He's baaaaack

By John Melillo
Jets, Staff Writer
December 3rd, 2004

The Jets will have all their key offensive components intact when they face the Houston Texans this Sunday, as Coach Herm Edwards announced on Friday that QB Chad Pennington will return to the starting lineup after missing the last three games with a rotator cuff injury. The team hopes that a Pennington return will ignite a sluggish Jets offense of late. .

The Jets will have all their key offensive components intact when they face the Houston Texans this Sunday, as Coach Herm Edwards announced on Friday that QB Chad Pennington will return to the starting lineup after missing the last three games with a rotator cuff injury. The team hopes that a Pennington return will ignite a sluggish Jets offense of late.

“Hopefully, it will give us some adrenaline and excitement,” said Edwards on Pennington’s return. “It’s an important game for us. Obviously with Chad is back in the lineup, it helps. But it won’t be Chad alone. It’s going to have to be everyone playing well for us to win.”

The anticipated return of Pennington has been the prominent issue all week, but the game would have been played whether No. 10 was on the field or not. That being said, the Jets are excited to return home and erase the bad memories of a disheartening overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Nov. 14.

“It feels great to be back at home,” LB Jonathan Vilma said. “We have to make sure we get a victory. We didn’t have a good outing (at home) last time. We ended up losing to Baltimore so we want to get back on the winning note.”

Likewise, there will be two familiar faces in the Texans’ secondary who are returning home to where their careers began with former Jets CB Aaron Glenn and FS Marcus Coleman making up one-half of Houston’s starting defensive backfield. Jets veteran WR Wayne Chrebet is particularly looking forward to competing against the duo this week.

“I have practiced against Aaron (Glenn) every day for six or seven years so we know an awful lot about each other,” Chrebet said. “It will be nice to get back out there against him and Marcus (Coleman).” Glenn expressed a similar sentiment in stepping into the Meadowlands for the first time since his departure from the Jets.

”Once I get on that field, I know I’m going to be a little emotional,” Glenn admitted in a conference call this week. “That’s where my start was. They gave me my opportunity. I will always have a special place in my heart for New York. That was the place I started my career.”

While it could provide additional motivation for the Jets’ receivers to perform well against two former teammates, the statistics dictate the passing offense should find little resistance versus a Texans’ defense that has surrendered 27 passing touchdowns this season. However, Pennington stressed stats can be deceiving and how the Texans feature a bend-but-don’t break defensive mentality.

“Their defense- people have said (teams) have been able to throw the ball against them- they have made some big plays,” Pennington said. “They are second in the League in interceptions. They make you be patient. You can’t force things because they do a great job of zone coverage breaking on the football and not giving up easy touchdowns.”

As for the Texans’ offense, third-year QB David Carr has progressed each season and is directing an offense that currently ranks 11th in the NFL with 340 yards per game. In a conference call with the NY media earlier this week, Texans coach Dom Capers discussed Carr’s improvement.

“This year, fortunately he’s been able to stay healthy,” Capers said. “What you naturally see with a third-year quarterback – his game management, understanding the down and distance situations, being able to do more things at the line of scrimmage based on what type of defensive looks that you get. I think he’s far more confident in terms of our offense and running the team.”

Carr benefits from an explosive offense cast that features former first-round draft choice and go-to WR Andre Johnson and deep threat WR Corey Bradford. Jets coach Herm Edwards expressed concern in dealing with two big-play wide outs this Sunday.

“They have a very, very potent offense,” Edwards said. “(Carr) does a good job of making plays with his legs and his arm. They have some gifted wide¬ outs. (Johnson) is a big, fast, physical, confident receiver. They get the ball to him. He can make the little catch, the underneath, and can run off with it. (He’s) hard to tackle (and) he’s going to be one of the better receivers in our league in my estimation. He's up there right now.”

Lining up in the Texans’ offensive backfield is RB Domanick Davis, who has rushed for 652 yards on 189 carries with eight touchdowns this season.

“I think the (Davis) goes kind of unnoticed, he's had a good year for them,” noted Edwards.

MISCELLANEOUS TIDBITS: Vilma, who has recently named AFC Defensive Rookie of the Month for November, has started the last nine game at middle linebacker, ranking second on the team in tackles (79) and has two interceptions, three pass deflections, one sack and a fumble recovery for the season.

-The Jets 8-3 record marks the best start through 11 games since 1986.

-The defense has posted five second-half shutouts this season. Coordinator Donnie Henderson’s crew yielded just a combined 10 points during their two road wins over Cleveland and Arizona.

-The Jets and Texans have only met once with the Jets 19-14 victory in Houston last season. Despite the unfamiliarity, there are quite a few connections between the clubs. In addition to the reunion with Coleman and Glenn, who is the older brother of Jets LB Jason Glenn, there are other Jets/Texans connections. Houston’s WR coach Kippy Brown was the RB coach for Gang Green from 1990-92 and WR Jabar Gaffney is the son of former Jets WR Derrick Gaffney (1978-84, 1987).

-RB Curtis Martin, who appears to set a new individual milestone every week, is just 160 yards shy of cracking the 13,000-yard mark. The reachable mark would place Martin in select company as only RBs Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders and Eric Dickson have achieved that feat…The Jets are tied with the San Diego Chargers for the fewest turnovers committed in the NFL with nine.

INJURY REPORT: As mentioned, Pennington was upgraded to probable and will start on Sunday. Jason Glenn, was downgraded to questionable but is hoping to get some playing time against his brother Aaron’s team. Here’s the complete list.

-QB Chad Pennington (shoulder): Proabable
-LB Victor Hobson (ankle): Questionable
-WR Jerricho Cotchery (hamstring): Questionable
-S Jon McGraw (groin): Probable
-LB Jason Glenn (forearm): Questionable

Game time is at 1:00pm Sunday. Local TV is CBS Channel 2 and local Radio is on 1050 ESPN Radio and 770 WABC Radio. Check back often to Jets for all the latest Jets/Texans news and reports.

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