It was another “Fast Friday” practice for the Jets at Atlantic Health Training Center today. Head coach Rex Ryan and his staff keep the mood light on Fridays with an abbreviated practice working mostly on red zone situations. Instead of beginning the day with special teams drills, the offense takes the field and each receiver, back, or tight end runs an individual route, receives a pass, and is then congratulated by a chorus of cheers and applause from his teammates.
Today, even offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was involved, throwing a short screen pass to tight ends coach Mike Devlin, eliciting a chorus of cheers and applause. Fast Friday is one way to maintain a positive vibe throughout the team heading into that weekend’s game. Staying positive is crucial, especially in the midst of a crowded playoff race.
While the Jets have had no problems keeping morale high, Ryan hopes it’s spreading to their fan base.
“We’re fighting for our playoff lives,” said Ryan. “Have we made it easy being a Jets fan? Probably not like we wanted to. One thing about our team, we’re going to give it everything we have. I think our fans appreciate that.”
In hopes of jump-starting that wave of positivity, Ryan has made a special request to have his offense introduced individually before Sunday’s opening kickoff against the Chiefs, and he expects a rousing ovation from Jets Nation. After all, it’s the same Jets offense that has come from behind in the fourth quarter in consecutive weeks to keep the playoff dream alive.
“I want everybody to know that Mark Sanchez is a pretty good quarterback,” said Ryan. “I think it will be a shot in the arm when he comes out to applause because I think that will happen.”
In addition to Sanchez, RB Shonn Greene has been enjoying increased success lately. Due in large part to the elevated play of the offensive line, Greene has averaged 4.7 yards per carry in his last two games and had a career-high three-touchdown performance last week at Washington. Greene seemingly has won the battle with inconsistency that plagued him earlier in the season, and is now battling a rib injury sustained in Week 11 in Denver.
“He’s tough. This time of year everybody is beat up,” said Ryan. “The tough guys hang in there and keep going. When you look at our backfield, everybody is hurt.”
Ryan’s commitment to the ground game has been reaffirmed in the last two games, as the Jets have run the ball 53 times. Greene has taken 35 of those carries, and it appears the approach won’t change much on Sunday.
“We know as a football team we had to run the ball better,” said Ryan. “Washington had a good front, Kansas City is a good front, so it’s definitely going to be a challenge. We know we have to keep hanging in there. To me, rushing attempts are more important than rushing average. You keep running the football, eventually good things are going to happen.”
Ryan fell in love with the run game in his first season as head coach, when RB Thomas Jones posted career bests with 331 carries, 1,402 rushing yards and 14 TDs. Now Jones is in Kansas City and will make his return trip to East Rutherford, N.J., with the Chiefs.
“They have one of the best running games in the league,” said Ryan. “We have to stop the run so we can get them in third-and-longs. That will play to our advantage.”
The Chiefs are ranked ninth in the NFL in rushing, averaging 120.7 yards per game. Jones is part of a three-headed ground game along with RB Jackie Battle and RB Dexter McCluster. The three have helped keep the Chiefs alive in the AFC West race.
While the Kansas City passing attack may not be their strength, Ryan insisted that his secondary must stay alert for the big play. The Chiefs’ only touchdown in last week’s 10-3 victory over the Bears came on a Hail Mary completion to McCluster to end the first half.
“On the back end, we can’t fall asleep,” said Ryan. “This team is capable of throwing the football. They’ve got big-time wideouts on the outside. They’ll run the Wildcat, they’ll run bootlegs, and [QB Tyler Palko] is pretty decent on the move. There is certainly a challenge there.”
DT Mike DeVito (knee) did not participate in practice this week and is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game. RB Joe McKnight practiced on a limited basis and wore a brace on his arm to protect his hyperextended elbow. He is also listed as questionable. In case he can’t go, Ryan said that rookie RB Bilal Powell will be active.
RG Brandon Moore missed the week of practice with soreness in his surgically repaired hip. Ryan listed Moore as questionable, but Moore had no doubts that he would play in his 125th Jets regular-season game and make his 118th consecutive start come Sunday.
“I’ll get out there before the game, get on the field, warm it up, come back and get ready for the game,” said Moore. “I don’t know if anybody is 100 percent, but I’ll be ready to go.”
Rounding out the Jets listed as questionable is DT Marcus Dixon, who is also nursing a sore hip.
The Chiefs are abnormally healthy this late in the season. Recent waiver-acquisition QB Kyle Orton is doubtful with a finger injury on his throwing hand. LBs Jovan Belcher (shoulder) and Demorrio Williams (groin) are both questionable.
Tags: Brandon Moore, Brian Schottenheimer, Kansas City Chiefs, Kyle Orton, Mark Sanchez, Mike DeVito, Rex Ryan, Thomas Jones, Tyler Palko
Posted in Andrew LeRay | 27 Comments »
Has a switch been thrown inside Jets Offense Central? The past two weeks Shonn Greene has moved up the yardage and touches charts to pull even in a few respects with LaDainian Tomlinson out of the backfield.
“My time of the year? Yeah, I think so,” Greene said today at his locker in the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. “That cold weather, I’ve been playing in it since I was little. High school in South Jersey, college at Iowa. Something turns the button on around now.”
Balancing carries and touches is an art, not a science, but at Cleveland, LT and SG had 20-plus touches in the same game for only the second time this season (the first being the rout at Buffalo). Tomlinson had 24 rushes plus receptions for 110 yards, Greene had 23 for 94. Additionally, for the first time this season Greene had more rushing yards than Tomlinson, 72 to 57.
This is not a competition, of course. As Rex Ryan said at his news conference, the idea all along has been about cooperation within the team and outcompeting the bad guys.
“Maybe it was about having both those guys fresh by the time we get through the season,” Ryan said of the plan that resulted in Thomas Jones leaving for Kansas City and Tomlinson arriving from San Diego.
“Last year we kind of used Thomas up a little bit, and that was more of a product of, remember, Shonn was hurt, then Leon got hurt and the burden really fell on Thomas. But when Shonn came back, we knew he was a great back. That’s where at the end we kind of adjusted it a little to where Shonn got the bulk of the carries.
“This year ideally you’d like these guys to go into a game where you don’t know who’s going to carry it. We just think both guys are capable of carrying it 20 times.”
There was something more about Greene’s rock ‘n’ roll in Cleveland that fell through the cracks of the overtime victory. In a game in which the Jets couldn’t salt the win away in regulation with points, at least they moved the sticks to keep their chances alive through OT. And no Jet in a long while has moved the sticks better than Greene did Sunday.
For starters, he had nine first downs (seven rushing, two receiving). That’s the most by any Jet since Thomas Jones had 11 in the home rout of St. Louis in 2008.
Then there were Greene’s clutch runs. He converted four third downs (three rushing, one receiving) and one fourth-and-1 on a Tomlinson-esque vault.
The last time any Jets player, not just a back, had as many as five crunch-down conversions in a game? Then-rookie Dustin Keller with his five receiving conversions at New England in ’08. The last Jets back? Curtis Martin in the 2004 opener against Cincinnati.
And no Jet has had more than five such conversions since Johnny Johnson (did you ever think you’d see that name again, Jets fans?) had six conversions, all on third down, in the 1994 season opener at Buffalo.
Greene’s not letting any of this go to his head. He still remains patient playing in the same backfield with a future first-ballot Hall of Famer in Tomlinson. “He’s one of the best there is,” Shonn said. “It’s good for me to be backing him up.”
But the second-year battering ram said things felt different when he was given the ball again and again on the 18-play, 10:04 drive that opened the third quarter.
“Yeah, I noticed it a little bit,” he told me. “I kind of got a rhythm going, which is hard to do when it’s going back and forth. And once that started, I just felt like I wanted the ball more and more.”
But he wants the ball more in a good way. To help keep Tomlinson fresh as LT keeps him fresh, and to help the Jets plow on through November and December and into January.
Kickers’ Road Trip
While the Jets were practicing outside today, four people left on a fact-finding mission to East Rutherford. Punter/holder Steve Weatherford, kicker Nick Folk, snapper Tanner Purdum, and assistant special teams coach Ben Kotwica went to New Meadowlands Stadium for a short session of kicking in the afternoon conditions of the new Home of the Jets.
ST coordinator Mike Westhoff said from his experiences there and today’s field reports, he feels that any problems the Jets have had in the Meadowlands have more to do with technique than new or worse wind patterns and that NMS is more favorable to kickers than OMS. Perhaps underscoring that, Folk reportedly went 20-of-22 in his practice kicks today, with misses only from 56 and 60 yards.
Ryan said CB Dwight Lowery (concussion) will sit out Sunday’s game. “He’s still got a little way to go there,” said Rex.
Two players stayed out of practice again today: WR Jerricho Cotchery (groin) and CB Marquice Cole (hamstring). Rex said “They’re both probably questionable right now,” giving them an informal game status one day earlier than he has to.
G Matt Slauson (knee) and S Eric Smith (ankle) were both limited and Ryan expects both of them to play vs. Houston. Sanchez (calf) stepped up to the full-team-drills list.
Practice was moved from the fieldhouse Wednesday to the slightly less windy outdoor grass fields today.
The good word for Houston on the injury front was that Matt Schaub left the hospital with that knee bursitis and was limited at practice today. WR Andre Johnson (ankle) also went from DNP to limited. TE Owen Daniels (hamstring) was still sidelined, and LB Zac Diles joined the DNP short list with illness.
Tags: LaDainian Tomlinson, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan, Shonn Greene, Thomas Jones
Posted in Randy Lange | 15 Comments »
As a rookie, Mark Sanchez helped lead the New York Jets to an improbable AFC Championship appearance, elevating his game in the postseason. And former Jets signalcaller Boomer Esiason believes that rise is set to continue in September.
“This is usually where the players make their biggest jump and I suspect, with Mark’s personality and the way he handled the downturns last year, he’ll be ready to roll,” Boom told me this week before the 15th annual Empire Challenge kicked off at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium. “I sense an air of confidence about him this offseason. Everything I’ve read and every interview I’ve seen him do leads me to believe he’s ready to take that next step.”
In 15 regular-season games, Sanchez completed 53.8 percent of his passes with 12 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. But in three postseason contests he upped his accuracy, hitting on 60.3 percent of his balls with four touchdowns and two picks.
“Now what that next step will be will be determined by how comfortable he gets with his new wide receivers, how good he feels with his young running back and really how the offensive line plays,” Esiason said. “I think he really should be able to lead the Jets back to the playoffs — and who knows, maybe even the Super Bowl.”
Jets Nation is at a fever pitch. Excitement has reached an unprecedented level because New York’s AFC representative has assembled one of its most talented rosters in franchise history.
Esiason, who played three of his 14 NFL seasons with the Green & White, said that if he were a fan, "I’m excited about Rex Ryan and I love the fact that he brings a new intensity to the football team. I love the fact that you have the best defense in football. I think it’s only going to get better. I love their draft picks. There is a lot to be excited about.
"I don’t necessarily know if Jets fans have been this excited since 1999 when Bill Parcells was ready to take them all the way to the AFC Championship Game. This is going to be a fun year for the Jets. But I also know, like every other team, there are issues that have to be handled before the season starts.”
Esiason, who serves as the popular co-host on a morning radio show on WFAN in New York, doesn’t point to problems on the field. He believes the Jets have made a couple of risky offseason moves and there is also all the well-publicized news on the contract front.
“I think they did a lot of good things in the offseason. They were very careful how they spent their money, brining in Antonio Cromartie and Santonio Holmes. Even though those guys have character issues, I think Mike Tannenbaum sensed he could get really good players for a cheap price," Boomer said.
"But he still has problems in that locker room. I don’t care what anybody says. When you let go of guys like Alan Faneca and Thomas Jones and Leon Washington, people are starting to worry in that locker room, ‘What’s going to happen to me next?’ And now you have guys that are chirping about new contracts and you have a potential CBA issue coming up. There are things you have to get over with and I’m not so sure those things are positive at this present time.”
But Esiason is nothing but positive on Sanchez. What kind of advice would he give the SoCal sensation before he starts up his sophomore campaign?
“I think, with the exception of maybe a few blips along the way, that he handled everything beautifully, and I would expect the maturity — he’s still only 23 years old — will be distinctly evident from where he was last year at this time,” Boomer said. “Let the game come to you, don’t force the issue. You have a lot of good players around you, you have a great coach and you have a great supporting cast. So he’ll be fine.”
Tags: Alan Faneca, Bill Parcells, Boomer Esiason, Empire Challenge, Leon Washington, Mark Sanchez, Thomas Jones
Posted in Eric Allen | 26 Comments »
On the day that new tailback LaDainian Tomlinson’s Jets contract was officially signed, fullback Tony Richardson returned to the Green & White fold.
Richardson has agreed in principle on a new deal to return for his 16th NFL season and his third with the Jets, the team announced tonight. No terms of the new contract were announced.
The man most often called "T-Rich" became an unrestricted free agent last week. His 15-year numbers — 424 carries for 1,714 yards (4.0 avg.) and 15 touchdowns, 205 receptions for 1,512 yards (7.4 avg.) and nine TDs — are still impressive, even though for he’s averaged less than two touches a game for the past six seasons.
But with the Jets, the 6’1", 238-pounder has been more known for being one of the integral parts to the growing, meshing machine that the Jets’ offensive line, tight ends and backs have become under coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and OL coach Bill Callahan.
Last year, of course, he was the blocking fullback on the NFL’s No. 1 rushing offense and the franchise’s most productive rushing unit (2,756 yards). And with No. 49 leading the way, the Jets averaged 4.7 yards per carry in 2008 and 4.53 yards in ’09, the first- and third-best season averages in franchise history.
"We hold Tony in the highest regard for what he does on and off the field," general manager Mike Tannenbaum said last week. "I wouldn’t rule anything in or out at this point. Whoever he’s with next year, he’ll make them better on the field as well as off."
Much has changed already in the Jets’ backfield this offseason with the departure of Thomas Jones to Kansas City, the arrival of Tomlinson, and the plans to have Shonn Greene shouldering the load for the ground game in 2010. But one piece will remain constant and that is Richardson, who will turn 39 in December, getting him one year closer to matching his uniform number.
Tags: Bill Callahan, Brian Schottenheimer, LaDainian Tomlinson, Mike Tannenbaum, Shonn Greene, Thomas Jones, Tony Richardson
Posted in Randy Lange | 27 Comments »
Former Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson may visit the Jets on Friday. ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that LT will meet with the Green & White if he does not sign with the Vikings today in Minnesota. At noon today, the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reported that the Vikings had not signed Tomlinson.
The 30-year-old Tomlinson is a street free agent and can sign with any team. He rushed for a career-low 730 yards last season but still punched it in the end zone 12 times on the ground. In an incredible nine-year run with the ‘Bolts, Tomlinson rushed for 12,490 yards and 138 TDs while catching 530 passes. It should be noted that Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was the QB coach in San Diego from 2002-05, so he has plenty of familiarity with the future Hall of Famer.
The Jets released RB Thomas Jones last Friday and TJ inked a two-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs this week. Shonn Greene is set to return for a second season, Chauncey Washington is also on the roster and Leon Washington is a restricted free agent who received a second-round tender from the Jets.
On Wednesday, the Green & White brought S Brodney Pool in for a visit. The 6’2”, 210-pound Pool collected four interceptions last year with the Browns and has 11 over the course of his five-year career. He was a restricted free agent who wasn’t tendered a contract, so the Jets could add him without having to send Cleveland any compensation.
It also had been reported that the Jets were scheduled to host Marlin Jackson for a visit, but the former Colts DB has joined the Philadelphia Eagles and is scheduled to play safety for the Birds.
Tags: Brian Schottenheimer, LaDainian Tomlinson, Minnesota Vikings, San Diego Chargers, Thomas Jones
Posted in Eric Allen | 51 Comments »
It’s time to officially say goodbye to Thomas Jones.
We were prepared to do that, of course, when the free agency signing period began and Jones, who had a year to go on the contract he restructured when he came to the Jets in trade in 2007, was released. Then Tuesday night the reports filtered in that TJ had found a new team in the Kansas City Chiefs.
But we at newyorkjets.com like to wait for the NFL and its teams to make things official, and that happened this morning when Chiefs head coach Todd Haley (who coincidentally is a former Jets assistant coach and son of highly respected former Jets personnel man Dick Haley) confirmed the signing.
Jones, Haley told the Kansas City Star, "is a good football player and a strong leader, a real professional. He’s been part of turnarounds at a couple of different places, in Chicago and New York, where he kind of got teams to the promised land, so to speak. He’s a strong character and he loves football, so he fits the bill of what we’re looking for here."
As for bringing Jones into a Chiefs backfield that last season featured Jamaal Charles in a team-MVP season, Haley said, "It’s just a chance to add another good football player to the mix in addition to the ones we have."
The Jets knew all these things. We all know he had a career-high 1,402 rushing yards last season, along with 14 more rushing TDs and that franchise-record, personal-best 210-yard Game 6 against the Bills.
Here’s something else you may not have known about TJ’s ’09: He had six 1-yard scoring runs for the Jets, tying the franchise record held by two others. Can you name them? (Answer below.)
And for his three-year Jets career, the regular-season numbers are impressive: 3,833 rushing yards, 4,315 yards from scrimmage, 31 total TDs.
Through it all, he was, as Haley noted, a team leader, as evidenced from his fiery pregame peptalks to the way he sometimes carried the team on his shoulders to things behind the scenes that only the players know about.
He even brought up the group when the spotlight was on his individual work after he had reached his first Pro Bowl in February 2009. When I talked with him during the week before the all-star game, he seemed as happy and at peace as I saw him publicly as a Jet, and yet he still wanted to dwell on the players around him.
"It goes to my offensive line and my fullback doing a good job blocking for me all year. My linemen get all the yards and touchdowns that I have gotten. Once you get into your ninth year in the league, you go out there and you’re really playing to win. Your goal is to win the Super Bowl," he said. "By me going out there and playing to win, good things have happened.
"It’s a blessing and I am grateful for it.”
All that being said, Jones is no longer a Jet. The decision to let him go was a gutwrenching one for Mike Tannenbaum and Rex Ryan. Difficult judgments about age, economy — the NFL economy and perhaps even the region’s and the nation’s economy — and the best interests of the team had to be made.
But Rex and Mike T have made it clear they will miss TJ’s toughness, dedication and leadership. The players will say the same, and we will add our best wishes to Jones now that he’s exchanged his green for some new red threads.
Recognized for Their Work
This is a good week for the Jets organization in the awards arena. SportsBusiness Journal/Daily announced this week its "Forty Under 40 Class of 2010," and one of those 40 bright young sports business stars is our own Thad Sheely, Jets executive vice president of stadium development and finance.
Thad and his class will be recognized at the Forty Under 40 awards banquet March 18 at the JW Marriott in Los Angeles.
And already up on our site is a news release on the Jets’ nominations in five different categories for the New York Emmy Awards. Different programming — specials, commercial spots and promos — that aired on three different networks is in the running for an Emmy or five when the awards are presented April 18 at the Marriott Marquis Times Square. For these honors, a special tip of the hat to Bobby Parente and Rich Gentile.
And the Answer Is …
The other Jets who had six 1-yard touchdown runs in one season were Johnny Hector — who did it twice, in 1986 and ’88 — and Brad Baxter, who scored his sixpack in ’91.
Tags: Kansas City Chiefs, Rich Gentile, Thomas Jones
Posted in Randy Lange | 45 Comments »
Antonio Cromartie got his fresh start started this week with a visit to the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center.
“It’s been great, just getting around and meeting a lot of the guys,” Cromartie told me in an on-camera interview that will be featured on newyorkjets.com. “I got a chance to look at the weightroom and tour the whole facility. My first day here has been great. I had the chance to run into Kris Jenkins and Mark [Sanchez]. I’m looking forward to going against Mark in the spring and going into training camp.”
The 6’2”, 203-pound Cromartie is as lanky as they come and owns a pair of huge hands. Appearing trim in a striped button-down shirt and jeans, he shared with us the conversation he had with Jenkins.
“When it’s time to work, it’s time to work,” said he said of the nose tackle’s remarks. “We joke around a lot and that’s what it’s all about. A person has to be comfortable, have fun and not be too tight. It’s the same game we played when we were 5 years old."
But Cromartie, who will turn just 26 on April 15 and once again will don his customary No. 31, this time as a Jet, plans on being wise off the field at his second professional stop after four seasons in San Diego.
“Being around different teammates and being more of a professional on an off the field and taking care of business when it’s supposed to be taken care of and approaching everything the right way,” he said. “That’s what I mean by a change of scenery and a fresh start. It’s a new Antonio Cromartie and an Antonio Cromartie people can expect to see for years to come.”
A Tallahassee, Fla., native, Cromartie was raised by his mother, Cassandra Gardner, and he still remains very close to her today.
“I grew up in a single-parent home with four kids. I grew up in the projects. It was hard. My mom worked two or three or jobs at a time, so I love her to death for everything she did,” he said. “My biggest thing is trying to help out as much as I can. I try to talk to her every single day, sometimes twice a day, to make sure everything is going all right at home and my brothers and sister are fine.”
But as a highly publicized father of seven children in five different states, Cromartie is handling some child support issues and he intends on becoming a better dad.
“I love my kids to death. I actually just got full custody of one of my oldest kids like two months ago, so he’s staying with me now,” he said. “Seeing him and being around him every day is a great experience.”
Playing opposite the NFL’s best corner in Darrelle Revis, Cromartie figures to get a lot of balls his way next season in a defensive system that features press/man coverage. Having intercepted 10 balls for the Chargers in 2007, Cromartie sounds like a player ready to man up on and off the field.
“I love that. Talking to Coach Ryan and Coach P [Pettine], we just want to come in and play the way we’re supposed to play and have fun with it and enjoy it,” he said. “This is a defense that I’m going to love to come in and be able to play in. I’m just looking forward to helping out the best way I can.”
Comings and Goings
According to published reports, the Jets will play host to former Cleveland S Brodney Pool on Wednesday. The 6’2”, 210-pound Pool was not tendered a contact by the Brownies, so he’s free to sign with any club he chooses without compensation. The 25-year-old Pool had a career-high four interceptions last season and has 11 over the course of five pro seasons.
Indianapolis CB Marlin Jackson is also reported to be visiting the Jets after stopping for visits with Baltimore and Philadelphia.
It also appears that RB Thomas Jones has reached an agreement with the Kansas City Chiefs. Jones had a great three-year run with the Jets, culminating with a career-high 1,402 yards and a career-high 14 rush touchdowns in 2009.
Wallace Wright, an excellent specials teams performer during his Jets tenure, reportedly has inked a deal with the Carolina Panthers. Wright, who was an RFA the Jets didn’t tender, is a Fayetteville, N.C., native and played his college ball with the Tar Heels.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Brodney Pool, Darrelle Revis, Kris Jenkins, Rex Ryan, Thomas Jones, Wallace Wright
Posted in Eric Allen | 48 Comments »
Alan Faneca has a two-step plan to begin the first month of every offseason — "Rest, recuperate." But the month is up and the old redhead (with apologies to Red Barber and to Alan) is back at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center ramping it back up for his 13th NFL season and his third with the Green & White.
And that means not only getting back into football shape but also gearing up efforts for a cause that’s very important for him.
In fact, "Block Out Epilepsy" is the name of the special event Faneca is organizing to benefit Goryeb Children’s Hospital at Morristown Memorial Hospital and Goryeb Children’s Center at Overlook Hospital. He dropped by the studio to talk with my partner Eric Allen for a special segment of Jets TV that will be on the site soon.
"I have epilepsy and my younger daughter, Anabelle, has epilepsy," Faneca said. "We started talking to Goryeb Children’s Hospital and got involved with their epilepsy department about things we could do to help out."
One of the specific projects the Jets’ perennial Pro Bowl guard has in mind is the purchase of new video EEG equipment for the center, which will help make the testing of kids who’ve had seizures — sometimes lasting up to 72 hours in the hospital — less stressful for them and their parents, plus more funding for technicians to operate the new equipment.
That’s where Faneca’s fundraiser comes in. The event, which will also be attended by QB Mark Sanchez, center Nick Mangold and other Jets players, will be held April 10 at the Hanover (N.J.) Marriott on Route 10 East.
The four-hour event will have food stations, open bar and silent and live auctions, and a football for autographing will be included in the $250 ticket price. All proceeds benefit the Pediatric Epilepsy Center at Goryeb Children’s Hospital at Morristown Memorial Hospital and Goryeb Children’s Center at Overlook Hospital.
"It’s been a long journey, but one that I’m proud to talk about," said Faneca, who first discovered he had epilepsy at the age of 14 and controls his condition through medication. "There’s a stigma that comes with epilepsy, but I want to talk about it and let other people know about it, that this guy who plays football can run around and literally hit people with his head, that it’s OK, they can do things, and people shouldn’t be worried about people who have epilepsy."
For more information on "Block Out Epilepsy" or to purchase tickets, call 800-247-9580 by April 6.
As for Faneca and Football …
EA didn’t let Alan get away without chewing the fat about football, the Jets and the superlative offensive line that Faneca is preparing to help anchor for the third year. Right now the line is coping with the departure of RB Thomas Jones.
"It’s tough. Thomas is a great guy, a great competitor, a great teammate, great anything and everything you’d want to say about him," Faneca said. "To think he’s not going to be here is hard right now and he’ll be missed. You never say never and hopefully there’s a way to get him back here. But you wish him the best and he’s definitely going to be missed."
Faneca had some other thoughts on Jones and on now-second-year back Shonn Greene, whom Faneca said "got to go out there and show his skill level" as a rookie. "Now let’s do it on a weekly basis. I think he can do it."
But the great part for Faneca is being a part of an O-line that began to be recognized as one of the best, if not the best, in the game today.
"I think we’ve shown what we can do. We’ve put in the work to get there," he said. "By no means do we need to sit back and start honkin’ our horns. I don’t think that’s the group we are."
Tags: Alan Faneca, Thomas Jones
Posted in Randy Lange | 10 Comments »
The Jets, despite their Thursday late-night trade agreement with San Diego for CB Antonio Cromartie, have been quiet as predicted in the opening day of the free agency signing period that began at midnight today.
The only transactions the Jets have had were two released veterans. Thomas Jones’ expected release was announced by the team on Monday and has occurred today. GM Mike Tannenbaum, on a conference call that just began this afternoon, said, "I just want to start off by thanking Thomas for everything he’s done on and off the field."
Tannenbaum also said the Jets have released cornerback Donald Strickland, who arrived last year. And he confirmed that the trade with San Diego for CB Antonio Cromartie became official today.
We’ll have more on newyorkjets.com on Tannenbaum’s remarks and the first reaction from Cromartie on a conference call with Jets reporters that is still ahead. But for now, we’ll just wrap up the TJ situation with Mike T’s summary of Jones’ three seasons in green and white.
"In terms of respect and admiration, I’d put Thomas up on the very short list of guys who’ve ever been through our program," Tannenbaum said, "not only because of what he’s done on the field but the leadership he brought as well and the passion he played with."
Why then let Jones go? the GM was asked.
"When you factor in all the things that go into it — skill, budget, all the things you have to factor in even with no salary cap this year — you still have to make judgment calls for your roster," he said. "At the end of the day, we felt it was in the best interests of our roster, but it was still a very difficult decision."
And how about a decision to re-sign Jones, if both sides were to agree to that down the road?
"Yes, there certainly is a scenario where we would evaluate that," Tannenbaum said. "Right now, he’s looking at other opportunities, which we anticipated, and we’re doing the same. In our business, I would never rule out anything, but I know right now he’s looking at other opportunities."
The last major area of questioning on the Jones release was where it left the Jets’ "Ground and Pound" attack, with Jones’ 376 regular- and postseason carries removed from the equation in which remain second-year back Shonn Greene, rehabbing Leon Washington and untested Chauncey Washington.
"Looking at the continuum of opportunities, do I see us adding another player at the running back position? Within reason, at some point. It could be in the next 24 hours or it could be over Labor Day. It just depends on when we feel is the best opportunity," Tannenbaum said.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Chauncey Washington, Donald Strickland, Leon Washington, Mike Tannenbaum, Shonn Greene, Thomas Jones
Posted in Randy Lange | 63 Comments »
The NFL’s 2010 offseason is in full swing this week as the scouting combine reached a conclusion Tuesday in Indianapolis, college pro days began today and the free agency period/uncapped year will commence Friday at 12:01 a.m. Everything ties together for the Jets as they begin to shape their roster for the fall.
While the Jets haven’t made their intentions public, the prevailing notion is the Green & White will release CB Lito Sheppard from his contact on Friday. Sheppard, who had an injury-plagued season and was limited to just nine starts, is reportedly due a large roster bonus and the Jets are expected to part ways with the veteran corner.
If that transaction occurs, then there will be a starting vacancy across the way from Darrelle Revis. The Jets own the No. 29 selection in April’s draft and they’ll have a great shot at a quality cornerback if they choose to hold firm. The consensus heading into Tuesday was Florida’s Joe Haden was the best corner prospect in the class and he’d probably be a top-10 selection in April.
But then Haden raised a few eyebrows in Indy, posting a pair of 40 times that averaged just 4.57. While he’ll have his chance for redemption at UF’s pro day on March 17, let’s not forget that the 5’11”, 193-pounder is a pretty good football player who didn’t let many receivers behind him in SEC play. He registered four interceptions last season and added 10 PDs and 68 tackles.
"I haven’t nearly reached my peak at all," Haden said at the combine. "I just feel like whatever team I go to, they’re going to get a person they can mold into a way better corner than I was in college. I’ve been doing this for three years and I feel like I’m getting pretty good at it. But I want to learn more. You’re getting someone who really wants to learn the game and really wants to be the best they can be at corner."
Before anyone drops Haden too far down on their big boards, let’s see how he runs in Gainesville in a couple of weeks.
Wake Forest’s Brandon Ghee, a 6’0”, 192-pounder who led all corners with a 4.45 time in the 40, is an excellent athlete and he performed well in most of the tests in Indy. But Ghee didn’t have a great week at the Senior Bowl and is said to sometimes react slow to plays. Ghee had just one career interception and some scouts think he might be better suited to play safety eventually.
Rutgers standout Devin McCourty’s stock is on the rise. His recorded a 40 time of 4.48 and whoever picks him up is getting a two-for-one deal because this 5’11”, 186-pounder is a special-teams stud.
"He might be the best special-teams value in the draft in addition to being a potential starting corner," said NFL Network’s Mike Mayock of McCourty, who had six career picks for the Scarlet Knights. "He’s a gunner and a jammer, he’s a return guy. I think he could fit in quickly in the nickel package. He’s a very, very physical defensive back. Most people have him in the second round but he could be a legitimate late ‘one’.”
You have to feel a little bit for Alabama’s Javier Arenas. He tweaked his right hamstring on his first 40-yard dash and was forced to miss the rest of the drills. Alabama is schedule to host its pro day next Wednesday and it will be interesting to see if Arenas will be able to go by then.
Kareem Jackson, who played with Arenas for the national-champion Crimson Tide, posted a solid 4.48 40 time. The NFL Advisory Committee projected the 5’10”, 196-pound Jackson as a second-round pick, but it might be a surprise if he doesn’t go in the opening round. Virginia’s Chris Cook also raced to a 4.46 time and we haven’t even mentioned Boise State’s Kyle Wilson (a dangerous returner who benched 225 pounds 25 times) and Florida State’s Patrick Robinson.
At safety, Tennessee’s Eric Berry is just a stud and it would be a stunner if he got out of the top 10. But Taylor Mays, a 6’3”, 231-pounder from Southern Cal, ran the fastest of all the defensive backs with an official 4.43. Playing predominantly in the box in 2009, Mays racked up a career-high 96 tackles, but will he be able to cover wideouts at the next level?
“I take pride in being a big DB and being able to move. I’ve never really heard from NFL people about playing linebacker,” he told NFL Network. “They’ve asked me about playing linebacker maybe in nickel and covering the tight end but never really moving to linebacker. If that’s what they want to do, I’m a football player, I love football and I’m going to try to be the best linebacker I can be. Playing linebacker sometimes is just like being a safety and playing the box every play, so I guess it’s not that much of a difference.”
The Jets’ offensive backfield will look much different in 2010 without Thomas Jones. Numerous media outlets have reported that the Jets asked Jones to restructure his deal and they’ve decided to move on after he declined the offer.
“It’s tough. You lose a great leader — not only on the field but also in the locker room,” said WLB Bart Scott this week on an appearance on ESPN’s “Mike and Mike” radio program. “He’s a guy that came in and worked hard and was an example, and I think Shonn Greene took a lot from him. With that being said, it’s the nature of the business right now.“
It was the drafting of Greene last year that eventually helped pave the way for Jones’ departure. Scott, who inked a lucrative free agent deal with the Green & White last spring, knows time is short in an ever-changing, violent, win-now profession.
“We all know some guy is going to come in and push me out and it will be time for the Jets to say goodbye to me. It’s just the nature of the business,” he said of the draft. “I don’t worry about that. If they bring somebody in my position, I’m going to tell them everything I know because I’m a competitor and if I feel like I can’t compete for my job and win it honestly, then I don’t deserve to play and I can accept that and move on.”
Tags: Bart Scott, Darrelle Revis, Joe Haden, Kareem Jackson, NFL Combine, Thomas Jones
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