Jump to content

Sunday Papers....


Recommended Posts




APPLE JAX: The Jets' Leon Washington has achieved one dream - making it to the NFL. Today, he'll achieve another - playing in front of family and friends in his hometown of Jacksonville.October 8, 2006 -- JACKSONVILLE -

As a curious and mischievous teenager, Leon Washington used to sneak through the various crevasses into Alltel Stadium when it was chained up and closed to the public.

Once inside the vast expanse, he'd run freely around the field.

And dream.

"I used to sneak in there and run on the field a little bit; all those things you did as a child," he recalled. "You got in a trouble a little bit, but I was just having fun."

Washington was also a vendor at Alltel, where for Jaguars games he would sell soda and peanuts.

And dream.

"I was 13 or 14 years old and I didn't really have any direction in my life, but I knew my dream was playing football," Washington said.

As a youngster, Washington grew so close to the shadows of the stadium that, on game days, he would watch replays on the Jumbotron.

And dream.

"It's been my dream since I was a child to play in the National Football League," Washington said.

Today, Washington's dream, which he's already living having made it as an NFL running back with the Jets, truly morphs into reality, because he's coming home.

When the Jets play the Jaguars at 4:05 p.m. today, a big part of the heart of Jacksonville will be watching with bated breath, because they'll be watching one of their own.

"I played in little league football and it's kind of crazy to think back to it now," Washington said. "I'm definitely blessed."

Indeed, Washington is blessed with athleticism and speed and an uncanny escapability. But those who've been touched by Washington and his rare do-the-right-thing values in life have been blessed, too.

This is a young man who risked his dream of making it to the NFL by staying at home before his senior season at Florida State to work enough odd jobs to raise some living money for his mother, grandparents and younger brother.

Washington was criticized by the Neanderthal-mentality stitch heads for not being committed enough to FSU football by not being a part of the off-season training program. He believes it cost him captaincy in his senior season. It surely cost him a possible round or two in the draft.

But at what cost should any of those things be such a big deal when compared with helping to make sure your family has electricity and enough food on the table?

Link to comment
Share on other sites



GOT HIM: Shaun Ellis wraps up Indianapolis' Peyton Manning for one of the Jets defensive end's two sacks last week.October 8, 2006 -- JET NOTES

JACKSONVILLE - Remember Shaun Ellis?

He's the Jets' defensive end who piled up 231/2 sacks in 2003 and 2004 and looked like he was ready for takeoff as a perennial Pro Bowl player.

Then came 2005, during which Ellis had a grand total of 21/2 sacks.

"I guess I hit a wall or something," Ellis said. "There are going to be years like that. I was getting back there [in opposing backfields] but never a time when [the quarterback] had the ball. It was a very disappointing year to me personally and as a team.

"I just want to put that in the past and move on," Ellis added. "Last year doesn't define who I am as a player. I wanted to come into this season with a whole different mindset with a new era and a new coaching staff. A lot of the things that they ask of me are different from the last scheme. You can't be selfish in this defense. You've got to continue to help the team win."

Ellis' first of two sacks against Peyton Manning last Sunday shut down a Colts offense that had been cutting through the Jets defense with little resistance.

"It felt good [to get the sacks], but those are not the kind of sacks I really want," he said. "I'm happy to get any of them, but at the end of the game, that's when I want to step up and get them. During that [game-winning Colts'] drive all we needed was a big hit on [Manning] or a forced fumble. That's a time, when the game on the line, when you've got to step up as a pass rusher."

That said, Ellis' first sack of Manning did change the momentum of the game.

Jets LB Jonathan Vilma called Ellis' two sacks "well-deserved."

"He has been grinding and grinding and had been so close," Vilma said. "You see a lot of teams sliding protection his way, but he's still finding a way. He may not have a bunch of sacks, but he gets a lot of quarterback hurries and pressures."

Those, of course, aren't enough for Ellis.

"Sacks," Ellis said. "I want to get them. I'm going to keep pressing and pressing and pressing until [the quarterbacks] start falling."


Jaguars DE Paul Spicer, the player who tore Chad Pennington's rotator cuff last year, sent a couple of messages to Jets rookie LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson.

"He's playing pretty well for a rookie," Spicer said. "But you ain't going to see a rookie be 'the man.' He's got a lot to learn. He's playing as good as a rookie can right now. I don't think he's going to be a really big power type guy. He's more a finesse type.

"[Today], I'm coming, however you want it," Spicer continued. "He's got to strap it up on Sunday and know that No. 95 is going to be on him. You're a man; I'm a man. Let's see who will be the better man."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

JETS GAMEDAY: You can go home again

Jacksonville products Washington, Coles hope to show family, friends how far they have come


Newsday Staff Writer

October 8, 2006


Sunday: 4:05 p.m.

TV: Ch. 2

Radio: WABC (770), WEPN (1050)

Leon Washington grew up in a Jacksonville apartment complex so close to Alltel Stadium that he could walk out the front door of the building and see the giant video screen during game days.

On Sunday, the kid who hustled up and down the steps of the building hawking Coca-Colas as a teenager will be in a much more visible position - on the field as a running back for the Jets.

As a testament to just how far he has come, every time Washington touches the football, the folks at his old building a few blocks away will be able to see him on the big video board.

"I'm sure it will be emotional for me," said Washington, who grew up poor and was the first member of his family to graduate from high school.

After four years at Florida State - and a senior season that was not as productive as many had anticipated because he worked to support his family the summer of his senior season - the Jets picked him in the fourth round, giving him a signing bonus of $429,000 and a base salary of $275,000. That has allowed him to play football and take care of his family, though he is quick to draw a line between what people need and what they want.

"When my family needs something, I'll take care of it," he said. "But if you want something, it's a different ballgame. It's a roof over your head, transportation, food. All the other stuff is wants."

This week, the Jets both want and need Washington. With Cedric Houston out with a knee injury (OL Trey Teague was also downgraded to out yesterday), the running game that started to emerge against the Colts last Sunday once again is in a precarious situation.

Kevan Barlow has improved his knowledge of the offense and looked strong bulling his way into the end zone for two touchdowns against the Colts, and Derrick Blaylock could be activated for the first time since Week 2 after he lost his starting job. But Washington brings the excitement of unpredictability to the Jets' offense with his ability to take handoffs or catch passes and break plays from anywhere on the field.

Washington is not the only Jet returning to Jacksonville. Wide receiver Laveranues Coles grew up there and is in the final stages of building a house in the area. Coles said he will have only about 10 or 15 minutes to check in on the estate, and he might have even less time to catch up with family and friends who attend the game. Coach Eric Mangini's famous "five-second rule" apparently applies not only to celebrating or brooding over plays.

"You get an opportunity to say 'Hi' afterwards, but you're just trying to get off the field, run in and get in the shower so you can say hello to your family at the end of the game," he said. "It also depends on who you are. If you're in a certain system, guys like Randy Moss and some other guys kind of get leeway to stay behind with their families on away trips. Some coaches allow you to, if they know you're from there, they'll tell you you can go and come back. But that's not the case around here."




There's no definitive image of what an NFL quarterback should look like, but Byron Leftwich is certainly not it. He's a pudgy 242 pounds, though he dropped close to 10 pounds during the offseason. He has an awkward delivery, striding and pushing off like a baseball pitcher. Although Leftwich's stats this season are as unimpressive as his appearance - five touchdowns and five interceptions with a 79.1 rating - it is his unorthodox abilities that could give the Jets the most trouble.


1 Wilford runs straight ahead...

2 ...then angles toward the middle of the field (or the goalpost, thus the name "post" route)...

3 ...the shortened route will allow Wilford to find a seam between the cornerback and the safety to get open for a pass.


The Jaguars' passing game is still a work in progress as quarterback Byron Leftwich develops and his young receiving corps matures. Ernest Wilford is on of those receivers who has game-breaking ability, and the Jaguars would like to get the ball upfield to him more often.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Look out!

Jags are blast from the past for Chad

Jets at Jaguars, at Alltel Stadium, 4 p.m.



Chad Pennington

JACKSONVILLE - Paul Spicer will wait until after today's game to say something to Chad Pennington. He plans to seek him out on the field, shake his hand and express his admiration.

"When it's over, regardless of the outcome, I'll go up to him, man-to-man, and say, 'Hey, man, glad to see you back,'" the Jaguars' defensive end said this past week in a phone interview. "I can appreciate what he's done."

The big fella paused, perhaps sensing he was getting a bit mushy.

"But Chad knows I'm going to be coming after him," Spicer added, turning serious. "And I plan on getting there, like I did last year. I'm not going to stop, just because of what happened."

You could almost hear him smiling in anticipation.

The lives of Spicer and Pennington intersected last Sept. 25 at Giants Stadium. It happened at 2:15 p.m. on the Jets' 19-yard line, where the 296-pound lineman blindsided Pennington, yanking his arm backward with a clean, but gruesome hit.

It was the best day of Spicer's professional life, a career-high three sacks. It was Pennington's worst, ending his season with a torn rotator cuff.

This afternoon, the two men will confront each other at Alltel Stadium, where a pair of 2-2 teams will be trying to rebound from gut-wrenching defeats.

In a sense, Pennington has achieved victory before the first snap. The Jets' quarterback has come full circle, from devastating injury to successful comeback. He begins the day with a 102.3 passer rating, fourth best in the NFL.

But now he goes face-to-face with the man whose image he has seen hundreds of times over the past year, and we're not talking about nightmares.

Pennington keeps a photograph of the season-ending play on the desk in his home office. It used to make him wince - the arm-bending, shoulder-wrecking sack that could've ended his career - but he looks at it now and sees an entirely different image.

"It reminds me of how far I've come," said Pennington, two days beyond the one-year anniversary of his second shoulder surgery.

This time, it might be a good idea to block Spicer, because he hurts more in person than in a photo.

Spicer, too, has seen a photo of the play, but he doesn't have it as a keepsake. His brother, Lee, uses it as the homepage on his computer. Spicer laughed when he saw it for the first time. He's not the sentimental type - he gets paid to hunt quarterbacks - but he does have an understanding of Pennington's ordeal.

In 2004, Spicer was victimized by an illegal chop block, courtesy of the Broncos, and he missed nearly the entire season with a broken leg. It was cruel, but he didn't receive much pampering. He's a former undrafted free agent, and guys like that rarely get to travel down Easy Street.

"It's a long journey, coming back from a major injury," Spicer said. "I can appreciate everything he's gone through, just to get back to some type of normalcy."

So last Sept. 25 represented a huge day for Spicer, who proved to his teammates - and maybe to himself - he was back. He "felt bad" that he ended Pennington's season, but he didn't know about the injury until after the game.

Spicer and teammate Reggie Hayward did a tag-team number on the Jets that day. Seven plays after the Pennington sack, Hayward slammed Jay Fiedler to the turf, ending his season with a shoulder injury. The Jets lost two quarterbacks in one game and never recovered, finishing 4-12.

"Mind-boggling," Spicer said.

In retrospect, that day changed the franchise forever, starting the downfall of coach Herm Edwards and GM Terry Bradway. In fact, most of the principles from those two fateful plays are gone. The man who called the plays, Mike Heimerdinger, went out the door with Edwards. Replacement quarterback Fiedler and offensive lineman Jason Fabini - who failed to hold off Spicer - were released in the offseason. Adrian Jones, who missed the block on Hayward, is riding the Jets' bench.

The only ones still standing are Pennington and Spicer, who said of the Jets' quarterback, "He's playing better than he ever has.

"To see him out there, and to see the way he's playing, my hat's off to him," Spicer said. "But come Sunday, it's time to get him again."




THE LINE: Jaguars by 6

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ellis tackling a new role

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Star-Ledger Staff

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The 10 games seemed like an eternity for Jets defensive end Shaun Ellis. A former Pro Bowler, Ellis had gone 10 games without a sack -- and a defensive end without a sack is like a computer tech without his laptop.

Ellis, who notched a combined 23 1/2 sacks in the 2003 and 2004 seasons, finally ended his sackless string when he recorded two against the Colts last week. They were his first sacks since Oct. 16, 2005. The two sacks nearly matched his total of 2 1/2 from last season.

"I guess I hit a wall somewhere," Ellis said. "There's going to be years like that. It was a very disappointing year for me personally and as a team. I just want to put that in the past. That year doesn't define who I am as a player."

Ellis, 6-5 and 285 pounds, is considered one of the most well-rounded defensive ends in the NFL. He's equally effective against the run and the pass. And he's durable, having missed only one game in his first five seasons before sitting out the final three games of last season with a hamstring injury.

This season, it's a whole new world for Ellis, who earned a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2003 with 12 1/2 sacks. The Jets have a new coach, a new defensive scheme and Ellis lost his old buddy, John Abraham, the Pro Bowl defensive end who was traded to the Falcons in the off-season.

The pair have known each other since high school and were absolutely giddy when the Jets picked Ellis with the 12th pick overall in the 2000 draft and selected Abraham 13th.

The duo, who once shared a house on Long Island, complemented each other in the Jets defense. Abraham was the speed guy and Ellis brought the power. Ellis' 43 1/2 career sacks over the past six seasons is right behind Abraham's 53 1/2.

In March, the Jets broke up the pair, dealing Abraham for a first-round pick that turned out to be center Nick Mangold, taken 29th overall.

"I was very disappointed (to see Abraham traded) but you also need to keep it in the back of your mind that this is a business and the team is going in another direction," Ellis said. "Things worked out better for him and the Jets."

This season, Ellis (12 tackles, two sacks, two passes defended) has new responsibilities in the Jets' 3-4 scheme. Instead of strictly pass-rushing or penetrating upfield, he must two-gap, bump running backs as they try to get out of the backfield and pass rush -- in that order.

Coach Eric Mangini has lauded Ellis' leadership, work ethic and team-first approach. Ellis was voted, not named, a defensive captain along with linebacker Jonathan Vilma.

"The things being asked of you are a whole lot different now," said Ellis, the longest-tenured starter on defense. "(Mangini) said from day one that you can't be selfish in this defense. You have to be willing to do things that are going to help the team win."

Translation: Don't count on a lot of sacks.

Without Abraham on the other side, life is tougher for Ellis. Opponents are sliding their protection to his side and have running backs and tight ends chipping on him.

"You can see that (teams are paying more attention to him) but he's still finding a way," Vilma said. "He may not have a bunch of sacks but he gets a lot of quarterback hurries, a lot of hits and pressure. It (his two sacks) was well-deserved. He has been grinding and grinding."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pennington, Leftwich and a quarter-pounder meal


FLORIDA TODAY Post a Comment

N.Y. Jets (2-2) at Jacksonville (2-2)

When: 4:05 p.m.

Where: Alltel Stadium

Odds: Jaguars by 61/2

TV: None

Radio: WIXC-AM (1060)

Series: Jaguars lead 4-2

Injury report: New York Jets -- DOUBTFUL RB Cedric Houston (knee); QUESTIONABLE CB David Barrett (hip); WR Laveranues Coles (calf); WR Tim Dwight (thigh); G Pete Kendall (thigh); C Trey Teague (ankle) PROBABLE DE Dave Ball (hand); RB Kevan Barlow (calf); OLB Matt Chatham (foot);T Anthony Clement (shin); DE Bobby Hamilton (knee); FB James Hodgins (knee); T Adrian Jones (thigh); CB Justin Miller (hip); QB Chad Pennington (calf); FS Kerry Rhodes (thigh); WR Brad Smith (thigh); SS Eric Smith (knee); DT Kimo Von Oelhoffen (knee).

JACKSONVILLE -- OUT WR Matt Jones (hamstring); DT Marcus Stroud (ankle); DE Marcellus Wiley (groin) QUESTIONABLE RB Derrick Wimbush (knee) PROBABLE SS Donovin Darius (knee); OLB Nick Greisen (ankle); CB Rashean Mathis (knee); G Chris Naeole (knee).

Storyline: After dropping two tough ones on the road, the Jaguars look to get back on track against a Jets team that has played better than most experts thought without Curtis Martin and a strong running game.

Three keys for New York Jets: Take advantage of Marcus Stroud's absence to break a few running plays up the middle. Give Chad Pennington time to pick the Jaguars secondary apart. Lock down Reggie Williams and force the other Jacksonville receivers to have a big day.

Three keys for Jacksonville: Pound the Jets defense with Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew. Treat Pennington the way it treated Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger: hit him all day, all the time. Force the Jets to have to go on long, sustained drives.

Key matchups: New York right tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson vs. Jacksonville defensive end Paul Spicer. Jaguars RB Fred Taylor vs. Jets MLB Jonathan Vilma. New York QB Chad Pennington vs. Jaguars safeties Deon Grant and Donovin Darius.

It was summertime at Marshall University and star quarterback Chad Pennington wasn't sure what to make of the freshman who claimed he could throw the ball through the goalposts. From the 50-yard line, no less.

"I'm like, 'You're a true freshman, there's no way,' " Pennington recalled this week. "He made it through easy."

To pay off the bet, Pennington bought Bryon Leftwich his very first meal as a college athlete.

"He bought me McDonald's," Leftwich said. "We went through the drive-through and he bought me the value meal. It had to have been the quarter-pounder value meal because it was the only thing that I would eat."

Over the next two seasons, Pennington did more for Leftwich than any extra french fries -- or even a thick milkshake -- could do.

He helped teach Leftwich the ropes.

Today, the two friends will meet up again when Leftwich's Jacksonville Jaguars host Pennington's New York Jets at 4:05 p.m. at Alltel Stadium.

"They're doing something up there (at) Marshall," Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said. "They put a couple, very intelligent, team-oriented, good tough QBs in the NFL, and we're happy to have ours."

Today will mark the third time and the second consecutive season Leftwich and Pennington have faced each other with the series tied at a victory apiece. The two talk on a regular basis and have mutual respect based on their days as teammates.

At the time, Pennington was in the national spotlight and Leftwich was a kid, unsure of himself. Nevertheless, they hit it off right away.

"I remember being so worried when I got there," Leftwich said. "There were a lot of quarterbacks there. I was worried about everyone else. He saw me throw the football and he said, 'You ain't going to have no problem.'

"He always used to tell me, 'You will break every record that I ever made.' He always told me that from the beginning. When a guy believes in you -- and we aren't talking about just any other quarterback, they were calling him the best quarterback in college football -- and for him to help me that way, it shows what type of guy he is."

Pennington remembered Leftwich wanted to be known even then as a well-rounded quarterback who could read coverages and make all the throws.

He also fed off the kid's boundless energy.

"He's a genuine person, and I think he cares about people," Pennington said of Leftwich. "He loves the game of football. He's ultra- competitive. He loves to compete, and any time he steps out on the field, he doesn't believe anybody can touch him.

"That's a great attitude to have as a quarterback. You need to feel like you're invincible and you can make any throw and every throw, and he can. He can do it. You just see when he plays the game. He loves being out there, he loves taking on the challenges and he's confident in his abilities and his ability to lead, and it shows."

Pennington has made a remarkable comeback from a shoulder injury sustained in last year's game against the Jaguars. He is the NFL's fourth-rated passer with a 102.3 rating, and he'll need to be on his game against a Jacksonville defense that figures to take away New York's running game though defensive tackle Marcus Stroud (ankle/groin) won't play.

Leftwich, the 17th-rated passer at 79.1, will have to face the Jets without one of his top receivers. Matt Jones will miss the game because of a hamstring injury.

Jacksonville (2-2), coming off back-to-back road losses against Indianapolis and Washington, doesn't want to head into the bye week on another down note.

As quarterbacks and as people, they're hardly two peas in a pod, but from the sound of it, they'll be friends for life.

"We have similarities," Leftwich said. "He's just from the country part of Knoxville, Tennessee, and I'm from the city of Washington, D.C. We joke about it all the time.

"We joked on each other a lot. He's country man. It doesn't get any more country than that guy. The mix we had up there (at Marshall) was a wild mix. It was tough on our quarterbacks coach."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Attention D'Brick....

Jaguars DE Paul Spicer, the player who tore Chad Pennington's rotator cuff last year, sent a couple of messages to Jets rookie LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson.

"He's playing pretty well for a rookie," Spicer said. "But you ain't going to see a rookie be 'the man.' He's got a lot to learn. He's playing as good as a rookie can right now. I don't think he's going to be a really big power type guy. He's more a finesse type.

"[Today], I'm coming, however you want it," Spicer continued. "He's got to strap it up on Sunday and know that No. 95 is going to be on him. You're a man; I'm a man. Let's see who will be the better man."

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...