FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – The New York Jets took to a scorching hot field for their final practice before the last preseason game. Tomorrow is an off day and on Thursday night the players travel to Philadelphia for a battle of second and third stringers.
The fourth and final game of the preseason is traditionally a game for the fringe players to make one more impression on the coaches with the hope of planting their flag as a member of the regular season roster. After the injuries, to Calvin Pace and the less serious ankle injury to Brodney Pool, in last week’s game Rex Ryan is going tread even more carefully than normal. Ryan said, “None of the starters are playing anyway.”
Well that’s not exactly true Rex.
Left guard Matt Slauson will get some work in Thursday night and as it stands right now he has won the battle for the open starting spot on the offensive line that was vacated when the Jets cut Alan Faneca. Vernon Gholston will also play against the Eagles and while he might not technically be a, “starter,” the Jets are hoping for big minutes out of him this year, especially if Pace has to miss an extended period of time.
Then there is the case of what to do with Santonio Holmes?
Holmes is going to play and play a lot, Ryan has already warned Eagle’s coach Andy Reid his back-up defenders better prepare for him. Ryan said, “We’ll put him in there and let him go. He’s going to miss four weeks, so we’ll do him like we did Calvin (Pace) last year. I think we did three quarters with Calvin last year, so we’ll do the same thing with Tone. I was talking with Coach (Andy) Reid and I said, ‘Well. You’re going to have to roll your coverage to him.’ So I gave him some advice already, so expect some cover two over there when Tone is in the game.”
While most the starters won’t get any playing time this week, it doesn’t mean they don’t have plenty of work to do. Sanchez said the first teams has already begun studying film on Baltimore and they have been implementing their game-plan for the Monday night home opener. Sanchez said, “Absolutely, that’s what this week has been about. Since we’re not playing in the Philly game, we’re ready to cheer our guys on and help them through the game, but we’ve, simulated a game week preparation wise. In the film room, on the board and even in practice for Baltimore, so it’s been a good week so far and we’ll get after it again next week and make some final changes and tune-ups and be ready to play.”
Sanchez will have more to do than just cheer on his teammates against the Eagles as Ryan will give him an important job for part of the game, even if he doesn’t know it yet. Ryan said, “We’ll, we are gonna have him (Sanchez) call plays. I think that will give him a different dynamic.”
This isn’t the first time Ryan has done this during the preseason, but it will be the first time doing it here, as well as his first time attempting it with the offense. “The first time we ever did it, was with Ray (Lewis) and Ed (Reed) because they thought they were defensive coordinator’s and so we actually let them call a series when they were on the field and the team was no huddling and all that kind of stuff. It was a Chinese fire-drill, it was hilarious.”
Ryan is hoping Sanchez won’t have nearly as much trouble. Sanchez won’t be calling every play all game long, they are going to try it out and see how it goes. The idea is for Sanchez to see how the offense develops from the coaches’ eyes and if he can recognize that, it should help to cut down on his unforced errors that plagued him for much of last season.
With the final roster cuts coming after Thursday’s game Ryan was asked what spots he will be looking at most and he gave the simplest answer possible, “Quite honestly, just the football player spot. If this dude can help us, he’s a good football player that’s what we’re looking at.” One player specifically Ryan is looking at, “Danny Woodhead, the more I’m around Woodhead, I’m like is this in pencil or pen yet? That’s how I look at it. The kid’s a player, we throw him out there at wideout he’s killing us two days in a row. You know he can play running back, wideout, special teams…It’s hard not to pull for that dude.”
While there has been some nervousness setting in within Jet’s Nation about the injury to Pace, fans can breath easier with the news of a successful surgery and the possibility of him missing much less time than originally expected. Ryan said, “He is doing really well with it. We don’t know exactly when he is going to come back with his injury, but the doctor’s seem to think the surgery was really successful, they were excited about the surgery. Now we all know how that goes though, anytime you have surgery and you come out, it was successful… So we’ll see how it happens, no infections all that kind of stuff… We feel confident he’s going to be, you know he’s going to definitely miss the first week, we’ll see about the second week I’m not sure.”
OTHER NEWS AND NOTES
Since the Jets signed Mark Brunell and announced him as the number two quarterback, the thought was Kellen Clemens might not make the team. Well that idea can be put to rest as Kevin O’Connell was officially waved today and Clemens restructured his contract, this morning, so he could be here and Clemens was brutally honest with how it all went down. Clemens said, “At this point going forward it’s not like an ongoing open thing, the number two spot was his (Brunell’s) from the day that Rex said it and that hasn’t changed, I’m the three this year and we’ll see what happens.”
The Jets did give Clemens permission to seek other opportunities and Ryan said if Clemens could have had a chance to start somewhere else they would have traded him, but as it is Clemens is here, even if he had to take a pay-cut to make that happen. “I took a reduction in pay in order to be able to stay here, it is what it is… Cause if I didn’t they were going to cut me… I had some opportunities to go elsewhere, but I think long term staying here is my best option and it’s where I wanna be.”
The Summit high school football team (undefeated state champs last year) was in attendance at practice today. That would be one of the perks of having a teammate with a head coach in the NFL, as Ryan’s son Seth and some other Summit players took some non-contact reps with the Jets in practice.
Kenwin Cummings (shoulder), Calvin Pace (foot), Charlie Tanner (knee), Donovan Warren (head), Josh Mauga (Head), Brodney Pool (ankle.)
Damien Woody and Shaun Ellis were limited and on the injury report, but would be fine to play if the regular season was starting.
Mauga has been out since the first week of training camp thanks to, “The Terminator,” John Conner, when Conner pancaked Mauga in an isolation drill and knocked Mauga out cold. Ryan said of Conner, “‘The Terminator,’ He’s beating up almost every guy we have on the team, so that’s good news-bad news. We still got guys that are still on this list (injury list) here, not being able to practice cause he knocked them out… Usually you never have to worry about an offensive player taking out a defensive player on an isolation block, but that just shows you the type of guy he is. I mean, ‘The Terminator,’ hits people and that’s what he does. I mean I never thought I’d see him knockout a linebacker on an isolation block, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that.”
No wonder Ryan is so excited that Conner is, “His own hand picked fullback.”
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