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Wooden Says So Long to Jets Before Charging West

Posted by Randy Lange on May 8, 2013 – 4:02 pm

Parting is such sweet sorrow, not just in Shakespeare but in football. But today’s going-away celebration was necessary for JoJo Wooden to take the next step in his desired career path.

“I was not looking forward to it at all,” Wooden, the Jets’ assistant director of player personnel, said of the small party thrown by the team’s football and business sides at the Atlantic Health Training Center as congratulations for JoJo moving 3,000 miles away to become the Chargers’ director of player personnel.

“Leaving is really, really hard, you know?” he said, still feeling the emotion of the moment. “It’s about the people.”

Wooden knew a lot of folks and wore lots of hats during his 16 seasons in the Jets’ front office. He began on the pro personnel side as an assistant, a pro scout, a senior pro scout for the AFC, assistant director of pro scouting and then director of pro scouting before getting his most recent title and adding college duties to his résumé in 2006.

“I’ve had the chance to be involved in both, and maybe the last three years or so it’s been a lot more college than pro, but I still had my hand in both,” he said this afternoon in his now in-transition office. “This is an opportunity to become the director of player personnel, overseeing both the college and pro departments, so that’s going to be exciting.

“It’s a great step. My ultimate goal, I want to be a general manager, and I think this was the next logical move for me.”

San Diego and new GM Tom Telesco were in need of a new director after Jimmy Raye, son of the well-traveled former Jets assistant coach, departed the job to saddle up with the Colts.

The Chargers offered Wooden a great opportunity, and it had to be great for him and his wife, Sarah, and two daughters to undo their ties with the Northeast. He was born and raised in Connecticut and was a two-year starter at OLB for Syracuse University.

“I’m excited, the family’s excited. They’re on board, which is big,” JoJo said. “It’s a new chapter in our life and we’re looking forward to it.”

But in keeping with his status as a Jets employee for one more day, he used the first person plural to talk about the state of the Green & White. Asked about his highlights during his Jets tenure, he offered a nod toward the Jets’ AFC Championship Game appearances in 2009 and ’10.

“Those are the biggest things, just the wins. Pittsburgh and Indianapolis … it’s hard just to get yourself in that position as an organization, and to be fortunate enough to do it two years in a row was good.”

And the team he’s leaving behind?

“I love the direction the team’s heading in now with John [Idzik] and Coach Ryan,” he said. “I feel very good about the draft, the guys we acquired. You like the direction this place is heading … and so now you’re sad that you’re jumping off ship.”

But there are plenty of tall ships in San Diego, plus the start of a new program under first-year head coach Mike McCoy. It’s tough to see Wooden head west, but it’s great to see this young man and great guy get to take that next career step. Here’s a proverbial NFL toast, JoJo: Best of luck in all you do against 30 of the NFL’s 31 other teams.

No. 1, Part II

We asked several questions Tuesday, after uniform No. 1 became free with the waiving of WR Thomas Mayo, about that non-crooked number in Jets uni history. Here are the answers:

■ Who was the last Jets player to wear No. 1 during training camp? Last year WR Raymond Webber was “the one.” The year before, P Chris Bryan wore it. Neither made it to the regular season wearing the number.

■ Who was the last Jet to wear No. 1 in a regular-season game? That was K Mike Nugent’s number from the time he was drafted in 2005 through his free agency departure following the ’08 season.

■ Who was the last non-kicker to wear No. 1 in a RS game? The only non-kicker to wear the Big Green One was RB Mike Adamle, who played for the Jets in 1973-74.

As for who if anyone will inherit the one this season, we don’t have any rookie uniform number information yet. But we will post the winning numbers as soon as we are cleared to do so this week.


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Long and Short of Today’s Barnes, Purdum Signings

Posted by Randy Lange on March 18, 2013 – 5:08 pm

Updated, 7:20 p.m. ET

The Jets have made one “snap decision” and one other “big little” transaction today with the re-signing of long-snapper Tanner Purdum and the signing of unrestricted free agent linebacker Antwan Barnes.

Barnes first. The 6’1″, 251-pound outside ‘backer from the Chargers has been reunited with his old D-coordinator, Rex Ryan, and DBs coach, Dennis Thurman, of course. He played the first two of his first three NFL seasons on Rex’s Baltimore defenses in ’07 and ’08. After ’09, he was traded to Philadelphia, released, then signed by San Diego, which used him at OLB behind Shaun Phillips from ’10 through most of last season.

Barnes has a nice 23.5-sack total for only 78 games and five starts, and that was pumped up by his big 11 sacks in ’11, nine of which he hung up in the Chargers’ last 10 games after they game to North Jersey and lost to the Jets in October.

Barnes tweeted on his verified Twitter account several hours ago, “Green and white it is…just want to thank coach rex coach DT and mr idzik for the opportunity…and to the fans I won’t let  down.” A short while later, though, he corrected himself: “Wait a minute…not official yet…in talks now…”

But just a minute ago AB returned to fait accompli mode: “Now its official#jetnation.”

Regarding Purdum, we say small in the paradoxical sense. The deal is not small to Tanner and his family, nor to recently re-signed K Nick Folk and incumbent punter/holder Robert Malone, nor by extension to the point production and field position desires of Ben Kotwica’s special teams, Marty Mornhinweg’s offense, Dennis Thurman’s defense, and HC Rex Ryan’s team.

That’s because Purdum for the past three seasons has been pur-fect, at least as far as looking upside down through his legs and putting the ball fast and true through a small window snap after snap.

He’s played in 55 games as a Jet, including three playoff games in 2010, and has made 488 snaps, 275 on punts and 213 on placements. We won’t say there hasn’t been a snap slightly high, low or wide, but not one of the 488 has skipped to his holder or sailed over his punter’s head.

Even though the NFL’s snapping quality seems about as high as its placekicking quality, snaps do go awry and thus get charged as fumbles to the snapper and rushes for no yards to the player who ends up with the peripatetic pigskin. Purdum’s been charged with no fumbles in his three seasons, and the only times a punter or holder took off with the ball, it was on purpose instead of out of self-preservation.

The last mishandled Jets mis-snap, whether due to snapper or holder, that we can recall was when James Dearth fired a field goal snap to holder Steve Weatherford back in Week 6 of the 2009 season against the Bills.

All of this in no way should imply that Purdum is the lone exception to GM John Idzik’s dictum of “Competition through and through.” At the moment his competition on the roster for the long-snapper’s job is Travis Tripucka, signed as a reserve/future free agent in January.

Tripucka played his high school ball in Mountain Lakes, N.J., 15 minutes up the road from the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, then was the long-time long-snapper for UMass and a top defenseman for the Minutemen’s lacrosse team. He was signed by the St. Louis Rams to long-snap last year and made it to a late-August cut.

Two things about Tripucka: He’s from the athletic Tripucka family — dad Kelly played hoops for Notre Dame, the Pistons, Jazz and Hornets and was a Knicks color analyst for four seasons. And grandfather Frank was an original AFL quarterback who threw eight touchdown passes in six games for the Broncos against the New York Titans from 1960-62.

The other: Tripucka, like Purdum three years earlier, comes to the Jets after a summer look from one of the NFL’s Missouri teams. Purdum was a cut of the Chiefs back in ’09.

Antwan Barnes Photos

Tanner Purdum Photos


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This Hayden Smith Guy Just Might Catch On

Posted by Randy Lange on December 26, 2012 – 5:42 pm

We’ll start the week with a few passing fancies, either or both of whom could find themselves fancied by Rex Ryan and Tony Sparano in the Jets’ offensive game plan for Buffalo on Sunday.

Hayden Smith, after short careers as a small-college basketball player and a high-level rugby performer, has been getting his feet wet in this, his first season as a 27-year-old NFL rookie tight end. It just so happened that Tim Usasz, one of his rugby buds and a fellow Australian, was in the New York area and came over to the Sunday game at MetLife Stadium against San Diego to watch his countryman play his new game.

Smith said Usasz’s immediate reaction when, late in the first half, Smith let Chargers LB Melvin Smith leak past him into the Jets backfield was, “Uh-oh, looks like Hayden made a mistake.”

That’s just what he and the Jets wanted the Chargers to think. Immediately, Greg McElroy pivoted from right to left and floated a pass with perfect touch and location past Ingram’s flailing outstretched left hand and into the hands of the former lock forward for the USA at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

“Probably the one similarity between rugby and football is running with the ball,” Smith said about his nifty 19 yards of YAC on the 16-yard play behind a D’Brickashaw Ferguson block to the Jets 41, converting a third-and-9 in the process.

“The funny thing about it was they called the play and I knew it was coming to me, and just as we got out there, there was a timeout, so I had about five minutes to think about it,” Smith said, referring to that American TV marketing concept of the five-minute-long two-minute warning. “We’ve had the play up for a couple of weeks, but we just hadn’t had the opportunity to call it until Sunday. It’s a great play, we got the look that we wanted and executed it well, so it was all positive.”

Smith’s been active for four games now, with 14 plays on offense and 13 on special teams. Sunday’s pass was the first ball thrown to the 6’6″, 255-pounder. He looked like he knew exactly what to do with it, and it would be nice to see confirmation of that perception a few more times in Sunday’s season finale at “the Ralph.”

Kerley’s Distinction

The other passing-game nugget worth noting was that Jeremy Kerley is currently the only player in NFL history who has thrown two or more passes and completed each one for more than 40 yards.

Yeah, I know, that’s a fun fact that won’t last very long. JK’s one of only 54 players who have completed every pass they’ve thrown as pros with at least two completions. And the minute one of his Wildcat passes hits the turf, he’s out of this club forever. But until then, Kerley’s 41-yard strike to TE Matt Mulligan at Miami in last year’s season finale and his 42-yard play-action chuck to Clyde Gates against the Chargers makes him an army of one.

The only members of this exclusive group who have more than Kerley’s 83 passing yards are Packers punter Ron Widby (2-for-2, 102 yards, 1972) and Broncos WR Arthur Marshall (2-for-2, 111 yards in 1992-93).

Now Kerley could etch his name in stone if he keeps it up. The NFL record-holder for most consecutive completions from start of career is St. Louis backup QB Billy Donckers, who hit all six of his career passes in 1976-77, followed by a certain University of Florida QB by name of … Kerwin Bell, who completed all five of his throws for the Colts in 1988.

Kerley’s on-the-money throw to Lex Hilliard on Sunday was wiped out by an illegal formation, so he’s still got to hit his next five to grab that Hall of Fame-esque distinction. No pressure, Jeremy.

As for if Kerley will be used in a similar Wildcat role against the Bills, head coach Rex Ryan said today, “It’s certainly a possibility, and if it’s something they have to prepare for and I wasn’t going to do it, I probably wouldn’t say it, either.”

Wilkerson on the Sideline

Muhammad Wilkerson is on the Jets’ injury report for the first time this season. The DE, who’s been on a tear for better than half a season, is listed with a concussion and a knee injury and did not participate in today’s team drills.

“That would be a big concern” if Mo can’t go, Ryan said this morning at his news conference. “He’s one of the best interior linemen in the league. Hopefully, he’ll get that kind of respect  when the Pro Bowl voting comes out. But forget all that. I’d like Mo to play and I am concerned he can’t practice today.” Ryan said he thought Wilkerson underwent concussion testing after Sunday’s game and that Rex didn’t hear about Wilkerson’s injury status until Tuesday. Merry Christmas.

By the way, the NFL will be making the initial unveil of its AFC and NFC Pro Bowl rosters tonight at 7 p.m. ET on NFL Network. We’ll have a separate story on the Jets’ Pro Bowlers live on our site shortly after the announcement by the league.

The Rest of the Injury Picture

The other DNPs today were Keller (ankle), WR Braylon Edwards (hamstring/knee), CB Ellis Lankster (concussion), LB Bryan Thomas (chest), WR Chaz Schilens (knee) and CB Aaron Berry (hamstring).

The other 18 Jets on the report were all full-go for the team drills at today’s practice, which started outside on the Atlantic Health Training Center turf field, then headed indoors when the rain/snow started coming down shortly in the early afternoon.

Among the full participants were QB Greg McElroy (abdomen) and NT Sione Po‘uha (back), who’s listed as full for the first time in 13 weeks and for only the sixth time in this season’s 46 game-week practices. Way to work all the way “back,” Sione. You’ll find the Jets’ full injury report here.

The Bills list 15 players of their own. DNP — S Jairus Byrd (ankle), TE Scott Chandler (knee), G Andy Levitre (knee), WR Ruvell Martin (non-injury-related), S Da’Norris Searcy (groin), DT Kyle Williams (knee). Limited — DE Mark Anderson (knee), LB Nick Barnett (knee), RB Dorin Dickerson (ankle), WR Marcus Easley (hamstring), CB Justin Rogers (foot), LB Chris White (hamstring), C Eric Wood (knee). Full — RB C.J. Spiller (shoulder), DE Mario Williams (wrist).

“Inside the Jets”

Tonight’s “Inside the Jets” radio show, scheduled for tonight, is going on live as scheduled at 7 p.m ET on ESPN 98.7 FM at the Grasshopper in Morristown, N.J. Larry Hardesty is hosting. Due to this afternoon’s snowstorm in the area, no players will be appearing at the restaurant but players will be calling into the show.


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Some Naughty, Some Nice for the Holidays

Posted by Randy Lange on December 24, 2012 – 2:09 pm

What do you want first, the good news or the bad news?

All right, good news first.

With one more favorable set of games on the last day of the season next Sunday, the Jets will have the NFL’s No. 1 pass defense for 2012.

Stay with me on this.

The Jets are No. 2 for the second week in a row, behind Pittsburgh’s No. 1 unit, but the gap closed significantly on Sunday. As the Jets were yielding 136 net yards (passing yards minus sack yards), to the Chargers, the Steelers gave up 253 to Andy Dalton and the Bengals. That leaves the Jets 30 yards behind the Steelers.

A Green & White shutdown of Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills coupled with a Steelers showing vs. Brandon Weeden and the Browns that is 31-plus yards than the Jets allow (and barring an even greater lockdown by No. 3 Arizona against No. 4 San Francisco or vice versa and by No. 5 Seattle against St. Louis) and the Jets will wear the No. 1 crown for pass defense in a year in which they didn’t have Darrelle Revis for 13 games and only lately started to bring serious, consistent pressure on opposing QBs.

What’s the point, you may ask over your eggnog. No. 1 pass defense isn’t a secret tiebreaker to get the Jets into the AFC playoff grid. It doesn’t pay incentives. There isn’t even a plaque for the wall downstairs at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. And where was the vaunted passing D in Sunday’s third quarter?

That last question is easiest to answer, although I’ll sound like a coach here when I say they’re paying the Chargers, too. Philip Rivers is still a decent QB, Danario Alexander is a dangerous downfield threat, Antonio Gates is one of the long-time gold standards at TE. Yeah, it would’ve been great to see Antonio Cromartie play that ball to Alexander better and for Eric Smith to drop Gates right after the catch, but most teams would kill for a defense that gave up 10 of its 20 points off of short fields and allowed 136 yards of passing offense on the day.

“The defense played really well for the majority of the game,” head coach Rex Ryan said on a conference call with beat reporters today. “I thought we gave up two huge plays. One we really thought we had the coverage, then did a poor job from a technique standpoint. Then you’ve got to give them credit for a nice job of scheming us when they got Gates isolated. That was obviously a big play for them. I think that’s obviously the difference in the game. They were absolutely dominated on defense and they made enough plays on offense to win the game.”

But at least consider there’s carryover from everything, good, bad and mediocre. However the Jets’ offense shakes out in 2013, the defense figures to be a cornerstone for the Jets going forward. Mo and Q, the Hitman, Cro and Revis Island, et al., should be a major force in the future, and nothing like a top ranking to underscore that for newcomers to the fold. Plus 1 isn’t a crooked number and is better than a sharp stick in the eye.

And Now for the Naughty

The bad news is that, besides a sudden blocking problem — “That was as poor as I can ever remember, as far as pass protection is concerned,” Ryan said of the 11 sacks suffered by Greg McElroy and the offense — another issue has lately reared its ugly head. It’s a turnover problem.

We hate to say it on Christmas Eve, but the Jets have been doing too much giving and not enough taking.

In their last five games, they have a minus-14 turnover margin (four takeaways, 18 giveaways), dropping them to minus-13 on the year, 27th in the NFL. Furthermore, it’s tied for the most lopsided five-game in-season margin in franchise history with a stretch of the Jets’ inaugural season as the Titans in 1960, when they went minus-14 from Games 5-9 (14 TAs, 28 GAs). The only worse five-game stretch spanned the 1976 and ’77 seasons, when they had a minus-18 (9 TAs, 27 GAs) through the ’77 season opener.

On the one hand, this kind of trend can undo a lot of the good things a team might do, such as playing great pass defense or getting off the field on third down or returning and covering kickoffs. On the other, at least the Jets won two of the games in this five game span, vs. Arizona and at Jacksonville.

Regardless, some members of the defense spoke with me about optimizing takeaway opportunities, and that hasn’t happened with no turnovers for the defense, not even a forced fumble, the last two games. Just like great pass defense can continue into the offseason and the next preseason, so can that often whimsical but always important turnover habit.

There is no better time for McElroy and the offense to work on ball security and the D to step up its ball thievery than this season’s last live action against the Bills, who are minus-14 for the season and minus-8 in their last three games alone.

Rex Cetera

Ryan was grilled again about quarterbacks following the game. He deflected Sunday stories about sources offering information regarding Tim Tebow being active but not playing against the Chargers while Jeremy Kerley ran the Wildcat on several plays, most notably the 42-yard completion to Clyde Gates on the Jets’ second drive.

“You’re assuming something’s a fact or whatever,” Ryan said regarding questions about some of those sources. “I’ll say this: If I would’ve asked Tim to play anything, Tim would’ve gone in the game and done that. … Jeremy looked good in practice. That’s why I went with him. I could’ve used Tim. If I’d chosen to use Tim, I believe without any hesitation Tim would’ve been out there.”

Reporter John Holt will have a story on Kerley that we’ll post Christmas morning. And we’ll have more on Rex, the quarterbacks, and the rest of the Jets when we all return to the facility for Wednesday’s practice for the Bills. Until then, we’ll sign off now and wish you and yours the happiest of holidays.


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Jets-Chargers: 1st-Half Tweets

Posted by Randy Lange on December 23, 2012 – 2:40 pm

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

#RL Jets gameday captains today: Antonio Cromartie, Greg McElroy, Garrett McIntyre, Robert Malone, Antonio Allen.

#RL Chargers win opening coin toss, will defer their choice to 2nd half. Jets are 4-0 this yr in games in which opps win toss and defer.

#RL Micheal Spurlock 63-yd punt return for SD touchdown 1:59 into game. First opponent PR TD since Phillip Buchanon @ OAK in 2003.

#RL Greg McElroy screen to Shonn Greene for 30-yd reception. Longest reception by a RB this season.

#RL Jeremy Kerley to Clyde Gates out of Wildcat for 42-yd completion to SD-11. Kerley now 2-for-2 for 83 yds passing in his career.

#EA That was Shonn Greene’s 2nd longest catch of his career. He had a 36-yarder against KC last Dec. 11.

#EA Greene sets a career-high with his 7th rushing TD.

#RL Shonn Greene goes over from 1 yd out for TD to tie score at 7-7. Greene’s 7th TD of the season.

#EA 5 of Shonn Greene’s 7 Rush TDs in 2012 have come at MetLife Stadium. He is closing in on 1,000 for the year.

#RL Jets score 1st first-half offensive TD in 5 games, 2nd first-half offensive TD in last 48 drives, 8 games.

#RL Jets KO cover team, which came into weekend 2nd in NFL in most inside-20 kickoffs, get No. 24 as Micheal Spurlock is tackled at 19.

#EA Greene has another TD – that is No. 8 on the season. 2 Trips to the Red Zone – 2 TDs.

#RL Greene from 1 yd out again, Jets lead 14-7. First time Jets are in double digits in 1st qtr since 10 pts vs JAX in 2009 Game 9…

#RL … first time Jets have had 2 1st-qtr TDs since 2009 Game 7 @ OAK, first time 2 1st-qtr TDs at home since 2009 Game 3 vs TEN.

#EA In 2012, Jets have had 44 Trips Inside the Red Zone and scored 23 TDs. That is a 52% TD% now after Greene’s 2 scores in the 1st.

#RL Quinton Coples sacks Wildcat QB Ronnie Brown at SD-2 for his 5th sack of season, taking the Jets’ team lead.

#EA In the previous 7 first halves combined, the Jets had 16 offensive points. They have 14 late in the 1st vs. San Diego.

#RL Jets have 14-7 lead at the end of 1st qtr, largest 1st-qtr lead since Game 1, when they led BUF 7-0.

#RL After timeout, Nick Novak comes out for 51-yd FG, which he hits. Equals his longest FG this season, is longest by Jets opp this season.

#EA Greene: 8-20. Needs 29 Yards to Reach 1,000.

#EA Jets 3rd Down D Dominance Continues. SD 0-for-5 in 1st Half.

#RL Jets face 3rd-and-9 at their 25 at 2-minute warning for 1st half. They’re 1-for-4 so far in converting 3rd downs.

#RL Greg McElroy to TE Hayden Smith for his first pro reception, 16 yds on third-and-9 for first down.

#EA Wow the Jets get the big Australian going on the throwback screen for Hayden Smith! His 1st career catch.

#RL Jets go into locker room with 14-10 lead, their first halftime lead in 5 games or since 13-7 at St. Louis.

#RL Besides lead on scoreboard, Jets also hold edges in 1st downs (10-5), yards (142-76), possession (17:24-12:36). No turnovers in half.


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Jets-Chargers: Pregame Tweets

Posted by Randy Lange on December 23, 2012 – 12:27 pm

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

#RL Weather for Jets-Chargers today, 1 pm ET kickoff, at MetLife Stadium: mostly sunny, low 40s, winds close to 10 mph out of SW.

#RL Jets 14-17-1 all-time vs SD but have won 5 of last 7, incl PO wins @ SD in ’04 and ’09 and last yr’s 27-21 win over Chargers at MetLife.

#RL Greg McElroy gets first pro start for Jets. G-Mac got “relief win” in only previous appearance in 7-6 win over ARZ 3 wks ago.

#RL Chargers’ Philip Rivers is 1-2 career vs Jets with passer line of 62-of-97 (63.9%), 727 yds, 5 TDs, 5 INTs, 3 sacks, 82.3 rating.

#RL Jets RB Shonn Greene needs 49 rushing yds today to reach 1,000 rushing yds for 2nd consecutive season.

#RL Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson in last 9 games: 4 sacks, 3 forced FUMs, 1 FUM-return TD, 3 PDs, 1 intl grounding forced, 1 blkd FG

#RL Wilkerson, rookie DE Quinton Coples–former Hargrave MA teammates–are tied for Jets lead with 4 sacks each.

#RL Jets D on a run: Have held opponents to 4 conversions on their last 46 third downs. (0-for-2 vs NE, 0-15 vs ARZ, 2-16 @ jax, 2-13 @ TEN).

#RL Jets K Nick Folk is 17-for-22 FGAs this season. SD’s Nick Novak, former Jets K, is 15-for-17 FGAs this season.

#RL Jets wearing green jerseys, white pants today. They’re 3-3 this yr, 12-10 under Rex Ryan since ’09 in green/white.

#RL Today’s referee is Pete Morelli. It’s his 9th Jets game as ref. He also had Jets games @ SD in ’04 (34-28 win) and ’08 (48-29 loss).

#RL NYJ inactives: WR Mardy Gilyard CB Aaron Berry, CB Donnie Fletcher LB Ricky Sapp Davis DL Damon Harrison G Caleb Schlauderaff TE Dustin Keller

#RL Greg McElroy, Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow all active for this game, 1st game this season all 3 Jets QBs have been active in a game.

#RL SD inactives: RB Edwin Baker LB Jonas Mouton LB Demorrio Williams OL Stephen Schilling WR Mike Willie TE Ladarius Green DT Aubrayo Franklin


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STS*: Malone on Chargers, Curley, Christmas

Posted by Randy Lange on December 22, 2012 – 12:59 pm

We caught up with Jets punter Robert Malone in the locker room Friday. In his first season with the Green & White, the 24-year-old is on pace to break Curley Johnson’s franchise single-season records for gross and net punting average. Malone talked with us about the possibility of breaking those records, facing off against one of his former teams Sunday, and what the Christmas holiday means to him.

Sunday you’re going up against the San Diego Chargers, a team you previously spent a little bit of time with. What’s your mental outlook heading into this game?

I mean, it’s no different than any other game for me. I knew I wasn’t going to be there to beat out Mike [Scifres, the Chargers' long-time punter]. I played for Rich Bisaccia, who is the special teams coach there now. I played with him at Tampa. He brought me over there, and it was good. I appreciated the opportunity to get some film out there, but I approach it the same as any other game.

How much do you feel that short time playing alongside Scifres helped you?

The thing that benefitted me the most was just the pure competition. He has the highest hangtime in the league and that really helped me improve myself, just to be at that level. I didn’t want to be just totally outdone when I was there, so that constant competition really drove me.

Do you still keep in contact with him?

A few texts messages here or there, but not a lot.

Looking forward to seeing him Sunday?

Yeah, it’ll be good.

Assess your season overall. Would you say this is the best season of your NFL career?

Yeah, I would think so. I’m still getting more consistent as the year goes on. I’m trying to perfect my craft. But I do feel comfortable and it’s been a strong season so far.

Tell me your mental process each time before you punt the football. What’s are you thinking about?

Each punt is a different situation, different scenario. You’ve just got to win each situation and put your team in the best situation. Whether that means getting the ball off as fast as possible, or pinning them back deep, or if you’re directional -punting, spend some time kind of walking through like, “OK, what do I have to do here?” Given the different situations, playing that through my head, and just making sure we execute.

How do you feel like you’ve handled the cold weather so far because it seems like it hasn’t affected you too much.

It hasn’t gotten cold enough too fast, so I kind of got used to it. It’s kind of been a gradual thing. It’s not like it just dropped 50 degrees in one day. I’ve actually kind of got used to it now.

You’re on track to break two of Curley Johnson’s 1965 franchise single-season records in net punt average and gross punt average. Is that something you’re aware of?

I’ve heard about it. I try not to pay too much attention to it. A lot of things can happen. I mean, if these next two games we have to pin ‘em back deep and we have to kick a whole bunch of short ones, that kind of stuff, you just have to win each situation. So I’ve never really been focusing on “OK, I’ve got to break a record” or anything like that.

Your net average is 39.8, very close to reaching a 40.0 net for the season. Is having a 40.0 net average a goal you set for yourself before the season?

I would want to hit 40. Unfortunately, we had the two blocks and we would have been about 41. But it would be an awesome goal if we could reach that. There’s only two games left, so I don’t know if we’ll have enough just to bring up the average. But we’ll see. That’s definitely a goal I always wanted to hit, that 40 mark, because it’s not been done.

Would that mean a lot to you, though, if you were able to break those two team records?

It would be an honor. It’s not something that I’m solely striving for. I’m just trying to put the team in the best position each punt.

Christmas is just days away. What does the holiday mean to you and what’s the day going to be like for you this year?

Well, I’m a Christian and I’m excited to celebrate the birth of Christ. My wife gets to come up. She’s coming up today, actually. She lives back in California and she’s flying up today. I’m excited to see her. We’ll get to celebrate as a family.

*Special Teams Saturday


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DeVito’s Career Night in Midst of a Career Year

Posted by jlholt32 on December 20, 2012 – 6:11 pm

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.


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Retiring LT Left His Mark on the Jets

Posted by Randy Lange on June 18, 2012 – 10:49 am

There was the tattoo on the back of the right calf, the one with the NYJ logo. And there were a number of heartfelt sentiments and fiery team breakdowns and uplifting highlights while wearing the green and white.

Still, when LaDainian Tomlinson decided to officially retire from the NFL, did anyone doubt the San Diego pull on his career?

The Chargers announced Sunday that Tomlinson is retiring and that he’s retiring as a ‘Bolt. He is expected to sign a one-day contract with San Diego today and then hold a news conference this afternoon.

Nevertheless, No. 21 had an impact for the two seasons that he was a Jet. He notched the last 100-yard game of his Hall of Fame career, going for 133 yards and two touchdowns at Buffalo in Game 4 of 2010. Two weeks later there was another two-TD game in the win at Denver, and two more in the AFC Wild Card win at Indianapolis.

Last season he throttled down as Shonn Greene became the starting tailback, yet still Tomlinson contributed, as the third-down back. His 42 receptions for 449 yards gave him a career-best 10.7 yards per catch, topped by his career-long-equaling 74-yard catch-and-run at Oakland.

However, Tomlinson, released by the Chargers after the ’09 season, his ninth in blue and gold, may have been at his happiest as a Jet after a tiny little 3-yard gain on fourth-and-1 from midfield. All that run did was cement the Patriots’ fate in the Jets’ 28-14 Game 2 triumph, his first home win as a Jet and the Jets’ first win in their new Meadowlands home.

“I’m having a lot of fun,” Tomlinson said after that game. “Being around these guys, this coaching staff, being on this team has rejuvenated me and I feel like a young man running around out there. I’m having fun like a kid again, so I’m going to keep that passion all year long.”

“He’s enjoying himself here. He’s excited about being here,” said CB Antonio Cromartie, who played his first four NFL seasons with Tomlinson in San Diego. “He’s anxious to prove everyone wrong. Everyone says that he’s 31 years old and he’s headed for a downfall, but he’s going out and proving everyone wrong.”

One thing LT appreciated most in his short stay in the New Jersey/New York area was the passion of the fans.

“I never knew how emotional and passionate the fans are here about football,” he said. “Of course, I played here once or twice and they were great fans then, but playing here and being part of this team — it’s a different story.”

Both Tomlinson and the Jets could see the unfolding story after last season’s deflating finish out of the playoffs. He knew his Jets career was drawing to a close and his NFL career, too.

And today the story will be about his fantastic career, the first 9/11ths of it spent building a magnificent foundation, the last 2/11ths applying the crowning touch. We’ll bring you some of LaDainian’s comments from that news conference later this afternoon — which will be streamed live on chargers.com at 2 p.m. ET — and we’ll have a few photos and videos of his stay with the Jets.


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Ten Years Later, LT and Vick Come Together Again

Posted by Eric Allen on December 14, 2011 – 5:02 pm

LaDainian Tomlinson and Michael Vick will always be linked. On the eve of the 2001 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons moved up four spots to obtain the San Diego Chargers’ No. 1 overall selection.

“Keep in mind, I hadn’t talked to San Diego predraft or anything else,” Tomlinson recalled this week. “I remember when we were both at the draft the day before and Vick actually said to me, ‘You know what, they’re going to trade the pick and Atlanta is going to move to No. 1 and San Diego is going to jump back to No. 5 and get you.’”

Vick was a star at Virginia Tech while Tomlinson helped revive a program at Texas Christian. The Chargers had many needs and they were burned just a few years prior when they drafted Ryan Leaf with the No. 2 overall selection. After negotiating with Vick, the Bolts moved back for a package that included the swap of first-round picks and the acquisition of a third-round pick (No. 67, CB Tay Cody) in ’01, a second-rounder in ’02 (No. 48, WR Reche Caldwell) and WR-KR Tim Dwight.

Almost in disbelief after what he heard from Vick, Tomlinson couldn’t quite get in the SoCal frame of mind until the trade was official.

“I was like, ‘Why would you do that? He said, ‘Well, we can’t agree on the money.’ I still didn’t quite believe him at the time, but laying in my bed that night before the draft, I saw that they traded for Vick,” Tomlinson said. “I said, ‘Oh my goodness, I’m going to San Diego.’ That’s kind of when I knew that it was going to happen.”

The Chargers not only got themselves an outstanding running back, but they came back in the second round and took a flyer on a small quarterback with questionable arm strength. Purdue product Drew Brees was his name and he turned out to be a sensational player in his own right.

“I was the fifth pick and I think Drew Brees was actually like the 32nd pick or something like that. It was the first pick in the second round,” Tomlinson said. “If you think about that, they had two Hall of Fame guys that they drafted that year. So it’s pretty unbelievable picking by John Butler.”

They are working on Tomlinson’s bust in Canton, Ohio. He’s third on the NFL’s all-time list for career touchdowns with 162, and he needs just 73 yards to move past Jerome Bettis and into fifth place on the all-time rushing list.

“I can’t say enough about the late John Butler and his family, giving me the opportunity to play in this league,” he said. “He believed in me and as a younger player he did say I reminded him of Thurman Thomas, who he had in Buffalo. At that time, I just told him that I hoped I could live up to half of the things Thurman Thomas has done. John Butler was great to be around.”

Tomlinson and the Jets have been hanging around the end zone a lot lately. They average 26.2 points a game and have scored 13 touchdowns over the last three weeks, including 12 straight in the red zone.

“I think that’s the thing people really need to focus on because last year we were one of the worst teams in the red zone,” said Tomlinson, who against the Chiefs celebrated his first home score as a Jet. “This year we’re tops in the league in the red zone. Just to kind of show people this offense, when we put our minds that we want to be good at something —we get the job done. A lot of that has to do with coaching. Schotty is the main one up there preaching that to us every single day, pointing out the things we’re doing wrong, correcting what we’re doing wrong. That’s how we’re moving forward.”

The 32-year-old Tomlinson still has moves that wow us. After missing Weeks 11 and 12 with a knee sprain, he again tweaked the same knee at Washington and was limited in Week 13. But he had six touches against the Chiefs, including a beautiful 31-yard catch-and-run after making rookie Justin Houston look like a traffic cone in coverage.

“It was funny because I felt kind of disrespected a little bit. He’s kind of a defensive end/linebacker and they just had him 1-on-1 with me,” Tomlinson said. “In my opinion, at that time, if I can’t beat him, then it’s time for me to retire and get out of the game. I’m done if I can’t win my matchup.”

Now close to 11 years after a historic draft day trade, Tomlinson hopes he can secure a win against Vick’s team. Vick and the Eagles haven’t had the success they’ve wanted, but they remain explosive and Tomlinson would like to see No. 7 on the sideline most of the day.

“That’s going to be critical for us is time of possession,” he said. “We would love to keep them off the field and allow our defense to rest. We don’t know what kind of game it’s going to be as far as the weather. We all know this time of year you have to be able to run the football and that’s one of the things we’ve been doing good of late, so we have to continue that.”


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