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Jets News for Wed. 8/29/07


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Jets' Harris a big hit

BY KRISTIE ACKERT

DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER

Wednesday, August 29th 2007, 4:00 AM

One of the first things the Jets' veteran linebackers told David Harris when he got to training camp was that the coaches are always watching. The rookie felt their eyes on him, evaluating him on and off the field.

"That was one big difference from college and the pros," the second-round pick out of Michigan said. "The coaches are always watching and learning about you. They are always watching you."

Heading into the final preseason game tomorrow night in Philadelphia, Harris has shown his coaches and teammates a lot. The Jets traded up 16 spots in the draft to take Harris at No.47, so he came in with the expectations that he would be able to help the Jets shore up their defense in the second year of the 3-4 scheme.

So far, he has looked like a natural fit for the Jets' plans.

"I like what David's doing," Eric Mangini said. "He does a nice job of going up and taking on the guards. He's got a good physical presence against those guys, but yet he's fluid in space which I like."

Harris' natural abilities have stood out in the preseason, and he has also shown a growing understanding of the defense. Making the transition from the middle linebacker in Michigan's 4-3 defense to an inside linebacker with the Jets has Harris relearning his instincts.

"It's a lot different," Harris said. "There are a lot more checks and adjustments. We are in a two-gap system now, so you have to be able to go down and punch the guard, be thick on him and be able to fall back into any of the gaps."

The 6-2, 243-pound Harris has shown the tools and fundamentals to do that.

He also comes in with some pedigree. A second team All-American, Harris led the Wolverines in tackles the last two seasons on a defense that led the nation against the run. The Wolverines allowed 43.38 rushing yards per game, the lowest in Division I-A since 1993. That experience is something the Jets, who ranked 24th against the run last season, can use.

"The coaches are always watching and looking to make the team better," Harris said. "I have to work hard. You got to watch your back because you don't know who is coming behind you."

ON GUARD? In a surprise move, the Ravens cut left guard Keydrick Vincent. Even though the Jets have a hole at up the position after trading Pete Kendall, as of yesterday afternoon they had not expressed interest in the seven-year veteran who had started 21 games for Baltimore....The Jets' Sack Exchange - Mark Gastineau, Joe Klecko, Marty Lyons and Abdul Salaam - along with owner Woody Johnson will ring the opening bell of the Stock Exchange at 9:30 a.m. today to celebrate the start of the football season. ... Jets will honor Wayne Chrebet, who retired after the 2005 season, at halftime of the Sept. 23 game against the Dolphins....LB Matt Chatham (foot) was placed on the physically unable to perform list, meaning he must miss a minimum of six games.

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MANGINI: JONES OK FOR OPENER

By DAN MARTIN

August 29, 2007 -- Thomas Jones continues to improve from his calf strain and did some light drills yesterday, but he won't be in a game again until the start of the regular season.

Eric Mangini said he doesn't know exactly how the lack of preseason plays will impact the Jets running back, but the coach doesn't seem concerned.

"Each guy is different," Mangini said. "With veteran guys who have that experience to draw from, they've got a real edge over a young guy [who] had been hurt in camp and then come back, because they haven't seen as many things."

Because Jones is coming off two straight seasons in which he gained more than 1,200 yards in each, Mangini said he doesn't expect the 29-year-old to be hurt by the inactivity when the Jets open against the Patriots on Sept. 9.

"He's been through a lot of games," Mangini said. "He's been through a lot of situations and he's very active in meetings. We're pretty comfortable with the combination of his experience, what he's been doing in the meetings, and his ability to come back and contribute effectively."

Nick Mangold said he doesn't believe Jones' absence will affect the offensive line, either.

"It doesn't matter who's behind us," the center said. "You block the same. You don't look back there to see who's running. We're confident whenever he's back there, he'll be fine."

*

Tomorrow's final preseason game, against the Eagles, should go a long way in clearing up the backup QB situation. Kellen Clemens has solidified the No. 2 spot, but either Marques Tuiasosopo or Brad Smith could be named third-string.

"I think I've shown I'm capable of operating this offense," Tuiasosopo said.

But he's up against Smith, who also can be used as a receiver and punt returner.

"That's still a decision for them to make," Smith said. "I know I've done all I can do. But I don't really look at all that."

*

Curtis Martin's locker remains virtually untouched, despite the fact he retired last month. Mangini, asked why, said, "Because he's Curtis. Curtis still has a presence in the building. He'll always have a locker in Jets' fans hearts."

GM Mike Tannenbaum announced that LB Matt Chatham (foot) was moved to the reserve/PUP (physically unable to perform) list. Chatham hasn't practiced all training camp.

The Sack Exchange will reunite today to ring the opening bell at the American Stock Exchange. Mark Gastineau, Joe Klecko, Marty Lyons and Abdul Salaam will be joined by owner Woody Johnson to commemorate the opening of the NFL season.

The Jets will honor Wayne Chrebet with a halftime ceremony when they play host to Miami on Sept. 23. . . . The team's Kickoff Luncheon at Cipriani Downtown Restaurant is today. It helps raise funds for various charities.

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REVIS COVERS HIS BASES

By DAN MARTIN

August 29, 2007 -- Darrelle Revis wasn't all that familiar with his new head coach before he finally reported to Jets training camp after a prolonged holdout.

"I really didn't know anything about him," Revis said of Eric Mangini. "I had no idea he was that intelligent. That's the great thing about him. He knows every technique of every player on every play. He's taught me a lot already, one-on-one.

"He's a genius," Revis added with a smile.

The Jets soon will find out how much the cornerback has been able to absorb during his shortened training camp. He'll have just tomorrow's preseason finale in Philadelphia before the regular season opens against the Patriots on Sept. 9.

Though Revis said he's been anxious prior to every game he's played since high school, you might think he's a bit more apprehensive as an inexperienced NFL rookie. He said that's not the case.

"Everybody's nervous," Revis said. "But it goes away after the first play."

It obviously did against the Giants on Saturday, when Revis was solid. But with little more than a week to go before the season opener, the first-rounder has additional work to do.

"There were examples . . . of things that have come up through camp that you wish he had seen and he hasn't," Mangini said. "And that's just where we are. But overall, I like what he did, especially considering how much time he's been here."

For his part, however, Revis said he doesn't think he would feel much differently at this point even if he had reported on time.

"It was going to come either way, whether I came in early or came in late," Revis said of his NFL debut. "And no matter what I did, I'd still be learning."

One of the things Mangini said Revis needed to improve was covering routes, something that occurred on a play during practice Monday.

"He had done a nice job at the line of scrimmage and the receiver was able to gain back the ground that Darrelle had won and run the route successfully," Mangini said. "If you understand exactly where to be in each position (on a route), you've got a great chance to be a really good man-to-man cover corner."

That is what the Jets expected when they traded up to select Revis out of Pittsburgh with the 14th pick in the first round. He continues to try to make up for lost time.

"I'm reading up on everything until right before I go to bed," Revis said. "That's what you have to do if you want to play, especially if you're a rookie. It's not like I'm a 10-year vet. This whole year I'll be on a learning curve. It's going to be a whirlwind."

How Revis survives that whirlwind could, to a significant extent, determine how good the Jets' secondary will be.

"If I don't keep getting better, I'll be in trouble," Revis said. "That's why this game (in Philadelphia) is so important. I still need to get used to the mental aspect of the pro game. The closer we get to the regular season, the more I'll be able to see what it's like."

dan.martin@nypost.com

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Jets notebook

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Vincent a possibility?

The Ravens waived guard Keydrick Vincent, a seven-year veteran, on Tuesday. Vincent, who started 12 games last year, underwent successful surgery for a sports hernia in the off-season. But he lost his job because of a youth movement.

Vincent's agent, Ken Zuckerman, said Tuesday a "couple of teams" already were interested, but the Jets weren't one of them. Zuckerman indicated the Jets could be a possibility, although there has been no contact with them thus far. Vincent was scheduled to make $1.6 million this season, $100,000 less than what Pete Kendall was supposed to make from the Jets.

The Jets traded the disgruntled Kendall, who had been seeking a $1 million raise, to Washington last week.

Jets will honor Chrebet

The Jets announced Tuesday they will honor Garfield native Wayne Chrebet at halftime of the Sept. 23 home game against Miami. The wide receiver, who played from 1995-2005, had 580 receptions, second to Don Maynard in team history.

"Wayne Chrebet was a one-of-a-kind player," Jets president Jay Cross said in a statement. "For 11 seasons, he represented this team with class and dignity. His skill was matched only by his big heart and his unflinching dedication to his team and the game of football."

Chatham on the shelf

The Jets moved linebacker Matt Chatham from the active/physically-unable-to-perform list to the reserve/PUP list. This means that Chatham, who had off-season foot surgery and has not been able to practice during the preseason, will miss at least the first six games of the regular season.

Jets in Manhattan today

The team will hold its annual kickoff luncheon today at Cipriani Wall Street to benefit the New York Jets Foundation and the Alliance for Lupus Research. Also today, owner Woody Johnson will ring the opening bell of the American Stock Exchange alongside the four members of the Jets' famed New York Sack Exchange -- Mark Gastineau, Joe Klecko, Marty Lyons and Abdul Salaam.

-- J.P. Pelzman

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Harris fitting into the 3-4

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

By J.P. PELZMAN

STAFF WRITER

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- With 75 players still on the Jets' roster, their locker room has been sectioned into two parts. The main room leads to a smaller one reserved for all the rookies, the draft picks with pedigrees and the free agents just hoping to make a name for themselves.

The biggest difference is that it seems to be about 10 degrees or so colder in the rookie locker room.

"It's always freezing back here," David Harris said, "but that's one thing you've got to get used to."

No problem, because the second-round pick from Michigan quickly has shown he has the potential to bring the heat.

A case in point occurred Saturday night, when on one play, the inside linebacker demonstrated why the Jets traded a draft pick and moved up 16 spots to select him.

The Giants faced a third-and-10 at the Jets' 17 in the second quarter, and tried a screen pass to running back Reuben Droughns.

Nothing doing.

In fact, less than nothing doing as Harris read the play perfectly and dropped Droughns for a 5-yard loss, forcing the Giants to kick a field goal.

It was the kind of play Jonathan Vilma used to make when he was a rookie and the Jets ran a 4-3 defense.

But now the Jets are using a 3-4, and while it still doesn't really seem suited for Vilma, it apparently fits Harris perfectly. He has 11 tackles in three preseason games.

"The coaches did a really good job of getting us aware of that," Harris said of the screen pass.

"That's one of their tendencies when they're in third down and long. We were in man coverage. He was my man. I saw the screen setting up and made the play."

"I like what David's doing," coach Eric Mangini said. "He does a nice job of going up and taking on the guards. He's got a good physical presence against those guys, but yet he's fluid in space which I like. You look for that with the inside linebacker's spot -- to be able to have the ability to go hit the guy with some pop [and] power and block out.

"[but] you don't want that to be the only strength," Mangini added, "and now when you've got to go cover a guy man-to-man or drop to a deep part of the field, you can't get it done."

While acknowledging Harris' suitability as a 3-4 inside linebacker, some draft forecasters questioned his ability to play in space. Plays like the one against Droughns show he can do it well.

"I don't pay attention to what people say," Harris said. "I just try to go out and do my thing. I feel comfortable [in space].

"It's part of being a linebacker."

Harris played in a 4-3 system his final two seasons at Michigan, although the Wolverines did run the 3-4 when Harris was a sophomore.

"It's a lot different," he said of the 3-4. "There are a lot more checks and adjustments."

So it's helped Harris that he's been reunited with former Michigan defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Jim Herrmann, who left Michigan after the 2005 season to become the Jets' linebackers coach.

Herrmann also recruited Harris to Michigan.

"He knows a lot about the game of football," Harris said of Herrmann. "It makes it that much easier when you have a previous relationship with a guy [when you're] coming into a new system."

A new system for Harris, but one in which he often looks like a veteran.

E-mail: pelzman@northjersey.com

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Clemens can continue stellar preseason tomorrow

BY TOM ROCK

tom.rock@newsday.com

August 29, 2007

Eric Mangini recalled watching a young Tom Brady stay late after practices in New England. Unable to get the reps to keep sharp during the "official" workouts during the regular season, Brady, then a backup to Drew Bledsoe, would spend extra time working with receiver David Givens. Once the regular season starts, the focus shifts from growth and development to the next opponent, and it's almost impossible for a second-string quarterback to scratch his way into a jam-packed schedule.

Jets backup quarterback Kellen Clemens did much the same thing last season as a rookie. But he's had a stellar preseason, throwing for four touchdowns (the most in the NFL), running for another, and compiling a passer rating of 112.3. Yet if things go according to plan for the Jets, he'll vanish from public viewing after tomorrow night's preseason finale against the Eagles in Philadelphia.

After a summer in the spotlight, nipping at the heels of starter Chad Pennington, Clemens will go back to his post-practice snaps, scout-team impersonations, and finding time to stay at the ready.

"This will be the last chance that I know that I have a pretty good chance of playing," Clemens said yesterday to a throng of reporters, like a bear taking his last whiff of late fall before hibernation. "You want to go out there, hopefully finish strong, and put on a good showing."

Mangini said he has been pleased with Clemens' work and his development from last season. And maybe next year, he'll be in a position to challenge for the starting job. But going into the Sept. 9 opener, the Jets insist they do not have a quarterback controversy. What they do have is a quarterback comfort level.

For the first time in years, the potential loss of the starting signal caller (through injury or otherwise) would not be followed by a franchise-wide panic. The Jets didn't even have this much confidence in Pennington when he was backing up Vinny Testaverde.

Mangini would not confirm if Clemens would see significant snaps against the Eagles - "I think he has a good opportunity to see some time," the coach said of the traditional tuneup rule of resting starters - but he did say he likes the balance Clemens has shown between long throws and short touch passes.

"I've seen guys that have those booming arms and they can't hit the check-down because everything is a rocket," Mangini said. "You need to have the touch combined with the arm strength, and without the two of them, you're a little off."

Of course, Pennington and Clemens are not the only quarterbacks on the roster. Tomorrow's game should be an opportunity for the Jets to take a good look at Brad Smith, as well as Marques Tuiasosopo, who has seen very sparse playing time in preseason games.

"This is an important viewing for us," Mangini said.

Tuiasosopo could be playing for a spot on the final roster. If the Jets decide to keep three "traditional" quarterbacks, he'll likely be the No.3. If they decide to maximize their roster and use Smith as their do-everything-including-third-string-quarterback guy, Tuiasosopo could be cut when the roster is pared to 53 on Saturday.

"With the reps that I have had in practice and in games, I think I have shown that I am capable of operating this offense," Tuiasosopo said. "I feel like I control what I do when I get opportunities."

For Tuiasosopo, Clemens, and even Brad Smith the Quarterback, tomorrow could be the last chance to take advantage of those opportunities. After that, it'll be back to those after-practice sessions, trying to stay sharp just in case, and working toward making a bigger push next preseason.

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Revis was used in many roles against Giants

BY TOM ROCK

tom.rock@newsday.com

August 29, 2007

Eric Mangini said he was happy that Darrelle Revis got a chance to see action from a few different perspectives in Saturday's preseason game against the Giants. At various times he was lined up as a cornerback and sometimes he covered the slot receiver. All of those looks gave the rookie a more rounded base of knowledge after missing the first three weeks of the preseason.

"There were examples of things that have come up through camp that you wish he had seen, and he hasn't," Mangini said. "But we are able to coach off those and help teach off those."

While Revis has been cramming for cornerback, he's also taking reps on special teams as a punt and kickoff returner. The rookie said he doesn't have to spend as much time studying those roles, however, since they come more naturally and are more similar to what he did in college.

"I just think when Coach wants me to go in there and catch a punt or return a kickoff, I have to go do it," Revis said. "When they throw me in there, I have to go do my job."

History lessons

The Jets have already said that they will wear throwback Titans jerseys this season, but yesterday they announced two more nods to their past. Owner Woody Johnson and members of the Jets Sack Exchange - Mark Gastineau, Joe Klecko, Marty Lyons and Abdul Salaam - will ring the opening bell at the American Stock Exchange this morning. The Jets also announced that former wide receiver Wayne Chrebet will be honored at halftime of the Dolphins game on Sept. 23.

Jet streams

The Jets were one of several teams to inquire about guard Keydrick Vincent, who was released by the Ravens. Vincent's agent, Kenneth Zuckerman, said the 29-year-old will probably not make a decision about signing until the weekend ... The Jets moved LB Matt Chatham to the Reserve/PUP list, meaning he will not be eligible to practice until a three-week window that starts after the sixth week of the season. Chatham (foot) has not practiced at all this preseason ... Thomas Jones (calf) was the only active player not to practice, though he continues to progress with his rehab.

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McCareins realistic about strong preseason numbers

By ANDREW GROSS

THE JOURNAL NEWS

(Original publication: August 29, 2007)

HEMPSTEAD - The numbers are gaudy, but seven years in the NFL has taught Jets wide receiver Justin McCareins not to put too much emphasis on preseason statistics.

"I feel confident in my ability," the 28-year-old McCareins said yesterday. "Hopefully, I'll get some more opportunities when it really counts."

McCareins has six catches for 146 yards in the Jets' first three preseason games, a 24.3-yard average that includes a 42-yard reception in a 31-16 win over the Falcons, a 35-yard catch in a 37-20 loss to the Vikings and a 45-yarder in Saturday's 20-12 victory over the Giants.

All three of those connections were with backup quarterback Kellen Clemens.

The Jets' preseason finale is tomorrow at Philadelphia at 7:30 p.m.

"Even though you can show signs of greatness in the preseason, you can go out and have a horrible regular season," the 6-foot-2, 215-pound McCareins said. "I know it doesn't mean too much. It's more about a feeling in the preseason and not putting too much emphasis on wins and losses and statistics."

The wide receivers represent the deepest and, most likely, the most talented Jets unit. And after a season of uncertainty in 2006, McCareins again is a key part of the rotation.

"His attitude when he's on the field, he doesn't accept failure," rookie wide receiver Chansi Stuckey said. "Whenever something goes wrong, he wants to fix it. Any rep he's getting, he goes at it hard, whether he's getting the ball or not."

A starter his first two seasons with the Jets after playing three years with the Tennessee Titans, McCareins had just 23 catches for 347 yards last season, his lowest output since 2002. His year started badly when he failed coach Eric Mangini's conditioning test, briefly landing him on the physically-unable-to-perform list.

And though he's still the third wide receiver behind Jerricho Cotchery and Laveranues Coles, McCareins has had his number called much more frequently this preseason.

"We've shown some good things, but we also have a lot of things we need to tighten up before it counts," McCareins said. "I think, in terms of practice - not talking about the games - just in terms of our offseason, our work and our training camp, it has been the best I've ever been part of as a team."

In some respects, it's a stunning turnaround from the end of last season, when McCareins said he wanted to play for a team in 2007 that wanted him.

At the time, it sounded like that would not include the Jets.

Instead, McCareins currently represents the Jets' most consistent deep threat.

"I think the receiver group, as a whole, has done a really good job," Mangini said. "I've been pleased with the versatility. I really like the chemistry that those guys have as a group. I like the way that they push each other."

Notes: The Ravens cut guard Keydrick Vincent yesterday, but while the seven-year veteran has already drawn interest from several teams, the Jets so far are not among them. Vincent is not likely to sign with a new team until after the rosters are cut to 53 Saturday. ... The Jets will honor retired wide receiver Wayne Chrebet with a ceremony at halftime of their game against the Miami Dolphins Sept. 23 at the Meadowlands. ... The Jets moved linebacker Matt Chatham from the physically-unable-to-perform/active list to the PUP/reserve list. He is not eligible to be activated until Week 7. ... The "New York Sack Exchange" - the Jets' early-1980s front four of Mark Gastineau, Joe Klecko, Marty Lyons and Abdul Salaam - will ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange this morning along with Jets owner Woody Johnson. CNBC will carry it live at 9:30. ... Mangini would not reveal his quarterback rotation for tomorrow night's game in Philadelphia, but second-year pro Clemens is expected to start. ... Mangini, on why retired running back Curtis Martin still has a locker at Hofstra. "Because he's Curtis," Mangini said. "Curtis still has a presence in the building. And I love having Curtis around. He'll always have a locker in the Jets fans' hearts."

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Collins has super thoughts

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

BY DAVE HUTCHINSON

Star-Ledger Staff

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Jets rookie free-agent cornerback Manny Collins is playing in the Super Bowl. Well, sort of.

"This is the last game before the final cuts, so I have to make sure this is my best game ever," Collins said yesterday. "This is my Super Bowl."

The Jets play the Eagles tomorrow in Philadelphia in their preseason finale. Neither team is expected to play their regulars long, if at all, and rookies and free agents will see the bulk of the action.

Collins, a late signee, has turned some heads with his glove-tight coverage and competitiveness. Generously listed at 5-10, 195 pounds, Collins is a bit small. Giants quarterback Eli Manning took advantage of that Saturday night by throwing a 5-yard fade route for a touchdown to 6-5 wide receiver Anthony Mix.

"This is the NFL," Collins said. "It's a lot of competition out there. People make plays. People make good catches. That's part of the game. ... I'm just taking my steps everyday to try to be the best I can be. The coach is giving me an opportunity so I'm just trying to get better every day."

Collins, who is a candidate for the practice squad, has been a factor on special teams as well, tallying four tackles in three games.

"I'm just trying to take advantage of every shot I get, special teams, offense, defense, wherever the coaches want to put me," Collins said. "I'll even be a place-kicker if they want."

The Ravens yesterday released veteran left guard Keydrick Vincent, but the Jets haven't shown any interest. Vincent, a seventh-year pro, started the past two seasons for the Ravens at right guard and was working at left guard in training camp this summer. He was expendable because Baltimore has a surplus of guards after taking Ben Grubbs with their first-round pick.

"I've been in conversation with a couple of teams but we're not going to do anything until the weekend or early next week," said Vincent's agent, Ken Zuckerman.

The Jets have an interesting decision to make at quarterback. Do they make Brad Smith their third quarterback or keep ex-Raider Marques Tuiasosopo as their third guy?

Tuiasosopo has had a solid camp despite getting limited reps. He and Smith are expected to see significant action against the Eagles.

The Jets placed linebacker Matt Chatham on the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform list with a foot injury, meaning he'll have to miss the first six games of the season.

The Jets will hold a Wayne Chrebet Day on Sept. 23 against the Dolphins, honoring the former standout wide receiver during a halftime ceremony. He finished his 11-year career ranked second on the Jets' all-time list with 580 receptions and third with 7,365 yards receiving.

Recently retired Jets RB Curtis Martin's full locker stall, complete with jerseys, pants and shoes, remains in the team's locker room at the Hofstra University training complex.

"Because he's Curtis," said Mangini, smiling, when asked why. "Curtis still has a presence in the building. And I love having Curtis around. He'll always have a locker in Jets fans' hearts."

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Ferguson must provide blind faith

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

BY DAVE HUTCHINSON

Star-Ledger Staff

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- It's one thing to have a rookie left guard who played left tackle at Division 1-AA Nichols State on the starting line. But it's quite another to have him playing beside a second-year left tackle who still is trying to gain his footing in the NFL.

Welcome to Jets quarterback Chad Pennington's world.

That world came crashing down against the Giants on Saturday night when rookie left guard Jacob Bender and second-year left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson each allowed a sack. Pennington, it seemed, was under duress all night and most of the pressure came from his blind side.

With the trade of disgruntled veteran guard Pete Kendall to the Redskins last week, Ferguson now finds himself in the role of a teacher while still learning himself.

"Bender has a lot of great talent," Ferguson said. "I was a rookie last year, so I know some of the things rookies go through. I played last year and I thought I had some success and he'll have success as well. It's about building chemistry and time does that."

Ferguson, drafted fourth overall out of Virginia, had an uneven season as a rookie. He looked great at times, holding his own against the likes of Dwight Freeney of the Colts and Richard Seymour of the Patriots. He also struggled, allowing three sacks to the Bills' Aaron Schobel.

Overall, Ferguson yielded 10 sacks last season, according to STATS, INC.

After the Giants game, the Jets called former NFL standout Lomas Brown and asked him to return to their Hofstra University training complex on Monday to help out the offensive line. Brown, a seven-time Pro Bowler, worked with the unit for 10 days early in training camp, focusing on Ferguson. The pair have similar body types and Ferguson said he has patterned his game after Brown.

"I think I've made a lot of progress throughout camp," Ferguson said. "I had an opportunity to really challenge myself and I got the chance to work on the things I felt were problematic last year. Early in the preseason, you get to go against different guys and you get a quick chance to really see what you need to tighten up on and you can fine-tune your technique. It's been nothing to cause alarm, though."

Because the 6-6, 305-pound Ferguson is long and lean, technique is his ticket to stardom.

His footwork, hand placement on the opposing pass rusher, leverage and a good game-plan are all building blocks to his success. Ferguson's weight dropped to the low 290s last season, which was cause for concern. He appears comfortable at his current weight and that may be all his frame can handle without losing athleticism.

Surprisingly, Osi Umenyiora of the Giants beat Ferguson on an outside move. The bull rush (when a defender goes straight ahead and tries to overpower his opponent) is what gives Ferguson the most trouble. He's a solid, if unspectacular, run blocker.

"The first thing I like about 'Brick' is he's a great listener," Brown said. "The other thing is his intangibles: he's long, he's lean. He's similar to me in body styles. And his attitude. He has an attitude that he wants to get better."

And he has.

"I think 'Brick' has come a long way," said Jets defensive end/linebacker David Bowens, a former Dolphin who played against Ferguson last season. "Not being one of the heavier tackles, I think his technique has come a long way. ... He has great feet and those long arms that allow him to keep his leverage. This game is all about leverage. If you see a good block or a good tackle, it's all about leverage."

And technique.

Dave Hutchinson may be reached at

dhutchinson@starledger.com

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