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Thursday, September 6, 2007 Bergen record

Inside info?

The Jets signed a guard to their practice squad Wednesday, but he might not necessarily have been signed to increase team depth at that position.

Mike Elgin, a seventh-round draft pick who played guard and center at Iowa, had been released by New England on Saturday. The Jets, of course, face the Patriots in three days.

The Jets also have hosted recent visits from safety Artrell Hawkins and wide receiver Reche Caldwell, both of whom were also cut by New England. The Jets are very deep at both positions, however.

Coach Eric Mangini deadpanned that the conversations involved mostly "general chit-chat."

"It's not the first time that Eric has done it," New England quarterback Tom Brady said on a conference call Wednesday, "so I guess we're used to it by now. I think that's part of the process of the league and you just deal with it. ... Coaches leave and players leave and you have to try and stay one step ahead. They have every right to do that, taking advantage of everything that you can."

Elgin filled the last spot on the Jets' eight-player practice squad.

Moss appears ready

New England wide receiver Randy Moss missed all four preseason games with a hamstring injury, but wasn't even listed on the Patriots' injury report Wednesday. Brady said: "He's been banged up, so I think we'll see when he gets out there what he is capable of doing. I haven't seen him in awhile, so we'll see."

Playing hurt

The Jets listed five players as practicing on a limited basis Wednesday: CB Andre Dyson (foot), RB Thomas Jones (calf), CB Justin Miller (hamstring), RG Brandon Moore (shoulder) and FS Eric Smith (hamstring). All are expected to play.

Chad Pennington also turned up on the report with a pelvis injury, but practiced full. Brady was listed on New England's report with a shoulder injury, but also practiced full. He has been listed as having a shoulder problem many times on previous Patriots' injury reports.

-- J.P. Pelzman


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Jones' quick step back

Thursday, September 6, 2007



HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- A crowd was closing in on him, but Thomas Jones flashed the kind of move that helped propel him to more than 1,200 yards rushing in each of the last two seasons. Just like that, he was gone.

OK, so it wasn't against a bunch of defensive linemen on the practice field. It was in the Jets' locker room, where Jones was avoiding cameras, microphones and notepads for the moment so he could take care of another commitment.

Still, after Jones had been sidelined for most of the preseason with a strained right calf, any glimpse of a quick first step was a welcome sight for the Jets.

Jones practiced on a limited basis Wednesday, but pronounced himself ready to go Sunday when the Jets host New England in the season opener for both teams.

"I feel a lot better than I've felt the last few weeks of training camp," Jones said.

But the question remains of how effective he will be.



Football writer J.P. Pelzman tackles all the behind-the-scenes stories about your New York Jets.

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Jones eventually did return to face the media, but only after doing a conference call with New England reporters, which was the other commitment he was dashing off to.

Jones, who was acquired from Chicago in an off-season trade, rushed for 27 yards and a touchdown on eight carries against Atlanta in the preseason opener Aug. 10, two days before he suffered the calf injury while planting his leg during a blocking drill. The injury denied Jones a chance to get more practice and game time running behind the Jets' offensive line.

But he doesn't see that as a problem.

"I've been here the whole off-season," Jones said, in his first extensive comments since being injured, "so I worked with them a lot during [voluntary minicamp], minicamp and training camp."

"I've played a lot of football," he added. "I'm going into my eighth year, so I've put in a lot of games and a lot of situations, so it's nothing new. I've done a lot of conditioning and studying of the playbook, so I'm not at a disadvantage."

Coach Eric Mangini also thinks Jones' experience will be a benefit, and indicated that he thinks it's more important for a young running back to get comfortable with his offensive line than a veteran.

"The one thing that's different," Mangini said, "is when you have a veteran player who's been exposed to multiple systems, is their experience. The things they can draw on going into a game without that level of practice is much better than if you had a young guy who is in the same situation, a high draft pick running back that had been out of camp."

"Unfortunately, I had the injury early in camp," Jones said, "and missed the last [three] preseason games. But I did a lot of conditioning and I watched a lot of film, and was pretty much doing what the team was doing. So, as far as me being caught up to speed, it's not an issue."

"Thomas has worked extremely hard to get back to where he is," quarterback Chad Pennington said, "and he's going to be fine. He's working himself in and he understands what he needs to do as an individual to help us within our system."

The Jets hope Jones displays the same quick burst on the field Sunday that he showed in the locker room Wednesday.

E-mail: pelzman@northjersey.com

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Eric Mangini, Bill Belichick lay battle plans




Thursday, September 6th 2007, 4:00 AM


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The Jets have a new motivational T-shirt, worn yesterday by a few players in the locker room. Sun Tzu's famous line from "The Art of War," an ancient Chinese book, is prominently displayed on the back:

"Every battle is won before it is ever fought."

If that's true, Eric Mangini and Bill Belichick have been battling since April, when the NFL schedule makers decided it would be neat to resume the Border War - Jets versus Patriots - on opening day. Give these two coaches five months to prepare for a game - against each other, no less - and there is no telling what might happen from a strategic standpoint.

Mangini is one of the bright young coaches in the league, and his mentor-turned-adversary is widely regarded as the best in the business. Belichick, too, is a believer in Sun Tzu's philosophy. In fact, he quoted the "battle" line after whipping the Jets at the Meadowlands in 2002.

Because of the coaching smarts on both sidelines, because both teams are trying to integrate new players in key spots and because it's opening day, the matchup Sunday at the Meadowlands has more of an unknown feel than usual. This game, more than any of the first three Mangini-Belichick showdowns, could be decided by which sideline can adapt on the fly.

"They have a very smart coaching staff and we have a very smart coaching staff," wide receiver Laveranues Coles said yesterday. "They basically use us as chess pieces. How they position us to play this game, that's the main thing now. Whoever can make the adjustments the best and the fastest will probably have the edge."

Mangini always is looking for an edge, no matter how slight. He will resort to reconnaissance, if need be. On Tuesday, the Jets visited with wide receiver Reche Caldwell, who was released a day earlier by the Patriots. A smiling Mangini called the meeting a "general chitchat," but there's little doubt he used the opportunity to pick Caldwell's brain about the Patriots.

"It's not the first time Eric has done it, so I guess we're used to it by now," Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said on a conference call with New York media. "That's part of the process and you just deal with it. So we deal."

Every Mangini-Belichick showdown is hyped as a battle of the brains - Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi called last January's playoff contest one of the most mentally taxing games of his career - and this one could top them all. Neither team showed much in the preseason in terms of X's and O's, so there will be some educated guessing with regard to the new personnel.

How will Belichick deploy Brady's new toys at receiver, Donte Stallworth, Wes Welker and Randy Moss? Will he move new inside linebacker Adalius Thomas around the formation, trying to confuse Chad Pennington and his young linemen?

Moss is a total mystery because he missed the entire preseason due to a hamstring injury. He returned to practice on Monday and, perhaps benefiting from a miracle cure, wasn't even listed yesterday on the injury report. Obviously, the Jets have old scouting reports on him, but they don't know how he'll fit into the Patriots' scheme. Quite frankly, Brady didn't seem to know, either.

"We'll see when he gets out there and what he's capable of doing," Brady said of the talented but enigmatic Moss. "I haven't seen him in a while."

The Jets caught the Patriots off guard in the second meeting last season, unleashing a relentless blitz on Brady. The Jets pulled off the upset, 17-14. In the wild-card game, Mangini tried the same approach, and the Patriots were prepared, outfoxing the Jets with a no-huddle, hurry-up offense. Result: Patriots 37, Jets 16.

Mangini has spent the last five months plotting his strategy for the rematch. Ditto, Belichick. Sun Tzu would've loved these two.

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Stadium gets green light




Thursday, September 6th 2007, 4:00 AM


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Artist renderings of new stadium that will be shared by Jets and Giants (above and first two below).


The early stages of construction of the new stadium.

Jets owner Woody Johnson says when the new $1.3 billion stadium being built by the Jets and Giants at the Meadowlands opens on his team's 50th anniversary in 2010, they finally will have a place to call home.

When the Jets played at the Polo Grounds and Shea Stadium in the '60s, '70s and early '80s, they were "visitors," Johnson said. Then they became "tenants," he said, when they moved into Giants Stadium in 1984. Now they are co-owners and equal partners with the Giants of the new 82,500-seat stadium being built between Giants Stadium and the Meadowlands Racetrack after Johnson's dream of the West Side Stadium in Manhattan failed in 2005.

"This is going to be a fabulous facility, a world-class facility," Johnson said yesterday at the groundbreaking ceremony.

Thanks to technology, it will have the feel of Giants Stadium when the Giants are home and Jets Stadium when the Jets are home. Of course, to help offset the cost, it won't be named after either team since naming rights will be sold.

Lighting will make green the predominant color for Jets games and blue for Giants games. The eight-level aluminum louvered exterior will be lighted in team colors. A 40-by-400-foot "Great Wall," located through the main entrance, will switch from pictures of Giants to Jets depending on which team is home.

And with the Jets relocating their headquarters to Florham Park in New Jersey, the long commute on game day from Long Island will be over. "It will absolutely be Jets on a Jets game day and be blue on Giants days," Johnson said.

Every game up to now, Johnson said, has been "essentially a road game." There might still be the perception that the Giants are the team more closely associated with the Meadowlands because they arrived eight years earlier, but the teams are 50-50 partners.

"When Jets fans come to this stadium for their home games, the building is going to look green and feel more like a home field for them than any building they've ever been in," Giants co-owner John Mara said.

Some stadium features:

A new rail facility will leave fans at the stadium. It will be a 20-minute ride from Penn Station.

The parking lots are being redesigned, and the 16 existing highway and road access lanes are being increased to 42 with infrastructure improvements. There will be inner and middle loop road systems to provide easier access.

It's anticipated the stadium will host 80 events per year in addition to Jets and Giants games. That will include soccer, college football and concerts.

Each of the four corners inside the stadium will have a scoreboard.

Neither team has decided if it will charge personal seat licenses.- Gary Myers

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Thomas Jones intends to play for Jets vs. Pats


Thursday, September 6th 2007, 4:00 AM


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There, Thomas Jones said it: He's planning to play Sunday against the Patriots.

"I feel a lot better than I've felt the past couple of weeks," Jones said yesterday, commenting on his strained calf for the first time since hurting it Aug. 12. "The trainers have done a really good job of getting me back on the field. I'm going to practice today and tomorrow, and go into the game and see how it goes."

This wasn't a revelation; it has been widely speculated that he'd be ready for opening day. Nevertheless, he removed the last shroud of mystery.

The Jets' new $5 million-a-year running back, who returned to practice on Monday, worked yesterday on a limited basis, according to the injury report. Jones had only eight carries for 27 yards and a TD in the preseason.

CHAD OK: Chad Pennington (pelvis) appeared on the injury report. Relax, he participated in the full practice. Because he didn't play in the final preseason game, it's presumed he was hurt the previous week against the Giants, who hit him several times. Yesterday, Pennington was seen leaving the locker room, walking for a few steps with an uneven gait.

GUARD DUTY: From all indications, rookie Jacob Bender will start at left guard, ahead of Adrien Clarke. It's going to be an eye-opening experience for Bender, who played before home crowds of about 3,500 at Nicholls State, a Division I-AA school. "It's going to be awesome to just be out there," he said. "I'm excited. I'm pumped up." Bender may not be the only rookie starter in the Jets' lineup. Don't be surprised if No. 1 pick Darrelle Revis starts at left cornerback. Incumbent Andre Dyson (foot) practiced on a limited basis.

PATRIOT GAMES: The Bill Belichick-Eric Mangini rift still exists - it's believed they didn't talk at all in the offseason - but they had kind words for each other yesterday.

"I think he's done a good job with the team, especially how they came back strong in the second half of the season," Belichick said of his former prot

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GREEN LIGHT: Thomas Jones works out at Jets camp at Hofstra yesterday in preparation for Sunday's opener against the Patriots.September 6, 2007 -- The time has finally come for Thomas Jones.

Jones, the Jets' most critical offseason acquisition, yesterday pronounced himself optimistically ready to make his true debut in the Jets uniform, ready to play the hated Patriots in Sunday's season opener at Giants Stadium.

Jones, the feature back acquired from the Bears, a man who has rushed for over 2,500 yards, has been an invisible man for much of the summer after suffering a right calf injury just days after the team's preseason opener and missing the final three exhibition games.

Much of Jones' absence, particularly in the recent week or so, is believed to be sheer precaution so he's as close to 100 percent for Sunday.

He's the feature back the Jets have so badly missed since Curtis Martin's right knee finally gave out on him in 2005.

The bridge since Martin has been a creaky one, with no solid back having stepped in and consistently stayed there behind Chad Pennington.

Jones figures to be that dependable back. He, too, figures to be a missing link to an offense that, while going with a running-back-by-committee last season, ranked 20th in the NFL in rushing offense and 30th in yards per carry.

Though Eric Mangini has been typically cryptic about Jones' status, it appears he'll be ready to at least share running duties with Leon Washington on Sunday.

"I'm very excited about the opportunity," Jones said yesterday. "We have a really good game plan. It's a Patriots game and that's a big rivalry up here, so I'm very excited.

"I've played a lot of football," he said. "I'm going into my eighth year, so I've been in a lot of games and a lot of situations, so it's nothing new. I did a lot of conditioning and stayed in the playbook, so I'm not at a disadvantage [from missing time]. I've been here the whole offseason, so I worked with them a lot during OTAs and minicamps and during the beginning of training camp."

Said Pennington: "Thomas has worked extremely hard to get back to where he is, and I think he's going to be fine. He's working himself in, and he understands what he needs to do as an individual to help us within our system."

There's been some consternation this summer about how poorly the Jets' first-team offense moved the ball in the preseason. It's probably no coincidence that the absence of Jones, who had only eight carries for 27 yards in the one game he played, had something to do with the lack of production.

"After all the practices, you'd like to go out and move the ball all over the field and it didn't work out that way," said Jets RG Brandon Moore. "but I think guys feel comfortable enough from the intensity level of practices to realize that we've had a pretty good camp."

Asked if there's a concern that Jones, who had only eight game carries for 27 yards, has not had many reps with the starting offensive line, Moore said, "Before he got hurt he was just getting the hang of it and getting the feel of how we block things, and I'm sure he'll pick up where he left off."

Some players make the argument that preseason games aren't as intense preparation as Eric Mangini's practices.

"I don't think it's an issue at all," WR Jerricho Cotchery said of the lack of preseason offensive production. "We take advantage of our practice time and use it wisely. We feel very comfortable with where we're at right now. We still have some days ahead to work on our chemistry."


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Backup Ready To Step Up Again

Patriots' Green To Replace Seymour

By DAVID HEUSCHKEL | Courant Staff Writer

September 6, 2007

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Digg Del.icio.us Facebook Furl Google Newsvine Reddit Spurl Yahoo Print Single page view Reprints Reader feedback Text size: FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - As a valuable reserve on the Patriots defensive line his first five years in the NFL, Jarvis Green has learned a lot from Richard Seymour by observing the five-time Pro Bowl end from the sideline.

But the relationship is not the typical student-mentor one.

"I'm 28 and Richard's 27," Green said Wednesday. "I try to take a little bit from each person. I watch Ty Warren's game, I watch Vince Wilfork's game. Not just Richard. We try to learn little things from each other."

Filling in for Seymour over the next six weeks as he recovers from knee surgery will afford Green little time to watch, beginning with Sunday's opener against the Jets.

But it's not as if this is anything new to Green. He has made 21 regular season starts and played in 78 games.

"Jarvis has done a good job for us since he's been here," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "He's been a productive player. We have a lot of confidence in him. He works hard. He prepares well."

Green said he will prepare the same way he normally does. The only difference in his routine will be at the kickoff.

"I can't mess around eating sunflower seeds out there [on the sideline] when it's time for the game," he said, laughing.

The familiarity of the opponent will help. Green had a career-high 10 tackles (nine solo) in a 24-17 victory over the Jets last September. The Patriots used the 4-3 scheme in the game, allowing Green to see plenty of action.

Jets coach Eric Mangini, the former Patriots defensive coordinator, spoke highly of Green as a person and player Wednesday.

"I really like Jarvis," Mangini said during a conference call. "He's a great guy and he's a guy that you always cheer for because whatever his role is, he does it willingly and he does it really well. He's got natural strength and he's got very good pass rush ability and pass rush instincts. I couldn't be happier for him as a player and that's an indication of how he's been his whole career."

Someone else who knows Green well - perhaps all too well - is Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer. In a 38-13 victory over Cincinnati last season, Green started at end and was a force. He had three sacks, forcing a fumble and recovering the ball on one. His other two sacks came on the same series.

Green, who had 71/2 sacks last season, earned AFC defensive player of the week honors for that game. But his most noteworthy game was against the Colts in the 2003 AFC Championship Game, recording 21/2 sacks and five solo tackles as the defense shut down quarterback Peyton Manning in 24-14 victory.

The following season Green started in place of the injured Seymour in all three playoff games, including a 24-21 victory over Philadelphia in the Super Bowl.

Assuming he plays on the right side in a 3-4 formation Sunday, Green will be matched up against second-year left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson, the fourth overall pick in the 2006 draft.

"I've been watching film on him and he's gotten a lot better as a player," Green said. "I mean, he's a first-round pick and a guy that came in to fill huge shoes."

Moss Looks Ready

Wide receiver Randy Moss was not listed on Wednesday's injury report, an indication he will play Sunday despite missing most of training camp with a leg injury. None of the four Patriots on the list was listed as out.

Tom Brady (shoulder) was under full participation in practice, while safety Rashad Baker (hand), tight end David Thomas (foot) and defensive lineman Mike Wright (knee) had limited participation.

Playing Elsewhere?

Belichick was asked how difficult it was to release wide receiver Reche Caldwell, who led the team with 61 receptions last season.

"We did what we felt was best for the football team," Belichick said, repeating his answer when asked whether the decision was related to Moss' health.

Meanwhile, the Jets spoke to Caldwell and the Dolphins also expressed an interest.

Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel didn't seem concerned that the Jets might try to get information from Caldwell. "Reche barely knew our offense, so I know he doesn't know our defense," Vrabel said, eliciting laughter from the media.

Contact David Heuschkel at


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AFC East team capsules



Wide receiver Randy Moss hopes to revive his career with the New England Patriots.

Team capsules by Chris Cluff / Special to The Seattle Times, in order of 2006 finish.

New England

Coach: Bill Belichick, eighth season (75-37), 13th season overall (111-81).

Last season: 12-4, first in AFC East; beat New York Jets 37-16 in wild-card playoff, beat San Diego 24-21 in divisional playoff, lost to Indianapolis 38-34 in AFC title game.

Key additions: TE Kyle Brady, CB Tory James, S Brandon Meriweather, RB Sammy Morris, WR Randy Moss, WR Donte Stallworth, LB Adalius Thomas, WR Kelley Washington, WR Wes Welker.

Key losses: LB Tully Banta-Cain, RB Corey Dillon, TE Daniel Graham, S Tebucky Jones, FB Patrick Pass, P Todd Sauerbrun.

First read: QB Tom Brady publicly decried the loss of his starting receivers last year (Deion Branch and David Givens), and the deficiency at the position was obvious. So the Patriots went out and brought in four new receivers. Moss is the biggest offensive addition, and everyone will be watching to see if he can revive his career. Thomas is the major defensive addition; he fits the versatile mold preferred by Belichick, and many expect Thomas to make the Pats' defense even more dangerous. While franchise CB Asante Samuel returned in time for the season, the Patriots will be missing two key players; SS Rodney Harrison is suspended for the first four games, and DE Richard Seymour (knee) will miss the first six games. The Patriots came four points short of the Super Bowl last year, and the additions have made them the favorites to win the league title for the fourth time in seven seasons. But they'll have to overcome some early bumps to do it.

What is "four score"?

A team's regular-season record over the past four seasons and ranked among the 32 NFL teams.

Four score: 50-14 (first).

N.Y. Jets

Coach: Eric Mangini, second season (10-6).

Last season: 10-6, second in AFC East; lost to New England 37-16 in wild-card playoff.

Key additions: FB Darian Barnes, OG Jacob Bender, LB David Bowens, DE Kenyon Coleman, RB Thomas Jones, CB Darrelle Revis, QB Marques Tuiasosopo.

Key losses: RB Kevan Barlow, RB Derrick Blaylock, OG Pete Kendall, QB Patrick Ramsey, OL Trey Teague.

First read: The Jets continue to make the playoffs depite constant change. Just as Herm Edwards took them to the postseason in his first year (2001), Mangini did it last year. And he will try to continue a streak that has seen the Jets play after Week 17 in four of the past six seasons. On offense, QB Chad Pennington is more than a year removed from shoulder surgeries, and the Jets added RB Thomas Jones in a trade with Chicago. The O-line, anchored by former first-rounders Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson, should be one of the strengths of the team

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Entertaining Stadium for Giants and Jets

BY STEVE ZIPAY | steve.zipay@newsday.com

September 6, 2007

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Digg Del.icio.us Facebook Furl Google Newsvine Reddit Spurl Yahoo Print Single page view Reprints Reader feedback Text size: John Mara's mother, Ann, brought what can only be considered an artifact in the high-rent district of sports these days: a shovel used in the 1972 groundbreaking for Giants Stadium.

Mara, the Giants' president and chief executive officer, told her that the politicians, NFL executives and well-wishers gathering just outside the shadow of that stadium yesterday wouldn't be needing that particular implement.

In the 21st century, when grandiose pro sports palaces are rising from parking lots like wildflowers in New York and across America, the emblems of rebirth have changed: Yesterday's was a long steel beam, autographed by the key movers and shakers in this endeavor, to be mounted above the dazzling entrance of the $1.3-billion, 82,500-seat as yet unnamed stadium that will house the Giants and Jets, with the scheduled opening in 2010.

Perhaps the more appropriate symbol was to the left of the stage of dignitaries: an oversized, high-definition screen that displayed architects' sketches of the stadium, with its color-shifting exterior, concession-filled concourses dotted with video displays, stores selling team merchandise and state-of-the-art luxury suites.

Commerce, after all, is the end game.

Behind the stage, bulldozers plundered part of five parking lots between the current stadium and the racetrack, preparing the land for the eight-story, open-air stadium that will be the first in the NFL to host two teams.

"My only hope is that we are done on time and on budget," said New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, whose predecessor, Richard Codey, did most of the peacemaking and heavy lifting between the ownerships, who preferred their own homes.

In 2005, Codey finally brokered a 50-50 joint venture between the teams, with some subsidies from the state, to finance the project. The cost estimate at that time was $800 million. The teams since obtained a $300-million loan from the league that will be repaid from revenues gleaned from club seats, of which there will be 9,200.

The rectangular-shaped venue, rounded at the corners, has an outer shell of aluminum louvres that can be illuminated in the colors of whichever team is playing. "When Jets fans arrive, they will come to a stadium that bleeds green - literally," Jets owner Woody Johnson said. A 400-foot-long, 40-foot-high "Great Wall" at the main entrance will project the appropriate logos, highlight footage and historical images.

In fact, it appears fans will be surrounded - and presumably entertained - by visuals and sound.

A 40 x 130-foot video screen will be located in each corner of the stadium.

A 300,000-square-foot outdoor plaza will encircle the stadium.

A dozen 16 x 9-foot high-definition video screens will be scattered through the seven concourses.

There will be more than 200 suites, up from the current 117.

Officials said a revamped traffic pattern, with new loop systems, access lanes that increase from 16 to 42, and reconfigured parking lots would ease congestion. About 27,500 parking spaces will be provided.

Additionally, a new rail facility will link the stadium to Manhattan's Penn Station.

"For our fans on the LIRR, they'll get here in 20 minutes from Penn Station," Johnson said.

Beyond the amenities, the teams have not decided whether fans will need to purchase personal seat licenses. Traditional tailgating will be maintained in some parking lots.

Besides a minimum of 20 NFL games, Mara said, he anticipates another 80 events - concerts, soccer matches, college football games - will be booked annually.

For those dates, the chameleon-like exterior and stadium entrances will be electronically transformed to reflect specific events - a visit from Manchester United or a rock band. No shovels required.

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Patriots loaded up on free-agent receivers

September 6, 2007

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Digg Del.icio.us Facebook Furl Google Newsvine Reddit Spurl Yahoo Print Single page view Reprints Reader feedback Text size: Coach

Bill Belichick, eighth season (87-39).

Last season

12-4 in regular season; lost to Colts in AFC Championship Game.

About the offense

The Patriots made it to the AFC title game with a rag-tag group of receivers, so there's no telling what they'll be able to accomplish with three of the biggest acquisitions of the offseason all playing the position: Randy Moss, Donte' Stallworth and Wes Welker.

Moss and Stallworth missed preseason time, though, so it could take time for them to all mesh together. RB Laurence Maroney also missed time this summer with a shoulder injury.

Still, Tom Brady will be at quarterback, and that has been the one offensive constant during the Patriots' reign in the AFC East. Brady is 10-2 as a starter against the Jets and has never thrown more than one interception in any game against them.

About the defense

Two of its biggest names will not be available as S Rodney Harrison is serving a suspension for using a banned substance and DE Richard Seymour is on the physically unable to perform list. Jarvis Green and James Sanders appear to be the respective replacements, and both have been starters. CB Asante Samuel also was absent for most of the preseason with a contract dispute. Many of the familiar faces are still in place - Tedy Bruschi, Rosevelt Colvin, Vince Wilfork - along with free-agent acquisition Adalius Thomas, a standout LB who many thought would have fit neatly into the Jets' defense.

Bottom line

It's hard to imagine a more significant opening game for the Jets. A win could carry them through the early part of their schedule and give them that coveted game in hand against a division opponent. A bad loss could send the message that the Patriots are unreachable this year. The Patriots seem vulnerable with so many missing pieces and so many off-field distractions. But on paper they are still the best team in the AFC. Until Sunday afternoon, "on paper" is all we have to go by.

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BY TOM ROCK | tom.rock@newsday.com

September 5, 2007

If the Jets want to watch video to see how the Patriots will use Randy Moss, they'd be better off closing their eyes and using their imagination. Likewise, if the Patriots are trying to figure out a game plan based on Thomas Jones' tendencies, they'll have more luck consulting Tarot cards than scout-team cards.

For two teams that have found success by breaking down the inclinations of opponents and anticipating the outcome, opening the regular season against each other becomes little more than a guessing game. Albeit educated guesses.

"You're not quite sure what you're going to get, and they're not quite sure what you're going to give them," Jets coach Eric Mangini said. "That's what makes the first game so interesting."

Adding to the interest is the fact that the big offseason offensive acquisitions of both teams -- Moss and Jones -- have not spent much time on the field. Moss, who has a left leg injury, did not play in any of the preseason games and returned to practice this week. Jones took a handful of handoffs in the preseason opener before straining his right calf and missing the remainder of the games.

Mangini spent more time on film during his cameo on "The Sopranos" than Jones did carrying the ball this summer. Like Moss, the Jets running back returned to practice earlier this week.

While both teams sat on their playbooks for most of the preseason, is it too much to infer that, perhaps, they were also keeping their new weapons out of sight? The Patriots also had receiver Dont

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Jets guard Bender eager to make NFL debut

BY TOM ROCK | tom.rock@newsday.com

September 6, 2007

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Digg Del.icio.us Facebook Furl Google Newsvine Reddit Spurl Yahoo Print Single page view Reprints Reader feedback Text size: Of all the things that Jacob Bender is trying to learn, some are more important than others. In the midst of preparing for his first NFL game, possibly his first start at left guard, and trying to master a new position at the highest level of play, there are some nuggets that just have to be covered.

"It goes right down to the little things," center Nick Mangold said, "like 'Hey, we're going to go out to dinner on this night.' "

The Patriots' defense may be preparing for its own feast. Famed for pinpointing weaknesses and exploiting them, the defensive braintrust in New England is no doubt salivating over a chance to attack the rookie Bender with a complex scheme of stunts and blitzes.

"That's probably in their game plan," Bender said, anticipating the target on his chest. "They like to find weaknesses and limit strengths, so I'm sure they probably will. But you just have to be ready for it and be on the same page as the other offensive linemen."

One lineman Bender has a lot in common with is Brandon Moore. The starting right guard, who has become the dean of Jets linemen with 41 consecutive regular-season starts, has taken Bender as a pupil. Moore is a converted defensive lineman who had to learn to play offense as a professional, and he said there is something to the comparison of his own transformation with that of Bender.

"His run blocking as a tackle in the option offense [at Nicholls State] is similar to defensive tackle play," Moore said. "It was like playing D-line. He was running after guys and hitting them. I think that's one of the reasons why I can feel where he's at and understand what he's going through right now."

What he's going through are a lot of growing pains. After an inauspicious beginning against the Giants two weeks ago, Bender looked more comfortable against the Eagles in the preseason finale. That was against second-teamers, and there were still plays in which Bender's pass protection seemed porous. The Jets are very high on Bender's potential, and quarterback Chad Pennington has touted the rookie's ability to come off the ball quickly. If the Patriots can match that quickness in getting to Pennington on Sunday, the compliments could dry up very quickly.

Whether or not he starts, Bender said he is looking forward to his first real taste of the NFL. He said he's asked some of the veterans what it will be like.

"They said it's going to be live and you have to be ready to get in there," Bender said. "It's going to be awesome just to be out there. I'm excited. I'm pumped up."

But it's how he'll feel after the game that will count the most.

Notes & quotes: The Jets signed OL Mike Elgin to their practice squad. Elgin is one of the parade of recently cut Patriots who have come through the Jets' complex in recent days, a list that includes S Artrell Hawkins and WR Reche Caldwell. "It's just general chit-chat," Mangini said, trying to suppress not only the idea he was pumping the former Patriots for information but also a sly smile ... RB Thomas Jones (calf) said he feels "a lot better" than he has the last few weeks, but would not guarantee participation Sunday. "I'm going to practice today, practice tomorrow, and I'm going to go into the game and see how it goes," he said ... Captain Laveranues Coles gets things done. When the receiver was named captain, he said his first order of business would be to approach Mangini about changing the players' schedule. Yesterday Mangini said he tweaked the schedule after speaking with the captains ... The psychological warfare between the Jets and Patriots apparently knows no ends. Yesterday, while on hold awaiting a conference call with New York reporters, Bill Belichick had to listen to several Jets highlights, including a few against his Patriots. "That may have been coordinated, I don't know," Belichick said, laughing.


Patriots at Jets

1 p.m.

TV: Ch. 2

Radio: WEPN (1050)

Jacob Bender file

Height: 6-6

Weight: 316

Age: 22

Hometown: Mayo, Md.

College: Nicholls State

Experience: Rookie (6th round)

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Plans revealed for Giants, Jets stadium, but questions remain



(Original publication: September 6, 2007)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Giants co-owner John Mara told the crowd at yesterday's groundbreaking ceremony for the Giants and Jets' new stadium that his mother had brought the shovel they used when his late father, Wellington, broke ground for the current Giants Stadium in 1972.

"I had to break it to her that we weren't shoveling any dirt today," he said. "Just signing a beam."

No need for shoveling dirt. Ground was broken a long time ago and continued during the ceremony. Huge hydraulic shovels piled dirt, and forklifts moved pipes as dignitaries from the teams and New Jersey politics spoke.

At the end, Mara, fellow co-owner Steve Tisch, Jets owner Woody Johnson and others signed a steel beam that will be placed on one of the entrance ramps to the $1.3 billion stadium.

Left unsaid among the various exaggerations and flights of imagery so common in these events is that many monetary issues are still to be decided. Neither team has committed to the idea of charging fans for personal seat licenses, even though each has secured its half of funding for the building. No deadline has been set for that, either.

Nor have the naming rights been issued, though Mara said he'd like to have that settled by some time in 2008. The teams hope to get more than the $20 million the Mets got from Citigroup for their new ballpark, CitiField.

The group unveiled the final plans. The 82,500-seat stadium will be rectangular, with a seating bowl that will be slanted more severely than the current building to keep fans close to the action. A louvered outside wall will allow lighting and images specific to each team to be revealed on game day, and a 400-foot grand entrance plaza will have a wall that will depict great moments from each team's history.

Johnson said construction is ahead of schedule, and he wasn't about to set back an expected 2010 opening a day for the sake of a ceremony.

"I didn't want to stop the machines," the Jets' owner said. "I wanted to get the party going and keep it going."

Ready for work: Brandon Jacobs said he looks forward to taking a heavy rushing load against the Cowboys. Not that he hasn't done it before. He carried the ball 46 times for 362 yards for Coffeyville Community College, setting the school's all-time record.

And he wasn't tired at the end of the day.

"I felt great," he said.

His career-high carries as a pro is 11, set against Atlanta last season.

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Hicks understands how Jets feel about Patriots



(Original publication: September 6, 2007)

HEMPSTEAD - The sense of rivalry that pervades Weeb Ewbank Hall this week as the Jets prepare to host the Patriots in the season opener Sunday is familiar to Eric Hicks, even if the veteran defensive end is in his first season with the team.

It's the same anticipation Hicks felt in his nine seasons in Kansas City each time the Chiefs played the Raiders, one of the NFL's most acrimonious rivalries.

"That's exactly how I felt," Hicks said yesterday. "You don't really get a sense until you get in the locker room and in the organization and see how the people react when it's that week."

A new chapter was added to the bitter Jets-Patriots history last season when Eric Mangini left the Patriots' staff to succeed Herm Edwards as Jets coach.

The teams split their two regular-season meetings in 2006, with the Jets winning 17-14 at New England, before the Patriots ousted the Jets with a 37-16 AFC wild-card victory at Gillette Stadium.

"The week we would play the Raiders, they'd put up a big sign in the training room that said, 'Raiders Week,' " Hicks said. "Everybody's focus totally tunnel-visioned into the Raiders, like somebody flipped a switch in the building and it was time for combat. I got that sense here."

And losing to the Patriots in the playoffs just heightens the rivalry.

"To go into a game like that and not come out with the outcome you wanted, you automatically get a sense of, not revenge, but redemption," Hicks said. "You want to let the other team know, 'You might have knocked us down then, but we're coming right back at you.' "

As a Chief, Hicks felt it was partly his responsibility to make sure the younger players understood the rivalry with the Raiders.

But in any rivalry, the direction always comes from the top.

"You go to (the coaches') meetings and you could tell their focus was shifted," Hicks said. "Everything tightened up a little bit more to get ready for that game because it comes down from the owner, the president, from everybody, that this was a rivalry going back 40 years."

Hicks said his best Chiefs-Raiders memory was a 17-10 win at Oakland in a Monday night game, Oct. 20, 2003. Current Jets backup quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo directed the Raiders on a 2-minute drive that ended unsuccessfully on the Chiefs' goal line.

But while Hicks is enjoying his indoctrination into the Jets-Patriots rivalry, it hasn't invaded everybody's psyche yet. Rookie cornerback Darrelle Revis, the Jets' first-round pick, is too busy preparing for his first NFL game to worry about history.

"It hasn't been any rivalry," Revis said. "It's just a game. We've got 16 games in a season. This is one of them for us to get prepared for."

Notes: The season's first injury report showed cornerback Andre Dyson (foot), running back Thomas Jones (calf), cornerback Justin Miller, right guard Brandon Moore (shoulder) and safety Eric Smith (thigh) as having limited participation in yesterday's practice. ... Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss (hamstring), who missed all four preseason games, was not listed on the injury report. When asked whether the mercurial Moss would play, Patriots coach Bill Belichick only replied that his team would comply with the NFL injury-list guidelines.

Reach Andrew Gross at apgross@lohud.com and read his Jets' blog at www.jets.lohudblogs.com

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Jets' Jones says he'll be ready for season opener

(Original publication: September 6, 2007)

HEMPSTEAD - The official word on whether Thomas Jones will play in Sunday's regular-season opener against the Patriots is not likely to come until right before kickoff.

But the Jets' running back yesterday sounded confident he'd be on the field. He was listed as a limited participant in yesterday's practice in the season's first injury report.

"I feel a lot better than I've felt the past couple of weeks," said Jones, who strained his right calf Aug. 12 and missed the final three preseason games. "The trainers have done a really good job trying to get me back on the field. I'm going to practice today, practice tomorrow and go into the game and see how it goes."

The 29-year-old Jones, coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, was acquired from the Bears to boost the Jets' anemic running game, which ranked 20th in the NFL last season.

Even if Jones plays, he's likely to split carries with Leon Washington. The Jets also might choose to feature their passing game against the Patriots' thin secondary.

"We have a really good game plan," Jones said. "The Patriots game is a big rivalry game for us so I'm very excited."

Jones added he's not concerned about being out of sync with the offensive line despite missing the time.

"I've been here the whole offseason so I worked with them a lot during OTAs and mini-camps and during training camp," Jones said.

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Pennington prepared for success against Patriots

Thursday, September 06, 2007


Star-Ledger Staff

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- If you listen long enough to Chad Pennington, eternal optimist, you might just want to stand on your chair and sing a few bars of "Kumbaya."

The Jets quarterback, undaunted by a shaky preseason that has second-year pro Kellen Clemens nipping at his heels, isn't buying what the doubters are selling.

Even with the New England Patriots -- rumored to have a scouting report on Pennington that reads like a tome -- coming to town this weekend, the Jets signal-caller isn't concerned about his past troubles against the AFC East rival.

"We're all in this together," Pennington said before yesterday's practice at Hofstra University. "Whatever we can do to win -- whether it's throw the ball, run the ball, whatever it is ... that's what we're focused on."

Pennington's punchless preseason -- he completed 12 of 21 passes for 129 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, both returned for touchdowns -- has underscored this reality: The Jets are at their best when Pennington manages the game, not when he's called on to win it by airing it out.

Sometimes the numbers lie, but Pennington's stats in three games against the Patriots last season don't. He threw for at least 300 yards in the Jets' two losses, including the first round of the playoffs, while totaling just 168 yards through the air in the team's lone victory against the Pats.

Pennington will need plenty of help from his sidekicks to beat the revamped Patriots, who look poised to make another Super Bowl run.

"You don't want to put it on any one person's shoulders," offensive lineman Brandon Moore said. "We'd like to spread it around and have everybody do their job. That's the approach we're trying to have.

"I don't think any team wants their quarterback to throw it 40 times. We'd definitely like to get the running game going."

To that end, veteran running back Thomas Jones, hampered by a strained right calf in the preseason, said he "felt a lot better than I felt the last couple weeks" after returning to practice on Monday.

Pennington will need plenty of aid from Jones and Leon Washington to lessen the burden. He didn't get much help from the ground game in the Jets' two losses to the Pats last year. Eric Mangini's club -- ranked 30th in yards per carry (3.5) last season -- totaled just 122 yards on the ground in their two losses to the Patriots. (The Jets rushed for 117 yards in their win).

"Any time you have a back like (Jones) and put him with Leon," the perpetually positive Pennington said, "you feel like you have two solid running backs that can always give you positive yards and create plays. In our running game, it is a collective effort."


The Jets, of course, have seemingly caught a break with two key pieces of Bill Belichick's defense missing for the season opener. All-Pro defensive end Richard Seymour, who had off-season knee surgery, was placed on the physically unable to perform list and will be out at least the first six weeks, while veteran safety Rodney Harrison will miss four games after testing positive for HGH.

Pennington, however, doesn't believe in free lunches.

"The Patriots are probably one of the best teams in the league in being able to adapt to change, adapt to injuries or people who have to sit out," Pennington said. "So we expect their best. We expect them to come in and play their system and do everything that they normally do."

Pennington, coming off a career-high 16-interceptions, is mindful that the Jets first-team offense -- which scored just 13 points in 14 series in the preseason -- has a long way to go. Belichick certainly won't make it easy for him.

"You're going to have some new wrinkles that you may not be prepared for, and you have to be able to make adjustments on the run," Pennington said. "You have to be very sound when you play these guys. You have to realize that sometimes it's not going to look pretty. ... You try to minimize your mistakes and don't have any glaring mistakes."

M.A. Mehta may be reached at


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September 6, 2007 -- Jacob Bender might not know exactly what'll be coming at him in Sunday's season opener against New England, but his Jets teammates will surely be warning him.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick has made a living feasting on opposing teams' weak links. Bender, a rookie sixth-round draft pick out of Division I-AA Nicholls State, could easily be viewed as a weak link as the starting left guard. So he should expect the house to be thrown at him, with a few added parts tossed in for confusion.

Translation: He'll need a lot of help.

"Probably that's in the game plan," Bender said yesterday of a New England assault on his side of the line. "They like to find weaknesses and limit strengths, so I'm sure they probably will [come at me]. But I've just got to be ready for it and be on the same page with the rest of the line. We'll be all right."

Asked if he likes the challenge, Bender said, "You always want to go against the best, because that makes you better."

Bender, who said his home games in college averaged about 3,500 fans, is jacked up for his Giants Stadium debut.

"It's going to be crazy, that's for sure," he said. "It's going to be fun."

In the crowd will be his parents, who'll arrive via his dad's chopper motorcycle.


Chad Pennington on starting the season against the rival Patriots: "I'm sure it's exciting for the fans on both sides, exciting for the league. I think the NFL always looks for particular matchups early in the season to create excitement.

"For us, it's one of 16 games and we know it's important because it's the first game, and it's also a division game, so we're excited to have the opportunity."


The Jets signed OL Mike Elgin to the practice squad. Elgin (6-4, 290) was selected in the seventh round (247th overall) of the 2007 NFL draft by the Patriots and was waived on Sept. 1. He was a three-year starter at Iowa who played guard and center.

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Mangini keeps eye on ex-Pats

Thursday, September 06, 2007


Star-Ledger Staff

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- A coy smile passed across coach Eric Mangini's face when he was asked about the Jets' latest reconnaissance mission. The team added rookie offensive lineman -- and former Patriot -- Mike Elgin to the practice squad yesterday less than a week after New England cut him.

Elgin, a seventh-round pick who was let go last Friday, was one of a few ex-Patriots the Jets have reached out to in recent days. The Jets talked to defensive back Artrell Hawkins last week before chatting up wide receiver Reche Caldwell a couple days ago.

Asked whether a team could glean any meaningful information from players recently cut by other teams, Mangini said: "I'm not sure. When we bring in our players, we're bringing them in to get to know them and see whether or not we're going to have them on the short list."

So, what exactly did the Jets talk about with these guys?

"General chitchat," Mangini said. "How they enjoyed it. That type of thing. Just getting to know them."

Elgin, sitting alone in front of his locker, was just happy to latch on to a team. He drove 26 hours last weekend back to his home in Iowa before the Jets called. So, did the Jets pump him for information?

"I don't know if I can answer that," Elgin said. "So I better not."

RB Thomas Jones, back at practice this week after missing three weeks with a strained right calf, took exactly four questions from the media yesterday. The eighth-year pro said he wasn't overly concerned about shaking off the rust after missing so much time.

"I've been in a lot of games and a lot of situations so it's nothing new," Jones said. "I've been doing a lot of conditioning and studying the playbook so I'm not at a disadvantage."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick, speaking to reporters on a conference call, remained guarded about WR Randy Moss' availability this weekend. Moss, who missed the preseason with a hamstring injury, has practiced with the team all week.

Asked whether Moss' playing status could be determined before Sunday, Belichick delivered this gem: "We'll follow the rules on the NFL injury report like we always do."

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady also kept Moss' condition close to the vest.

"He has been banged up," Brady said. "I think we'll see when he gets out there and what he's capable of doing. But I haven't seen him in a while, so we'll see."

The sweatshirt-wearing, monotone Belichick opened up a bit when asked whether he felt reinvigorated this season.

"It's always exciting to start the season," Belichick said. "I enjoy coaching in the NFL. ... It beats working, I'll tell you that. ... I enjoy the preparation. I enjoy the film study. I enjoy the decision-making and the challenges that come up during the game. I know it might not always look like it, but I do."

The Jets listed five players on their injury report: CB Andre Dyson (foot), RB Thomas Jones (calf), CB Justin Miller (thigh), G Brandon Moore (shoulder) and S Eric Smith (thigh). All are expected to play.

Staff writer Dave Hutchinson contributed to this report.

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E-mail: pelzman@northjersey.com

* * *

Jets' depth Chart


Wide receiver

87 Laveranues Coles

16 Brad Smith

15 Wallace Wright

Left tackle

60 D'Brickashaw Ferguson

79 Adrian Jones

Left guard

72 Jacob Bender

61 Adrien Clarke


74 Nick Mangold

71 Wade Smith

Right guard

65 Brandon Moore

71 Wade Smith

Right tackle

68 Anthony Clement

79 Adrian Jones

Tight end

86 Chris Baker

88 Sean Ryan

82 Jason Pociask

40 Joe Kowalewski

Wide receiver

89 Jerricho Cotchery

81 Justin McCareins

83 Chansi Stuckey


10 Chad Pennington

11 Kellen Clemens

8 Marques Tuiasosopo

16 Brad Smith

Running back

20 Thomas Jones

29 Leon Washington

45 Stacy Tutt


37 Darian Barnes

45 Stacy Tutt


Left end

92 Shaun Ellis

95 C.J. Mosley

70 Mike DeVito

Nose tackle

63 Dewayne Robertson

95 C.J. Mosley

91 Sione Pouha

Right end

93 Kenyon Coleman

77 Eric Hicks

Outside linebacker

99 Bryan Thomas

96 David Bowens

Inside linebacker

50 Eric Barton

52 David Harris

Inside linebacker

51 Jonathan Vilma

55 Brad Kassell

Outside linebacker

54 Victor Hobson

53 Cody Spencer

Right cornerback

36 David Barrett

22 Justin Miller

31 Hank Poteat

Left cornerback

21 Andre Dyson

24 Darrelle Revis

30 Drew Coleman

Strong safety

25 Kerry Rhodes

42 Rashad Washington

Free safety

26 Erik Coleman

33 Eric Smith



1 Mike Nugent


7 Ben Graham

Kick returner

22 Justin Miller

29 Leon Washington

16 Brad Smith

Punt returner

29 Leon Washington

24 Darrelle Revis

16 Brad Smith

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