on how to be more of a leader on and off the field without having to do too much. I think that carries a long way around this team and everybody here respects him.”
Special Teams: Advantage, Westy
It has been overshadowed again this week, but perhaps the Jets’ biggest advantage headed into this AFC contest is on special teams.
The Jets are first in the NFL in average drive start after kickoff returns (28.0) while the ‘Bolts are 29th (24.4) in covering kicks. Conversely, the Green & White kick coverage unit ranks third (19.4 average drive start) while the Chargers returners are 21st (21.1).
“I’m expecting them not to kick it back there as much — just like last game,” said Joe McKnight, who is averaging a ridiculous 44.1 yards a kick return.
Percy Harvin of the Vikings got the Chargers season under way in ominous fashion, racing 103 yards for a score on their first play of the 2011 season. The Chargers have also been porous covering punts, but the problem is Norv Turner’s crew has only booted it away 12 times in five games. Mike Scifres, who has a decent average of 46.3 yards, has seen opponents average a whopping 18.8 yards on their six returns.
“Every team we’re going to play is going to come with their ‘A’ game. We just have to come with our ‘A’ game and expect anything,” McKnight said. “They’re probably going to come out and try to kick it different ways, try different things. You just have to be ready for it.”
Tags: Darrelle Revis, joe McKnight, LaDainian Tomlinson, Mike Tolbert, Mike Westhoff, Philip Rivers, Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers
Posted in Eric Allen | 21 Comments »
Updated 5:05 p.m. ET
A practice mishap involving defensive tackle Mike DeVito could lead to rookie nose tackle Kenrick Ellis, who made his pro debut Monday night against Miami, getting his first NFL start Sunday vs. San Diego.
DeVito got his knee rolled up at Wednesday’s practice. He was limited Thursday and today he sat out all of the team drills. He’s listed as questionable for the Chargers.
“We had him checked out and he checked out fine — he’s just awfully sore,” head coach Rex Ryan said at his daily news conference after today’s practice, adding that DeVito underwent an MRI and has no structural damage in the knee. “It could be gametime on him whether he goes or not.”
So the starter in the base could be … Ellis. Not Ropati Pitoitua or Marcus Dixon? Both are back from their injuries, practicing full today and listed as probable.
“Those guys are going to play a ton of roles for us,” Ryan said. “But in the run game, I’d like to have two nose tackle types, I’d like to have Bo and Kenrick in there, if DeVito can’t play, to stop that run up.”
The Chargers have a dangerous rushing attack. Ryan Mathews is 10th in the NFL with 413 rushing yards at 4.9 yards per carry, and with Mike Tolbert (concussion) likely to return to action, they have a fine 1-2 punch and the league’s No. 9 rushing offense.
But Ellis had the wraps taken off last week and contributed nicely against the Dolphins run, with three tackles, including 1.5 for loss. And given that the ‘Bolts also have a dangerous passing attack triggered by Philip Rivers, it’s probable that Ellis won’t be getting 60 snaps on Sunday.
Whatever his role, what Kenrick said after the win over the Dolphins surely applies to the Chargers and beyond: “I’m just happy to help.”
More on the Injury Front
Ryan’s Friday injury list has CB Isaiah Trufant (hamstring) out for Sunday, joining WR Logan Payne (wrist) on the sideline. The only other “questionable” was C Nick Mangold but he was questionable for the previous two games and still came out for the starts at Baltimore and New England. Nine other Jets are probable after full practices, including CB Antonio Cromartie (groin; limited Thursday) and Pitoitua (knee; limited Thursday).
San Diego’s injury report lists DE Luis Castillo as out for the game. TE Antonio Gates (foot) participated in the Chargers’ full practice today and is listed as questionable. Five other players are listed as probable — WR Vincent Jackson (hamstring), RB Mike Tolbert (concussion), RB Jacob Hester (foot), DE Jacques Cesaire (knee) and CB Marcus Gilchrist (knee). All practiced full except for Hester, who was limited.
Tags: Kenrick Ellis, Marcus Dixon, Mike DeVito, Mike Tolbert, Rex Ryan, Ropati Pitoitua, Ryan Mathews
Posted in Randy Lange | 16 Comments »