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(8/2) Berger: Baker works on ingredients to heat up career


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Baker works on ingredients to heat up career

BY KEN BERGER

Newsday Staff Writer

August 2, 2006

Chris Baker made a point of watching video of Antonio Gates during the offseason. With a new offense that is expected to emphasize throwing downfield to the tight end, Baker is hoping to add his name to the list of elite tight ends.

"I'm not Antonio Gates, but I think I can do a lot of things in the passing game that I haven't done here in the past with an expanded role," said Baker, from St. Albans, who was averaging nearly 15 yards per catch last year when he broke his leg in the eighth game against San Diego.

The Jets' new offensive coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer, came from a Chargers system that was predicated on stretching defenses by throwing to the tight end. The opportunity intrigued Baker when he re-signed with the Jets as an unrestricted free agent. "He's part of that new breed of tight end who can have 150 yards in a game," Baker said of Gates. "It's good to watch guys like him."

Another name on Baker's mind is his own. With the signing of a receiver named Chris Baker, the old Chris Baker will have to get a new jersey with his full name and middle initial - T for Thomas - for the preseason opener Aug. 11 at Tampa Bay.

Who's rebuilding?

Don't ask defensive end Shaun Ellis if this is a rebuilding year for the Jets. "You might as well just hang up your pads and just forfeit every damn game," Ellis said. "It's not rebuilding. It's going out to win just like everybody else."

Chad still top dog

Chad Pennington continues to emerge as the apparent front-runner in the QB competition, though coach Eric Mangini refuses to give anyone the edge after only eight practices ... CB Ray Mickens returned to practice after missing time for undisclosed reasons. CB David Barrett (leg) and NT Sione Pouha (leg) are still out.

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