Archive for August, 2010

Cuts, Breaks and Bruises

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

FLORHAM PARK, N.J.- Unfortunately for WR Laveranues Coles, the third time was not the charm with the New York Jets. The Jets cut the veteran wide-out about a month after signing him to a 1-year deal.

The 32-year-old Coles was brought in to pad the early loss of WR Santonio Holmes in the first four games of the season. He had four catches for 19 yards in three preseason games.

Laveranues Coles third stint with the New York Jets was unfortunately his shortest, as he was cut just a month after being re-signed by the Jets. (Photo courtesy of the JetsInsider.com).

The Jets are not ruling out a fourth stint with the receiver, however. Head coach Rex Ryan said there’s a strong possibility that they may bring him back after Week 1. The move is likely due to financial reasons. Coles was set to make $855,000 guaranteed if he were to make the opening day roster. If he were to be brought back after Week 1, the money is not guaranteed.

“He did an outstanding job for us,” Ryan said. “He’s a leader. He came in here and I know he knows the system. He’s tougher than nails. He’s a great teammate.”

Coles has already said that this would be his last stop of his career, but didn’t rule out retiring just yet. “I’ve still got a little gas in the tank, I can tell you that much,” he said Tuesday.

Notes:

There’s been new information on the injury of OLB Calvin Pace. He fractured his right foot when the helmet of back-up right tackle Stephon Heyer connected with Pace’s foot while trying to attempt a cut block. He is definitely out for the Week 1 opener against the Ravens, but his status after is still up in the air.The Jets are optimistic he’ll make a speedy recovery.

Pace’s uncertain status has forced Ryan to reach out to former Patriots OLB/pass-rush specialist, Adalius Thomas. The Jets and Thomas had flirted with a signing earlier in the off-season, but a deal was never put in place. Ryan would only bring in Thomas if he could be secured a roster spot. He has yet to be brought in for a physical.

Ryan and Thomas have a good history together as Thomas enjoyed some of his finer seasons working under Ryan when he was the defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens. When asked about the possibility of signing Thomas, Ryan said “he wasn’t ruling it out”.

Mark Sanchez, who was shaken up with a bruised right shoulder after rookie OL Vladimir Ducasse was beaten badly by the Redskins pass rush, practiced fully today without any limitations. So the Jets Nations can give a collective sigh of relief.

Speaking of the starters, all but LG Matt Slauson will sit in the fourth and final pre-season game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Slauson and Ducasse have been battling it out for the starting position and it clearly has been a weak point of the pre-season for the Jets.

Last but certainly not least, the Jets made three other cuts along with Coles to meet the mandatory cut down of 75 players. Wide receivers Aundrae Allison and Marcus Henry along with defensive lineman Rodrique Wright we given the pink slip.

Injury Update: Calvin Pace

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

OLB Calvin Pace will miss the Jets season opener against the Baltimore Ravens and likely beyond. He injured his right foot in Friday night's 16-11 loss to the Washington Redskins.

FLORHAM PARK, N.Y.- Jets linebacker Calvin Pace left after the Washington Redskins second offensive play in the second half with an apparent foot injury. The details are still a little gray, where there are a few different scenarios floating around as to how he could have suffered the injury

Some say he landed awkwardly on his right foot during a pass rush from the left edge. Back-up right tackle Stephon Heyer’s hand may have fell on Pace’s foot in the process of attempting a block. While others point to Heyer’s shoulder leading the impact, but not sandwiching Pace’s foot to the ground–which would lead to the assumption of a sprain. Another report is that Heyer dove at his legs for an attempted block.

After the game, head coach Rex Ryan did not know the full extent of the injury, only saying that it was a foot injury and that it’s likely that Pace would be out for a “few” weeks.

A few weeks could mean anything between two and four, as far as I’m concerned. If the injury is on the more serious side, that means the Jets will sorely miss Pace’s team-leading eight sacks from last year against spirited battles with the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots to open the season.

Ryan has already said that Jason Taylor will fill-in for Pace until he is able to return. However don’t be surprised to see oft-maligned former first round pick, Vernon Gholston, step up in Pace’s absence as well. Gholston was plucked from Ohio State three years ago as a physical behemoth with a raw, natural ability. The Jets regrettably tried him at OLB, but this year Ryan has put him down in the three-point stance at DE, with the hopes of utilizing his brute strength. Thus far, he has looked impressive at his natural position, rushing from the edge.

Depth in the Jet’s pass rush is an understatement with a former top-10 pick and a former defensive player of the year waiting on the sidelines. With a glass half-full approach, if the Jets could afford an injury at any position it would be there. When more information surfaces as to the extent of the Calvin Pace injury, the JetsInsider.com will be sure to delivery it.

Jets Offensive Struggles Continue; Lose to ‘Skins, 16-11

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.Y- The Jets offensive struggles continued in the third, and most important pre-season game of the year, as they played host to the Washington Redskins. With 50,508 people in attendance at the New Meadowlands Stadium, the Jets yet again could not find an offensive rhythm. Before Mark Sanchez found Dustin Keller on a 10-yard pass in the end zone early in the fourth quarter, the Jets looked lost as that was their first offensive touchdown in their previous 14 possessions.

The Jets would go on to lose another poor offensive game, 16-11.

But the game wasn’t the biggest thing the Jets lost tonight. OLB/DE Calvin Pace injured his foot in the third quarter. Head coach Rex Ryan offered little insight on the injury, not specifying whether it was a sprain or fracture, but did say that he expects his pass rush specialist to be out at least a “few” weeks.

“It’s a big loss, there’s no doubt,” said Ryan. “But we’re fortunate that we have a lot of depth at that position. Jason [Taylor]’s M.O. is going to change from about 75% of the plays to 100% until Calvin gets back.”

Taylor, a back-up who has been to six Pro Bowls and a Defensive Player of the Year award, is more than ready to step up for his team. “It’s dependent on me now to go out and help this team any way I can.”

Sanchez, who many consider to be the lynchpin for a Jets team that is carrying high championship hopes, seemed content with the dink-and-dunk style of passing, while relying on a heavy dose of the ground game. He routinely settled for the underneath passes, staying away from deeper, riskier passes against a very stout Redskins defensive backfield. Amidst a nine-play drive with the Jets on Washington’s 13-yard line, Sanchez dropped back to pass, looked left before passing right to Keller, and was abruptly picked off at the six-yard line by CB DeAngelo Hall.

“When you miss around the red zone, there’s too many people around so you have to be real accurate,” said Sanchez, who put together a nice second half going 7-for-9 with 64 yards and 1 TD.

He ended his day with a ho-hum 13-for-21 with 139 yards 1 TD, and 1 INT.

Turnovers were the main concern today, with the Jets committing four costly ones. Along with Sanchez’s interception, the Jets had three fumbles lost to a Redskins defense that sent a flurry of pass-rushers to the quarterback. “You’re not going to win too many games by turning the ball over that many times,” said Ryan after the game. “That is the stat that really jumped out to me.”

The Jets had a tough time holding on to the ball against the Redskins, who forced Gang Green into four turnovers on the night. The Jets lost the game, 16-11. (Photo courtesy of the JetsInsider.com).

No matter who is on the field at the skill positions, at the end of the day the ball needs to be put in their hands to make plays happen, and thus far Sanchez has yet to do that with consistency. A big part of his inconsistency has to do with the inability of the offensive line to protect Sanchez. The new $60 million man, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, has been penalized in every pre-season game so far, twice against Washington. Sanchez was sacked three times, while being hit three more times under center.

Veteran lineman Damien Woody offered his take on the line’s struggles. “[Our problem] is definitely the passing game. We have to do better in protection. The passing game is all about timing and protection.”

While the offensive line did struggle with their pass protection, the run blocking was certainly something to brag about. “The holes that we had to run through today were tremendous,” said LaDanian Tomlinson, who enjoyed a great night on the ground. “These guys are as good as I’ve ever been around.”

The lone bright spot all pre-season offensively has been the surprising play of the newly-acquired, so-called “over the hill” running back Tomlinson. Answering questions about the historic post-30 drop-off in running backs, LT has shown that first step burst of speed that made him into the Hall-of-Fame type player he is regarded as. Late in the first quarter, with the Jets pinned at their own seven yard line, Tomlinson broke a 43-yard run to mid-field with the help of a key down field block from FB Tony Richardson along with a key third and nine conversion that led to the Jet’s lone touchdown. He averaged 7.8 yards per carry while gaining 95 yards of total offense on the day.

The Jets defense and special teams continued their strong pre-season play, as they were forced to pick up the slack of the dragging offense. They recorded a safety with 2:45 left in the first half after back-up quarterback Rex Grossman, starting in place of the injured Donovan McNabb (left ankle), fumbled the ball in his own end zone and inadvertently kicked the ball out of bounds.  After being forced to punt with ten minutes to play in the half, Steve Weatherford put the ball 39 yards to the Washington 22-yard line. Special teamer, Brad Smith poked the ball loose from KR Brandon Banks and Vernon Gholston was there to fall on the ball.

The defense played a bend-but-don’t-break style, allowing a few plays to slip by them but continued their streak of keeping opposing offenses out of the end zone at seven quarters. The streak stopped at seven after a nifty screen play to RB Larry Johnson for a 15-yard score late in the fourth quarter which secured the win for the Redskins.

Notes:

The newly-acquired Antonio Cromartie, who has made a big splash for his performance during training camp, was spotlighted tonight being penalized for a couple of key plays. Cromartie, who has assumed the duties as the team’s number one cornerback while the Darrelle Revis contract situation is handled, was called for two defensive pass interference calls, attributing credit to those who’ve called Cromartie’s play inconsistent throughout his career .

As the first half was coming to a close with four seconds left on the clock, the Jets lined up for a 62-yard field goal try and nearly made it with the ball falling a mere few yards from the goal post. He also missed a PAT try in the third quarter.  Folk was 1-for-2 on the day, nailing a 45-yard try on the team’s first possession.

Rookie RB Joe McKnight had another up and down night. He had five carries for nine yards and one of those costly four fumbles. However he did scamper 27 yards on a punt return, likely securing a consistent role in that position.

For Long Islanders, Jets Practice Offers Thanks

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y.- Over 10,000 people decked out in their finest green and white attire showed up at James M. Shuart Stadium at Hofstra University Wednesday night as the Jets paid tribute to the area and fans they once called home. Until last season, the Jets held their training camp and practices at the university’s campus for 40 years.

Shortly after Long Islanders caught word that the Jets were leaving Hofstra in favor of SUNY Cortland in the 2008 season, they were abruptedly informed that the island’s preeminent university, Hofstra, would be canceling their football program indefinitely. Long Island, which is a hot bed for the Jets, was dumped by their better halves in the football world, left with nothing but lacrosse and the Islanders to hold their attention.

Players reach out for adoration of fans at James M. Shuart Stadium at Hofstra University on Wednesday. The Jets used to practice there ove the past 40 years before moving up to SUNY Cortland. (Photo by JetsInsider.com).

“I think it’s awesome. I think it was important for us to come out here today to say thank you to the New York fans, to the fans who have supported us when we were at Hofstra,” said fullback Tony Richardson, who spent the final training camp at Hofstra in 2008. “We have great fans. We have passionate fans. It was great to see the support and everyone out here.”

While this may just seem like an easy day for the players, who didn’t dress in pads and could be seen posing for the rambunctious crowd, it meant a lot more to the fans who attended. “I think there’s so much support because of  the Jets and [that] there’s no high level of football here on Long Island,” said Ed Tierney, 23, of Greenlawn, N.Y., who has been a Jets fan for 17 years. “And those people who are supporters would like to come out and see some live action.”

The fans from Long Island were very much disappointed that the team that has called Hempstead home for 40 years would be moving upstate, but those same fans were enraged when hearing the new that Hofstra University would be canceling the football program, following in the footsteps of former division rival Northeastern University. The university’s president, Stewart Rabinowitz, cited major losses financially that secured the decision. The school put in an estimated $4.5 million in to the team annually and would lose $4 million in the process.

But for an area that is as passionate as Long Island, there needs to be some sort of high-level football being played. For Tierney, the youth of his summers were spent traveling out to Hofstra to watch his favorite team get ready for the upcoming season.

“We’d come out for morning practice, go the mall for a bit and come back for the afternoon sessions every day. I was disappointed when they left. But it is nice to have them around now though,” said Tierney.

Admist all the fanfare and the excitement, former Jets wide receiver and Hofstra alum, Wayne Chrebet, sat on the sidelines soaking up the action and reminiscing about his days at the Hofstra campus. He summed up the feeling of Long Islanders with a single sentence. ” They miss football around here. They should’ve never left here,” said Chrebet referring to both the football program and the Jets.

But no matter the feelings after one practice, an entertaining one at that, it is not enough to blind the Long Islanders that not only the Jets but the Hofstra Pride have left the area. And that leaves a sour taste in their mouths after playing host to the Jets for over 40 years. Longtime Jets fan Rob Luckett, 23, from Centerport, N.Y. summed up the collective feelings of his Long Island natives.

“I mean, does Cortland deserve the Jets?  No.  I think that’s just what Rex Ryan wanted, I don’t blame him. I mean, it’s produced a trip to the AFC Championship game. If that’s what he wants, then that’s what he wants. He’s a great coach.” But he ended his thoughts with Hofstra’s pulling the plug on their football team. “I was disappointed. I feel like other schools like Northeastern warned everyone that something like this would be on the horizon if something didn’t change. But this was without warning, over-night almost.  You build a facility like this, you don’t build it for lacrosse.”

Until this time next year, the Jets played the last high-level football game at James M. Shuart Stadium at Hofstra University.

Darrelle Revis: Revisited

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Let’s face it. There’s a lot of hot air being blown around Darrelle Revis and the New York Jets. From the infamous meeting at the Roscoe diner, to the on-going media blitz by owner Woody Johnson, to Revis turning down two different contracts. The truth is that there are only a few things that we do know for sure.

  1. Darrelle Revis’s holdout has reached 24 days.
  2. He has been fined over $384,000 for missing those days.
  3. The Jets and Revis still aren’t on the same page.
  4. HBO’s Hard Knocks airs Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. EST.

There have been a flurry of reports that Revis would sign a deal sometime this week and rejoin the team, as soon as today even. Jets personnel declined to comment on the Revis rumors, citing the confidentiality agreement with Revis’s agents. However there are indications that the Jets and Revis still are not close to a new deal.

All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis is still AWOL from the Jets practice field. He is seeking to become the highest paid CB in the NFL at $16 million a year. (Photo by JetsInsider.com).

Revis remains strong to his original request; to be the highest paid cornerback in the NFL at $16 million a year over ten years. He has turned down two separate offers from the Jets, a 10-year, $122 million long term deal and a short term deal that would pay him $40 million over four years.

The Jets have devoted the last six months trying to restructure Revis’s rookie contract. It was a six year, $30 million deal with about $11 million in guarantees. Coming off a career year in 2009, he is set to make roughly $1 million this season. And over the final three years he is set to make roughly $21 million. He has made $15 million thus far.

He remains, along with LB David Harris, one of the “Core Four” to not get a new deal. D’Brickashaw Ferguson signed a six year, $60 million deal early this Summer. Yesterday Nick Mangold signed a seven year, $55 million deal. Harris and the Jets have agreed to put off negotiations until the end of the season. It’s believed that it will take over $100 million in guarantees to sign the “Core Four” members.

ESPN personality and Dallas Morning New columnist, Tim Cowlishaw, has reported this week that Revis was very close to a deal as a meeting was scheduled with the Jets Tuesday night. He would reportedly be in camp by Wednesday. According to a league source however, there was no meeting planned between Revis and the Jets. And to be frank, Darrelle Revis’s first day would not be on the graveyard of a field of James M. Shuart Stadium at Hofstra Univeristy.

So there you have it, the summer that has been kidnapped by Darrelle Revis summed up in 400 words. I hope it cleared up all the haze in the air that’s surrounding this story. Stay with the JetsInsider.com for all your Revis updates, and all other Jets news!

Jets Sign Mangold, 7-year $55 million deal

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

FLORHAM PARK, N.Y.- At 3:30 p.m. EST Jets center became the highest paid center in the NFL as well as securing his role on the New York Jets for some time. He is set to earn $7.5 million a season, surpassing Ram’s OL Jason Brown’s record which was set last year.

“I could not be more excited to have it done and be here as long as I could imagine,” said the two-time Pro Bowl center.

Jets center Nick Mangold is the NFL’s highest paid center after signing a 7-year, $55 million contract extension Tuesday afternoon. (Photo courtesy of JetsInsider.com).

Only the $4 million signing bonus is guaranteed, but there is roughly $22 million in guarantees against injuries, with the potential to earn over $25 million in the first three years. Mangold reiterated that being the highest paid center in the NFL was not the selling point of the contract.

“It came out of nowhere, it went by really fast and here we are,” Mangold said after signing the deal. “It’ll take a couple of days to sink in.”

The 26-year-old is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and came to camp with the hopes of getting a new deal done. However with Darrelle Revis taking precedence with the team and the media, Mangold put his own needs aside and went to work with the rest of his teammates. On an offensive line that will have to fill a very large hole in place of the departed Alan Faneca, Mangold knew the importance of him being there for his teammates.

“It was really important [to come to camp],” said Mangold. “The offensive line is a very cohesive unit that needs work to be cohesive. If I wasn’t here, we’d have a hard time with that gelling.”

Mangold was not at practice today, thanks to Rex Ryan erring to the side of caution with his newly paid center. “I didn’t  want to get hurt. [I said] ‘no stepping in a hole, you’re getting ready to sign’. It’s a big contract so that was my decision to keep him out of practice.

Mangold on if he were to get injured: “I’d have to shoot myself.”

He is just the second of the “core four” to be signed after D’Brickashaw Ferguson’s six-year $60 million extension. The Darrelle Revis hold out has reached 23 days and despite reports by Tim Cowlishaw that a deal will be done soon, but there are no indications that a meeting will be set-up between the Jets and Revis’s people this week.

The fourth memeber is inside linebacker David Harris, who like Mangold, is also in the final year of his rookie contract. However both sides have agreed to start negotiations after the season is over.

Gloomy Day Equals Gloomy Practice for Jets Offense

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

FLORHAM PARK, N.Y.- The rain came down in spurts today, just like the Jets offense. On a day with little sunlight peering through the overcast sky, there was few bright spots on the offensive end. Over 2,700 fans came out to the Jets practice facility Tuesday to watch the team prepare for the most important preseason game of the year.

The fans may have showed up in full force, but the Jets, in particular the offense, didn’t hold up there end of the bargain.

“They had a good day yesterday, but wasn’t very good today,” head coach Rex Ryan said in his post practice press conference. “The offense definitely struggled a bit today.”

Mark Sanchez has looked hot and cold throughout training camp. Despite offseason knee surgery, he was worked hard to avoid the dreaded “sophomore slump”. (Photo courtesy of JetsInsider.com)

Mark Sanchez agreed. “I think overall it just wasn’t our best practice. I think we were a little sluggish, a little stagnant and that’s not the kind of tempo we like. That’s what kind of happens when you transition out of training camp. I think it showed in the Carolina game, and I think it showed today.”

The offensive struggles carried over from Friday’s Panthers game as receivers were overthrown, balls fell through hands and missed blocking assignments by the linemen. During the live-action drills, Sanchez went 7-11 with three red zone touchdowns and an ugly interception by Marquice Cole, in which he was waiting for the ball to enter his hands. Yet even on one of his touchdown passes to Dustin Keller on a play-action rollout was under thrown and Keller was forced to make a good play slowing up on the ball.

Kellen Clemens didn’t fair any better as he went 2-12 while getting sacked four times, twice being chased down by Jason Taylor in the backfield.

Sanchez and the starting receiving corps (Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes and Jerricho Cotchery) even stayed after practice to work on some drills.

“We were just working everything to perfection,” said Holmes after practice. “The little things you do after practice can help decide the outcome of a ballgame. When everyone’s on the same page there’s less communication issues. I think us working together with Mark will only make us that much better.”

They all down-played the extra time, citing that–like any job–you want to get the work done early in the week to rest up for the weekend. The key word all the players used was communication. With the new weapons that surround Sanchez, it will take time to develop a rhythm with everyone and get on the same page.

“[Communication] not an issue.” said veteran wideout Jerricho Cotchery. “We’re just working on everything at this point. We’re just making sure we’re communicating well and on the same page, so that it doesn’t become an issue. We’re trying to avoid the communication problems.”

It may not be a pressing issue yet, but it’s evident communication a small problem as Sanchez missed a wide-open Holmes badly in the back of the end zone. Then on the very next play threw the ball to seemingly no one as a receiver didn’t look to be within five yards of the ball.

“It definitely wasn’t our best day from the QB spot all the way down the line,” admitted Sanchez. “It was just some communication errors. We just don’t want to play into that stigma of this is Wednesday practice it’s OK to screw up. We have a lot to learn from watching the film today, but there were some highlights too.”

The offense focused not only on the red zone scenarios but on check-down plays to the running backs and tight ends. Last week against Carolina, the Jets deployed many of those screen/check-down plays but with little success, which led to sputtering offensively. Despite their talent, this team will have to learn how to walk together before competing in the marathon that is the NFL season.

NOTES:

LB Joshua Mauga and S Donovan Warren (head injuries) were both out of practice today as well as OG Charlie Tanner who has an unknown knee injury that will keep him out roughly 2-4 weeks. Ropati Pitoitua (Achilles tendon) went in for surgery today with Dr. Tim Montgomery.

Redskins QB Donovan McNabb will not play in Friday’s game against the Jets. While he has received the OK to remove the boot from his left ankle, the Redskins are acting with caution with their new star player. WFAN 106.7 in Washington is reporting that the injury is very similar to a high ankle sprain. McNabb was injured in last week’s preseason game against the Ravens.

JETS – PANTHERS PREVIEW

Friday, August 20th, 2010

As training camp comes to a close, the word being spread throughout SUNY Cortland Athletic Complex is consistency. Not just in reference to rookie running back, Joe McKnight, but to the whole team. The overall talent is there from top to bottom, but the key for the 2010 Jets will be harnessing that talent over a consistent basis.

Last week, in the face of the media hysteria and fan fare, the Jets lost the grand unveiling of their new stadium to the Giants, 31-16. While the starters looked sharp, jumping out to a 13-10 lead at halftime, the second unit stumbled out the gates as Giants back-up QB, Jim Sorgi, rallied Big Blue over Gang Green in the “Battle for the Big Apple”.

The Jets were missing consistency. Mark Sanchez looked impressive leading three scoring drives while going 13-17 for 119 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT, but had a ball returned by Giants safety Antrel Rolle to the 1 yard line on the opening drive. LaDanian Tomlinson had a 14-yard touchdown run negated by a holding penalty. The first-team defense KO’d Eli Manning, but allowed a career day for back-up WR Victor Cruz (6 catches, 145 yards, 3 TDs).

Panthers QB Jimmy Clausen

The Jets will probably see a lot of rookie and ex-Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen this Saturday in Carolina.

“I don’t even know who No. 3 is,” Jets linebacker Bart Scott said, “but he looked like Randy Moss out there with those three touchdowns.”

Quotes like that aren’t going to fly this week, as the Jets travel out to Charlotte, North Carolina for a preseason match-up against the Panthers Saturday night. The Panthers are coming off a dreadful preseason opener, losing to the Baltimore Ravens, 17-12. The offense was shut out by the Ravens, with their only touchdown coming on a C.J. Wilson 31-yard fumble return in which the kicker missed the PAT.

The Jets hope to continue the offensive shut out, as they will likely not have to deal with Pro Bowl wideout Steve Smith. Smith, who has been on the PUP list after suffering a broken arm in a flag football game, was activated this week, but it remains uncertain if he will play in the preseason.

“No more. That’ll be about it,” head coach Rex Ryan said in regards to the starters only playing the first quarter. “Last week, we mentioned what our plan was, (and) I think the Giants had a very similar plan because I think we played three more plays than they did with the starters.  But that’s the deal, that’s how we’re going into this game.”

The defensive starters should be able to sharpen their blades against a Panthers offense that’s rather blunt. With Smith not on the field, the Panthers become very one-dimensional, running team — due largely to their tw0-headed tandem of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Quarterbacks Matt Moore and Jimmy Clausen are inexperienced at best against a professional NFL defense and it showed against the Ravens. They went a combined 14-32 for 148 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT, 2 fumbles, while being sacked seven times.

Where the Jets and Ravens play a similar attack-style of defense, alas Rex Ryan, fully expect the defense to enjoy a stellar day in all aspects. The defense closed camp on a very high note, according to Ryan. “[The day] was dominated by the defense,” said Ryan during Thursday’s press conference. “We had a practice schedule (in which) the offense had a little bonus work to go over their third downs, but it was really dominated by the defense.”

The offense, however, may run into some trouble as any John Fox team is a a team that is coached very well on the defensive side of the ball. The Panthers did a solid job at slowing down a revamped Ravens offense, tallying six sack, four fumbles (three recovered), an interception, and a defensive TD. Panthers cornerback, Chris Gamble, is a problem for receivers on the left side and has a knack of getting his hands on the ball. The premier match-up to look for in this game will be Gamble against Braylon Edwards. Edwards, who has enjoyed an above average training camp, is looking to shed his reputation as a butter-fingered receiver and live up to his top-flight potential. Last week against the Giants, Edwards caught everything his way as he recorded three catches for 35 yards.

Also keep an eye on the match-up up the middle between John Conner and Panthers middle linebacker Jon Beason. Both deliver spine-bending hits with a smile as they’re doing it. If you hear a pop up the middle on a running play, it will most likely be coming from one of these two brutes.

But this will be a game for the veterans to prove themselves. Ryan has previously stated that while the starters will being playing roughly a quarter, veterans like Laveranues Coles and Mark Brunell will see more playing time. Both saw limited field time against the Giants, and it’s important — especially for Coles, who expects to be used with somewhat regularity — to get the repetitions and the feel for game speed.

There haven’t been any scratches from the game yet, however he is still questionable about inside linebackers Braston Sateele and Joshua Mauga. Sateele hasn’t been able to practice due to an ankle injury while Mauga suffered a concussion and was taken off the bicycle during practice after complaining of headaches. Conner (knee), Jason Thomas (ankle) and Lance Laury (cut on lower lip) all expect to play Saturday.

Jets vs. Giants: The Battle for the Big Apple

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

The battle for bragging rights of the New Meadowlands Stadium begins as the sun sets over the New York skyline Monday night. The Giants, who have ruled the town with a caste-iron grasp over the years, will be squaring off against the Jets, a fresh, brash team looking to back up the trash-talk that has dominated the off-season. Normally, a game of such magnitude (albeit a preseason game) is reserved for the third game of the preseason, where the starters see the most field time. However due to being roommates in the new stadium, they will open the New Meadowlands against each other.

Jets NT Kris Jenkins returns to the field for the first time Monday night after injuring his knee last season. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

Much has been said about how the boisterous Jets were going to “take over New York” which historically has been a Giants town. While the Giants enjoyed hoisting two Lombardi trophies during the late eighties and early ninties, and an improbable victory over the New England Patriots, the Jets were left to the gutter forced to watch another team in their city enjoy the glory they’ve always wanted. But with a run to the AFC Championship last season and a head coach who continues to win over his team everyday, the Jets have the confidence to say, “Why not us?” This 2010 New York Jets team will not allow themselves to carry out the self-fulfilling prophecy that the Jets are a doomed team.

And it all starts with their first preseason game against the in-town bullies in Big Blue.

The New York Jets face-off against the the New York Giants at the grand opening of the New Meadowlands Stadium Monday night. (Photo courtesy of JetsInider.com).

Head coach Rex Ryan has already said that his starters will play the entire first quarter of the first two preseason games. Yesterday, Ryan grew frustrated with his offense’s lack of focus. “I wasn’t real happy with the way our offense was picking up the blitzes and different things like that,” he said after Saturday’s practice.

The Jets offense will have to worry about the pressure from the corners with DE Osi Umenyiora suiting up alongside Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, and first-round selection Jason Pierre-Paul. However Giants coach Tom Coughlin said he will only play his starters for roughly 15 to 18 plays.

This will be the first time the public will get to see a Jets team, that on paper, looks to be a fantasy football team. It will interesting to see how the team’s chemistry is as the first snap is taken and adversity hits them in the mouth. New additions like Jason Taylor, who is being brought along slowly with Ryan’s complex defensive schemes and terminology, will have to worry about x’s and o’s at game speed. “I think in 13 years I’ve never opened up my playbook in my dorm room or hotel room or at home after work,” said Taylor. “Here, I open the playbook up every time I get a chance — in the locker room before practice, in the dorm room. It’s pretty complex.” He’ll get his chanceto prove something as the Giants’ starting line will not be in full attendance (OG Chris Snee-out, Rich Seubert-questionable).

For LaDanian Tomlinson, this will be a chance to prove to the football world that he hasn’t lost a step. In fact, this could be the game where we see an old dog show off his new trick. As reported by JI reporter, Dan Troisi, Tomlinson was seen taking snaps out of the Jet’s version of the wildcat offense, the “Tiger Cat”. The Tiger Cat, which was run almost exclusively by the versatile WR/KR/QB/ Brad Smith, was a fairly predictable system because Smith would almost always run out of it. However this training camp Smith has been throwing the ball a lot more out of it and with the possibility of LT getting some touches out of it adds another level of unpredictability. For the record, LT’s career passing numbers are 8-12, 143 yards, 7 TDs, 0 INTs.What better way to show up your in-town rival than to do it with some flare?

Antonio Cromartie, who came in to this season with less pressure not being the number one cornerback, is now the number one cornerback. Thanks to the Revis hold-out, Cromartie will be assigned to the offense’s best wideout. He has had a pretty good training camp thus far, wowing the crowds with some amazing plays and his gazelle-like strides, but has beaten on some relatively easy plays as well. If the Revis hold-out continues, he is going to have to show some consistency. On Monday he will line up against the lengthy second-year wideout Hakeem Nicks, a modest test to see how well Cromartie has adjusted.

But as much as this is a game between the New York Jets and the New York Giants, at this stage in the season, it’s really about the Jets against the Jets. There are still plenty of positions that have yet to be filled due to some friendly competition.

LEFT GUARD: Matt Slauson vs. Vladimir Ducasse

In the heavyweight division, many thought of the 6-5, 315 pound Slauson as a short-term placeholder for the incumbent rookie. However he has the early edge over Ducasse and Ryan saying  “could he be the long-term solution at guard? I believe he could.” Ducasse is a second-round pick from FCS UMASS who has a lot of raw talent. Despite that raw ability, the Jets are thinking that he will have to do some amazing things to take the job away from Slauson.

FULLBACK: Tony Richardson vs. John Conner

The thought of these two brutes fighting over one position has me thinking of a UFC pay-per-view because, quite frankly, these guys bring the pain. Richardson, a 16-year-veteran was brought in to be the starter but has recently been pushed to the extreme by the rookie who has been aptly nicknamed “The Terminator”. Rex Ryan has been on the record about how much he loves their fifth-round selection from Kentucky for the way he’s been cracking skulls at camp. While, for now, the job maybe Richardson’s by a slight edge, Conner is the future. It’s just a matter of how soon the future will come.

CORNERBACK: Dwight Lowery vs. Kyle Wilson

Everyone is well aware of the Darrelle Revis situation and the glaring hole he left. Newly acquired CB Antonio Cromartie will be playing the left side for the first time in his career, filling in for the absent Revis. First-round pick Kyle Wilson has really wowed the Jets organization while practicing with the first-team offense throughout training camp. Sports Illustrated’s Peter King has reported that Wilson has been named the right-side starter, but Lowery has been solid at worst. All it will take is for a few deep balls to fly over the rookies’ head for Lowery to step in to the starter’s role.

Player Spotlight: FB John Conner

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

CORTLAND, N.Y.- The New York Jets have been the toast of the NFL for the past year; From an improbable run to the AFC Championship game, to their flurry of superstar additions in the off season, to the heavily covered on-going disputes with All-Pro corner Darrelle Revis, to the HBO documentary series “Hard Knocks” following them around for the duration of training camp.

The Jets hope rookie FB John Connor will be a 'Terminator" on the football field. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

While there are many players who have been soaking up the spotlight, there is a blue collar player providing his own type of hard knocks, with the hopes of shedding light on a position that’s been doomed since the Dark Ages of football.

Unfazed by the attention of the media, 23-year-old John Conner just picks up his hardhat and punches in to his position of fullback.

“He has a talent for running through people,” said Rex Ryan today. “That’s what this kid brings to the table.”

Ryan noticed him on the very first day marveling at the way the rookie was knocking people around, earning him the nickname, “The Terminator”. What could be a better name for a bruising lead back like Conner? His style of play pays homage to some of the greats ala Frank Gifford and Larry Csonka. His grind-it-out, smash-mouth style is something that causes Ryan to salivate at the thought of sending Conner to clear a path for fellow bruising back, Shonn Greene.

“I think he had the best hit of the year today,” said Ryan. “It was on an “Iso Draw” where [Conner] isolates on a linebacker. And, man, it was great to watch.”

As it is always fun to see the young guys, like Conner, perform early, he has to beat out 16-year veteran Tony Richardson. Once again, Conner finds himself trying to find some space in the light. Richardson was brought in (along with LaDanian Tomlinson) to help groom a young backfield as well do what he has done best for the last 16 years, pave a road his halfback.

However, Conner, a fifth-round pick from Kentucky, has taken the necessary steps to prove that he does belong in the starting backfield. “There’s absolutely a chance [Conner] could start. Tony’s obviously a very talented and experienced guy, but he is being pushed by this kid,” admitted Ryan today at a post-practice press conference. “[Conner’s] definitely turning heads.”

“The Terminator” is cracking skulls as well as turning heads. Throughout training camp, he has been relentless on the pursuit, no matter the situation. Whether it’s Bart Scott or Jason Taylor or Ben Renkart (who was the unfortunate linebacker that Conner had his best hit of the year on) he rears back, lowers his shoulder and boulders onward to the next victim. And if it isn’t on the offensive end, it’s covering kick-offs as well. It’s been noted that he has been exceptional running down kicks, splitting the double teams, and getting to the return man.

But at the end of the day, John “The Terminator” Conner is just another blue collar worker trying to get ahead in a position where a little attention is rewarded, but also not necessary. “He’s just doing what he’s supposed to do,” Ryan pointed out. “[He’s] going full speed at it and trying to take a job home with him.” Now that would be something for him to hang his hard hat on.