Jets Begin Preparation for Chiefs
By James J. Parziale
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
September 7th, 2005
If there is a kink in the Jets armor going into Opening Day for 2005, it’s the men behind big names. In layman terms, the Jets have depth issues, but so do all 31 other NFL teams.
As originally reported by Jets Insider.com early this morning, in an effort to shore up the offensive line, the team today signed free agent tackle Scott Gragg. To make room for the Veteran, injured T Marko Cavka (broken forearm) was placed on injured reserve.
The move adds an experienced lineman to an offensive line with little game action. Behind the starting five of Jason Fabini, Pete Kendall, Kevin Mawae, Brandon Moore and Adrian Jones (who is a first-year starter), the only man standing prior to today was Jonathan Goodwin. The fourth-year tackle started three games last season in place of Moore, but as for experience, that’s it.
“It’s not like a candy store. You can’t always get what you want,” head coach Herman Edwards said about his team’s depth.
Cavka’s injury put the Jets in a hole with just six offensive linemen and necessitated Gragg’s signing. The 6-foot-8, 315-pound tackle has made 142 career starts since being selected in the second round by the Giants in 1995. He spent the last five seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and has primarily played right tackle.
Gragg , who lives on a 160-acre ranch in Stevensville in the offseason, waited for the right opportunity, which he said wasn’t offered by the Cowboys or Steelers, two teams who showed interest.
“I wanted to see what the market would bear…It wasn’t about salary,” he said.
With this being his second stint in the Big Apple, Gragg feels like he isn’t a fish out of water. Gragg attended the University of Montana at Missoula, a county with around a population of about 55,000. He is more prepared this time around, and is ready to help Jones get acclimated to starting.
Gragg said he helps Jones with technique while the 10-year veteran needs to learn the terminology of the Jets offense. Gragg is not trying to unseat Jones, merely do what is asked of him.
“I’m not coming in here with a chip on my shoulder,” he said. “I don’t have anything [else] to prove. My stuff is all on tape.”
On Monday, the Jets solidified their 53-man roster by assembling their practice squad. Fan favorite WR Harry Williams Jr. returned and despite being labeled immature by head Edwards, could be active during the season.
Fellow returnees include LB Dennis Haley, offensive linemen Michael King and Mike Kracalik, DL Radell Lockhart, and WR Jovan Witherspoon. FB Luke Lawton was also added after being released by the Giants four days ago.
A Homecoming. Derrick Blaylock knows his way around the end zone at Arrowhead Stadium. Likely he won’t mistakenly walk into the wrong locker room. At least before the game.
Blaylock spent his first four seasons with the Chiefs backing up All-Pro RB Priest Holmes. Sunday he will return to his old stomping grounds draped in green and white. He still keeps in contact with former teammates CB Dexter McCleon, FB Tony Richardson and WR/KR Daunte Hall. And there was one ex-teammate who was almost as untouchable off the field as he is on it.
“I tried to talk to Priest [Holmes], but you can hardly get in touch with him.”
Blaylock opted to sign with the Jets after he felt the Chiefs didn’t push enough to keep him. “It wasn’t as strong as it was here,” he said.
Nevertheless, the butterflies are still there.
“I’m going to be pretty pumped,” Blaylock said. “I’ll calm down once I get in there and get ready for a snap.”
-With all the chit-chat about P Ben Graham’s booming leg, the spin he puts on the ball is equally as dangerous. It could help neutralize Daunte Hall, whose moves earned him the moniker Human Joystick.
Blaylock, who blocked for Hall on punt and kickoff returns while with the Chiefs, thinks the punts will give the Jets a decided advantage.
“He’s a great punter and he’ll give you those knuckle balls that are hard to catch,” Blaylock said. “Hopefully we’ll get some of those and have Daunte put them on the ground.”
-Edwards speaks with Chiefs head coach Dick Vermeil once a week during the season. Vermeil coached Edwards during his laying days with the Eagles, and the two remaining good friends. Edwards assured the two aren’t exchanging classified information.
-Snell Released. The signing of Gragg and the trade for T Steve Morley earlier this week from Green Bay made T Isaac Snell expendable. He was cut late this afternoon. Snell was originally signed in April as an undrafted rookie free agent from North Dakota State.
**FAN CHAT TONIGHT WITH ESPN RADIO’S PETER SCHWARTZ** After a great fan chat a few weeks back, Jets Insider.com is very lucky to again have 1050 ESPN Radio Jets' Beat Reporter Peter Schwartz for an online Fan chat tonight at 8PM.
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The Jets have no reported injuries going into the home opener against the Chiefs. T Marko Cavka (forearm) was placed on injured reserve, joining LBs Darrell McClover (leg) and rookie Mondoe Davis (knee) and S Andre Maddox (knee) on the list of Jets out for the year.
The team returns to practice tomorrow in preparation for their opener Sunday in Kansas City. Be sure to check back to Jets Insider.com often for all the latest NY Jets news and rumors!