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Defense makes strides

By Justin Paley
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
August 18th, 2004

The Jets secondary has been slow to grasp defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson’s system. But it seems they may have turned the corner after a solid afternoon practice.

The Jets secondary has been slow to grasp defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson’s system. But it seems they may have turned the corner after a solid afternoon practice.

With many of the players sitting out with injuries, a lot of young players got a chance to show their stuff under cool damp conditions at Hofstra.

Rookie CB Derrick Strait was tested often in practice and came up big every time. During 7-on-7 drills, Strait stepped in front of a ball intended for WR Jerricho Cotchery and knocked it down. He also had a breakup on a pass from QB Ricky Ray intended for WR Terrence Stubbs. During full team drills, Strait caused a pass intended for WR Ken-Yon Rambo to be incomplete. Henderson talked about what he is looking for from Strait.

“It won't be any different than from anybody else”, said the DC. “What I hope for him to do is be able to make the communication calls and play under control. If he can do those things, we'll be okay.”

S Reggie Tongue, in his second practice back, showed no effects of the calf injury that kept him out of practice for over two weeks. Tongue, practicing with the second and third team, made a number of nice plays. The safety and CB Roderick Bryant had nice double coverage on a pass from QB Chris Finlen intended for WR Chris Duncan. Tongue also displayed nice coverage on Cotchery.

Tongue talked about what he thinks he brings to the team.

”I try and bring just some positive energy, lead by example and I try to do everything: cover, tackle, intercept the ball and run it for a touchdown”, said the new Jet. “I think I bring a third dimension to the secondary.” Time will tell if he can live up to his bold words.

Head Coach Herman Edwards is glad to have an experienced player like Tongue back.

”Obviously it is his experience,” said Edwards. “Reggie is a guy who has played a lot of football games. We really don't have a guy - as far as safety wise - that has played a lot of games when you think about it. Jon McGraw has played sparingly and the rest of the guys are young players. We don't have a lot of experience at safety, so that kind of helps us with that position.”

After S Erik Coleman was beaten on a 15-yard pass from Ray to TE Mikhael Ricks, Henderson chastised Coleman after the play. Bryant later dropped a sure interception on a pass intended for Cotchery.

The defensive play of the afternoon came with the offense having the ball on their own 26. Henderson sent S Jon McGraw in to blitz forcing Pennington to try a shovel pass. The pass though was picked off by DE Shaun Ellis and ran back for a TD.

Offensively, Finlen showed he still has a lot of work to do. In limited time, Finlen overthrew WR Muneer Moore and threw a high ball that Duncan had to make a leaping catch to bring in.

The Northern Illinois alum did not see action in the first preseason game against the Saints but with QB Brooks Bollinger sidelined with a knee injury, Edwards expects Finlen to see some action against the Colts. “He will probably get some snaps”, said Edwards. “He’s probably looking at it as an opportunity, whether it be here or somewhere else. If he can play well in the preseason-as we well know- everyone is looking for backup quarterbacks these days it seems like, not just the Jets.”

Ahead of Finlen on the depth chart is Ray and he seems to be progressing. Late in practice, Ray threw a ball to Rambo that bounced off his helmet high into the air and into the waiting hands of Cotchery who ran it in untouched for a TD.

Early in the practice, punt returns were practiced. A punt to Matt Dominguez bounced off his chest, onto the ground, drawing a groan from the large crowd. Dominguez redeemed himself later on, as he was part of the coverage team and tapped a punt from going in the end zone. S Jarrell Weaver, WR Carl Kearney, and Cotchery also stopped balls from going into the end zone.

MISCELLANEUS TIDBITS: WR Jonathan Carter has been sitting out the afternoon practice lately often and Edwards clarified the situation. “That was our plan going in- he is a one-a-day guy. All of those guys are one-a-day guys. Santana (Moss), Wayne (Chrebet) and (Jonathan) Carter. We have always done it with our receivers. We did it with Laveranues Coles when Laveranues was here. That is kind of how we use our receivers; where they know they get a yellow card in one of the practices. They get the yellow card, and the yellow card means you get half of a day off. That is nothing unusual for us.”…Pennington was 1-2 on long balls, overthrowing Cotchery but completing a 74-yard pass to Rambo for a TD, drawing large cheers form the crowd…The Jets will not be able to stay in a hotel in Indianapolis due to a Star Trek convention and all the hotels being booked. There have been rumors the Jets would fly in the same day of the game. Jets media relations director Doug Miller clarified the situation, saying the Jets will be leaving Friday and staying in a business hotel just north of the city. The preseason schedule came out in April, long after all the rooms were booked by the Star Trek convention.

TRANSACTIONS The Jets announced the cuts of CB Jon Pendergrass and DE Kevin Fales. Fales release included an injury settlement. The roster now stands at 85 players.

INJURY REPORT: Safety Reggie Tongue returned to participate in positional and full-team drills this morning, but has been ruled out for Saturday’s game at Indianapolis. WR’s Santana Moss’ and Wayne Chrebet’s status were downgraded and they will not play this week.

The following is the current status of the team’s injured players and their projected status for the preseason game at Indianapolis.

--RB Josh Davis (Torn ACL): Out for Season.
--WR Wayne Chrebet (Quad): Day to day. Out for Saturday.
--CB Ray Mickens (Knee): Out at least a week. Out for Saturday.
--WR Santana Moss (Hamstring): Limited activity. Out for Saturday.
-QB Brooks Bollinger (Knee): Out at least a week.. Out for Saturday.
--S Reggie Tongue (Calf): Limited activity. Questionable for Saturday.
--DE Joey Evans (Foot): Day to day. Out for Saturday.
--RB Derrick Ward (High Ankle Sprain): 1 week or more. Out for Saturday.
--RB B.J. Askew (Shoulder): Day to day. Questionable for Saturday.

The team will have a short special teams practice tomorrow at 10:30AM and a full practice at 3:30 PM. Both practices and Jets Fest are open to the public. As always, Jets Insider.com will be there so be sure to log on often for all of the latest training camp news and reports.

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