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INSIDER THURSDAY TEAM REPORT
By Bob Bonett
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
September 13th, 2007
Is Kellen Clemens ready to take over the QB reins? We may find out this Sunday. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Is Kellen Clemens ready to take over the QB reins? We may find out this Sunday. (Jets Insider.com Photo)

Overconfidence is an attribute that can plague any athletic team, including the NFL. So often, the most common phrase heard from the members of a losing ballclub is “We overlooked our opponents,” or “We underestimated the opposition.” This week’s game for the New York Jets features challengers that fit the mold perfectly.

One day after a conference call with Baltimore Ravens star safety Ed Reed exhibited how convinced the Raves defense is that it will handle the Jets, the talk of the locker room featured two main stories; how the Jets can avoid being intimidated by such a daunting defense, and if the imminent start of backup QB Kellen Clemens feeds into the case that Gang Green’s offense will have trouble moving the ball against a superstar-laden group.

“It’s a scary defense when you look at them,” offensive lineman Brandon Moore said, adding that LB Ray Lewis is a tough guy to contain. “He gets to the ball pretty fast, and he’s one of the fastest guys going sideline to sideline.

“It’s going to be a challenge,” Moore said.

However, as every imaginable outlet predicts an overwhelming Jets loss at the hands of head coach Brian Billick, it seems as though the Ravens may be licking their chops a little too much at the prospect of playing a reserve in Clemens who has played more like a seasoned veteran.

“I’ve made progress,” Clemens said. “It’s my second year in the offense and my second year in the system.”

“Whenever my number is called, I’m as ready to go as possible,” he added.

The task at hand for head coach Eric Mangini and New York will be avoiding the prospect of going into Sunday’s game in awe of the Ravens defense instead of confident that it is penetrable. Considering the fact that the Ravens have the likes of Lewis, a superstar, and shutdown CB Samari Rolle on the injury report, two of the Ravens’ defensive stalwarts, it is possible that perhaps the best group on the field Sunday could actually be the Jets WR corps.

First, dealing with the depth of the Jets’ wideouts, Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery anchor a rotation that features third- and fourth-receivers in Justin McCareins and Brad Smith that could probably play as go-to-guys on other teams.

The Jets’ downfield threat, McCareins specifically has worked with Clemens consistently throughout preseason, both in the Green and White game and in a few preseason contests. The connection forged by the duo is something that could be difficult to stop for the Ravens considering that there is very little film on the two playing together.

“We had a lot of chances in the Green and White game and we hooked up a few times,” McCareins said, “and I feel good catching the ball from Kellen.”

Additionally, assuming QB Chad Pennington does not get the starting nod due to his injury, it brings a whole new scheme to the Jets offense. Under Pennington, the team does not usually extend the field. However, Clemens’ vertical ability is something Mangini and the team can utilize in a new-look attack.

“Kellen did a good job in the preseason with some vertical balls,” Mangini said. “I thought he did some nice things early on and we’ll continue to work on that vertical passing game.”

With the Ravens’ game in noisy Baltimore just a few days away, it could be easy for the Jets to fall subject to substantial intimidation with an All Pro defense being the task at hand. However, with a new-look offense, deep wide receiving corps, and Reed, Lewis and company displaying a little too much overconfidence, Week 2 may not be another blowout loss for New York.

INSIDER TIDBITS

Pennington Practice Update

As expected, Pennington’s participation in practice was limited, as the injured quarterback was relegated to working with the second string receivers and acting as a wide receiver for Kellen Clemens, who practiced as the team’s starter, on a throwing drill.

Pennington was jogging from drill to drill. However, each time he appeared to be favoring the injured leg.

The defense ran a few drills working on interceptions in practice. One of the run-throughs featured a defensive back picking a ball off. On the return, the defense would work on blocking and lateraling the ball to get into the endzone.

McGahee Magnificent against Jets

Former Buffalo Bills running back and current Ravens back Willis McGahee has thrived on the Gang Green defense in the past. Mangini acknowledged the prowess of McGahee, and how he is a guy the Jets have to specifically gameplan to have a shot at containing him.

“I think he’s a really good back, and I like the way he moves downhill,” Mangini said. “He’s been productive against a lot of people, and he is a challenging player.”

Pennington IS the starter

During the press conference, Mangini was asked whether or not Clemens could retain the role of starter if he performs admirably while filling in for Pennington.

After hesitating a bit, Mangini said emphatically, “Chad is the starting quarterback,” looking to avoid making any remarks that may suggest otherwise.

If Clemens were to earn the role, it would draw comparisons to Kurt Warner stealing Trent Green’s role on the Rams a few years back, and of course, Tom Brady overtaking Drew Bledsoe as the Patriots QB midseason.

Injury Report

New York Jets

Limited Participation in Practice

CB Andre Dyson (foot), RB Thomas Jones (calf), CB Justin Miller (thigh), OL Brandon Moore (shoulder), QB Chad Pennington (ankle), S Eric Smith (thigh)

Full Participation in Practice

TE Joe Kowalewski (shoulder), DL Dewayne Robertson (knee), FB Stacy Tutt (foot)

Baltimore Ravens

Did Not Participate in Practice

LB Ray Lewis (Arm), QB Steve McNair (Groin), OL Jonathan Ogden (toe), CB Samari Rolle (foot), LB Gary Stills (chest), TE Daniel Wilcox (ankle)

Limited Participation in Practice

WR Mark Clayton (toe), WR Demetrius Williams (chest)

Full Participation in Practice

TE Todd Heap (elbow), S Ed Reed (ankle), DT Haloti Ngata (knee)