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.”
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.”
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).
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.
Tags: Bart Scott, Bill Belichick, Dustin Keller, Kyle Wilson, Mark Sanchez, New England Patriots, Quinton Coples, Rex Ryan, Rob Gronkowski, St. Louis Rams, thanksgiving, Tom Brady
Posted in Randy Lange | 34 Comments »
Here are today’s pregame tweets for Jets-Rams at the Edward Jones Dome, 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 It’s a crisp, sunny day in St. Louis, which of course won’t affect Jets-Rams inside the Edward Jones Dome. Kickoff around 1:02 pm ET.
#RL Jets trail Rams in all-time series 9-3. Rams are 5-1 at home vs Jets, 2-0 in Jones Dome with 30-10 win in ’98, 32-29 OT win in ’04.
#RL NYJ inactives: QB Greg McElroy, DT Damon Harrison, G Caleb Schlauderaff, G Hayworth Hicks, TE Hayden Smith, LB Marcus Dowtin.
#RL Jets wearing white jerseys, white pants today. They’ve gone white-white 4 times this season (1-3), 27 times u/ Rex Ryan (15-12).
#RL Today’s ref is Jerome Boger. It’s his 11th Jets game as ref since ’06. Boger also officiated ’09 Jets-SD playoff game.
#RL RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle) is active for Jets after missing SEA game. NT Kenrick Ellis (knee) is active after missing last 4 games.
#RL STL inactives: QB Austin Davis WR Steve Smith S Darian Stewart RB Terrance Ganaway FB Brit Miller OL Chris Williams DT Matt Conrath
#RL Jets D wants to maintain the pressure. First 5 games they registered a sack every 30.8 QB dropbacks. Last 4: sack every 12.8 dropbacks.
#RL Jets O wants to get off the schneid: Last 25 drives: 1 TD, 1 FG, 1 blocked FG, 14 punts (9 3-and-outs, 1 blocked punt), 5 turnovers.
#RL Jets’ gameday captains: LB Bart Scott, CB Antonio Cromartie, T Austin Howard, former Rams T Jason Smith, LS Tanner Purdum.
#RL Ex-Jets with Rams: starting C Rob Turner, TE Matt Mulligan, T Wayne Hunter, QB Kellen Clemens, RB Terrance Ganaway (inactive), OC Brian Schottenheimer
#RL New addition Kahlil Bell, former CHI back, also active and should make his Jets debut today. Wearing uniform #21.
Tags: Edward Jones Dome, joe McKnight, Kahlil Bell, Kenrick Ellis, Rex Ryan, St. Louis Rams
Posted in Randy Lange | 1 Comment »
Most football players have a preference between competing in an outdoor stadium or a dome.
All nine of the Jets’ games this season have been held outdoor stadiums. Their final six will be also. The Green & White will play their lone indoor game in the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis on Sunday.
For Jets punter Robert Malone, the excitement of the venue is clearly evident.
“Most kickers and punters would prefer to kick inside a dome,” Malone said Friday afternoon after practice, “because, I mean, you don’t have to worry about weather conditions. Being out here in New York, where it’s cold and windy, it’s not the most ideal place to punt. So it’s nice to be able to get in a dome where you don’t have to worry about that too much and you can kind of just focus on what you have to do.”
One Jet who isn’t as big of a supporter toward a dome’s environment is Malone’s personal protector, Tim Tebow.
“I prefer grass,” No. 15 said. “I prefer playing in elements on grass. I feel like that’s how football should be played. But really, it doesn’t bother me too much at all.”
Malone said he’s played two games in domes during his time in the NFL. When he was a member of the Buccaneers, he faced the Saints in the Superdome and also played in the Georgia Dome vs. the Falcons.
“Some people can get pretty excited to be in there and try to swing for the fences and that’s when mistakes can happen,” the punter said. “So you’ve got to be careful. You’ve got to be smooth. You’ve got to stay with your rhythm, because there’s definitely been some mis-hits in domes, too.”
The 24-year-old enters Sunday’s contest against the 3-5-1 Rams looking to build off an impressive outing last week at Seattle. In that game, he had seven punts for a 45.9-yard gross average and a 40.1 net. Three of his punts resulted in fair catches by Leon Washington and four were inside-the-20 punts. The only other game this season he’s had four inside-the-20s was Sept. 23 at Miami.
“I wouldn’t say it was my best game,” Malone said. “I was happy with the performance. There were a few things I could have done better. I would probably say the Colts game was my best game as a Jet. But I felt solid. There’s definitely a few things I can improve on. But I can’t complain with the net and the four inside-the-20s.”
Malone’s net production hasn’t gone unnoticed either. Head coach Rex Ryan praised the effort and production during his news conference Wednesday.
“We have a young man, I think this might be the best net punting we’ve ever had here,” Ryan said. “I think that’s been a success.”
Malone attributes a lot of his positive net punting — his 39.3 net for the season isn’t far from Curley Johnson’s franchise mark of 39.7 in 1965 — to special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff.
“He’s just a big believer in doing your job, focusing on your job and doing what you can for the team,” Malone said. “He puts a lot of pressure on you, which is good because when it comes to the game, there is a lot of pressure. So in practice, that’s kind of how he does it. He tries to make you prepared.”
After a positive start, the Jets’ special teams have struggled over the last two games. Punt returner Jeremy Kerley muffed a punt against Seattle and one of Malone’s punts against Miami in Week 8 was blocked and returned for a touchdown. Westhoff has shown his disappointment and it hasn’t been fun for Malone either.
“Obviously like any coach would be,” Malone said, “you know if things aren’t going well he’s going to show his frustrations. The players are just as frustrated. So we’ve got to do our best to not get that feeling anymore.”
The Orange, Calif., native said his knowledge of the game and anticipation in punting situations are the two things he’s improved most since he was signed Sept. 4. And with only seven weeks of the regular season remaining, No. 3 is striving for one thing: consistency.
“It’s a long season,” Malone said, “and you’ve just got to try and keep your legs fresh. It’s harder to stay fresh out here just because it’s so much colder than most places. You’ve got to keep swinging your leg. You’ve got to warm up a lot more. Just staying fresh, staying consistent throughout the season and finish strong.”
*Special Teams Saturday
Tags: Curley Johnson, Edward Jones Dome, Mike Westhoff, Robert Malone, St. Louis Rams
Posted in John Holt | 13 Comments »
Updated, 4:15 p.m. ET
Ellis Lankster said he would be watching NFL highlights or ESPN’s Top Ten and see blitzing cornerbacks from other teams coming free all the time, swooping in on unsuspecting quarterbacks and separating them from the football.
“And I would say, ‘Why? Why do I never come free like that?’ ” he wondered.
At Seattle, it happened. Lankster, playing nickel after Isaiah Trufant suffered his season-ending first-quarter knee injury, came off his left edge in a five-man rush. No Seahawk stepped up to block him, and suddenly there was rookie QB Russell Wilson, as big as day and looking the other way.
“My whole time running, I was saying in my head, ‘Don’t throw it, don’t throw it, don’t throw it,’ ” Lankster recalled. “He didn’t throw it. I was so happy.”
Lankster hit Wilson and the ball came loose. In one instant, the third-year man who’s been waiting his turn for his career to get rolling had just picked up his first sack and first forced fumble of his career.
As luck would have it, the Seahawks recovered the loose ball at their 7. It was still a big third-down play, forcing a 3-and-out, but it was one of several plays that could have signaled a Jets upsurge in that game but went the other way. If only Dustin Keller didn’t false-start, if only Mark Sanchez saw Stephen Hill in the back of the end zone, if only the Jets had recovered that ball and Jeremy Kerley hadn’t muffed the punt …
That’s what happens to teams on losing streaks. But teams that pull out of those streaks do so by relying on positive trends that develop during those negative teams. We have more on that in our Sunday morning preview of the Jets-Rams game, but suffice it to say that Lankster, to help him should he have a clear shot at Rams QB Sam Bradford, has been going to the Jets’ video library.
“I never played with Drew Coleman. My first year here, he was gone,” he said of the former Jets corner and strip-sack artist who played last year with Jacksonville last season. “Coaches will be like, ‘Go back and watch how Drew Coleman did it, or how Donald Strickland did it.’ “
In fact, Lankster did a great imitation. He became the first Jets DB to execute a strip-sack in 28 games, or since DC had three in a three-game span (two against Ben Roethlisberger) late in the 2010 season.
There’s no guarantee Lankster will be running forward unblocked again Sunday and on Thanksgiving night back home against the Patriots. But an improved Jets rush will help him as he tries to fill Trufant’s role in coverage against those teams’ top wideouts, Danny Amendola for the Rams and Wes Welker for the Patriots. In fact, as Ryan said a few times this week, Amendola “kind of looks like Wes Welker, and his game looks a lot like it, too.”
The shame of that is that Trufant likely would have been a key player in the Jets’ nickel. He’d been flashing on blitzes himself and got praise for helping to hold Welker down four weeks ago at New England. Unfortunately, Trufant’s left knee got jarred by LB Garrett McIntyre as both went for the tackle of ex-Jet Leon Washington on his first punt return on Sunday. That injury landed Trufant on IR on Tuesday.
But ‘Zaiah may yet make his presence felt under the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday.
“Ever since he got hurt, he’s been telling me to ‘hold it down,’ ” Lankster said. “He’s been sending me texts, saying, ‘Don’t feel sorry for me. It’s your time.’ “
Perhaps it will be.
Here is the list of strip-sacks by Jets DBs from the Bill Parcells era forward:
2010 — CB Drew Coleman 3
2009 — S Jim Leonhard 2, S James Ihedigbo 1, S Kerry Rhodes 1
2008 — S Abram Elam 2, CB Hank Poteat 1, CB Darrelle Revis 1
2006 — Rhodes 3
2001 — CB Ray Mickens 1
1999 — Mickens 2
1998 — S Victor Green 1
Friday Injury Reports
Mostly good news on the Jets’ injury front. The good: For the first time this season, the Jets list no players as either doubtful or out for the upcoming game. “I expect us to have a healthy roster,” Ryan said today, “and we’ll see how that goes.”
Included in those expectations are the five players listed as questionable for the Rams: RB Bilal Powell (concussion), RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle), NT Sione Po‘uha (back/ankle), LB Bart Scott (toe) and — the only semi-negative injury news — WR-PR Jeremy Kerley, who didn’t practice for the first time this week with his heel injury plus a hamstring complication.
WR Stephen Hill practiced full after sitting out two days with an illness and said he’s feeling a lot better. He’s probable, as are LB Calvin Pace (DNP today due to personal reasons) and the 12 other players on the list.
All four injured Rams players are listed as questionable for the game: LB Mario Haggan (thigh), WR Austin Pettis (toe), DE Eugene Sims (knee), S Darian Stewart (knee). None is a starter.
Last week at this time we noted that Marv Albert was about to call his 100th Jets game on network TV. He and Rich Gannon (doing his seventh Jets game since ’08 as a network analyst and his fifth teamed with Marv) in the CBS booth generally had a good game. Gannon in particular was tough but insightful on Mark Sanchez’s play and the Jets’ use of Tim Tebow.
But Gannon committed a late-game gaffe that we’d like to correct for the record. When Yeremiah Bell rocked RB Richard Turbin as a Russell Wilson pass sailed over their heads, and YB was flagged for what ref Ed Hochuli announced was “unnecessary roughness, helmet contact to a defenseless player,” Gannon offered this:
“Yeremiah Bell’s been tagged a couple times this season for these type of hits.”
False. Until that penalty, Bell hadn’t been flagged for any plays of that kind this season. The only penalty he’d been called for previously was for holding TE Heath Miller in Game 2 at Pittsburgh.
If Gannon had said the Jets safeties as a tandem had been tagged a couple of times, he would have been in the ballpark. LaRon Landry was flagged for two late hits, on Buffalo’s C.J. Spiller in the opener (offset) and on Pittsburgh’s Emmanuel Sanders the next week, plus a horsecollar tackle on Antonio Brown in that game. He’d gone unpenalized for six games, or until he was called for pass interference on Seattle TE Evan Moore in the back of the end zone.
That Landry penalty vs. the Seahawks, by the way, was a rarity, since it officially was for zero yards yet still gave the Seahawks a first down. The ball was already inside the Jets 1 and the penalty moved the ball half the distance to the goal line, which was a foot away. That’s still statistically considered the 1-yard line.
Special Thanks to A-1 First Class
The New York Jets want to extend a special thank-you to A-1 First Class Moving, the proud moving partner of the Jets, for helping deliver items from the organization’s Sandy Relief Drive to New Jersey Cares.
Tags: Ellis Lankster, Isaiah Trufant, Marv Albert, Rex Ryan, Rich Gannon, Russell Wilson, Sam Bradford, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams
Posted in Randy Lange | 28 Comments »
Update, 5:59 p.m. ET
Rex Ryan could have spoken at length about the St. Louis Rams, the waiving of LB Aaron Maybin or the signing of RB Kahlil Bell. But he wasn’t asked about the Rams and mentioned the transactions only late in today’s news conference.
Mostly reporters wanted to probe the coach’s reactions to a story of named and anonymous team sources in the Daily News on the theme of the quality of Tim Tebow’s play as Mark Sanchez’s backup at QB.
Ryan didn’t deviate from his position on Tebow that he offered back when the Jets traded for him with the Broncos on March 21.
“I’ve said that from day one. We never brought Tim in here to be the starting quarterback,” Ryan said. “We’ve used him in the Wildcat and you saw him throwing the ball [Sunday at Seattle]. Two snaps, 20 snaps, he has done that for us. I recognize the fact that he’s a tremendous football player.
Soon after the trade, Ryan introduced the idea of Tebow working on the punt team. ” ‘You know what? We’d like you to be our personal protector. We think that’s going to give us an advantage in the punting game,’ ” he reformed the statement he made to Tebow at the time. “This might be the best net punting we’ve ever had here, and a lot of that can be attributed to having Tim Tebow as our personal protector.”
As the PP, Tebow has taken three fake-punt snaps, all for first downs. And Robert Malone’s 39.3-yard net punting average, while only 20th among this season’s strong group of NFL punters, would be the best in 47 seasons, or since Curley Johnson registered a 39.7 net for the 1965 Jets that is still the franchise best.
Another main topic was if the anonymous sources quoted in the story indicated that the ’12 Jets were starting to fray as the ’11 Jets did in the second half of the season.
“Did I address it with the team? I absolutely addressed it,” Ryan said. “If you’re not going to put your name on it, I think that’s about as cowardly a thing as there is.
“I don’t think we have the same problem. Even back then I thought it was a little over-exaggerated about the rift in the whole locker room. I do recognize there was something wrong there and I’ve made it my personal agenda to go out and fix it. You can say what you want, but if I’m going to be judged by this team coming together, that’s fine, I’ll be here a long time.”
We’ll post the transcripts of Ryan’s news conference as well as the informal newsers by Sanchez and Tebow at their lockers as they become available early this evening.
On Kahlil Bell and Maybin, Rex said both moves were related to current personnel needs.
“When you look at this roster, I’m not saying [Maybin] won’t be back or anything else,” the coach said. “But you have to do what we always say is in the best interests of our football team. With us having two backs who are questionable injury-wise in Bilal Powell with a concussion and Joe McKnight with an ankle, we felt we needed to bring somebody else in.
“I like Aaron. I love the way he plays. He flies around and does a tremendous job on the practice field. The numbers haven’t been there for him this year. I’m encouraged with the way Ricky Sapp played on Sunday, and I think he showed it on the practice field too.”
Sapp was on the CenturyLink turf for 19 plays, 13 on defense. Maybin got 116 snaps on defense in the first eight games and totaled four tackles, no sacks and nine QB hits, unofficially fourth on the team. He was also in for 90 plays on special teams.
As for Bell, he’s the 6’0″, 219-pound RB out of UCLA who has a healthy 4.5-yard average per carry in his career, but the sample is limited: 131 carries for 589 yards, all in 22 games (three starts) with Chicago in 2009, ’11 and this season. He has one career touchdown, on a 25-yard reception in the Bears’ fall-from-ahead loss to the Seahawks last season. And he had his career-long 72-yard run in his first game as a pro for the Bears vs. the Eagles in 2009.
John Holt, our reporter, will join the locker room scrum to talk with K.Bell following today’s practice for, in case anyone forgot, the Rams game on Sunday in St. Louis.
CB Isaiah Trufant was placed on injured reserve Tuesday after his short-lived reunion with his brothers at CenturyLink Field. Trufant injured his left knee as he and Garrett McIntyre were going for the tackle of Leon Washington at the end of Leon’s opening punt return in the first quarter of Sunday’s game.
Injury Picture Update
The Jets’ injury report after Wednesday’s first full practice of the week:
Did Not Practice — WR Stephen Hill (illness), RB Bilal Powell (concussion). Ryan said Hill was sent home today.
Limited — RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle), DT Sione Po‘uha (low back/ankle), LB Bart Scott (toe).
Full — TE Jeff Cumberland (wrist), DT Mike DeVito (finger), DT Kenrick Ellis (knee), WR Clyde Gates (shoulder), DT Damon Harrison (thumb), WR Jeremy Kerley (heel), S LaRon Landry (heel), C Nick Mangold (ankle/thumb), G Brandon Moore (hip), LB Calvin Pace (shoulder), QB Mark Sanchez (back), G Matt Slauson (knee), S Eric Smith (knee), QB Tim Tebow (ribs)
The Jets have had a longer injury list than any opponent on any day this season, but no foe has had a shorter list than the Rams today. They list only three players, all as limited at today’s workouts near the Arch: WR Austin Pettis (toe), DE Eugene Sims (knee) and S Darian Stewart (knee). All three are backups and only Pettis played in last week’s tie at San Francisco.
Tags: Aaron Maybin, Kahlil Bell, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan, Ricky Sapp, Robert Malone, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Tim Tebow
Posted in Randy Lange | 108 Comments »
Updated, 8: 10 p.m. ET
Mike Tannenbaum this evening gave reporters the ultimate final official word on the trade that sent Wayne Hunter to St. Louis and brought 2009 second-pick-of-the-draft Jason Smith to the Jets: It’s official.
“I want to thank Wayne for everything he’s done,” the GM said .”I really wish him well, and he’s going to see a lot of familiar faces in St. Louis. We won a lot of games with Wayne. And with that said, now we’re looking forward to Jason.”
Tannenbaum said Smith, entering his fourth NFL season, could play “a couple of snaps” in the Jets’ preseason finale at Philadelphia on Thursday night. But Mr. T stressed that the plan now is that Austin Howard, who replaced Hunter as the RT starter on Sunday night against Carolina, is the starter going forward and Smith is the Jets’ new backup LT and RT and blocking TE.
Why didn’t Smith succeed as a Ram? “It could’ve been a number of things,” Tannenbaum said, “the coaching change, some inconsistencies there. For us, it was more about what we think he can do. He has very good movement skills for somebody his size [6'5", 308], he can play both sides, we like his range. Again, I think he has to learn from what happened in St. Louis, but with that said, he’s coming here with a fresh start.”
Some reporters probed the GM on if that fresh start could lead to a fresh starter down the road. A natural question given Smith’s high draft status, but Tannenbaum, while stating only the current plans, gave the background that led him, head coach Rex Ryan, offensive coordinator Tony Sparano and OL coach Dave DeGuglielmo to giving Howard the chance to win the starting role.
“That was an evaluation that was going on in Cortland every day, watching Austin in 1-on-1s,” he said. “It’s good to have the competition we have, to go against Aaron Maybin, Calvin Pace and Quinton [Coples] every day, and Austin was really starting to hold his own more and more. It’s like, ‘This looks pretty good. OK.’ Then he goes out against Cincinnati and looks OK. Then the Giant game he played pretty well. Then obviously there were more reasons to be encouraged against Carolina.”
Speaking of Maybin, Tannenbaum would sure like to see Smith blossom into a success story as has Maybin, the 11th overall pick in that ’09 draft who enters his second season as a Jet as one of their biggest big-play makers on the defensive side of the ball.
“Sure, we hope so. Sometimes they work out that way,” he said. “Sometimes a change of scenery works, sometimes it doesn’t.
“Aaron deserves all the credit for Aaron. He’s worked incredibly hard, he’s a great person, he comes in with great enthusiasm. And Jason’s set up for success. His work ethic and character are tremendous. All the research we did on him leads us to believe he’s going to come in and give himself the best chance to be successful.”
Rex’s rundown on the injured Jets’ availability for the Sept. 9 season opener vs. Buffalo:
“My biggest concern will be Eric Smith, I think, right now. That’s probably our biggest concern with his hip.”
“I feel good about [Jeff] Cumberland, David [Harris], Yeremiah Bell and Dustin [Keller] with his hamstring. Unless something happens there, we feel pretty confident all those guys will be ready to play.”
WRs Santonio Holmes, Jeremy Kerley and Chaz Schilens: “I think all three will play in the opener. Schilens seems to be getting better each day. It was good to see Tone out there [vs. Carolina], and Jeremy did a nice job on punt return.”
“Sione [Po‘uha], by the way, I think he’s doing much better right now.”
This evening the Jets announced they have been awarded punter Spencer Lanning off of waivers from Cleveland. Lanning, the first-year man out of South Carolina, lost the Browns’ punting battle to ex-Jet Reggie Hodges, but actually had better numbers than Hodges in the preseason with a 50.5-yard gross and a 43.5 net on four punts. “We brought in a punter who’ll compete with T.J.,” Tannenbaum said. “I wouldn’t rule out further changes between now and Friday and probably through the weekend.”
Joe McKnight was excused for personal reasons from today’s practice. … G Brandon Moore underwent a minor medical procedure and was also not at practice.
Tags: Brandon Moore, Eric Smith, Jason Smith, joe McKnight, Mike Tannenbaum, Rex Ryan, St. Louis Rams, Trade, Wayne Hunter
Posted in Randy Lange | 92 Comments »
Another career snapshot of Curtis Martin, who is in the running to be a first-year inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday in Dallas:
In 2004 Curtis Martin went the extra yard. And it won him his only NFL rushing title.
Martin had flirted with gaining the NFL’s most rushing yards in a season, a hallowed distinction in league annals. As a rookie with the Patriots in 1995, he finished third with 1,487 yards. In ’99 with the Jets he was second with 1,464 behind the Colts’ Edgerrin James. Two years later he rushed for 1,513 yards but still came in second by 42 yards to the Chiefs’ Priest Holmes.
Then in ’04 Martin was in a duel with the Seahawks’ Shaun Alexander for the top spot. It appeared Curt was headed for the silver medal again as he trailed Alexander by 72 yards heading into the final week of the regular season.
But Martin got first licks in a 1 p.m. ET game at St. Louis and he made the most of it, rushing for 153 yards in the 32-29 overtime loss to the Rams. That total, which included 24 yards on three OT carries, gave him a sparkling 1,697 yards for the season. It was, in fact, Martin’s career high. But would it be enough?
Yes, by that one yard in the closest rushing title in NFL history. Alexander managed 80 yards on 19 carries, and more than likely would have gotten the chance to gain those 2 yards he needed, except that the Falcons ran 15 plays and held the ball for the game’s final 4:28 en route to a touchdown on the last play of the game. Whew.
“Curtis approaches this game as his life,” said Chad Pennington, Martin’s quarterback in that game and for many others in the later years of his playing career. “He doesn’t approach it as a hobby or as something he does on weekends. He’s going to be a Hall of Famer one day because of it.”
HOF in Primetime
For the first time ever at night, the network will announce the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinees, determined by the Hall’s selection committee earlier in the day, on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET. “Road to Canton” will be hosted by Rich Eisen alongside Hall of Famers Steve Young, Rod Woodson and Michael Irvin, who will be joined by new inductees and current Hall members during the show.
Portions of the announcement ceremony will also be available live on NFL.com.
For the second consecutive year, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has teamed up with Van Heusen and JCPenney to allow fans to select whom they believe should be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
Tags: Chad Pennington, Curtis Martin, rushing title, Seattle Seahawks, Shaun Alexander, St. Louis Rams
Posted in Randy Lange | 10 Comments »
A new season, a new head coach, a new starting quarterback (after No. 4 a year ago), a new defensive scheme filled with exciting potential.
And with all that newness, newyorkjets.com is going to take a slightly new approach to covering the games for you, beginning with Friday night’s 7 p.m. kickoff of the Jets’ preseason opener against the St. Louis Rams at the Meadowlands.
For the previous two seasons, we brought you live, continuously updated game blogs on the Radar, to which you could offer in-game comments. This year, with our ever-adapting technology, we’re going to bring you a twist — not to mention a tweet — with our game coverage.
We’ll be conducting a live chat during the game through the CoveritLive chat interface. The chat will begin 15 minutes before each kickoff — so at 6:45 p.m. on Friday — and continue until the final gun. Eric Allen and I will host the chat from our prime location right near the 50-yard line in the Meadowlands pressbox. You can ask us questions and offer comments, and EA and I will provide answers and offer insight as the game goes along.
We’ll also continue to use the New York Jets Twitter account. Rather than mentioning all the highlights that many of you will be seeing for yourselves during the game telecast on WCBS, Channel 2 in New York, we will be tweeting about team and individual records and distinctions and behind-the-scenes observations that will help you follow the Jets as they play each game more closely than ever.
I’ll still be filing pregame and postgame Radar entries, with EA, reporter Kyle Richardson and myself working up stories and blogs for the next day, taking us into the next week of the season.
Richardson’s Jets-Rams game advance will be up on the site early Friday morning, then I’ll check in with the pregame scene-setting Radar from the Meadowlands, and then we’ll take our new technology out for a test drive. We hope you’ll join us.
Camp Schedule Update
Rex Ryan and staff have made a slight revision to the coming week’s practice schedule at SUNY Cortland that nevertheless could be important if you’re planning a trip up to see the team off-off-Broadway one last time.
Originally, Thursday, Aug. 20, was set to be the last two-a-days of camp, with pads in the morning and soft shells in the afternoon. Then Friday was going to be a special teams practice in the morning, followed by the afternoon trip back to New Jersey.
The shells and ST practices have been flipped. Now Thursday’s schedule is for pads in the morning, special teams in the afternoon. And Friday it will be soft shells in the morning before breaking camp.
This has also been updated on the training camp calendar on newyorkjets.com.
Filling the Westerman Gap
Following up on my Jamaal Westerman lead-in for Tuesday’s afternoon practice, I see my good friend Tom Luicci did a piece in today’s Star-Ledger about how Rutgers is trying to fill the void left by Westerman’s departure after last season. In fact, Luicci gets Rex Ryan’s name into the first sentence of his story.
One of the players who’ll be trying to move into Westerman’s shoes and DE position is Jonathan Freeny, who, despite the spelling, is related to Indianapolis Colts DE Dwight Freeney.
“Jamaal was one of the smartest players on the team," Freeny told Luicci. "Playing behind him every day last year was like a learning experience. He taught me with the way he played and he taught me about the mental part of the game."
Tags: Jamaal Westerman, St. Louis Rams, SUNY Cortland, Twitter
Posted in Randy Lange | 28 Comments »
A few months after the Buffalo Bills signed T.O., the Jets today announced the signing of R.O. That’s Richard Owens.
The Jets moved quickly in replacing Bubba Franks, released Monday, on their 80-man training camp roster, announcing the signing of Owens, a big blocking tight end, late this afternoon.
Owens is a fifth-year TE, 28 years old, who checks in at 6’4” and 273 pounds. Reports at the time said he had visits with the Jets and the Bills before April’s draft.
Owens entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Louisville signed by Minnesota after the 2004 draft and played three seasons and 39 games (six starts) for the Vikings.
He was waived by the Vikes and signed by the St. Louis Rams on Sept. 12, 2007, and appeared in 14 games (one start) for the Rams. He was out of the NFL last season after the Rams released him on Aug. 31.
For his career, Owens has 17 catches for 141 yards (8.3-yard avg.) and one touchdown. He also has long-snapping experience.
Tags: Bubba Franks, Minnesota Vikings, St. Louis Rams
Posted in Randy Lange | 52 Comments »
Rex Ryan’s Green & White will play in 2009 on Monday Night Football.
Preseason Edition, that is.
The Jets and the NFL have just released the team’s upcoming preseason schedule, and the highlight of the summer slate is Monday, Aug. 24: Jets at Baltimore, kickoff at 8 p.m. ET.
Thus ESPN will put the early spin on Ryan, in his second game as an NFL head coach, taking the Jets back to the city where he coached the previous 10 seasons, and the previous four as the Ravens’ defensive coordinator.
This is the first nationally televised Monday night preseason game in franchise history. The last times the Jets played a preseason game on Monday night were in 1976 and ’78, but neither was a national game. The last time the Jets played in a nationally televised summer game was against Minnesota on Friday, Aug.17, 2007, on Fox. And it will be the Jets’ first preseason game against the Ravens since 2002 at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium.
Ryan and his Jets will get their preseason debut the week before at home, when they host the St. Louis Rams at the Meadowlands on Friday night, Aug. 14, with kickoff at 7 p.m.
It will be the teams’ first preseason meeting ever, but the second in the Meadowlands in less than 10 months, or since the Jets downed St. Louis last regular season, 47-3. And it will mark former Giants DC Steve Spagnuolo’s head-coaching debut as the new leader of the Rams.
The first two games were scheduled by the NFL. The final two are the Jets’ familiar summer-ending games against the Giants and Eagles.
The annual Jets-Giants game will be the 40th consecutive year the rivals and stadium mates have met in the preseason — and it will be the last time the two play in the current stadium before meeting again in the summer of 2010 at New Meadowlands Stadium. This year’s game will probably be played Saturday night, Aug. 29, although the date hasn’t been confirmed.
Finally, the Jets will play the Eagles in the preseason finale for the ninth consecutive year. This game is set for Thursday night, Sept. 3, with the opening kickoff set for 7 p.m.
Rex’s Jets could be in primetime in the regular season as well, but we don’t know that yet. The NFL’s full regular-season schedule will be announced in mid-April.
Here is the Jets’ preseason schedule, with some details still to be worked out:
|Aug. 14||vs. St. Louis Rams||Meadowlands||7 p.m.||WCBS (NY)|
|Aug. 24||at Baltimore Ravens||M&T Bank Stadium||8 p.m.||ESPN|
|Aug. 29-30||at New York Giants||Meadowlands||WNBC (NY)|
|Sept. 3||vs. Philadelphia Eagles||Meadowlands||7 p.m.||WCBS (NY)|
Tags: 2009 schedule, Baltimore Ravens, Giants, Meadowlands, Philadelphia Eagles, preseason schedule, Rex Ryan, St. Louis Rams
Posted in Randy Lange | 31 Comments »