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http://www.nypost.com/sports/jets/betting_on_barlow_jets_dan_martin.htm

BETTING ON BARLOW

MANGINI NOT WORRIED ABOUT NEW RB'S BACKGROUND

By DAN MARTIN

August 22, 2006 -- He may have had problems with teammates and coaches while he was in San Francisco, but the notion that Kevan Barlow is a bad guy, someone who won't fit into rookie head coach Eric Mangini's system with the Jets, is ridiculous.

According to Barlow, at least.

"I'm a great guy, a character guy," said the running back, whom the Jets traded for on Sunday in exchange for a fourth-round pick next year with the hope of filling the possible hole left by the injured Curtis Martin.

Whether Barlow is "a character guy" will be learned soon enough. He took on former San Francisco fullback Fred Beasley, as well as coaches and the front office while he was there, but says those days are in the past.

"I've got a clean slate," said the 27-year-old Barlow, a third round pick by the 49ers in 2001. "All that is behind me.''

More important than the clean slate, from the Jets' perspective, is Barlow's clean bill of health. After last week's trade with Cleveland was voided because Lee Suggs failed his physical, Barlow finally emerged on the field nearly 45 minutes into yesterday's practice because he was being checked out.

Barlow didn't participate much in his first appearance with the Jets, but he could be relied upon quite heavily with Martin's status still undetermined and none of the backs the Jets already had in camp - Derrick Blaylock, Cedric Houston and rookie Leon Washington - showing enough to win the job outright.

"He adds good depth and competition to the position," Mangini said.

Barlow, whose production has slipped drastically since gaining a career high 1,024 yards (on 5.1 yards per carry) in 2003, still sounded confused as to why the talent-thin 49ers got rid of him.

"It's definitely puzzling to me," Barlow said.

Perhaps the fact that Barlow, now in the third year of a five-year contract, gained just 521 yards on 3.3 yards per carry a year ago and underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in January after missing the Niners' last four games a year ago had something to do with the move. He has, however, been healthy throughout training camp.

Despite Barlow's somewhat checkered past, Mangini sounded confident that the new player won't be a disruption.

"With everybody we bring in, we do a lot of research on background," Mangini said. "We talk to other people that worked with them, whether they be coaches, players, front office. When we brought Bryan Cox here, there was a lot of talk about the problems he had had. I can tell you he was one of best guys I ever worked with."

Yesterday, Barlow blamed his feud with Beasley as a product of him being a rookie.

"Me and Fred are like best friends now," Barlow said.

His more mature demeanor notwithstanding, Barlow won't be of much help to the Jets if he doesn't improve on the field.

Yesterday, he talked of being in "awe" of Martin. The two already knew each other, as both backs grew up in Pittsburgh and played at Pitt. Barlow hopes to learn as much as possible from the injured Martin.

"As soon as I walked in the door he took me under his wing," Barlow said. "There's nobody bigger than Curtis Martin in Pittsburgh."

dan.martin@nypost.com

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Barlow's a welcome sight

Ex-49er with power, speed should become Martin's replacement

BY TOM ROCK

Newsday Staff Writer

August 22, 2006

When practice began at 2 o'clock yesterday, Kevan Barlow was nowhere to be found. Could it possibly be that two running backs in a week were traded to the Jets only to have the deal voided by a failed physical?

Not long after speculation began - but just before hysteria took over - Barlow walked onto the turf at Hofstra wearing his crisp new No. 31 white jersey. He was 45 minutes late for practice, but the Jets welcomed their newest addition warmly.

During the two-hour-plus workout, Barlow took more handshakes than handoffs and began the process of acclimating to New York. "It's still in a blur right now," he said after practice. "Just [sunday], I'm getting ready to play the Raiders, now I'm out here in a Jets uniform."

It's been a crazy week for Barlow, who first was assured by the 49ers that he was not being shopped around, then continued to hear rumors about himself on "SportsCenter" and learned he was dealt to the Jets for a fourth-round draft choice Sunday morning. Then he flew across the country on a red-eye, reported for his team-administered physical at 8 a.m. - a lengthy process that Lee Suggs can attest is an arduous experience - and trotted out in full pads just before 3 p.m.

The Jets say Barlow is here to add depth and competition at running back, but there seems little doubt that if he stays healthy, he will be their primary ballcarrier once dunked into the system. The Jets have backs who are big, and they have backs who are fast. Barlow, listed at 6-1, 234 pounds, appears to be both.

"Just from seeing him, he's a big running back, a big physical guy," quarterback Chad Pennington said. "We're excited to have him here."

That the 49ers would let go a 27-year-old former 1,000-yard rusher seems strange, even to Barlow, he admitted. But San Francisco appears happy with having second-year player Frank Gore who, with two surgically repaired knees and two surgically repaired shoulders, would probably have been weeded out by the Jets' exhaustive physical examinations.

Barlow did have personality clashes with the 49ers, calling out his offensive line during a 2-14 season in 2004 and having a long feud with fullback Fred Beasley. Those outbursts seem at odds with the type of players Eric Mangini and Mike Tannenbaum are trying to assemble.

"With everybody that we bring in, we do a lot of research on their backgrounds and we talk to a lot of people that have worked with them," Mangini said yesterday, adding he feels "comfortable" with Barlow.

Barlow said the offense in San Francisco is a distant relative to the one being used by the Jets, so he hopes to catch on quickly. As for meeting his teammates, he was especially thrilled to sit down with the man he is, in essence, here to replace.

"Curtis is a guy I looked up to as a kid growing up," Barlow said. "There was no one bigger than Curtis Martin in Pittsburgh."

Barlow was living in Pittsburgh when Martin played college ball at Pitt, and eventually Barlow played for the Panthers. He said as soon as he walked into the building yesterday morning, Martin welcomed him.

Before Barlow emerged on the field, he shared a locker-room talk with Martin, who continues to rehab his right knee but looks more doubtful for the season opener with every passing day (and every acquired running back, for that matter). Martin had surgery in December and has been on the physically unable to perform list since camp opened.

"I was in awe," Barlow said of meeting with the No. 4 all-time leading rusher. "Man, I have Curtis Martin, a Hall of Fame running back, sitting next to me."

And as long as Martin continues to sit, Barlow will likely be the Jets' next-best option.

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Barlow carries on about hero

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

BY DAVE HUTCHINSON

Star-Ledger Staff

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- New Jets running back Kevan Barlow thought he was having an out-of-body experience yesterday. There he was sitting in the Jets locker room next to future Hall of Fame running back Curtis Martin -- his homeboy.

The pair grew up in Pittsburgh and Barlow followed Martin to Pitt and, like Martin, became a star at the school. Six years younger than Martin, Barlow idolized him.

Suddenly, Barlow found himself yesterday seated next to Martin, talking football. He found himself in position to succeed his mentor, whose career is in jeopardy following arthroscopic knee surgery last December.

"As soon as I walked in, he took me under his wing," said Barlow, who was traded Sunday from the 49ers to the Jets for a mid-round pick, which is believed to be a fourth-rounder.

"He embraced me. Curt was a guy I looked up to as a kid growing up. There was no one bigger than Curtis Martin in Pittsburgh. To be out here, to be up under him and to learn under Curt is wild to me. I'm sitting in the locker room, I'm in awe, like, 'Man, I've got Curtis Martin, Hall of Fame running back, sitting next to me.' I'm ecstatic."

Barlow, 27, missed the final four games of last season with a knee injury that required off-season arthroscopic surgery. But he passed his physical without a problem. No small feat with the Jets after they failed the Browns' Lee Suggs last week after a physical to void a trade for cornerback/safety Derrick Strait.

"I was really shocked," said Barlow of the trade. "I wasn't expecting it. I'm still kind of in a blur right now. Everything happened so fast. ... I heard the speculation throughout the week. I didn't think it was going to go down but it did go down. I'm glad to be out here."

Yesterday, Barlow did only light work but he'll step it up today and likely play on Friday night against the Giants. As for him being a workhorse this season as the starter, there are questions as to whether he can carry the load. He has 20 or more attempts in a game just seven times in his career and only five 100-yard games.

It's likely the Jets will employ a backfield by committee, with Derrick Blaylock, Cedric Houston and, perhaps, rookie Leon Washington getting touches. Barlow, though, could emerge as the starter.

Barlow, 6-1, 234 pounds, comes with baggage along with his 3,614 yards and 24 touchdowns on 891 carries (4.1-yard average) in 72 career games. A starter the past two seasons, he also has 137 career catches for 1,143 yards and three touchdowns.

Off the field, Barlow has had issues. He clashed with fullback Fred Beasley and has criticized coaches and his offensive line. Jets coach Eric Mangini has a no-tolerance policy for such transgressions and Barlow will be a on a short leash.

"I'm a great character guy," said Barlow. "I had some issues as a rookie with Fred Beasley. But that's behind us. Me and Fred are best of friends right now. ... It was a situation, I was 21 years old."

Mangini said he plans to have a talk with Barlow but he doesn't anticipate a problem.

"When we brought Bryan Cox here in 1997 or 1998, there was a lot of talk about the way that he was and the problems that he had," said Mangini. "I can tell you he was one of the best guys I have ever worked with. It's the reason he's here as a coach. ... I feel really comfortable with the research we've done on Kevan."

After rushing for 1,024 yards and six touchdowns on 201 carries (5.1-yard average) in 2003, Barlow has averaged 3.3 yards and 3.4 yards per carry, respectively, in the past two seasons. Last season, he ran for 581 yards and three touchdowns on 178 carries.

"We were an organization that was rebuilt, and I was part of the rebuilding process," said Barlow, who'll earn a $2.5 million base salary. "Football is a team sport. You can't put one thing on one player. I'm going to go out there and give 100 percent.

"Effort, that's not the question. What happened? I don't know. It's a team sport."

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CHAD RETURNS, SHAKES RUST WITH A LOT OF REPS

By DAN MARTIN

August 22, 2006 -- JET NOTES

Chad Pennington returned to practice yesterday after leaving the team to be with his father, Elwood, who was hospitalized in Tennessee last week.

"I'm glad to be back," said Pennington, expected to remain the team's starting quarterback this season. "It takes a day or two to get back [in rhythm]."

Despite the rustiness, Pennington took the majority of snaps during yesterday's practice, alternating with rookie Kellen Clemens. Pennington expects to get ample playing time in the Jets' third preseason game when they face the Giants on Friday.

"I just want to play as much as I can," Pennington said. "I want to nail down some details and fundamentals of this offense."

When asked if he wanted to play the entire first half, Pennington said: "I'll let coach [Eric Mangini] make that decision. ... I appreciate coach allowing me to go home at a time like that."

Pennington added that his father's health had improved.

"Things are going well," Pennington said. "It puts everything into perspective."

No one was able to distinguish themselves in Pennington's absence against the Redskins. At practice yesterday, Patrick Ramsey and Brooks Bollinger didn't get much work.

Mangini expects CB Justin Miller to improve after he struggled in the team's last preseason game against the Redskins.

"He's got really good natural ability, but the consistency with the technique is something that he needs to continue to work on," Mangini said. "It's something that he and I have talked about because once that technique improves and he really understands where he fits within the overall scheme, you'll see a lot more of that natural ability he has."

The Jets signed TE Walter Rasby yesterday. "Mangini is trying to have an identity with this team and bring in veterans to give experience," said the 11-year journeyman Rasby, who was with the Steelers last season and was cut by the Patriots last week. ... Mangini said he plans on moving the defensive linemen around in case they are needed at other spots on the line during the regular season. ... The coach said that he is considering using long snapper James Dearth as another tight end, but doesn't want to risk losing him at his regular position to injury. ... The Jets released two players: DE Val Barnaby and WR Curtis Williams.

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Chad's back in pocket

After spending four days with his hospitalized father in Tennessee, Chad Pennington returned yesterday to the Jets and practiced as the No. 1 quarterback.

Pennington didn't confirm or deny reports that his father, Elwood, had had a heart attack, but he did say his father, still in the hospital, is improving.

"It puts everything in perspective," said Pennington, who was excused from Saturday night's game in Washington. "Football doesn't matter when something tragic happens or an illness happens."

Pennington acknowledged that he was "pretty stressed out" last week, but that he's glad to be back on the field. He likely will start Friday night against the Giants.

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BLOCK PARTY: The Jets, looking for a blocking tight end, signed 11-year veteran Walter Rasby, who was cut last week by the Patriots. Rasby, 33, who has played for five teams, has 64 career receptions for 584 yards and five touchdowns.

RUSH HOUR: Held up by a five-hour physical, newly acquired RB Kevan Barlow was late for practice, but he was in uniform and participated in a few drills. Coach Eric Mangini didn't say whether Barlow would play this week, but he's likely to get some time.

Mangini said of Barlow, "He's a bigger back, he catches the ball well out of the backfield and he's got the ability to make people miss. All those things, I thought, were positives."

Barlow probably will ascend to the starting job, but he hasn't been an effective workhorse back. His career numbers for all his carries after the first 20 in a game are bleak: 28 rushes for 73 yards, a 2.6 average, according to Stats, LLC.

Asked about his subpar seasons in 2004 and 2005, Barlow, who rushed for 1,024 yards in 2003, smiled and said, "You had to bring that up." He believes he was victimized by the 49ers' rebuilding process.

BACKUP PLAN: Rookie QB Kellen Clemens, making a bid for the No. 2 job, practiced with the second team, a slight change in Mangini's four-man rotation. Patrick Ramsey and Brooks Bollinger had very few reps, but they got most of the playing time against the Redskins. ... WR Jerricho Cotchery and RT Anthony Clement continued with the first team, meaning Justin McCareins and Adrian Jones, respectively, could be out of starting jobs. The Falcons may have an interest in McCareins, who could be traded. ... As expected, CB David Barrett got most of the first-team reps, replacing Justin Miller, who had a poor game Saturday.

Rich Cimini

Originally published on August 22, 2006

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JETS NOTEBOOK

Chad back after crisis

BY TOM ROCK

Newsday Staff Writer

August 22, 2006

Chad Pennington returned to practice yesterday, visibly shaken from a weekend away from the team in which he dealt with a family illness. Although he did not confirm that his father, Elwood, suffered a heart attack, he did say he remains hospitalized in Knoxville, Tenn., but is doing better.

"I appreciate Coach allowing me to go home and be with my family at a time like that," said Pennington, who was excused from the team Wednesday and missed the preseason game against the Redskins on Saturday night.

Pennington practiced with the first offensive unit and showed some shakiness. He overthrew an early pass to Laveranues Coles that was intercepted by David Barrett in a two-minute drill (though he followed it with a touchdown pass to Tim Dwight on which cornerback Justin Miller slipped), and he threw several short passes uncharacteristically low or wide. Pennington even had to run a lap after a false start in which he pulled away from center Nick Mangold on the wrong count.

"When you deal with something like that, it still takes a day or two to get back into the swing of things again because you've been out of your element for four days and been pretty stressed out," Pennington said. "Today was good just to get back out on the field, fight through it, and concentrate on football."

Rasby adds experience

The Jets signed 13th-year veteran TE Walter Rasby, a solid blocker who will provide more through his experience than his skills. "They're trying to bring in some veterans to infuse some leadership and experience and I thought the opportunity was great," Rasby said. "I'm not coming here to supersede anybody, just coming here to play a role."

Jet streams

After a tough game Saturday, Miller looked shaky in practice and slipped on a pair of coverages ... NT Tui Alailefaleula, who played a lot Saturday, missed most of practice with a large wrap on his right knee ... DE Val Barnaby and WR Curtis Williams were released.

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The day in camp

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

BY DAVE HUTCHINSON

Star-Ledger Staff

TE WALTER RASBY

Veteran tight end Walter Rasby is with the sixth NFL team in his 11-year career. He knows the drills, the coaches and the game.

Perhaps, most importantly, Rasby knows his role.

"I bring my experience," said Rasby, a big-time blocker who has just 64 career receptions for 584 yards and five touchdowns. "This is a good group of tight ends. They have a lot of talent. I just have experience. That's something you really can't teach. No matter how much talent you have, you have to have experience. You have to have been through the fire.

"I'm just coming here to play a role. I'm not coming here to try to supersede anybody or anything like that. I'm coming here to help the tight ends first and the offense second."

The arrival of Rasby, 6-3, 252 pounds, could spell trouble for veteran pass-catching tight end Doug Jolley.

"Walter's a physical guy," said coach Eric Mangini. "He's a good run blocker and a good person. I like the things that he's done in the running game. I think that that's a real asset."

Rasby, who sat out last season, has played with the Steelers, Panthers, Lions, Redskins and Saints. He was released by the Patriots last Friday and said he felt right at home with the Jets because of the distinct Patriots favor to the camp.

Also, Rasby said he knew running back coach Jimmy Raye and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer from his time in Washington and wanted to join the Jets because he likes what Mangini is trying to build.

"Coach (Eric) Mangini is trying to put together a team, an identity," he said. "He has the young guys. He's trying to bring in some veterans to infuse some leadership, infuse some experience. I think it's a great opportunity."

Who's hot

QB Chad Pennington, working with the first team, threw well. ... WRs Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery and TE Doug Jolley had some nice grabs. ... DE Shaun Ellis is quietly having a solid camp.

Who's not

CB Justin Miller got beat deep twice. ... QB Kellen Clemens called time-out twice during team drills. ... RB Cedric Houston dropped a pass.

Pennington returns

Pennington, who left the team on Wednesday to be with his ailing father, returned to practice yesterday. His father, Elwood, is believed to have had a heart attack and remains in a Knoxville, Tenn., hospital.

"We just had to make sure we were there to support him and let him know we were right there," said Pennington, who was coached by his father in high school. "Everything is on the up-and-up and looking much better for him. We're definitely counting our blessings. It really puts everything in perspective.

"I just appreciate coach (Mangini) allowing me to go home and be with my family at a time like that. It's important. The team has been really supportive. ... I'm glad to be back. I'm ready to get back in the groove and concentrate on football."

Pennington will almost certainly start vs. the Giants Friday night.

Quick hits

Rookie QB Kellen Clemens worked with the second-team as Mangini has altered his quarterback rotation and, perhaps, provided a peek into his thinking. Clemens has looked better than both Patrick Ramsey and Brooks Bollinger in camp and the preseason games. ...

S Erik Coleman (appendectomy) returned to the starting lineup. ... The Jets released DE Val Barnaby (Rutgers) and WR Curtis Williams. ... CBs David Barrett and Justin Miller alternated with the first team. Andre Dyson starts at the other corner. ... Veteran RT Anthony Clement (76 career starts) has beaten out third-year pro Adrian Jones for the starting job. ... Rookie CB Drew Coleman (knee) returned to practice.

Injury report: S Jamie Thompson (knee), WR Dante Ridgeway (knee) and G Isaac Snell (knee) didn't practice.

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Jets notebook

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Barlow aboard

Largely because of Lee Suggs' failed physical last week, the drama was building for the entrance of Kevan Barlow, acquired in a trade Sunday, at Monday's Jets practice.

At 2 p.m., practice began without Barlow. At 2:30, Kevan had yet to show.

Finally at 2:45, No. 31 trotted out, stretched and joined his new teammates, signifying he had passed his physical.

"The Jets wanted me here right away, so I caught a red-eye out and I've been up ever since," Barlow said after doing little but standing and watching the workout. "I had to get a physical from 8 all the way up till practice. So I'm a little bit tired now, but it's good to be out here."

Barlow also is "shocked" -- he used that word four times in talking about being dealt after San Francisco coach Mike Nolan told him days earlier there was nothing to rumors of the Jets' interest.

But he seems happy to be a Jet. He said general manager Mike Tannenbaum and coach Eric Mangini "embraced me," he's on the same team with his boyhood idol, Curtis Martin, and he has the chance to become "the man" again after losing ground in the battle with Frank Gore to be the Niners' featured back.

"I put a lot into that organization," Barlow said, taking one last look at the 49ers. "I'm still in my prime, still healthy. I was shocked. Now I've put that behind me. I left San Francisco and the West Coast; I'm here on the East Coast. I'm going to start a new slate and get things going out here."

Briefs

S Erik Coleman was back with the first defense again. ... Rookie CB Drew Coleman was back at practice for the first time after his knee injury and worked in the first nickel defense. ... CB Justin Miller, who struggled at Washington, got turned around again in coverage, this time on a Chad Pennington-to-Jerricho Cotchery pass into the end zone. ... Former Rutgers DE Val Barnaby was waived. ... DT Sione Pouha, out for the year, had surgery last week to repair his torn right ACL.

-- Randy Lange

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This time, newcomer passes physical

(Original publication: August 22, 2006)

HEMPSTEAD — There were some anxious moments when the Jets began to practice yesterday afternoon with Kevan Barlow nowhere in sight. He eventually landed on the sidelines but watched a majority of the snaps from a distance.

It didn't matter.

Barlow needed to be impressive only during a comprehensive physical. No red flags went up during the six hours of poking and prodding. His surgically repaired left knee apparently is not a great concern.

A week ago, the Jets had voided a deal that brought in another running back, Lee Suggs, from Cleveland after he failed a physical.

Barlow clearly was surprised to be here, but nonetheless happy for the opportunity.

"Yeah, yeah. It was definitely puzzling to me," he said of San Francisco's decision to trade him Sunday for a fourth-round pick in next year's draft. "I mean, I'm shocked. They traded Kevan Barlow — that's what I was thinking. I didn't know what was going on. I'm going to start a clean slate out here. I'm going to put it all behind me. It's a way to start fresh."

Players with some baggage talk about starting over.

Barlow, 27, was an emerging star only two years ago when he ran for 1,024 yards. He was rewarded with a five-year, $20 million contract. It's been tough going ever since. Barlow totaled just 581 yards last season and missed four games with a balky knee. He averaged just 3.3 yards a carry.

Some in the 49ers' organization reportedly were not pleased with his attitude.

Over the years, Barlow engaged in a couple of public feuds. The most notable was a conflict with backfield partner Fred Beasley.

"That's behind me," he said. "Me and Fred are best friends right now. We probably talk once a week. It was a situation where I was 21 years old, he was a veteran, and he wanted things run a certain way and I had to get accustomed to that."

Jets coach Eric Mangini didn't seem to have any problems with Barlow.

Of course, he really can't be picky given the need for a primary ball carrier with Curtis Martin sidelined indefinitely. There was no change in that situation yesterday, and no change is expected in the immediate future.

"With everybody we bring in, we do a lot of research on their background," said Mangini, citing Bryan Cox, who outgrew a bad reputation. "We talk to a lot of people that have worked with them."

It might help to keep Martin close. He and Barlow grew up in Pittsburgh in similar neighborhoods and have known each other for years.

The bottom line is, Barlow still has some untapped potential.

"He is a bigger back; he catches the ball well out of the backfield; he's got the ability to make people miss," Mangini said. "All of those things, I thought, were positives. He's been productive, and I think he adds good depth and competition to the position."

Barlow appeared to have been indoctrinated well before he was asked about starting.

He got only three carries during yesterday's practice. Derrick Blaylock, Cedric Houston and Leon Washington did most of the legwork, but that's likely going to change in a hurry.

"No, no, no. I'm coming here to compete," Barlow said. "Derrick is a good running back. Derrick and the other guys are good running backs; they put up some good numbers the other night. Competition just brings the best out of everybody on the team. It's going to make me a better player, it's going to make Derrick a better player and it's going to make us a better team."

The optimism in camp is amazing.

"I don't know much about Kevan," said quarterback Chad Pennington, who's back after spending time away with his ailing father. "Just from seeing him, he's a big running back, a big, physical guy. I know he's been really successful with the 49ers and put up some really good numbers, so we're excited to have him here. Anybody who comes in, we're just excited that they come to win and make us better."

Barlow mostly was looking forward to some pillow time after the hustle of the previous 24 hours. He doesn't expect it will be difficult to catch up with the offense, noting the plays are similar to what San Francisco runs.

It's unclear how much he will play Friday against the Giants.

"That's up to Coach; we haven't talked about it," Barlow said. "Hopefully I'll get some reps out there."

Camping out: Jets

Eye-opener: Rookie QB Kellen Clemens got to run the second unit most of the afternoon. He showed off an impressive arm on a pinpoint scoring pass to Doug Jolley that drew quite a response from the crowd. "Did you see that, Chad?" somebody yelled to Pennington from the bleachers. A short while later, though, Clemens dropped the ball while looking for an open receiver and was replaced temporarily by Patrick Ramsey.

Rookie watch: DT Tui Alailefaleula continues to get valuable practice time at nose tackle and might eventually show up on the depth chart if he continues to improve and limit mistakes. "Tui has made some progress," coach Eric Mangini said. "He's a big man. He's like a lot of these rookies where there'll be some really good things and then there's some things that they haven't seen, and now it's whether or not they take those experiences and improve upon them."

Training room: S Jamie Thompson (leg), WR Dante Ridgeway (leg), G Isaac Snell (leg), S Mondoe Davis (undisclosed) and RB Curtis Martin (knee) did not practice.

Roster: The Jets signed TE Walter Rasby, who was cut by New England last week. The Jets are his seventh team since he came into the league in 1994 with the Steelers, and he sounded more like a player who's here to provide counsel to Jolley and Chris Baker. "You have to have been through the fire," Rasby said. "So I'm just coming here to play a role. I'm not coming here to supercede anyone. I'm trying to help the tight ends first and the offense second." WR Curtis Williams and DE Val Barnaby were released.

Competition: Pennington was back running the first unit after leaving last Wednesday to join family in Tennessee, where his father was hospitalized. "When you deal with something like that, it still takes a day or two to get back into the swing of things because you've been out of your element for four days and been pretty stressed out and things like that. But today was good to get back out on the field and fight through it and concentrate on football," he said without providing details. "It did deal with my father. We just had to make sure we were there to support him and do everything we can to let him know we were right there. But everything is on the up and up and looking much better for him, and so we're happy and enthused about that, and we definitely count our blessings. If anything, it just really puts everything in perspective. Football doesn't matter when something tragic, or an illness, happens to your family. So I just appreciate Coach supporting me in that and letting me go home and take care of business."

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Pennington back on track

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

By RANDY LANGE

STAFF WRITER

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Chad Pennington, back at Jets training camp after four days away, committed a rare practice misstep Monday.

But a quarterback pulling away from center on the wrong snap count -- then running the mandatory "penalty lap" as dictated by the head coach -- was understandable, considering Pennington's father, Elwood, remains hospitalized in Knoxville, Tenn.

"Everything's on the up-and-up and it's looking much better for him," Pennington said, declining to confirm reports his dad had suffered a heart attack.

"We're happy and enthused about that, and we definitely count our blessings. Football really doesn't matter when something tragic happens to your family as far as an illness is concerned.

"So I appreciate Coach [Eric Mangini] supporting me in that and letting me go home and take care of business."

There was never a doubt that Mangini would support Pennington. Whatever you've heard about the Jets' new football boss, Mangini is at heart a family man. When he can't get home in time to put his sons, Jake and Luke, to bed, he reads to them over a cutting-edge videophone at his desk.

And despite the fact that he continues to conduct a four-man competition to determine the Jets' starting quarterback as the Sept. 10 season opener at Tennessee fast approaches, he told Pennington to take all the time he needed to be with his father and his family.

But while football took a back burner, the game never comes fully off the stove for a veteran QB. Pennington said in between hospital visits that he watched one quarter of the Jets' 27-14 victory over the Redskins on Saturday night and was encouraged.

"I was proud of the guys," Pennington said. "I felt like with my experience in the first game and watching the second game on television, we are improving as a team. Every day we come out here, it seems like we're getting better with the details Coach wants us to focus on."

Pennington contributed to the next building block in his first day back. Getting cheers from the several hundred fans -- even when he set out on his lap -- he got the first reps with the first offense (rookie Kellen Clemens was next in).

He hit several intermediate and deep passes, including a corner-route touchdown to Jerricho Cotchery.

Pennington also got to meet a new teammate, running back Kevan Barlow, who didn't participate much Monday but will get an increasing workload today and Wednesday and could see action against the Giants on Friday.

"I don't know much about Kevan, but he's a big back, a big, physical guy," Pennington said of the 230-pounder who could become the featured runner to make life easier for whichever QB wins the job. "I know he's been really successful with the 49ers. We're excited to have him here."

Pennington also spoke of his excitement in getting back to work on the nuts and bolts of new coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's offense. Even though he appears to be leading in the quarterback race, Pennington's not about to take anything for granted.

He's also not going to push family guy Mangini to play him for the entire first half against the Giants.

"I don't push Coach to do anything," Pennington said with a laugh. "I'll let him make that decision."

E-mail: lange@northjersey.com

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Jets blog

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

He knows the drills

August 22, 2006

Walter Rasby keeps rolling along. The 6-foot-3, 252-pound tight end began his 13th NFL training camp with the Patriots. Friday, he was cut by Bill Belichick. Monday, he was signed by Eric Mangini.

"Some of this stuff I already had been doing at New England," Rasby said of the particulars of his first Jets practice. "The stretches, the whistles -- everything was exactly the same."

Rasby was brought in for his experience.

And for the personable Rasby to make seven stops with five franchises and play in 144 games with only 64 receptions, you know his strength is blocking. If he sticks with the Jets, it will be because he helps open holes for the running game.

-- Randy Lange

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