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Wary of Winslow Jr.

Son of all-world tight end just hitting his stride with Browns


Newsday Staff Writer

October 28, 2006

Finally, Junior is making a name for himself.

Until this season, Kellen Winslow Jr. was known for being the namesake of a Hall of Fame NFL tight end and for squandering his own promising career because of recklessness off the field that resulted in a serious motorcycle accident.

"Now you see what all the expectations were about," Jets linebacker Victor Hobson said of the versatile and talented Browns tight end he'll have to deal with Sunday in Cleveland. "There's no way around that. I'm an outside linebacker and my job is the tight end. They move him around a lot, in regular tight-end setups and in the flex as a wide receiver. He can make it miserable for everybody."

It has taken a while for Winslow to contribute to the misery of defensive backs and linebackers on the pro level, but this has been his breakout season.

The University of Miami product was injured for most of his rookie season in 2004, catching only five passes for 50 yards after the Browns made him their first-round draft pick. The motorcycle accident wrecked his right knee, caused numerous internal injuries and forced him to miss all of the 2005 season. But he did the rehab and he's riding high now.

"He's explosive. He runs like a wide receiver, he catches the ball really well, whether it's in traffic or it's in space," Jets coach Eric Mangini said Friday. "He's got good run after the catch. All those qualities that you saw in college -- which were a little bit sidetracked by the delay that he had with the injuries -- they're there. He's extremely competitive on in-routes, out-routes. Obviously, you can see it in terms of the production and him leading the league in receptions for a tight end."

In six games for the Browns (1-5), Winslow has 33 catches for 317 yards and two touchdowns.

"Kellen has had a long road to where he's at right now, a long road to recovery," Browns quarterback Charlie Frye said. "The way he's playing now, you wouldn't even notice it. He's a hard worker, he loves the game, he studies the game and he goes out there on Sunday with a 'you can't cover me' attitude ... Everybody in the locker room and all the coaches know what he has done to get back on that field, so they have a lot of respect for him."

So does one of Winslow's former teammates at Miami, Jets middle linebacker Jona.than Vilma, who said Friday: "Good for him. He worked hard. He's finally getting games under his belt. I knew it would happen."

Vilma said Winslow is a handful to cover, adding: "He's quick like a receiver and big [6-4, 255] like a tight end." But respect and the bond all former Hurricanes seem to have is put aside when the whistle blows.

"You know it," Vilma said. "I'm used to it by now [because there are so many Miami players in the NFL]. When the game starts, it's just ball."


Jets at Cleveland

4:15 p.m.

TV: Ch. 2

Radio: WEPN (1050), WABC (770), WRCN (103.9)

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Ben's going boom

Yesterday morning, Eric Mangini raved about one of Ben Graham's punts in Thursday's practice.

"Ben Graham hit a punt that was impressive," Mangini said. "It looked like it fired out of a rocket ... 80 yards in the air."

Then, as if on cue, Graham boomed a few kicks. During one particular stretch, the Aussie booted a few punts into the field-goal netting from the 5-yard-line, and one flew so high that it went over the net before finally landing in a nearby soccer field.

The Jets' parking lot is in between their practice field and that soccer field. And it was quite a sight watching the punter search for the football in between numerous SUVs until somebody finally found it in the nearby field.

Even though Graham's 37.5-yard net average this season ranks just 14th in the NFL, Mangini sounded pleased with his special teams, specifically singling out the play of Kerry Rhodes and Brad Smith and praising returner Justin Miller.

"Overall we've really worked hard at it and made a lot of progress," Mangini said. "I'm happy with the contributions from a range of people there."

BIG TASK: Center Nick Mangold will have a "huge" challenge tomorrow in Cleveland. The rookie will have to block 6-5, 365-pound Ted Washington. Washington, who actually may be heavier, played for New England in 2003 while Mangini was there.

"It's definitely a big challenge," Mangini said of Washington. "Ted is a very good player, very experienced player. He's got great power, great size, understands blocking schemes, and it's just like the obstacles that D'Brickashaw (Ferguson) faces each week. He's a different style of pass rusher. (Mangold will) have to adjust and adapt." ... Laveranues Coles (calf) dressed but did not practice and is still listed as questionable for tomorrow's game. However, he is expected to play.

Ohm Youngmisuk

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Jerricho a 'gadget' player

Watching film, seeing success



When Jets wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery received an MP3 player as a gift last Christmas, he initially started to think about what videos and movies he could download.

He then wondered if he could load game film onto his new gadget. And ever since the Jets' video staff helped him do that, Cotchery has been watching almost nothing but game film on his music/video player.

Now, considering how much Cotchery has produced this season, Jets coach Eric Mangini might want to purchase MP3 players for all his players.

Cotchery has emerged as perhaps the Jets' most improved player, with 30 catches for 418 yards and three touchdowns. The 6-footer in his third year out of N.C. State has given the Jets a solid No. 2 receiver to go with Laveranues Coles.

"A guy that I'm continually impressed with is Jerricho," Mangini said yesterday. "He's a guy who really made his way as a special teams player and then slowly developed, got a few more opportunities, and he really took advantage of them at training camp. His run-blocking has been outstanding, his run after the catch, his toughness, his approach, his professionalism. I'm just really happy with the way he's developed."

Every week, Cotchery spends more than an hour a day watching film of the opposing team's secondary on his MP3 player. A few other Jets do the same, either watching video on their iPods, portable PlayStations or DVD players.

"I am definitely very open to anything with technology," Mangini said. "I think there is so much of that in terms of video games and things that players grow up with and different ways that you can get them the information. The more ways that you can get it to hit their brains, the better off we all are."

Cotchery feels the same way. After seeing action mostly on special teams under Herm Edwards, Cotchery spent last offseason working out in Arizona with trainers to improve his speed and strength.

For the first two days of training camp, Cotchery worked opposite Coles when Justin McCareins was placed on the physically-unable-to-perform list. And the 2004 fourth-round pick out of N.C. State hasn't relinquished that starting spot since.

"I think he is one of the best receivers out there right now," Coles said. "He is a great receiver in his own right. We see him day in and day out in practice and the plays he makes, everybody just shakes their head and says, 'Wow.' It was just a matter of him getting to the national stage and getting opportunities to play a little more and taking advantage of it."

Cotchery showed what Coles was talking about on his 71-yard touchdown reception against the Patriots earlier this season, a catch he made in between two New England defenders while somehow managing to keep his balance and not touch the ground.

Cotchery also has had the benefit of playing for wide receivers coach Noel Mazzone, who was Cotchery's offensive coordinator in college, where the receiver broke a few of Torry Holt's records.

In college, Cotchery also played on special teams before earning time at wide receiver. He has followed the same pattern with the Jets and is starting to have similar success. And for the rest of the season, you can be sure that his MP3 player won't be very far away.

"No matter where I'm at, I can pop it on," Cotchery said. "If I'm sitting around watching TV and nothing is really on, just pop it out. Anytime I have free time.

"The more you (prepare), the more and more the game slows down. You understand what the defense is trying to do to you, you understand a player's tendencies. It helps out a lot."

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Special teams big weapon for Jets

Saturday, October 28, 2006



HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- The ball came off Ben Graham's left foot and kept going up, so high that it cleared the netting about 10 feet above the top of the uprights, thus escaping the Jets' practice field.

Graham then briefly left the field Friday to look for the ball himself. Clearly, this is no prima donna.

But the still-unassuming manner of the Jets' second-year punter from Australia belies his confidence. In fact, a day earlier, he had a punt that traveled 80 yards in the air, which was enough to impress even coach Eric Mangini.

"It looked like it was fired out of a rocket," Mangini said.

Yet Graham didn't surprise himself.

"I can't say I did," he said. "It's one of those situations where I know what I expect out of myself. If it doesn't go 50 yards, well, then it is a surprise.

"If we were snapping the ball from the 2 and it landed in the other end zone, that would surprise me," he said. "It would surprise everyone."

Coming up with an 80-yard punt might be possible Sunday when the Jets visit Cleveland, that is when Graham has an expected 25-mph wind at his back.

Special teams could prove decisive, as the NFL's top two kickoff returners will be featured.

Cleveland's Joshua Cribbs leads the league with a 28.7-yard average, while the Jets' Justin Miller is second at 28.0. Miller's 103-yard touchdown against Indianapolis is the longest kickoff return this season in the NFL.

"What I like about the way [Miller] runs is that it's so aggressive, and it's physical and it's tough and it's attacking," Mangini said. "He's a returner, but he's taking the fight to the opposition."

Miller believes he can take any kickoff the distance.

"You go out there every time trying to score," he said. "It kind of carries over from my return team. They go out there with an aggressive nature. They try to make every block that they can and give me the opportunity to return."

Slowing down Cribbs will be tough. The Jets rank 24th in the NFL in where opponents start after kickoffs. The average Jet opponents' drive has started at the 27.3-yard line.

That's slightly better than Mike Nugent's rookie season through seven games, when opponents were averaging a start at 27.9 yards. The placekicker has two touchbacks in 2006 after recording one in 2005.

Nugent would like to get touchbacks, but said, "If I can just get a good hang time and good placement and a good spot inside the 5, it gives our kickoff [coverage] team a chance.

"They've been doing a real good job. I can do a better job. Placement has been decent but I can do a better job of distance. That's one thing I've been working on the past few weeks."

Graham, too, has had good placement, as he is tied for third in the NFL with 12 punts inside the 20. But he is 15th in net with a 37.5 average. However, he has had net punts of 60 and 66 yards negated by penalties. He averaged a 37.9-yard net in 2005.

He said "I probably haven't quite lived up" to expectations.

"But in general," he said, "what I'm trying to do every time I get the ball in my hands is to put the team in the best possible position. More often than not, I've been able to do that."

BAKER FINED: Tight end Chris Baker was fined $5,000 by the league for unnecessary roughness for his late hit on Detroit cornerback Dre' Bly on Sunday. Baker received a 15-yard penalty in the game for the hit.

E-mail: pelzman@northjersey.com

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Regarding the first article, I was discussing the Winslow/NYJ matchup with Ham last night. He thinks it is a mismatch for a LB to cover him, and that a safety (Rhodes) should be on him.

The Edwards and Winslow matchups are a concern, and a key to the game imo.

The Jets need to contain them, especially on third down.

The Browns have been as awful as the Jets on stopping the rush, but the Jets have been even worse statistically than the Browns against the passing game.

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Browns vs. Jets

Saturday, October 28, 2006

From a Canton paper......


Sunday, 4:15 p.m.

Cleveland Browns Stadium

TV Channel 19


THE PLAYERS Former MAC QBs Chad Pennington and Charlie Frye square off in a battle of overachieving 4-3 team vs. 1-5 underachiever. Pennington is second in the AFC with 1,450 passing yards and fifth with a 91.3 rating. Hard to believe Butch Davis once laughed at the thought Pennington was in Tim Couch's league.

THE EDGE Jets ... Pennington, 30 years old and seven pro seasons deep, runs a game the way the Browns hope the 25-year-old Frye will.


THE PLAYERS It takes two Jets to replace Curtis Martin. Pitt product Kevan Barlow, an ex-49er, has scored five touchdowns. Rookie Round 4 pick Leon Washington (Florida State) has out-rushed Barlow 346 yards to 236 and is coming off a 129-yard, two-TD game against the Lions. Reuben Droughns has rushed less than 35 yards in three of his five starts.

THE EDGE Jets ... The Browns have gotten far too little from Droughns and almost nothing from August sensation Jerome Harrison.


THE PLAYERS The Browns could have drafted Laveranues Coles in Round 2 in 2000 but preferred Dennis Northcutt. Coles leads Northcutt 566 yards to 108 in 2006 yards and 6,167-3,318 in career yards. Coles is a third-down crowd killer. The Jets have gotten a breakthrough from 2004 Round 4 pick Jerricho Cotchery (30 catches, 418 yards).

THE EDGE Jets ... Browns ace Braylon Edwards had 226 yards in Games 2 and 3 but has just 105 yards in three games since.


THE PLAYERS This isn't how the expansion-era Browns do it: The Jets spent two 2006 first-round picks on O-linemen who are starting. Left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson (No. 4 overall) needs to get heavier and isn't yet dominant. Nick Mangold (No. 29 overall, Ohio State) already is playing as well as half the league's starting centers. The soft spot is right guard Brandon Moore.

THE EDGE Browns ... The veterans are fired up over Jeff Davidson's promotion to coordinator; huge Kelly Butler, who replaces Ryan Tucker at right tackle, has enough experience.


THE PLAYERS Shaun Ellis, a high first-round pick in 2000, sacked Peyton Manning twice in a recent game. Dewayne Robertson, a No. 4 overall pick in 2004, hasn't lived up to his draft status. The other tackle is Kimo von Oelhoffen, who at 35 must rely on old tricks. The Jets have just 10 sacks, half what they have allowed.

THE EDGE Jets ... But the Browns trio of Orpheus Roye, Ted Washington and Alvin McKinley is competent if the Cleveland offense can give it a rest.


THE PLAYERS Victor Hobson, Braylon Edwards' former Michigan teammate, has emerged as a pass-rushing pest. He has just two sacks but is frequently in the QB's face. Inside linebacker Jonathan Vilma is a 2004 Round pick who reached a Pro Bowl last season and has been all over the field this year. Suspect depth is the problem.

THE EDGE Browns ... They rank 29th in run defense, one spot lower than the Jets, but have emerging players in Kamerion Wimbley and D'Qwell Jackson.


THE PLAYERS Safety Kerry Rhodes was a Round 4 pick out of Louisville last year who has brought the kind of thunder the Browns have yet to receive from Brodney Pool, drafted two rounds higher. Pool is behind strong safety Sean Jones, who might be the Browns' team MVP. The bummer of losing Gary Baxter is offset by the return from an ankle injury of cornerback Leigh Bodden.

THE EDGE Browns ... Cleveland's tall receivers could give short corners Andre Dyson and Justin Miller (both 5-foot-10) a long day.


THE PLAYERS The Browns' Joshua Cribbs and the Jets' Justin Miller rank one-two in the NFL in kick return average. Cribbs is a steadier threat. Subtract Miller's longest return and he is averaging 24.9 yards. Subtract Cribbs' longest effort and he is averaging 26.9. Ex-Buckeye Mike Nugent, a Round 2 pick last year, seems past his struggles as the Jets' placekicker.

THE EDGE Browns ... Last year's penalty plague has been cured; the only thing they're missing is for Cribbs to take the fear of fumbling out of punt returns.


THE COACHES Romeo Crennel, New England's defensive coordinator from 2001-04, squares off against his former underling and the man who replaced him with the Patriots in 2005, Eric Mangini. Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is only a few years older than his quarterback. Crennel, 59, is nearly a quarter-century older than Mangini.

THE EDGE Browns ... The perception of Crennel would be so much different if he'd started the year with Jeff Davidson running his offense and a schedule as soft as Mangini's.


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Regarding the first article, I was discussing the Winslow/NYJ matchup with Ham last night. He thinks it is a mismatch for a LB to cover him, and that a safety (Rhodes) should be on him.

The Edwards and Winslow matchups are a concern, and a key to the game imo.

The Jets need to contain them, especially on third down.

The Browns have been as awful as the Jets on stopping the rush, but the Jets have been even worse statistically than the Browns against the passing game.

we have to have some long drives that eat up the clock and keep the Browns defense on the field-that's the best way to defend them-don't let em' play

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