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COLES MOANS FOR CHAD NY POST

By MARK CANNIZZARO

November 1, 2007 -- Laveranues Coles, usually a ray of light in the Jets locker room even during worst of times, was in a foul mood yesterday.

Coles not only has seen his best friend on the team, Chad Pennington, benched this week, but he is suffering from the effects of a concussion he incurred Sunday in the loss to Buffalo. His status for this week's game vs. Washington is in question.

Coles didn't participate in practice yesterday and might be held out against his former team, the Redskins. When safety Erik Coleman suffered a concussion a few weeks ago, he was held out of one game as a precaution. The Jets might do the same thing to Coles.

When he asked how he was feeling yesterday, Coles became agitated and verbally dressed down the reporter. The concussion is the second Coles has suffered in the last 10 months.

*

When talking about the change from Pennington to Kellen Clemens, Coles sounded down.

"We're friends," Coles said of Pennington. "You hate that something like this happens to someone that you truly care about and somebody who you know has put time and work into everything that he has done.

"I will always support him no matter what. He's my friend before football. However he feels, I'm with him. I roll with the guy. He is probably 95 percent of the reason that I'm back here now."

Indeed, Pennington lobbied hard to Jets management to bring Coles back to New York from Washington and even offered some of his salary to help make it happen.

*

TE Chris Baker (back), DL Mike DeVito (shoulder) and NT Dewayne Robertson (knee) were limited in yesterday's practice.

*

Asked about the Jets' 1-7 record, former Jets LG Pete Kendall said: "I thought the Jets were going to have a very good football team again this year. I've seen probably three or four games and I haven't seen a game yet where the team looked overmatched or outplayed."

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THE 'KELL' CURVE

CLEMENS LOOKS TO JUMP-START JETS

By MARK CANNIZZARO

CLEMENS TIME!Kellen Clemens, the Jets' new starter, throws a pass during the fourth quarter of Sunday's 13-3 loss to the Bills. Eric Mangini and Jets players say they like Clemens' confidence and quiet swagger.November 1, 2007 -- There's a quiet, confident swagger about Kellen Clemens that belies his youth and inexperience.

That's something the Jets hope will help their new starting quarterback succeed in bringing them a first victory since Sept. 23 when they play the Redskins on Sunday at Giants Stadium.

Clemens may be in the middle of his second NFL season. He may have started one NFL game. But, as he readies himself for his second start as a professional, Clemens has a presence that makes you think he may indeed provide the spark this stagnating 1-7 team needs.

"He's always had that confidence about him - I call it a quiet swagger," receiver Jerricho Cotchery said yesterday. "That's good. You have to have that as a quarterback. You have to be confident. That's one of the things he possesses."

It's one of the things that immediately attracted Eric Mangini to Clemens when he was scouting him.

"Where that stood out was in college (at Oregon)," Mangini said. "That's what you saw on tape: his presence. As you talked to his college coaches, the people that played with him, the people that knew him really well, and that (presence) was one of the consistent characteristics that kept coming up.

"They'd also talk about his energy level and how his energy was contagious," Mangini said. "Those are the things I liked in terms of his intangibles outside of what he had physically when we had the choice to draft him (49th overall)."

Those are the things the Jets are hoping can drag them from the doldrums of their five-game losing streak.

Clemens said he's used his practice time with the scout team and second team to keep his confidence and presence in play despite not being a starter.

"You don't ever want to lose that confidence as a quarterback," he said. "I guess the way I continued to work on it and maintain it was through my reps with the scout team. When I stepped into the huddle going against our (first- team) defense, trying to prepare them, I tried to talk to those guys as if we were going out there on Sunday.

"That's kind of the way I tried to maintain that confidence, that quarterback swagger, if you will."

His teammates have noticed.

Running back Thomas Jones, one of the newcomers here this season, talked Monday about Clemens' presence in the huddle. Tight end Chris Baker agreed.

"Confidence is always a good thing for a quarterback to have because you've got 10 guys in the huddle who feed off of that," Baker said. "We have definite confidence in him that he can go in and get the job done. Obviously, the coaches feel the same way."

Clemens clearly has a stronger arm than Chad Pennington does, so more stretching of the field with some down field passes should be expected Sunday.

One thing that will be most compelling to watch is how Clemens orchestrates the no-huddle offense the Jets employ. Pennington has been a master at calling audibles at the line of scrimmage to get the team in and out of bad plays depending on what he saw at the line of scrimmage.

Whether Clemens will be as adept at that remains to be seen.

"I've had the privilege of watching Chad over the last year-and-a-half, watching him get us into good plays, so I've hopefully learned quite a bit from him and saw his ability to do that," Clemens said. "I'm going to continue to pick his brain."

With Pennington, his personal assistant coach, being benched after Sunday's 13-3 loss to the Bills, this is Clemens' team for as far as he can take it.

mark.cannizzaro@nypost.com

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For the second time in 10 months, Laveranues Coles is dealing with a head injury and he may join Chad Pennington on the sideline.

The team revealed yesterday that Coles suffered a concussion against Buffalo last Sunday. Coles, who rarely misses a practice, was in sweats during practice and his status for Sunday's game against the Redskins is in doubt. Kellen Clemens may have to make his first start as the No. 1 quarterback and second career start without his top receiver.

"Any time you have an injury, it is scary," Eric Mangini said yesterday during a conference call with Washington reporters. "With a guy like Laveranues who is so tough, you have to be careful and make sure you go through the same process that you would go through with every other player. That is what we are doing. We will go through the process and look at him throughout the course of the week and evaluate him when we get closer to the game."

Coles spoke to reporters before news emerged of his concussion and looked and sounded fine and lucid. The wide receiver declined to discuss how he was feeling. He was knocked unconscious briefly after a fourth-quarter reception - Pennington's final completion before being replaced by Clemens - when he was slammed to the turf.

When asked if he had the wind knocked out of him on the play after he lay on the turf motionless, Coles replied after the game, "I got everything knocked out of me."

This appears to be Coles' second concussion in less than a year. He was knocked out last Christmas night in Miami following a helmet-to-helmet hit by Zach Thomas.

While the Jets refused to term that injury a concussion, the wide receiver said he was woozy for two weeks. The Jets are well aware that concussions are a hot-button issue this year and that the league closely monitors how players with the injury are treated.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell made concussions a priority in the offseason when he held a symposium during the summer to create more awareness about the head injuries following the controversy surrounding retired players and their struggles with multiple concussions.

All teams are required to use baseline testing on healthy players before the season to gauge when an injured player can return to action. Goodell also instituted a system where players can report coaches who pressure players to return too soon.

Safety Erik Coleman suffered a concussion against the Bills in Week 4 and did not play against the Giants the following week. If Coles cannot play against his former team, it will be the first time since 2004 that the Jets will play without their leading receiver.

Coles said he is not sure how his role will change with a new quarterback since it will take time to duplicate the type of chemistry he had with Pennington, his best friend on the team.

"We didn't even have to look at each other," said Coles, who played for the Redskins in 2003 and 2004. "We understood each other that well."

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When the Jets made Jonathan Vilma a first-round pick in 2004, they were aware of an abnormality in his right knee. That condition likely contributed to his season-ending injury, a renowned orthopedist said yesterday.

In high school, Vilma was diagnosed with osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), a bone defect that can cause instability and loose particles in the joint. Although Vilma and the team have refused to specify his injury, his right knee does contain loose fragments, it was confirmed.

"A person with OCD has a vulnerable spot on the knee that, from repetitive use, can break loose more easily," said Dr. Nicholas DiNubile, a Philadelphia-based orthopedic surgeon and a consultant to the 76ers. DiNubile hasn't seen Vilma's MRI exams, but he suspects there's a "sizeable defect" in the knee that may need to be repaired with micro-fracture surgery - a six-to-nine month rehab. If it were only one bone chip, DiNubile said, it could be easily removed with an arthroscopic procedure that would sideline Vilma two or three weeks.

On Tuesday, Vilma said he hadn't decided on whether to have surgery, although that appears likely. Either way, he expects to play next season. NFL doctors flagged the OCD at the 2004 scouting combine. Surgery was recommended, but Vilma went for a second opinion and decided against surgery. He didn't want to hurt his draft status. At the time, the Jets confirmed their knowledge of the condition, but they felt it was a worthwhile risk. Two other teams, contacted after the draft by the Daily News, felt the same way. "We have the best medical staff in the league," then-GM Terry Bradway said at the draft. "When they give you the go-ahead, you don't look back."

Vilma didn't miss a game until last week. He said he was hurt the previous week, although he couldn't recall the exact play. The injury may not have been caused by a single trauma, said DiNubile, adding that the fragments could have been created over time. The injury comes at a delicate time for Vilma, who could seek a new contract and/or a trade in the offseason.

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Kendall Talks About His Return to the Meadowlands

In all my years of covering the Jets, one of the strangest stories was the Pete Kendall controversy over the summer. Every day after practice, Kendall walked over to a pack of reporters and filled our notebooks with snappy zingers, ripping the organization for not renegotiating his contract and mistreating him.

Never was so much written about a guard, but, hey, it was a juicy story. It's not often you get a player tearing apart his bosses in the media, then going back to work for them as if nothing happened. Basically, his goal was to make himself such a nuisance that he got fired or traded. Strange stuff.

Eventually, it worked, as the Jets, refusing to pay him an extra $1 million, traded him to the Redskins for a fifth-round pick in 2008. The pick becomes a fourth-rounder (in '09) if Kendall plays in at least 80% of the snaps this season, which is going to happen unless he gets hurt in the next few weeks.

Anyway, I caught up with Pistol Pete Tuesday afternoon from his home in Virginia, near the Redskins' facility. The Jets play the Redskins Sunday at the Meadowlands, so it'll be the return of "the disgruntled Kendall," as he was called so many times over the summer in various newspaper accounts. Aside from Kellen Clemens replacing Chad Pennington, the Kendall homecoming is the best storyline.

Here are some excerpts from our phone conversation:

On how he expects to feel Sunday when he returns to the Meadowlands: "I don't know. I'm sure there will be mixed emotions. I'm anxious to play the game. I'll be playing against guys I consider good friends ... I feel like I've been friendly with all those guys in that locker room. It's one of the best locker rooms I

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Jets Mid-season Players' Report Card

Time for the mid-season report card. Warning: These grades aren't going to get anybody into a good college.

Coaching Staff:

HC Eric Mangini (D): No more prime tables at Artie Bucco's restaurant.

OC Brian Schottenheimer (D): Just think, he could've been the HC of the Dolphins. Gulp!

DC Bob Sutton (D): Start preparing your resume, coach.

ST Mike Westhoff (C-plus): Two words: Ellis Hobbs

Offense:

QB Chad Pennington (D): Class act; deserved better than a seat on the bench.

QB Kellen Clemens

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Jets notebook

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Coles has concussion

Wide receiver Laveranues Coles sat out practice Wednesday because of a concussion suffered when he was slammed to the turf by Buffalo's Terrence McGee on Sunday.

There's a good chance Coles will miss Sunday's game against the Redskins, in light of the fact that when safety Erik Coleman suffered a concussion in the first game against Buffalo, he was inactive for the next game.

Coles also suffered what was believed to be a concussion on Christmas after a hard hit by Miami's Zach Thomas.

It was a tough week for Coles to begin with, seeing his close friend Chad Pennington demoted.

"You hate that something like this happens to someone who you truly care about," Coles said, "and somebody who you know has put time and work into everything he's done. I will always support him no matter what.''

Clarke on guard

Adrien Clarke allowed two sacks and several quarterback pressures Sunday against Buffalo, and coach Eric Mangini was his usual evasive self Wednesday when asked if would make a change at that position.

"We'll go through the course of the week like we always do," Mangini said, "and put together the best five."

Clarke realizes he and the other players always are being scrutinized. "Regardless of if [Mangini] says it or not," Clarke said, "you know that's always happening."

Brief

Washington coach Joe Gibbs was asked about Coles, a former Redskin. "I think Laveranues is one of the toughest guys and best competitors I've ever been around," he said. "As a receiver, he is very talented. Our situation here is one that didn't work out for the best. I wish it would have." Coles downplayed it, saying Washington is "just a former team."

-- J.P. Pelzman

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Ex-Jet filled with mixed emotions

Thursday, November 1, 2007

By J.P. PELZMAN

STAFF WRITER

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Call it a perfect storm, NFL-style. Or better yet, a New England nor'easter.

No, this week has nothing to do with the Patriots. (That storm will come next month.) The Jets' game against Washington on Sunday will feature the return of Massachusetts native Pete Kendall, whose long contract dispute with the Jets was the major story in training camp during the summer.

And Kendall will blow into town just at the time the Jets are experiencing some problems at his old position, left guard.

Yes, Kendall is much happier than he was a few months ago due to his situation, not the Jets' 1-7 record.

"I thought that they were going to have a very good record," Kendall said Wednesday in a conference call. "I've seen probably three or four [Jets] games and I haven't seen a game yet where the team looked overmatched or outplayed. ... I don't look at that team on film, particularly as well as I know them, and think that they're a 1-7 team. That's what their record says, but to me [it doesn't indicate] the talent they have there."

One of the problems has been a lack of continuity on the offensive line after Kendall's departure. Left guard Adrien Clarke, thrust into the starting lineup on opening day 17 days after Kendall was traded to Washington, allowed two sacks in the Jets' 13-3 loss to Buffalo on Sunday and is in danger of losing his starting job.

"That's the definition of a trap question there, isn't it?" Kendall said when asked about the Jets' left guard situation. "Let's see if there are any other questions."

But when asked if he thought coach Eric Mangini and general manager Mike Tannenbaum had learned anything from their handling of the situation, Kendall told Jets Confidential magazine, "They're bright enough that they learn from every experience, good and bad. That doesn't mean I think they did anything poorly, but I bet they wish they had a mulligan."

Kendall, who was scheduled to make $1.7 million this year, wanted a raise of $1 million after reworking his contract for the Jets' benefit before the 2006 season. The Jets balked, and an unhappy Kendall told the media of his situation. If Kendall, who has started every game for Washington and solidified a trouble spot on the line, plays 80 percent of the Redskins' offensive snaps, the Jets will receive a fourth-round draft pick in 2009. Otherwise, it will be a fifth-round pick next year.

"My thoughts haven't really changed on the situation," Mangini said. "It worked out well for all the parties involved."

Certainly it did for Kendall, who got the raise he was seeking. Plus, his wife and three children have moved from Massachusetts to the Washington area, enabling Kendall to be "a full-time dad," as he put it.

"That has its up and downs," he said, laughing.

When Kendall was with Arizona, he played against his first team, Seattle. While with the Jets, he once faced the Cardinals. But he knows Sunday will be different.

"This one will be the most difficult," Kendall admitted. "Essentially, the guys that I will be playing against this weekend are the guys that I practiced against and spent time with off the field and in the locker room with since 2004.

"I don't know how I'm going to feel on Sunday," he added. "I feel a little bit excited at this point, but there is also this other emotion that I don't know how to express. I don't know if it's disappointment or whatever you might call it. It's definitely mixed emotions about the situation and going back and playing against my friends."

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Jets' Coles out?; Clemens-to-McCareins: deep bond

BY TOM ROCK | tom.rock@newsday.com

November 1, 2007

Kellen Clemens could be without the team's most effective receiver on Sunday. But that could make room in the rotation for one of his favorite targets.

Laveranues Coles, who has a team-high six touchdown receptions, did not practice yesterday with a concussion suffered in Sunday's loss to the Bills and he likely will be unavailable this Sunday. If he is unable to play, Justin McCareins, he of the infamous dropped pass on a sure-thing fourth-quarter TD route against the Ravens, would likely play a larger role in the offense.

"I still have confidence in Justin McCareins," said Clemens, who threw that dropped pass. So much confidence, in fact, that when Clemens entered the game on Sunday for his first action since that Week 2 experience, his first completion was to McCareins for 18 yards over the middle on third-and-10. It was McCareins' first reception since Week 3 and only his fourth of the year.

"It's been difficult," McCareins said of this season, from a personal as well as a team standpoint. "As a receiver you want to go out there and get some more opportunities. The other guys have been doing a real good job and that's the way things worked out. All I can do is keep preparing myself for when my time comes."

That time could be now. Dropped passes aside, Clemens and McCareins have been showing that they are a potent combination since early in training camp. McCareins said they developed that chemistry by spending so much time together as second-teamers in the offseason workouts and the preseason.

Said McCareins, "He knows where I'm going to be and I understand how he's going to throw the ball."

Clemens has a strong enough arm to extend the field. Theoretically that plays well with McCareins' speed. Coles, who was knocked cold on the hit by Bills cornerback Terrence McGee on his only reception, last year suffered what is believed to be a concussion when Dolphins linebacker Zack Thomas hit him. The Jets never classified it as a concussion, but Coles appeared to be knocked unconscious on that play, too. He didn't miss any time with that injury and has caught at least one pass in 69 straight games. He's played in 107 straight games, starting 104 in a row.

Coles, who started his career with the Jets and played two acrimonious but productive years with the Redskins before being traded back to New York, will likely be all the more ornery if he is unable to play against his former team. He already seems agitated by the move from Chad Pennington (who he said was 95 percent of the reason he came back to the Jets) to Clemens. The pass on which he was injured now stands as Pennington's last completion. Coles' endorsements of Clemens have been luke-warm at best. "I haven't had the opportunity to play with him much," he said yesterday. "He played in one game, so I haven't seen much yet."

He may not see much this week, either.

Notes & quotes: For the most part, former Jets LG Pete Kendall, traded to the Redskins during training camp, has taken the high road in his comments regarding Jets management, which he lambasted on a near daily basis this summer in an effort to secure either a trade or his release. But when asked if he thought general manager Mike Tannenbaum and Eric Mangini had learned anything from the experience, Kendall reportedly told Jets Confidential: "They're bright enough that they learn from every experience, good and bad. That doesn't mean I think they did anything poorly, but I bet they wish they had a mulligan." ... Kendall's replacement for the Jets, Adrian Clarke, could be benched after some ineffective play. Look for rookie Jacob Bender to get a shot.

Sunday

Redskins at Jets

1 p.m.

TV: Ch. 5

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

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About the Redskins

TOM ROCK

November 1, 2007

Head coach: Joe Gibbs, 16th season (149-90).

Last week: Lost 52-7 to the Patriots.

About the offense: The Redskins have the 28th ranked offense in the league - only the Rams are worse in the NFC - but they have scored enough to win three of their four victories by a total of 13 points. Jason Campbell is an up-and-coming quarterback, which is to say he can play but he throws interceptions (6) and takes sacks (12). Antwaan Randle El is the top receiver with 26 catches and a 17.9 yards per catch average, but TE Chris Cooley has caught five of the team's six passing touchdowns. Clinton Portis leads a ground attack which averages 105 yards per game. Supposedly they have a pretty good player at left guard, too.

About the defense: Before this recent thrashing by the Patriots, only the Giants had been able to score over 20 points in a game against the Redskins, who had the top unit in the conference. They were allowing a stunning 5.6 yards per pass play in their first six games before Brady and his boys lit them up for 334 yards and three touchdowns in the air. Now they are ranked 12th in overall defense (306.7 yards), ninth against the run (90.9). They have eight interceptions, an NFL-leading five by S Sean Taylor, and they've forced and recovered seven fumbles. The Jets are familiar with LB London Fletcher from his time in Buffalo.

The bottom line: These are two teams who lost to the Patriots by a combined score of 90-21 this year, but the Redskins have more to prove after taking it on the chin just this week. Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs was already outfoxed by Bill Belichick, and he'll be trying hard not to let one of his disciples get the better of him. There'll be a lot of familiar faces on both sides - Pete Kendall, Santana Moss, Laveranues Coles if he's available - but the Jets and Redskins have not faced each other in the regular season since 2003. The Redskins are 7-1 against the Jets and have never lost to them at Giants Stadium or Shea Stadium.

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Jets' Coles might not play Sunday due to concussion

By ANDREW GROSS

THE JOURNAL NEWS

(Original publication: November 1, 2007)

HEMPSTEAD - Kellen Clemens worked on some short pass routes yesterday with his receivers early in his first practice as the Jets' starting quarterback. Unfortunately, he had an additional observer standing five yards behind him.

Laveranues Coles, wearing sweats and a Jets cap instead of his jersey and helmet, missed practice after the team announced he had suffered a concussion last Sunday against the Bills. So Clemens might be without his predecessor Chad Pennington's favorite red-zone target when the Jets (1-7) host the Redskins (4-3) Sunday at the Meadowlands.

"Of course he's going to get comfortable with somebody out there, whether it's me or not," Coles said of the 24-year-old Clemens. "You just have to roll with the punches and go from there."

Coles slammed helmet-first into the Meadowlands turf after being hit from behind by Bills cornerback Terrence McGee following a 13-yard pass from Pennington with 8:17 to go in the fourth quarter of the Jets' 13-3 loss. He did not return to the game.

Coles, who has 42 catches for 473 yards and a team-high six touchdowns, has started 104 straight regular-season games and played in 107 games in a row, not missing a game since his rookie season of 2000. His lone reception against Buffalo gave Coles a streak of 69 games with a catch.

And he developed a special bond with Pennington, the two often changing plays on their own at the line of scrimmage just by looking at each other. Coles repeated yesterday his reaction to Pennington's benching will mirror Pennington's.

"You hate that something like this happens to someone that you truly care about and somebody who you know has put time and work into everything that he has done," said Coles, who was traded back to the Jets in 2005 after two seasons with the Redskins. "I will always support him no matter what. He is probably 95 percent of the reason that I'm back here now."

Coles is known for his toughness - he returned for the Jets' season finale in 2006 six days after a hit from Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas gave him a concussion on Christmas - and Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said he expects Coles to play.

But if he doesn't, that might present another opportunity to forgotten Jets receiver Justin McCareins.

McCareins, relegated to the second unit after Jerricho Cotchery replaced him as a starter in the 2006 training camp, has developed chemistry with Clemens. McCareins caught an 18-yard pass from Clemens against Buffalo, his first catch since Week 3.

In Clemens' first NFL start, a 20-13 loss at Baltimore in Week 2, McCareins failed to catch two potential game-tying touchdown throws, including one where he was wide open at the Ravens 3-yard line.

"The past few weeks have been tough on all of us," said McCareins, who has four catches for 49 yards this season. "I'm not really thinking much about who is in at quarterback."

Clemens, meanwhile, was adjusting to being the starter. In addition to taking most of the first-team reps at practice, he was in at Weeb Ewbank Hall on Tuesday going over the game plan with the coaching staff.

"I'm preparing the same as I have in the past," the second-year pro said. "The only thing that's different is now, this week, because I'm going to start, I get to have a little bit more input into the game plan, kind of how I feel about certain plays. Whereas in weeks previous things were geared more toward Chad."

Clemens brings a confident approach, almost a swagger, something Jets coach Eric Mangini said the team noticed while Clemens was still at Oregon.

"We just need some kind of spark from anywhere," said wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, who has a team-high 46 catches for 592 yards and one touchdown. "If we can get that spark to ignite the entire team, that would be great. We just need a spark, period, and, hopefully, we can get that spark soon so we can start winning games."

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

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Now with Redskins, Kendall returns to face Jets

By ANDREW GROSS

THE JOURNAL NEWS

(Original publication: November 1, 2007)

A bitter offseason contract dispute led to the Jets ultimately granting Pete Kendall's trade request. But the veteran left guard said he'll definitely have mixed emotions when he returns to the Meadowlands Sunday with the Redskins.

"I don't know how I'm going to feel," Kendall said yesterday. "I'm a little excited. I don't know how to express it, but there are other emotions. I don't know if it's disappointment."

The Redskins are the 34-year-old Kendall's fourth team but he said facing the Jets is unlike playing the Seahawks or Cardinals, his previous stops.

"This one will be the most difficult," Kendall said. "After I left the Seahawks, it was two years until we played a regular-season game against them and there was quite a bit of roster turnover. When I left Arizona, there were a little more hard feelings. Essentially, the guys I'm going to be playing against (Sunday) are the guys I practiced against and spent time with off the field."

Kendall expressed surprise in the Jets' 1-7 start, saying he expected them to be "a very good football team." He added it would be strange to see Kellen Clemens starting in place of Chad Pennington.

"I thought Kellen made a big jump from his rookie season to the second training camp," Kendall said. "He seems much more comfortable in the offense."

Getting ready: Sixth-round pick Jacob Bender played on just Mike Nugent's 27-yard field goal against the Bills, the first time the Nicholls State product had been active this season. But there's a chance he could start at left guard for the struggling Adrien Clarke against the Redskins.

"Of course it's frustrating. I've never sat on the bench before," Bender said. "I just kept telling myself, keep working and it will be sooner rather than later. I'm going to go out and practice and work hard, and hopefully it'll be me dressing on Sundays."

Kendall, asked whether he found it strange his vacated position was still in flux, said, "That's the definition of a trap question."

Get over it: Clemens admitted he doubted he'd reach the NFL after his senior year at Oregon ended with a broken left leg with four games remaining.

"The reality hits you that your career may be over," Clemens said. "I kind of pouted, moped around for a couple of days. My wife (Nicole) was tolerant of it for about a day. She was like, 'Look, this isn't you, this isn't the person you are. You need to buck up and get back on the horse.' "

Participation report: Offensive lineman Adrian Jones was excused for personal reasons. Rookie defensive lineman Mike DeVito injured his right shoulder during a tackling drill after being hit by fullback Darian Barnes and was limited. Tight end Chris Baker (back) remained limited. For the Redskins, right guard Randy Thomas (triceps) did not practice.

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Coles iffy with concussion

Thursday, November 01, 2007

BY DAVE HUTCHINSON

Star-Ledger Staff

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Wide receiver Laveranues Coles suffered a concussion last week against the Buffalo Bills, and his status for Sunday's game against the Redskins at Giants Stadium is uncertain.

Coles, one of the toughest players in the NFL, is believed to want to play, but the team doctors will have the final say. He has started 104 consecutive games, the most of any wide receiver in the NFL.

Coles, who has 42 catches for 473 yards and a team-leading six TDs, was injured in the fourth quarter when he leapt to catch a Chad Pennington pass for 13 yards and was slammed to the turf headfirst by Bills cornerback Terrence McGee. Coles lay on the turf for several minutes before walking off. He didn't return to the game but seemed fine afterward.

This is the second concussion in as many years for Coles. He suffered a concussion against the Dolphins in a Christmas night game, but the Jets never listed him as having one. He was in a fog for two weeks but didn't miss a game.

Coles, in his eighth season, played two years in Washington.

"I think Laveranues is one of the toughest guys and best competitors I've ever been around," Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said on a conference call yesterday. "I have tremendous respect for him. We expect him to play this week."

FB Darian Barnes got into heated exchanges with NT Dewayne Robertson and DE Shaun Ellis in practice yesterday after he was a bit overzealous in a one-on-one tackling drill, plowing into rookie free agent DT Mike Devito headfirst on two occasions. The second time, Devito injured his shoulder.

At one point, Robertson confronted Barnes and Barnes threw the ball at him. Later, after the drill was over, Ellis and Barnes had to be separated as they exchanged words.

Redskins middle linebacker London Fletcher has a team-high 89 tackles and two interceptions, one he returned for a touchdown. The 10-year veteran and former Bills standout has had at least 135 tackles in eight straight seasons.

"He's tough to stay on," Jets right guard Brandon Moore said. "He gets off blocks really well. He's fast. He's quick. He's a shorter guy. He has a knack for the ball. He's like Zach Thomas (of the Dolphins) in that sense."

On a conference call with reporters, the ever-witty Pete Kendall was asked if it's funny that the Jets' left guard position remains a trouble spot. He replied, "That's the definition of a trap question there, isn't it?"

Safety Erik Coleman, a starter since his rookie year in 2004 before suffering a concussion versus Buffalo, said he wasn't given a reason for losing his job to Abram Elam.

"They just made a change," he said. "They didn't tell me anything I had done wrong. They were looking to go in another direction. I have to respect that. I'll just keep fighting and wait for my next opportunity."

OL Adrian Jones was excused from practice for personal reasons.

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McCareins aims to make a turnaround

Thursday, November 01, 2007

BY DAVE HUTCHINSON

Star-Ledger Staff

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- It was a long time between receptions for Jets wide receiver Justin McCareins.

Since he dropped two potential game-tying touchdown passes from quarterback Kellen Clemens in the final two minutes to short-circuit a furious comeback attempt in a 20-13 loss at Baltimore in Week 2, the seventh-year pro has become the invisible wideout. He soon lost his job as the third receiver to Brad Smith.

Last week, McCareins' four-game drought was snapped when Clemens, subbing for a benched Chad Pennington, hit him with an 18-yarder for his first completion in the Jets' 13-3 loss to the Bills. Clemens will start on Sunday against the Redskins at Giants Stadium.

It'll take more than a few catches by McCareins to erase his meltdown in Baltimore. His first drop -- which happened on a letter-perfect throw by Clemens on a deep post pattern that hit McCareins in stride inside the 10-yard line for a certain touchdown -- has come to symbolize the Jets' futility this season as they sit at 1-7.

McCareins says he's over that game, but that's hard to believe. Clemens was making his first NFL start that day and had engineered an improbable fourth-quarter rally against a fierce Ravens defense, leading the Jets to within a touchdown.

As McCareins, who has just four catches for 49 yards this season and is earning $2.4 million, searches for a bit of redemption, he could find it against the Redskins on Sunday at Giants Stadium. With wide receiver Laveranues Coles suffering from a concussion sustained last week against the Bills, McCareins might start.

"It has been difficult," McCareins said yesterday of his season. "As a receiver, you want to go out there and get some more opportunities, but I think the other guys have been doing a real good job. All I can do is keep preparing myself for when my time comes. I'm going to try to have a good week of practice and try to put some confidence in the coaches that I could do a good job and go from there."

Clemens insists McCareins has nothing to prove to him.

"Justin McCareins is a good wide receiver," Clemens said. "He really is. Whatever happened at Baltimore, we didn't lose the game because of one play. I still have plenty of confidence in Justin McCareins."

Against the Bills, it was no coincidence that Clemens went to McCareins yet again in a clutch situation. It was third-and-10 when Clemens hit McCareins for that 18-yarder. The pair had spent the off-season building a chemistry during workouts and minicamps, and continued it through training camp. So Clemens could lean heavily on McCareins against the Redskins.

"I think he understands where I'm going to be a lot and I understand how he's going to throw the ball," McCareins said. "Hopefully, some changes will help us bring about that second victory. ... The past few weeks have been tough for all of us. I'm not really thinking too much about who is in at quarterback. I know with Chad we could've done a better job and won some games for him. It wasn't close to being his fault in any way."

Given his personal struggles this season, McCareins was asked how sweet it would be to catch the winning touchdown this week from Clemens after their two missed connections in Week 2.

"It would be sweet to win, first and foremost," McCareins said. "Honestly, I'm not just saying that. This has been a very disappointing season so far. I'm not thinking anything selfishly at all. To come in here on Monday after winning a game, that would be sweet."

Dave Hutchinson may be reached at dhutchinson@starledger.com

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Swapped wideouts reunite Sunday

By David Elfin

November 1, 2007

The paths of wide receivers Laveranues Coles and Santana Moss again will intersect Sunday when the Washington Redskins play the New York Jets at the Meadowlands.

Coles will welcome the team he played for from 2003 to 2004, while Moss will return to the place he called home from 2001 to 2004.

"I'm quite sure he wants to do really well against the Redskins," Washington cornerback Shawn Springs said of Coles, who pouted his way back to New York in March 2005.

Moss, the speedster from Miami, arrived in New York in 2001, a year after wily Jacksonville native Coles joined the Jets. In two seasons as teammates, they started together just once. Moss was the No. 3 receiver as Coles caught 89 passes to help lead the 2002 Jets to the AFC Championship game.

A year later when the Jets opened the season at Washington, Coles was with the Redskins, having signed as a restricted free agent. The faster but more fragile Moss replaced him as the Jets' No. 1 receiver that season with 74 catches and 10 touchdowns.

In 2004, Coles caught 90 passes for new coach Joe Gibbs but scored just one touchdown. He stopped talking to the media and told his agent he wanted out. Asked last week whether he had been in a divided locker room, Coles said, "When I was in Washington, we were awful."

Meanwhile, Moss had slumped badly in New York, and his contract was going to expire after the 2005 season. The Redskins needed someone who could make big plays. The Jets wanted a reliable receiver.

So the ex-teammates were traded for each other.

"You don't like for something like that to happen where ... a player wants to leave," Gibbs said. "We worked out something that has probably been good for both teams. We love Santana. Laveranues is a highly competitive guy that they like."

The deal was a hands-down winner for Washington at first. Moss burned Dallas with two late touchdown grabs in his second game and went on to set the team record for receiving yards, catch a career-high 84 balls and play in his first Pro Bowl while helping lead the Redskins to the playoffs for the first time since 1999. Coles put up decent numbers, but the Jets finished last in their division, and coach Herman Edwards was fired.

However, Moss' production dropped markedly in 2006, and the Redskins finished last in their division, while Coles had a fine year as the surprising Jets made the playoffs. As they prepare for Sunday's game, neither man is having a terrific 2007. Moss has just 20 catches, is averaging a career-worst 12.4 yards and hasn't come close to the end zone for the 4-3 Redskins. Coles has 42 catches and six touchdowns, but the Jets have crashed to 1-7. He missed practice yesterday as a result of the concussion he suffered in last week's loss to Buffalo.

So who made the better trade?

Coles has more catches (206 to 159) and more touchdowns (17 to 15) while Moss leads in yards (2,521 to 2,416) despite playing in four fewer games.

Jets coach Eric Mangini, who wasn't in New York when the trade was made, swears by Coles.

"LC is one of those guys you can call when you're stranded at the airport and he'll come get you," Mangini said. "He'll help you move when everybody else tells you they have something to do. He cares about his teammates so deeply. His toughness, his competitiveness, I can't say enough good things about him."

Moss said he doesn't pay attention to how Coles is doing.

"It's what Santana can do to help this team," Moss said. "Nothing else matters to me. We hung out at times, but ... we don't call each other on a day-to-day basis."

Springs termed the trade "a win-win." Guard Pete Kendall, who played the past three years for the Jets, agreed.

"The Jets recognize that they got a good player but they gave one up," Kendall said. "Vern's now a captain up there. He was voted team MVP last year. He's been very productive since he's gone back to New York. But I also know that they felt like they paid a very steep price to get him. Santana's had some good years down here. He's kind of a rare bird. You don't find a lot of guys with that type of speed."

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coles basically said that if pennington leaves im out too?

You shouldnt put a lot of stock into anything he says this week while he is still feeling the effects of the concussion.

When he asked how he was feeling yesterday, Coles became agitated and verbally dressed down the reporter.

It's well known that a person suffering from post-concussion syndrome will experience agitation.

F the playing streaks. I will be very disappointed with the Jets' medical staff if they allow him to play this week.

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