Will it be Billy Volek or Kerry Collins? It's anyone's guess at this point who will be the Titans' starter on Sunday.
With just two practice days remaining before the Jets travel to Tennessee for their 2006 season opener, Head Coach Eric Mangini shifted his focus from the usual “Green-and-White” issues to specific preparations for game-day against the Titans.
During Mangini’s daily presser, the rookie head coach talked about both offensive and defensive threats on the Titans that he was preparing his team for. The bulk of his comments focused on Tennessee’s offense, however.
Mangini began his analysis of the Titans offense by mentioning that their two star tight ends have amassed the second-most combined receptions in NFL history, noting that “that’s not easy to do”. He also spoke about the wide receiver situation on the Titans, taking the opportunity to pile on praise for former Patriots receiver David Givens. Givens, a career backup in New England, left in the off-season to pursue a job as a starter elsewhere (much like Mangini). Mangini praised his power, drive, and work ethic.
Perhaps the biggest question going into Sunday’s game is who the Titans’ starting quarterback will be. Tennessee Head Coach Jeff Fisher insists that he is yet to choose a starter for the game, but was willing to admit that it would be either career-backup QB Billy Volek or newly-acquired QB Kerry Collins. “I have been on record saying that Vince [Young] will be the two,” Fisher told reporters in Tennessee yesterday, adding, “one of the other two will start and whoever does not start will be the three.”
Mangini says that the team will prepare for all three possible quarterbacks but failed to elaborate further. He also said that the Jets’ special teams, which have been a strong point his preseason, would have to step it up against Tennessee’s electric return-man, Adam “Pacman” Jones.
Speaking of electric return-men, the Jets got an unexpected surprise as veteran WR/KR Tim Dwight returned to the practice field yesterday. Dwight was fully suited up in the locker room prior to practice and could later be seen stretching with no apparent discomfort.
Overall, Mangini seems to just exude a sort of confidence going into his first regular season game as an NFL head coach that makes him appear much more like a proven veteran than a rookie. It is no secret that Mangini spent the earlier part of his NFL career under legendary coaches like Bill Parcells and Bill Belichek, but DL Kimo von Oelhoffen thinks that is only part of the reason for Mangini’s confidence.
”He’s smart, he understands all aspects of the game,” von Oelhoffen told reporters, clearly an effect of working under such great coaches. He then shifted the credit solely to Mangini. “When you work as hard as he does, and you prepare as much as he does, you have to have confidence.”
Later in the conversation, von Oelhoffen, a 13-year veteran of the NFL, gave the ultimate sign of approval and respect for his new coach, who is only older than the veteran defender by a few days. “He believes in himself, I believe in him… we believe in him.”
With the players so completely behind their new coach, it is understandable that the team should get along as well as they do in the locker room. Among the many class-clowns on the team, oft-outspoken veteran WR Laveranues Coles has truly emerged as a team leader in the locker room. FB B.J. Askew made note of this to Coles today before practice.
”Why you play so much?” Askew asked Coles in reference to his constant locker room antics, to which Coles quickly responded, “I keep you guys going!” Askew didn’t need a second to think about that before bursting out laughing and yelling back to Coles, “the humor works.”
-As was mentioned above, Tim Dwight returned to the practice field yesterday after missing more than a week of practice due to an undisclosed leg injury. Dwight also missed the Jets preseason finale against Philadelphia because of the injury. He's listed questionable for Sunday's game.
-Many players could be seen around the locker room studying playbooks and rosters for Sunday’s regular season opener. Among them was DT Titus Adams, who is studying vigilantly despite being moved to the team’s practice squad.
-Coach Mangini was asked in his press conference whether “the knee was a part of the upper or lower leg”, a reference to the team’s rather cryptic injury report which lists a number of players as having either upper or lower leg injuries.
-After LB Eric Barton taunted DE Bryan Thomas about owning “the worst suits on the team,” Thomas jokingly challenged Barton that he could be the best-dressed Jets player on the upcoming road trip. Barton looked at Thomas and replied simply, “You’re going to have trouble breaking the bottom five.”
-OL Trey Teague (Leg): OUT
-CB David Barrett(Upper Leg): Questionable
-WR Tim Dwight (Lower Leg): Questionable
-LB Matt Chatham (Lower Leg): Probable
-G Pete Kendall (Lower Leg): Probable
The team has a walk through tomorrow before traveling to Tennessee. Be sure to check back to JetsInsider.com for a full game preview!