Jets QB Chad Pennington is expected to see at least a half of action Friday night against the Giants. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
A lot of hoopla this week circled around the rematch between two teams that apparently, if you watched their practice in Albany, won’t be exchanging holiday greeting cards anytime soon.
The Jets and Giants currently share a city, stadium and are talking about possibly continuing that marriage sometime into the future. For, however, now the only topic on most players’ minds is the July 29 scuffle that broke out during a scheduled “practice.”
The practice felt more like a game, and today’s game may be reminiscent to a royal rumble. The Giants were not pleased with the Jets physical play.
"There's going to be a lot of animosity, you can count on that," Giants linebacker Barrett Green said after the practice. "In the preseason game, there's no question about the rules, there's no question about hitting people. They're going to get hit, hard."
Green’s displeasure stems from the ruckus that broke out between Jets S Oliver Celestin and Giants TE Jeremy Shockey. The two exchanged blows, and later in the practice rookie S Kerry Rhodes close lined a Giants wide receiver.
LB Eric Barton was even heard taunting the Giants at one point.
“Make the playoffs,” Barton barked.
So what is in store for the encore? Nothing, if you ask Jets defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson, who verbally sparred with Giants coach Tom Coughlin last month about his defense’s rough play.
“It doesn’t bother me at all,” Henderson said Monday. “I understand the situation. I know what happened out there. I don’t think I’m going to be the issue when we play between the lines.”
Henderson grew irritated when the topic was not dropped. Asked if he would have done anything differently, Henderson said, “Why would I have to turn back time? I’m ok with me. I wasn’t being disingenuous. You know what’s so bad about this? It’s a story and when we can’t stop the story can we?”
Head coach Herman Edwards issued the company line all week as well, saying what happens in Albany stays in Albany, a spin on the Las Vegas advertisement. He vehemently defended his defensive coordinator.
“I don’t know who is making him out to be the villain,” Edwards said. “He is not a villain. He’s a very intense football coach.”
The games between the Jets and Giants have always been physical without the extracurricular activities. In August of 1998, then Giants CB Jason Sehorn tore his ACL on a kickoff return and missed the entire season. The start of QB Chad Pennington’s season was torpedoed in 2003 when he broke a bone in his left wrist. Now add the flare from July’s practice and hopefully all players come out unscathed.
“Yeah it’s all out,” LB Jonathan Vilma said. “We’re tackling, it’s live [and] it’s whatever they make of it. Obviously we have to go out and make sure we play physical.”
If the Giants are peeved, then this is a bad week for the Jets to play their starters into the third quarter, which is Edwards’ plan. This is tune-up week for their starters and Pennington will play the entire first half after making his first start last Friday against the Vikings. Pennington was sharp on the lone scoring drive he engineered. He was 9 of 10 for 86 yards in three series and showed no discomfort throwing the ball.
“It’s not his arms, it’s his footwork,” Edwards said. “He’s getting better at it. He doesn’t have that sidearm throw.”
Similar to Pennington’s return last week, the much-anticipated return of CB Ty Law will nab all the headlines. It is his first game action since last October and his foot’s durability is still a question mark.
“It will take him some time to get to where he’s [usually] at, but the only way he can do that is to go play,” Edwards said.
Law’s return should shore up a secondary that has looked putrid against first-team quarterbacks the first two games. Against Joey Harrington (Lions) and Daunte Culpepper (Vikings) the Jets secondary has been toasted for 246 yards and a touchdown on 20 of 22 passes. Ouch.
Giants QB Eli Manning will sit out with a strained right elbow, which he hurt after DE Julius Peppers hit him in the arm and caused a fumble. Peppers beat former Jets RT Kareem McKenzie on the play.
Because Tim Hasselbeck is starting in Manning’s place, it won’t be much of a sign of what the defense will look like against another top flight quarterback. So the first test will be the season-opener at Kansas City.
On offense, it will be interesting to see how many touches RB Curtis Martin will get. Martin touched the ball 27 times last year and he has just eight carries this preseason. Edwards grew agitated when asked about Martin’s workload.
<>“He’ll go right along with the number that we decided on this summer,” Edwards said. “Nobody knows that number except Curtis Martin and the head coach. That’s what’s great about it. It’s great to be the king. I knew somebody was going to go back to last year and say that he ran it 22 times but last year is last year. This year is this year.”
And it’s another year the Giants and Jets face off in a battle for New York bragging rights.
-Edwards is 14-5 in the preseason.
-The Jets lead the all-time preseason series 19-16-1
-Look for the starters to play at least the first half. Traditionally the third pre-season game is the real final tuneup. The starters will only play one or two series next week.
-With first cuts on Tuesday, the team will probably make their punter decision tonight with Aussie Ben Graham having a slight edge over veteran Micah Knorr.
-Longshot FA Rookie RB DeCori Birmingham has a chance at making the roster as a kick returner due to the erratic hands of CB Justin Miller. Birmingham has been solid as a returner this camp.
-Veteran Oliver Celestin and rookie Kerry Rhodes have been neck and neck in the battle for the starting strong safety slot. Although Rhodes has had a great camp, it’s likely that the more experienced Celestin will be the starter in KC unless he does something spectacular over the next two weeks.
-With WR Jonathan Carter cut and the Jets looking for a fifth wideout, look for Chas Gessner to get a lot of opportunities to catch the ball over the next two games. Gessner has been a practice All-Pro this camp but has not caught one pass in two pre-season games and has made numerous drops.
-Despite reports earlier in the week that DE John Abraham may be ready to sign his tender and finally join the team, his agents say different. Abe’s agents Tony Agnone and Rich Rosa have told the press not to expect him anytime soon.
Tune into 1050 ESPN RADIO for Jets Pre-game: The Jets and Giants created quite a stir when they scrapped during their recent dual practice in Albany. Nobody knows what’s in store tonight when they renew their preseason rivalry at Giants Stadium.
1050 ESPN Radio’s Football Apostles - beat reporters Peter Schwartz and Paul Dottino - will provide a close look at this heated rivalry with a live stadium show from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., leading into the New York Jets pre-game show. The show will be streamed at www.1050espnradio.com and fans may participate by calling 1-800-919-ESPN.
Dottino is in his 23rd consecutive season on the Giants beat while Schwartz is in his fourth season of covering the Jets. Schwartz has also done fan-chats right here on Jets Insider.com.
-WR Harry Williams Jr. (knee): 2-5 weeks
-FB Jerald Sowell (ribs): Out
-S Rashad Washington (concussion): Out
-RB Cedric Houston (shoulder): Doubtful
Game is at 8 PM EST. Local TV is on WNBC Channel 4 and radio on 1050 ESPN. Be sure to check back to Jets Insider.com for a full game recap and exclusive photos!