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“Running” Out Of Time

By Mark Cannizzaro
JetsInsider.com Head Writer
August 18th, 2006
Could this man be the Jets starting RB in Tennessee on September 10th?
Could this man be the Jets starting RB in Tennessee on September 10th?
If the Jets do nothing else when they play the Redskins Saturday night in Washington, they must investigate their running game further.

Translation: As boring as it might look and regardless of how the Washington defense is playing the Jets' offense, the Jets need to force-feed the run until their running backs' feet and legs are sore.

They need to truly find out what they have in the backfield in Cedric Houston, Derrick Blaylock and Leon Washington.

They need to find out just how bad off they are without Curtis Martin, who seems to be as close to the Jets' running back plans as Freeman McNeil at the moment.

The Jets are obviously in the market for a running back based on what we've seen already this camp based on the 44 rushing yards on 16 carries they managed in the preseason opener in Tampa.

They've admitted as much considering the attempt to trade for Lee Suggs in Cleveland before failing him on the physical.

The belief here on the Suggs situation is this _ and it's based on some conversations with sources in the know on this matter _ is that the Jets got cold feet of sorts when they brought Suggs to New York and they realized they could do better if they waited a little longer.

That wait looks like it might land Atlanta's T.J. Duckett, a bruising back who could be the every-down back the Jets need.

Duckett rushed for only 380 yards and a 3.1-yard average last season for the Falcons, but he was used mostly in short-yardage situations because Warrick Dunn was rushing for 1,416 yards as the feature back and he scored eight touchdowns.

Duckett is not only not going to unseat Dunn, the Atlanta rushing offense, which features a lot of cut-back running, isn't his style. And, the Falcons love rookie Jervious Norwood, who'll likely end up as Dunn's backup.

Atlanta, according to sources close to the Falcons, is seeing players not the reported third-round draft pick rumored. The Falcons, according to the source, are in search of help in the secondary and at receiver.

The Jets, of course, have Derrick Strait still to deal since he was sent back to them in the Suggs voided deal. And, more realistically, receiver Justin McCareins, who doesn't seem to be a favorite of Eric Mangini's, could be traded, though the Jets would incur a painful $4 million cap hit if he's dealt.

INSIDER PRE-GAME TIDBITS

-Speaking of Suggs and the Jets, as usual the Jets could have (and should have) handled the Suggs situation with more class and thoughtfulness.

After Suggs took the physical, he said he never spoke a word to Mangini or GM Mike Tannenbaum. In fact, Suggs told Cleveland reporters, he was told of his failed physical by a Jets' intern who was driving him back to the dorm and was never informed why he was failed on the physical.

Is too much to ask that the organization _ as arrogant as ever for one that hasn't won a damned thing since before Mangini was born _ to treat people with some simple modicum of class?

****

Eric Mangini, as has been his preseason ritual, has not named his starting quarterback for Saturday’s game against the Redskins in Washington.

Bet the ranch on it being Patrick Ramsey, though.

And, if for some reason you lose the ranch on that bet, then you can accuse Mangini of not truly running a fair open competition for the quarterback job.

Ramsey mopped up in garbage time last week in Tampa, where Chad Pennington started and took significant strides toward winning the starting job.

Saturday will be Ramsey’s turn to perform with the starting offense. And, if he doesn’t already have enough motivation in the competition, Ramsey’s playing time will come against his former team, the Redskins, who dealt him to the Jets for a sixth-round draft pick this past offseason.

“My only thoughts are that when I get an opportunity to go in there and play, I play well," Ramsey said, intentionally downplaying the former team angle. "That's the honest truth. I know it's hard to believe. I did spend a lot of time there and enjoyed my time there. I think you can take away from it what you want."

Pennington has the experience in New York and the God-given accuracy and smarts.

Ramsey brings a stronger arm.

"Patrick has great arm strength and really tremendous natural abilities," Mangini said. "Especially over the last few days, he's done a really good job understanding exactly where to go with the football and made some quality reads. I've been really encouraged by that."

Ramsey, simply put, must shine brightly in Washington, because his practices have been inconsistent _ something Mangini detests.

"They see you daily in practice and there are things you do well and things you need to improve on," Ramsey said. "But also in a game, they have an opportunity to see how you handle the pressure of a game-like situation. I think it's important that you have to do well in both situations."

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