While QB Brett Favre's sprained ankle improves by the day, the Jets remain hopeful that NT Kris Jenkins will be on the field Sunday to bring the Jets a win (JI Photo).
As is life in the NFL, Jets head coach Eric Mangini and his players have turned the page. With the bitter taste of Monday's 48-29 defeat to the Chargers gone but not forgotten, the Jets have turned their attention to their next formidable foe, the Arizona Cardinals.
While the Jets' $140 million offseason spending spree brought the team great hope and soaring expectations in August, the start of the season has paled in comparison. A 1-2 record has the Jets sharing a spot in the AFC East basement with the Dolphins, leaving Mangini with a desire for what he terms "consistent weeks."
"There's been some really outstanding days, and there's been some days that could have been better. And my message always to the team is the need to have the same level every single day," Mangini said of the team's inconsistent practice habits. "And that's going to carry over into games, is how you practice, how you prepare."
Today that preparation was a welcomed site for the Jets' organization, as both quarterback Brett Favre and nose tackle Kris Jenkins returned to practice after they had sustained injuries in Monday's loss. Favre, hobbled with a sprained left ankle, was able to "get a little bit of action yesterday" and continued to fire passes around the practice field today. While Favre's ankle made headlines yesterday, the Jets' quarterback gained greater attention for comments made after Monday's defeat, specifically centered on the team's confidence. Favre seemed to hint that the Jets need a confidence boost when he said, "Once this team starts believing that it can be done, all 53 guys start believing that it can be done, then it will be," Favre said.
In return, Mangini addressed the team's confidence level today. Again, he pointed toward "consistency in practice," as a stepping stone.
"I think these guys are pretty confident guys as a group," Mangini said. "And what really helps any team is consistency of practice, consistency of execution in games, being able to eliminate those self-inflicted wounds."
While Mangini is continuing to look for that consistency in practice, wide receiver Chansi Stuckey is one player in particular who believes that reaching the desired level is a "work in progress."
"Definitely every day we're trying to have the best practice possible, decrease the self-inflicted wounds," Stuckey said.
Self-inflicted wounds proved costly in Monday's defeat to San Diego. The Jets committed four turnovers, leading to ten San Diego points. While Gang Green is attempting to decrease those wounds, they are doing so with a new quarterback, fresh off an 18-year career in Green Bay. Although the Jets' overhaul provided the team with plenty of new faces, Mangini insists that the team is improving, even when they are not winning games.
Mangini sees a strong camaraderie building, both on the field and in the locker room.
"I think the group gets along really well together," Mangini said. "I think there's some excellent leaders in all three phases. I think there's a lot of good people there. And it's like anything else, as you spend more time together, the relationships develop further."
After displaying a noticeable limp during Wednesday's practice, Favre walked smoothly through drills today, leaving little doubt that he will start Sunday. Favre participated in 11-on-11 drills with the first-team offense which featured the same three wide receiver (Laveranues Coles, Jerricho Cotchery, Stuckey) one tight end (Chris Baker) one running back (Leon Washington) formation that proved efficient in Monday's loss. Favre had his signature zip on his throws, one of which he fit into the back corner of the endzone to Stuckey for a touchdown.
Jenkins participated in defensive-line drills and appeared to be moving smoothly. In Mangini's morning press conference, prior to today's practice, the Jets' head coach said Jenkins involved himself more in the "rehab and treatment program" as opposed to "a ton of football-specific stuff." As for Jenkins' progression..."He was doing what he could do based on the progression. I think that, like Brett, he will get greater and greater throughout the week," Mangini said.
After the Jets completed 11-on-11 drills, the team worked on punt coverage. As usual, Washington and Cotchery were back returning punts from Ben Graham. Graham did have several boots which sailed between 45 and 50 yards, but he also displayed the same inconsistency which led to his release just one week ago. After booming a 50-yard punt to Washington, Graham's next punt sailed off the side of his foot, traveling just 20 yards before landing out of bounds.
Mangini Reviews San Diego Debacle
After addressing the Jets' practice habits in preparation for Sunday's battle with the Cardinals, Mangini glanced back on Monday's defeat to the Chargers. Although the team struggled in almost every facet of the game, the Jets' head coach did find a silver lining.
"I thought that special teams played really well against a very good unit," Mangini said. "I thought that the fight throughout the course of the game, the scores were lopsided at different points, but it wasn't ever a function of 'let's pack our bags and go home.' It was a function of, 'okay, let's get this onside kick, get the drive and then try to come back and get a onside kick or have a stop."
The Jets special teams did prove to be a bright spot, specifically Washington, who averaged 39.6 yards on his five returns. In total, the Jets averaged 32.3 yards on nine returns.
The Jets re-signed cornerback Hank Poteat, who worked at nickel back and safety alongside David Barrett during the preseason. Poteat recorded 77 total tackles and two interceptions in 15 starts over the last two seasons with the Jets. To open a roster spot for Poteat, the Jets waived offensive lineman Will Montgomery.
Jets to Remember the Titans
The Jets will wear their blue and gold New York Titans uniforms this Sunday and at their next home game against Cincinnati. The jerseys replicate the uniforms the team wore from 1960-1962. Last season, the Jets went 1-1 in their throwbacks. They lost to the Eagles 16-9 on Oct. 9 and defeated the Dolphins 40-13 on Dec. 2.
Defense Benefits from Barrett
In Monday’s 48-29 loss to the Chargers, Barrett started alongside Kerry Rhodes at safety and returned a Philip Rivers interception 25 yards for a touchdown. With Barrett spending time at both cornerback and safety over his five-year tenure with the Jets, Mangini knows that Barrett now offers the defense a lot of flexibility.
“I thought he handled this opportunity pretty well,” Mangini said of Barrett’s start at safety. “Obviously there’s some things that we need to get worked out. But now he can go play corner. He can play starter on Monday. He can play safety, and that’s a really good situation.”
Roster Spots Remain Precious with Jets
With kicker Mike Nugent and and punter Reggie Hodges both sidelined with thigh injuries, the signings of Jay Feely and Graham have left the Jets with four kicking specialists. In addition, the Jets also have four quarterbacks on the roster. In the NFL, where all 53 roster spots are precious, Mangini knows carrying the extra kicking specialists and quarterbacks can hamper a roster.
"Whenever you have two punters, two kickers, four quarterbacks, someone has to give a show," Mangini said. "Someone has to practice those other spots. And when you're weeding out the latter roster spots with specialists, you don't have the same depth that you'd normally have."
Out: WR David Clowney (shoulder), K Mike Nugent (thigh)
Limited Participation: WR Laveranues Coles (thigh), QB Brett Favre (ankle), P Reggie Hodges (Thigh), NT Kris Jenkins (back), DB Justin Miller (foot)
Full Participation: WR Brad Smith (knee)
Out: DE Bertrand Berry (groin)
Did Not Participate: TE Jerame Truman (hamstring)
Limited Participation: DT Darnell Docket (hamstring), WR Sean Morey (achilles), SS Adrian Wilson (hamstring)
Full Participation: DT Gabe Wilson (knee)