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Quiet Giant

By Mark Cannizzaro
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
December 20th, 2006
He doesn't have big, eye-opening statistics and he's surly more often than not with reporters, so Dewayne Robertson isn't a player who garners a lot of attention around the NFL.

But the Jets' nose tackle has quietly put together a pretty good season, not to mention not a bad career to date since he was drafted with the fourth overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft.

Robertson has started every game of his NFL career. And, entering this season, there were some who didn't think he'd survive under disciplinarian Eric Mangini and his 3-4 defensive scheme.

Robertson was thought to be not dedicated enough and undersized for a nose tackle. He was thought to be a very sketchy fit with Mangini.

He has been anything but a problem area for Mangini and the Jets. Instead, Mangini has delivered nothing but praise for Robertson, who doesn't miss practices, never gets hurt and has continued to play hard-nosed football in the trenches.

So what if he's not very media savvy? So what if he thinks he's been slighted by some before? So what if Robertson is not a media darling?

It's about what he does on the field, and most recently, he looked quite good on Sunday at the Metrodome, gobbling up Vikings' running backs and harassing Minnesota quarterback Brad Johnson with pass rush pressure.

Robertson set the tone for the Jets' run defense, aggressively smothering Vikings' running back Chester Taylor. He finished with six tackles.

"He made some outstanding plays at the point of attack,'' Mangini said of Robertson. "He made some good chase plays down the line of scrimmage. He was a factor across the board. As much as an interior lineman can be a sideline-to-sideline player, I thought

Dewayne was that (on Sunday). I really liked the way that he made some things happen defensively, really contributed.''

For the season, Robertson has 57 tackles, 21/2 sacks, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

"I think Dewayne has been playing well for a while,'' Mangini said. "We've talked about him quite a bit. Whether he's playing the nose, playing in sub, whether he's offset, whether he's playing the three technique, he's really committed to learning the technique in the base stuff, getting better at that, hand placement, leverage, the gap integrity.

"When he has the opportunities to offset or move to a three, wherever he is, he's been great. He's really done a good job with that aspect of it.''

INSIDER EXTRA POINTS

The Jets were, as expected, largely overlooked on Tuesday when the Pro Bowl results were announced, placing only kick returner Justin Miller on the AFC team.

Though the Jets are obviously not laden with stars, they did have a few players that warranted some pretty strong consideration to make the team.

That list begins with receiver Laveranues Coles, who’s had a fantastic season, at times carrying the Jets’ offense. If enough voters saw Coles play enough this season it would be difficult to keep him off the team.

Coles, quite simply, is the toughest receiver in the league. He catches everything that’s in proximity to his hands. And he’s relentless after the catch.

He doesn’t have the most speed in the league, nor is he flashy. But there probably isn’t a more hungry, gritty receiver in the league than Coles.

He has 87 receptions, second in the NFL only to Houston’s Andre Johnson, who has 97. Coles has 1,065 receiving yards and six touchdowns, hardly numbers that should have kept him out off the team.

The Colts’ Reggie Wayne, one of the starters, has 77 catches for 1,213 yards and nine touchdowns and, oh by the way, he has Peyton Manning throwing passes to him. His teammate, Marvin Harrison, who’s also on the team, has 82 catches for 1,180 yards and nine touchdowns.

Chad Johnson, the fourth receiver on the Pro Bowl team and the second starter, had 80 catches for 1,284 yards and seven touchdowns. He, too, plays on a more prolific offense than the Jets. His quarterback is former Pro Bowler Carson Palmer.

Coles being left off that group was injustice.

The Jets surely could make a strong case for safety Kerry Rhodes making the team. Sure, Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu are terrific players, but neither has had a better season than Rhodes.

Polamalu has missed the last three games this season.

This was a classic case of the bigger names, the guys who’ve already been to Pro Bowls, getting more votes than a guy that might have deserved it more.

Reed has 54 tackles, no sacks, four interceptions and one forced fumble. Polamalu has 67 tackles, one sack, three interceptions and one forced fumble.

Rhodes has 92 tackles, four sacks, four interceptions and three forced fumbles.

You tell me who of those three deserved to be on that Pro Bowl team more.

****

Beware of the Dolphins.

The Jets’ next opponent, and probably the one big hurdle standing between them and a playoff berth, is a dangerous team.

Miami was embarrassed in last week’s 21-0 loss and they’re angry about it.

Despite Joey Harrington's horrid performance in last Sunday's loss in Buffalo _ 5-of-17 for 20 yards and two interceptions for a 0.0 passer rating _ Dolphins' head coach Nick Saban has insisted that he will not bench his starting quarterback against the Jets Monday night.

Saban did pull Harrington in Buffalo in favor of backup Cleo Lemon, who was 9-of-16 for 98 yards.

"Our message to our locker room is we're going to play the best players and try to win our remaining games," Saban said. "That's what our philosophy is. We're going to play (Harrington). He's won five out of six games for us prior to (Sunday). He's improved throughout the season for us.

"We have a lot of confidence in Cleo," Saban went on. "If the opportunity presents itself to play him we'll certainly do it, but we're not making any radical changes."

It looks, too, like Dolphins' top running back Ronnie Brown, who's missed the last three games with a broken bone in his left hand, might play against the Jets.

"I'm cleared to practice so that's a good sign," Brown said. "It's not a no-risk situation, but it's pretty minimal."

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