Coach Edwards confirmed that Jets QB Chad Pennington will start vs. Minnesota this Friday. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Jets head coach Herman Edwards officially announced today that QB Chad Pennington will start on Friday against the Minnesota Vikings.
The announcement, which came after this morning’s brief special teams only practice, is no surprise considering earlier this week, Pennington said he would start.
One player glad to see Pennington back is second-year WR Jerricho Cotchery. “I expect him to come out like any other first game, excited and sharp,” Cotchery said.
While Cotchery did play in 12 games last season; he only caught six passes the entire year. Cotchery did make his mark felt on special teams, finishing tied fourth on the team with 19 tackles as well as five kickoff returns for an average of 27 yards.
Cotchery again will mainly contribute on special teams this season and during onside kick drills this morning, he made a nice play as part of the coverage team leaping in the air and coming down with the ball.
“It’s very important,” Cotchery said of the special teams’ practices. “We go over a lot of details. It’s like a meeting and practice combined.”
Assistant head coach and special teams coach Mike Westhoff is in his fifth season with the Jets and 23rd season as a NFL coach and is considered one of the best special teams coaches in the game. Edwards feels Westhoff’s unit can be outstanding.
“They have potential,” Edwards said. “Mike (Westhoff) has guys who can run. Our kickers can kick. We have some new return guys so it’s interesting how they do.”
One of those new return guys is rookie CB Justin Miller, who continued his struggles this morning, jumping to catch a kickoff and having it go off his hands.
Edwards has said that Miller has hit the “rookie wall” and Cotchery agrees.
“It exists,” Cotchery said. “I probably hit it like week 9 or 10. You have to have everything together mentally and physically.”
Cotchery had to battle through a hamstring injury last year suffered at Cleveland that kept him inactive for the next three games before coming back against Seattle.
“I told him to treat it like college,” Cotchery said of his advice to Miller. “He’s a gamer and I expect him to handle his business.”
Cotchery certainly knows what Miller can do as Cotchery’s North Carolina State team played against Miller’s Clemson team in college.
He talked about the difference this year from his rookie season. “I’ve come a long way,” Cotchery said. .”The main thing as a rookie was I had no idea what to expect in training camp, preseason and regular season. Basically it’s night and day. I know everything now which has helped me develop more as a player.”
One thing Cotchery has had to work on is learning a new offense under coordinator Mike Heimerdinger.
“There’s a lot more stuff than last year,” Cotchery said. “Every route there’s a lot of details which helps a lot in getting open.”
Cotchery is a true team player. “I’m like a Super Walmart,” Cotchery said. “I’ll give you anything you need. When you’re trying to win championships, everyone has to know their role.”
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-Fans may want to get to their seats early on Friday night as WR Justin McCareins will be honored by the Metro Radio Sports Reporters Association (MRSRA) prior to the game when he is awarded the Good Sport Award. The annual award is given to the player and public relations staff people from metropolitan area teams who have been the most cooperative, professional, and helpful, in good times and bad, while interacting with the Association and its members throughout the previous calendar year. “Justin McCareins consistently goes above and beyond to help radio sports reporters give their listeners the fullest possible coverage of New York area sports,” said Todd Ant, MRSRA president. McCareins beat out the Nets Jason Kidd, Mets catcher Mike Piazza, Giants WR Amani Toomer, and Yankees CF Bernie Williams for the award.
-Punt returns were also practiced this morning with Miller, WR Justin McCareins, and RB Decori Birmingham fielding the punts cleanly. Yesterday, Westhoff told WFAN radio in an interview that Graham is the frontrunner for the starting spot. Graham’s best punt this morning was a 55 yarder from the end zone.
Edwards announced that FB Jerald Sowell (ribs), G Brandon Moore (hamstring), WR Jonathan Carter (hamstring), WR Harry Williams, Jr. (knee, out 2-6 weeks), LB Darrell McClover (foot-IR), and S Andre Maddox (hamstring) will not participate in the game on Friday. With Sowell out, FB B.J. Askew should start. G/C Jonathan Goodwin will probably start in Moore’s place. CB Ty Law also will not play while working himself back into game shape..
-LB Darrel McClover (foot): placed on IR
-WR Harry Williams Jr. (knee): out 2-6 weeks
LB Eric Barton (knee): day-to-day
-WR Jonathan Carter (hamstring): day-to-day
-CB Ty Law (foot): out
-G Brandon Moore (hamstring): day-to-day
-FB Jerald Sowell (ribs): day-to-day
The Jets hold their final night practice this evening at 7 p.m. Check back to Jets Insider.com for all the latest training camp news.