Jets rookie CB Darrelle Revis makes his NFL debut this Sunday against Randy Moss and the Patriots. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
With less than 72 hours until the Jets’ opener against their “friendly” rivals, the New England Patriots, game faces were on display in the Jets’ locker room, with each player seemingly prepared to go to battle against their divisional foes.
And looking back a few weeks ago, when news out of camp consisted of a rookie holdout in CB Darrelle Revis, an injured star running back, Thomas Jones, and a distraction on the offensive line in Pete Kendall, Gang Green looks in great shape going into their match-up with the hurting Patriots.
Yes, the injury report for the Jets may look quite more extensive, with Jones, CB Andre Dyson, KR Justin Miller and S Eric Smith all included. However, the Jets do not have one of their team leaders suspended for usage of performance enhancing drugs (S Rodney Harrison is out four games for the admitted use of the banned substance HGH).
Their star WR has not turned into a head case. (Nobody knows what is on the mind of WR Randy Moss).
Moreover, their DL isn’t missing its stalwart, (as the Patriots are without Richard Seymour).
Amidst all of the pessimism surround QB Chad Pennington’s arm, the situation at LG with rookie Jacob Bender slated to start, and LB Jonathan Vilma’s performance as a linebacker in the 3-4 defense, thinks aren’t looking that bad in New York. As WR Laveranues Coles said, the team is “optimistic” about the way the team looks, and looking forward to getting on the field and showing the rest of the league their talent.
That being said, don’t assume that the Jets feel lucky that they are playing the Pats short of full strength. Vilma and the rest of Gang Green want a challenge each week, even if it means taking on the team that most people predict to be the class of the NFL.
“You want to play them at their best, and you want to play every team at their best,” Vilma said, continuing to say that he still doesn’t believe the injuries will effect the Patriots very much.
Gang Green seems pumped up for Sunday’s showdown with the Pats, a game that may foreshadow what will come for the Jets the rest of the year. Confidence is dripping from the offense, defense and special teams more than ever.
It seems like New England head coach Bill Belichick ought to be “worried” not only about the Jets receivers, but the entire team.
Practice Status Quo
The limited access time at practice went as usual with stretches coupled with some special teams work and limited contract walk-through drills.
Punter Ben Graham started the practice a little shaky, having some issues punting into the wind, but managed to finish up strong, pinning the return team at the one yard line from the forty when McCareins caught the boot on a fly.
This practice, as with the past few days, has been a little out of the norm for Jets players, as there was extra time between their last preseason contest with the Eagles and Sunday’s game.
“It is a different week because of the extra time,” Mangini said. “We can move forward on some things (like yesterday) that we usually move forward on Thursdays and Fridays.”
New York will return to the field tomorrow to endure their typical pre-game Friday practice in preparation for the AFC East showdown.
Let the Chess Match Begin
Belichick has earned his reputation as a mastermind through countless years of success in New England.
Mangini, meanwhile, has achieved notoriety as being a “genius” by leading a supposedly basement-quality team to the playoffs.
Thus, everybody is expecting a hard fought game not only between the players on the field, but also an intense match-up on the sidelines between the two head coaches; something Mangini is looking forward to.
“It’s great,” Mangini said. “It’s why you spend so much time preparing in the offseason.”
When all is said and done, the winner could be determined Sunday not by what happens in between the endzones, but what happens in between the ears of two of the league’s smartest coaches.
Revis Ready for Moss
A few weeks ago, it was a foregone conclusion that Revis had no shot at starting Sunday’s game against the Patriots, and would be relegated to special teams’ duties, if that.
However, it now appears almost definitively that Revis will be lined up opposite one of the leading receivers in the past decade, WR Randy Moss. And as always, Revis is bursting at the seams with confidence.
“I come in their relaxed and know what I need to do.” Revis said, “I’m here to do my job.”
Two of the league’s most confident players should certainly put on a show this weekend, especially if QB Tom Brady targets the Jets’ rookie.
Coles Concentrating on Jets, not Patriots
With everybody pointing out the flaws in the Patriots with a plethora of players that will be noticeably absent or under-prepared this weekend, Coles still is focusing on the Jets only, not his opponents.
“It’s not about New England,” Coles said. “We have a football game to play, no matter who is on our schedule.”
While Coles may be focusing on the Jets, though, it is almost guaranteed that the Patriots secondary has been eyeing game film, trying to get a leg up on New York’s No. 1 wide receiver.
Balance Struck in Preparation
With four months leading up to a meeting with the Patriots, it may be easy for the players and coaches to prepare too much for New England, which would undoubtedly be counterproductive. Mangini feels the team struck a good point, though, in getting ready for their Week 1 opponents.
“It is always a delicate balance,” Mangini said. He went on to say that during parts of the week the coaches and players may watch more film, and then pull back, looking to avoid preparing too much.
Vilma echoed his coach’s comments, saying “the coaches did a good job keeping us focused on the priorities,” them being minicamp, training camp, and preseason games.
New Look Patriots Nothing New
If Mangini knows one thing about the Patriots, it is that they do not need new players to show a new look; it comes with being coached by Belichick. He said that “There are certain teams in the league that you can count on” to also alter the look of their offense, offering the examples of going from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 defense, or changing the passing game from a screen game to a downfield attack.
Vilma also noted that preparing for the Patriots because their coach changes gameplans so much and because of the new players is partially a guessing game.
“This year’s version (of the Patriots), we don’t have much film besides the preseason and, even that, a lot of their players didn’t play,” Vilma said.
Luckily for New York, the Pats will probably be faced with the same problem due to the additions of Jones, Revis, and LB David Harris, three key players in the Jets attack.
The year’s first official injury report is utilizing N-F-L commissioner Roger Goodell’s new formula. Replacing the classic “probable, questionable, doubtful and out” classifications is “full participation in practice, limited participation in practice, did not participate in practice and out.”
New York Jets
Full Participation in Practice: TE Joe Kowalewski (finger), QB Chad Pennington (pelvis), DL Dewayne Robertson (knee), WR Chansi Stuckey (knee), FB Stacy Tutt (foot)
Limited Participation in Practice: CB Andre Dyson (foot), RB Thomas Jones (calf), CB Justin Miller (thigh), OL Brandon Moore (shoulder), S Eric Smith (thigh)
New England Patriots
Full Participation in Practice: QB Tom Brady (right shoulder)
Limited Participation in Practice: S Rashad Baker (hand), TE Dave Thomas (foot), DL Mike Wright (knee)
The team returns to the field tomorrow for a walk through and their final tuneup before facing the Pats on Sunday. Be sure to check back tommorrow and also look for our Jets-Patriots preview!