Going into the final week of an abysmal season, the 3-12 Jets will have a lot of questions after their Sunday finale against the Chiefs. One big one is who will be the punter in 2008 after veteran Ben Graham was replaced by rookie Jeremy Kapinos against the Titans.
Graham, the 34 year old Autralian Rules Football import, has been in the NFL and with the Jets for the past three seasons. In that time he hasn’t missed a game until last Sunday when the Jets deactivated him for the young Kapinos.
Graham has had an off-year punting for Gang Green. In 58 punts Graham has an average of 43 yards per punt and has landed 20 punts inside the 20. When speaking with the media on Wednesday Graham seemed blind-sided when he was told that he would not be playing against the Titans.
“It was surprising. You prepare all week to play and then on Sunday you’re told that your not,” said Graham who supported his team from the sideline.
Graham said he was notified by the special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff on Sunday morning about the team's decision to go with Kapinos on Sunday. Ever since Kapinos was signed to practice squad on November 22nd, he and Graham have split reps in practice. After the game Jets head coach Eric Mangini said it was a coach’s decision on why Graham was made inactive. And on Wednesday, Mangini did not budge from that reasoning.
“I think Jeremy has done a good job and I’ve been pleased with what he’s done in practice. I like the things that he’s done not just in terms of his punting, but his holding has gotten a lot better, as well, so I thought I’d give him an opportunity,” Mangini said.
Althogh Graham's numbers aren't terrible, he hasn't been consistent which is high in the Coach's priority book.
“I think Ben is working to improve and becoming more consistent and I appreciate that about him,” Mangini said. “The consistency needs to improve and Ben knows that and is working at that and with Jeremy doing as well as he’s done, it was time for him to get a chance.”
Kapinos, who punted at Penn State, was finalist for the 2006 Ray Guy award which is given to the nation’s top punter. Since being signed to practice squad, Kapinos has impressed the coaching staff with his strong leg and his ability to hold for kicks. Before joining the Jets, Kapinos never had to hold for field goals and extra points, but he has learned quickly and earned a chance to play in the NFL. Even though Kapinos might be taking Graham’s job, he said Graham has helped get acclimated to NFL life.
“Ben’s been great. I couldn’t have asked for a better situation. He’s taught me how to be a professional in every aspect of the word. I am definitely grateful he can help me along,” said Kapinos.
Mangini did not name a punter for Sunday’s game against the Chiefs. He said whoever has the better week in practice will get the job.
Herm Comes Back
Former Jets head coach Herman Edwards will return to Meadowlands for the first time since leaving to become head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. Edwards was the Jets head coach for five seasons. In those five seasons Edwards compiled a record of 39-41 and he reached the playoffs in three of those seasons.
Known mostly for his “You play to win the game” tirade in 2002, Edwards was a fan favorite and mostly importantly well liked by most of the players. Some players said it’s going to be fun when they step out on the field against their former coach.
“It’s going to be a little different having him on the other sideline,” said Jets TE Chris Baker. “‘You play to win the game’ has to be my favorite quote of his time here.”
“I only played for him for one year. I tell the guys the kind of guy he was when he was here. A lot of players liked him and I liked him as well. It’s going to be fun,” agreed Jets S Kerry Rhodes. “The thing he used to always say was ‘I treat everybody fairly, but everybody different.’ You put the time in this league and you do a lot of things to help the team win, he’s going to treat you a little bit different.”
Mentee Meets Mentor
When the Jets and Chiefs play on Sunday for the 31st time it will be a special game for Jets CB Darrelle Revis. It will be the first opportunity for Revis to play against his good friend Chiefs CB Ty Law. Law and Revis are both from Alliquippa, PA and they both wear the number 24. Revis met Law through his uncle. Revis’ uncle played with Law in high school and despite going to different colleges Revis’ uncle and Law remained good friends.
“We have a great relationship. It is going to be fun, considering how long he has been in the NFL and what he has accomplished, to actually be out there with him and to be from the same hometown,” Revis said. “Ty has been a family friend for a long time. As a defensive back (he taught me) some tricks and stuff. He has always been a friend to me. He invited me (when I was) in college to work out with him in St. Louis. He’s always been there.”
Flight Crew Needs Evaluation
During Mangini’s 20-min press conference, he was asked about how the Jets rookies are progressing. Reporters were asking about CB Darrelle Revis and LB David Harris. And then all of a sudden one reporter asked Mangini about another set of rookies, the Jets Flight Crew. This is what the head coach had to say.
“I haven’t had a chance to really watch them on tape very much. And during the game, often times they are operating during a time-out where we are getting an adjustment going,” Mangini said jokingly. “I don’t feel like I’ve had a good enough look at the group as a whole.”
Trusnik’s Season is Over
LB Jason Trusnik’s season appears to be over. Trusnik was seen in the Jets locker room Wednesday afternoon using crutches to get around. Trusnik had a brace around his left foot. Mangini did not comment about Trusnik’s injury during his Wednesday press conference. Trusnik, who spent the beginning of the season on the practice squad, was signed to the active roster and made his debut November 18th against the Steelers.
During the 30-minutes of practice open to the media, most eyes were on the quarterbacks. QB Kellen Clemens, who missed last week’s game with a rib injury, looked good in practice. Clemens worked mostly with the first team and made nearly all the throws in the 30-minute session. Unless Clemens suffers a setback in the next three days he should be the starting quarterback on Sunday.
New York Jets
Did Not Participate in Practice
LB Jason Trusnik (foot)
Limited Participation in Practice
TE Chris Baker (back), QB Kellen Clemens (rib), TE/LS James Dearth (foot), DL Shaun Ellis (shoulder), OL Brandon Moore (neck), DL Dewayne Robertson (knee), WR Brad Smith (back)
Full Participation in Practice
WR Jerricho Cotchery (finger), WR Justin McCareins (thigh)
Kansas City Chiefs
Did Not Participate in Practice
CB Tyron Brackenridge (knee), LB Donnie Edwards (hamstring), LB Napoleon Harris (knee), RB Larry Johnson (foot), WR Eddie Kennison (ribs)
Limited Participation in Practice
QB Brodie Croyle (right hand), Damion McIntosh (ankle)