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

LB Eric Barton was signed by the Jets in March as an unrestricted free agent from Oakland. The talented sixth year pro will now try to carry over his intensity from the Raiders to the Jets. After sitting out most of the beginning of training camp with a sore hamstring, the LB returned this week and his fierceness has carried over to his teammates. Early on in practice this afternoon, Barton set the tone for the defense, throwing RB Johnathan Reese to the ground after a run.

LB Eric Barton was signed by the Jets in March as an unrestricted free agent from Oakland. The talented sixth year pro will now try to carry over his intensity from the Raiders to the Jets. After sitting out most of the beginning of training camp with a sore hamstring, the LB returned this week and his fierceness has carried over to his teammates. Early on in practice this afternoon, Barton set the tone for the defense, throwing RB Johnathan Reese to the ground after a run.

Head Coach Herman Edwards likes the attitude Barton brings to practice.

“He’s a very active guy and plays hard,” said the Coach. “He can cover some ground; he can run, and that’s what you want. That’s why we brought the guy in here. He’s started a lot of games. He’s played a lot of positions back there too. He’s doing pretty well.”

Barton’s teammates followed his example in a practice that was mostly dominated by the defense. During 7-on-7 drills, S Derek Pagel broke up a pass intended for WR Justin McCareins. Later on, LB Quincy Stewart broke up a 35 yard pass in the end zone from QB Chad Pennington. Stewart also displayed nice coverage on WR Jerricho Cotchery, causing the WR to drop a pass.

DT Josh Evans, showing renewed intensity this year, burst through the second team offensive line for a would-be sack on QB Ricky Ray. NT Jason Ferguson batted down Pennington’s pass at the line of scrimmage, earning the praise of defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson.

The starting defensive line features three former first round draft picks and Edwards thinks now is the time for them to step up.

“They’re kind of in the stage of their careers where they can become upper echelon players if they choose to be,” Edwards said before adding, “Their talent level says that they can do that, but they’ve got to go do that. All it is, is to be consistent. You can’t have big high games and then all of a sudden three games you disappear.”

CB Donnie Abraham, who will have the challenge of covering Colts WR Marvin Harrison on Saturday, had a near interception on a Pennington pass intended for McCareins.

Pennington ran an efficient red zone offense. He hit McCareins right between the numbers for a 15 yard score, as Pagel and CB Derek Strait were beat. On the next play, Pennington handed off to RB Curtis Martin, who showed he still has plenty of life in his legs, running untouched into the end zone.

Martin has been very vocal about his high expectations for the season and Edwards feels Martin will have a solid season.

“I think he knows he’s one of the leaders on the team. He doesn’t say a whole lot, and when he speaks everyone listens,” said Edwards. “He has some high expectations for us and the football team. He feels good about his own self, too.”

Ray has shown improvement over the past week, taking over the number two spot on the depth chart in place of the injured Brooks Bollinger. Ray fooled the defense during full team drills, running a play-action to hook up with WR Terrence Stubbs. Ray also hit WR Matt Dominguez in the back of the end zone for a TD. It was a scary moment as Dominguez landed on his shoulder, which held him out of practice last week. But Dominguez got right up and appeared to be fine.

The Coach has seen improvement in Dominguez from mini-camps to now.

“His stock has gone up because he’s big and he’s a physical guy,” Edwards said. “He’s made some catches. I think the preseason game he played in has really helped his confidence. At one time in the spring, he was dropping balls and I didn’t know what was wrong with him. All of the sudden something clicked at the end of the spring and when he came back and started training camp you saw a different guy. You saw a much more confident guy.”

Both Pennington and Ray tried to lead the offense to a score, trailing 13-10 on their own 35 yard line and 1:22 left on the clock. Pennington was successful, only needing three passes, two to TE Anthony Becht, including the touchdown pass, and one to McCareins. The defense stifled Ray, who was not even able to complete a pass.

MISCELLANEOUS TIDBITS: WR Jonathan Carter, who has been sitting out most of the afternoon practices, participated today and made a nice 20 yard over the shoulder catch from Pennington during drills. “It is going on pretty good but it is all a competition for everybody,” Carter said about the wide receiver battle. “We aren’t going against Santana (Moss), it is me going against all of them.”… Reese continues to impress every time he touches the ball, using his speed to break free and burst through holes. INJURY REPORT: WR Santana Moss did not participate in either practice today but has been upgraded to questionable for Saturday’s game. S Reggie Tongue, who returned to practice yesterday, has also been upgraded to questionable. One more name to add to the injury list as WR Lawrence Hamilton is out for Saturday’s game with an undisclosed injury.

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.
--P Toby Gowin (Groin): Day to day. Questionable for Saturday.
--WR Lawrence Hamilton (Undisclosed): Day to day. Status for Saturday unknown.
--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. Questionable 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.
--LB Wes Bautovich (Thigh): Day to day. Questionable for Saturday.

The team has a walk through tomorrow at 9 AM that is closed to both the media and public. They will then board a charter to Indianapolis tomorrow afternoon. The next practice open to the public will be at 3:30 PM on Monday. Be sure to log on to Jets Insider.com often for all of the latest training camp news and reports.