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Cimini- David Bowens article

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Monday, September 3rd 2007, 4:00 AM


The Jets signed David Bowens (l.) as a free agent, giving him a three-year, $6.1 million contract.


With flecks of gray in his hair, David Bowens might not seem like he fits the current trend on the Jets, who have adopted an out-with-the-old mode.

On Saturday, they released defensive linemen Bobby Hamilton and Kimo von Oelhoffen, both 36. Two weeks ago, they traded guard Pete Kendall, 34. All three players were strong influences in the locker room, oldies that helped keep the team humming last season.

Yes, it's a tough time to be a thirty-something on the Jets, but Bowens' gray belies his birth certificate: He only turned 30 on July 3. More importantly, he's still playing young. Even though he won't have a huge role on defense, he has a track record of maximizing limited opportunities, especially as a situational pass rusher. In the last three seasons, all with the Dolphins, he compiled 18 sacks.

"That's something I've been pretty good at in the last few years," Bowens said recently. "That's something I want to do here: Get sacks. The more sacks you can get, the more opportunities you have to cause fumbles and get the defense off the field. That's where I want to help."

The Jets signed Bowens as a free agent, giving him a three-year, $6.1 million contract, which seems like a lot for a player who was involved in only 14 tackles last season. But take a closer look: He made every play count.

"Pro Football Prospectus," a stats-related book compiled by FootballOutsiders.com, did a study on Bowens' performance last season and determined his value as a clutch player. In their statistics, he went 16-for-16 in recording "defeats," meaning every tackle, sack and pass break-up resulted in either a loss of yardage, a turnover or a stop on third down. The book says it was the first perfect score in its three-year history of the stat.

"When it came to sacks and big plays, Bowens was the equal of many of the league's best full-time starters in 2006," the book says.

It will be interesting to see how Eric Mangini gets Bowens on the field. He'll probably rotate with Shaun Ellis and Bryan Thomas as outside rushers in the third-down package, with Dewayne Robertson, Kenyon Coleman, Eric Hicks and maybe C.J. Mosley forming the inside rotation.

"As long as I'm in the equation somewhere, I'm fine," Bowens said.

Off the field, Bowens will rack up huge numbers - on the bowling alley. The son of Frank Williams, who competed on the Pro Bowlers' tour in the 1980s, Bowens carries a 221 average, with a personal best of 275. With a lot of avid bowlers on the team, he should fit right in.

"I'm ready," he said.

The Jets hope he bowls over quarterbacks, not just pins.

UP AND RUNNING: The Jets resume practice today. All eyes will be on RB Thomas Jones (strained calf), who hasn't practiced in three weeks. He intensified his rehab program last week and is expected to play in the opener Sunday against the Patriots.

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