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December 1, 2007 -- Kellen Clemens, whose future as Jets quarterback is still undetermined, will not be helped this week by the absence of Jerricho Cotchery, the team's leading receiver.

Cotchery was ruled out yesterday for tomorrow's game against the winless Dolphins in Miami because of an injured right index finger that was suffered during practice on Monday. He leads the Jets with 54 catches and 730 yards, and Laveranues Coles remains slowed with an injured left ankle, but the situation might not be as bleak as it seems, according to coach Eric Mangini.

Because Clemens has spent most of the past two years as a backup, Mangini said he has more experience with secondary receivers such as Justin McCareins, Brad Smith and Wallace Wright.

"Kellen has probably thrown 10 times more [to those players] than he's thrown to Jerricho and Laveranues," Mangini said. "He's worked extensively with all those guys, and they have spent a lot of time together with Brad and Wallace."

Nevertheless, there's no doubt who the most talented receivers are on the team, and with a team that has as many problems as the Jets do, it's never a good thing to have them on the bench.

That's particularly true with someone like Clemens, who is trying to establish himself. Throwing to a healthy Cotchery and Coles probably would be the best way for Clemens to improve. But Mangini said he believes he can find out how good Clemens can be under these less-than-ideal circumstances, as well.

"You look at decision-making," Mangini said. "When he has throws where he can throw it into tight coverage and maybe take a chance and maybe get the ball intercepted . . . does he make the right decision there?"

This week, at least, Clemens will be forced to make those decisions while throwing to Smith, McCareins, as well as Wright, who has one catch this year.

Wright said he doesn't consider that a problem.

"We came in as rookies at the same time," said Wright, in his second year. "You don't get to work a lot with the vets (at first) and that carried all the way into this year. I've always run routes with [Clemens]. We try to build the same rhythm with [each other] as LC does with Chad."


Coles said he would not attend Monday's funeral of the Redskins' Sean Taylor, who was shot and killed this week.

"Had it been on Tuesday, I'd have been there," Coles said. "At this point of the season, I don't feel comfortable asking coach go to friend's funeral. He was a great person, a very good friend. Just thinking about it, day in and day out, to this point has been very saddening and the more I think about it, the more it makes you think about life in general and how precious it is."


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Harris pleasant surprise for Jets

Saturday, December 1, 2007



HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- After the Jets' practice on Thursdays, it's up to the team's leading tackler and defensive signal caller to carry in shoulder pads and helmets for his teammates.

As David Harris said Friday, "I still feel like a rookie."

That's understandable, given those duties. But he certainly hasn't played like one since taking over as one of the Jets' starting inside linebackers after Jonathan Vilma was placed on injured reserve Oct. 27. Harris is tops on the Jets with 74 tackles, two more than fellow inside linebacker Eric Barton, and Harris had 34 of those tackles in his first two starts.

He's leveled off since then, with eight apiece in each of his past two games, but defensive coordinator Bob Sutton still is impressed.

"I think he's gotten better each week," Sutton said.

It's obvious that the second-round draft choice from Michigan can do a lot more than carry equipment and buy the doughnuts on Saturdays, another of his rookie duties.

Much like Kellen Clemens on the other side of the ball, Harris and his continued development will be a focal point during the last month of this lost season.

"I feel I'm coming along real good," Harris said. "The coaches have done a good job of helping me along and preparing me. I'm doing OK. ... The more I get on the field, the more comfortable I get being out there, I guess."

"He's done a nice job in the running game with his fits," coach Eric Mangini said of Harris. "What I've liked with David is that in the passing game, he's got a pretty good feel for a young guy of how routes develop.

"There's a lot of work to be done there, but he's got a good feel. Oftentimes you're either really good in one area or really good in the other, and he's got the potential to continue to grow in both areas."

Both Mangini and Sutton also like the cerebral aspect of Harris' game, an especially important aspect for an inside linebacker.

"He's done a good job," Sutton said, "limiting the [mental] mistakes."

Mangini said, "I like the way that he continues to improve with huddle procedure, huddle maintenance, that whole aspect of being an inside linebacker and a signal caller."

Harris isn't thinking about the 2008 season.

"You can't afford to do that in this league," but he does know something else is looming as the season comes to an end.

"Sooner or later," he said, "I'm going to have to take all the linebackers out for dinner. It's coming soon, but I don't know which day it is."

As for the venue, he said with a smile, "It's probably their choice, but I hope they don't take it too far."

BRIEFS: Jerricho Cotchery (finger), who didn't practice all week, was listed as out by the Jets for Sunday's game at Miami. Fellow wideout Laveranues Coles (ankle) was limited in practice again Friday and is questionable. For Miami, linebacker Zach Thomas (migraine headaches) will miss his fifth straight game and running Jesse Chatman (ankle) is probable.

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Jets'Cotchery out Sunday against Miami

BY ERIK BOLAND | erik.boland@newsday.com

December 1, 2007

Late Friday afternoon, the Jets made official what looked apparent midweek. Jerricho Cotchery, the team leader in receptions with 54, is out for Sunday's game in Miami with a finger injury. Coach Eric Mangini said Thursday that Cotchery injured his right index finger during Monday's practice. The receiver, usually one of the more accessible Jets, wasn't seen on the practice field or in the locker room the rest of the week. The extent of the injury has not been disclosed.

With Laveranues Coles - second on the Jets with 43 catches - less than 100 percent with an ankle injury, Kellen Clemens' job becomes more difficult. More passes figure to be dispersed to still-learning second-year receivers Brad Smith and Wallace Wright, or even rookie free agent Chris Davis.

Smith does have 23 receptions, but Wright has only one and Davis, who made his debut Nov. 4 against Washington, has zero. Mangini, however, said Clemens has more familiarity with Smith and Wright because they have worked together on the scout team and as second- and third-stringers.

"Kellen has probably thrown 10 times more [to them] than he's thrown to Jerricho and Laveranues," Mangini said. "He's worked extensively with all those guys."

Said Smith: "Last year [playing together on] the scout team helped because I know what he is thinking in certain coverages, how he is going to read them and when he is going to throw the ball."

Wright, a free-agent pickup from North Carolina in 2006, has played in all 11 games - mostly on special teams - and has not caught a pass since an 11-yarder against New England in the season opener.

"I have always run routes with him [Clemens] like L.C. [Coles] has with Chad [Pennington]," Wright said. "We try and build the same chemistry; Brad and I with Kellen as L.C. has with Chad. They played for years together. We are trying to build that same kind of chemistry."


Jets at Miami

1 p.m.

TV: Ch. 2

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

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Jets lose Jerricho Cotchery to finger surgery, could miss rest of season



Saturday, December 1st 2007, 4:00 AM


Jerricho Cotchery has caught 54 passes for 730 yards this season.

Jets receiver Jerricho Cotchery underwent surgery earlier this week to repair a broken finger, the Daily News has learned.

Cotchery will miss tomorrow's game on the road against the winless Dolphins and there is a possibility that the starting receiver will be sidelined for the rest of the season.

Cotchery has started all 11 games this season and played an integral role in the Jets' often anemic offense, with 54 catches for 730 yards and one touchdown.

The Jets (2-9) said Cotchery, who's in his fourth year with the team, injured his right index finger during Monday's practice and he hasn't been at the practice complex in Hofstra for the past three days. Coach Eric Mangini refused to comment on Cotchery's status yesterday morning.

The loss of Cotchery means that quarterback QB Kellen Clemens will be playing without one of the Jets' top two receivers for the third straight week - and possibly for the final five games of the season, a stretch that some say will determine Clemens' future with the team.

There's a small possibility that Clemens will be without Laveranues Coles as well. Coles (high ankle sprain) jogged lightly through position drills during a 30-minute window late in practice yesterday and was listed as questionable, but he should play tomorrow.

If he can't go, the Jets will have to rely on backup receivers Brad Smith and Justin McCareins to spark a passing attack that has produced just three touchdowns in Clemens' four starts.

TRIBUTE: Coles and the Jets will wear black decals on their helmet with No. 21 in white tomorrow to honor slain Redskins safety Sean Taylor. Taylor died early Tuesday after he was shot by an intruder at his home in Miami early Monday.

Though Taylor's funeral is scheduled for Monday on the campus of Florida International University in Miami, a day after the Jets play in that city, Coles, Taylor's friend and teammate with the Skins in 2003, will not attend. "Unfortunately, we have work here (Monday)," he said. "I don't feel right at this point in the season asking Coach for an absence to go down to a friend's funeral. So I'll have somebody grab me an obituary; that's all I could do."

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By Charles Bricker | South Florida Sun-Sentinel

December 1, 2007

Same stadium, same South Florida vacationland. But for Thomas Jones, this game isn't going to be quite as super as the one he had here in February — not with the 2-9 New York Jets playing the 0-11 Dolphins.

Jones could run for another 112 yards on Sunday, which is what he rolled up at Dolphin Stadium against Indianapolis in Super Bowl XLI, and there would still be the lingering chill of being bundled out of Chicago after the best season of his career.

You can easily make out the disappointment in Jones' voice, no matter how hard he tried Friday to take the high road on his trade to New York.

"Everything I did at Chicago was a great experience, and when I came to the Jets. . ." His voice trailed off until, finally, he added, "You know, it's a job.

"It's tough when you're not winning as much as expected, but I try my best to put each year behind me."

Neither the Jets nor the Bears are having the seasons most expected, and there are no lack of angry Chicago fans who will tell you the decision by General Manager Jerry Angelo to go with his 2005 first-round running back, Cedric Benson, and ship Jones out is a major factor in the Bears' fade to 5-6. What has Benson, now on injured reserve for the rest of the year, done for the Bears? He gave them 647 yards last season while Jones was producing 1,210 in the regular season and another 301 in three playoff games.

With Chicago leading 7-6 midway through the first quarter of the Super Bowl, Jones burst through a gap at left guard and ran 52 yards to the Colts' 5-yard line. Three plays later Chicago led 14-6.

In the NFC Championship Game, on a snowy night in Chicago, Jones gave the Bears one of the memorable moments of the season by carrying on all eight plays of a 69-yard drive for a 16-0 halftime lead.

His reward for all this was a ticket to his fourth NFL club.

No doubt the $12 million in guaranteed money the Jets are paying him is some comfort, but it's also easy to ponder how much of that Jones would give up to be back in ChiTown.

With 763 yards this year, he'll probably clip 1,000 again, though that's hardly a barometer of running back greatness any longer. Working behind an offensive line that is decidedly inferior to the one he had at Chicago, he's managed only 3.7 yards per carry and hasn't scored a touchdown.

But the quality is still there, and it showed itself with 130 yards against Philadelphia, 117 vs. Pittsburgh and 110 against the Dolphins in the Jets' 31-28 win at Giants Stadium on Sept. 23. It was the first time in 35 games the Steelers had allowed a runner to nick them for 100.

There are players who get a mental lift going back to a field where they've had success. Jones isn't one of them.

"I thought about the Super Bowl down there earlier in the week," he said. "But, really, I don't think I get any emotional or psychological edge playing in that stadium."

He hasn't had a straight-line career. A first-round draft pick of Arizona in 2000, he failed to make an impact there or in Tampa Bay, where he spent one year.

But in his second year in Chicago, given a chance to be the every-down back, he proved he was durable (314 carries), physically strong (1,335 yards) and able to catch out of the backfield (26 receptions).

No doubt the presence of Benson pushed him harder that year and there's no doubt, either, that Benson, rightly or wrongly, is the reason Jones now finds himself working for the Jets.

Charles Bricker can be reached at cbricker@sun-sentinel.com

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Jets' Cotchery ruled out of game vs. Dolphins



(Original publication: December 1, 2007)

HEMPSTEAD - Jets wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery was ruled out yesterday for tomorrow's game at Miami because of an injured right index finger.

Cotchery, who leads the team with 54 catches for 730 yards and a touchdown, was hurt during practice Monday and hasn't been on the field or in the locker room during media availability since.

The nature and severity of the injury was not immediately known, and it's team policy to not discuss injuries. It'll be the first game Cotchery will miss since his rookie season in 2004.

Fellow receiver Laveranues Coles was listed as questionable for the game tomorrow with an ankle injury. Coles, second on the team with 43 catches for 529 yards and six TDs, hopes to play but has been limited in practice.

Coles was injured early during the Jets' 19-16 overtime win against Pittsburgh on Nov. 18 while making a 56-yard catch off a flea flicker that set up a touchdown. He returned briefly, but was noticeably hobbled and then sat out against Dallas last Thursday.

If both Cotchery and Coles aren't available, Kellen Clemens' main targets against the winless Dolphins would be Justin McCareins, Brad Smith and tight end Chris Baker. The only other wide receivers on the Jets' active roster are Wallace Wright and Chris Davis, although they also have David Clowney, Evan Prall and David Ball on the practice squad.

"Even though injuries are difficult and you have to adjust, a lot of times, it's a positive thing for someone in terms of their ability to then step up," coach Eric Mangini said.

While the prospect of being without both Cotchery and Coles seems dire, Clemens already has a good rapport with the remaining receivers. While Chad Pennington worked with the first-team offense last year and the first half of this season, Clemens developed a bit of chemistry with the backups.

Clemens and McCareins hooked up often in training camp and exhibition games, and the second-year quarterback is also familiar with what Smith, Wright and Davis can do.

"It's still early and we're still learning from each other," said Smith, who has 23 catches and a TD in his second season. "Last year, the scout team helped because I know what he's thinking in certain coverages, how he's going to read them and when he's going to throw the ball."

Wright spent most of last season on the practice squad, but made the active roster out of training camp after an impressive summer. He has just one catch for 11 yards, but could become more of a factor.

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Baker relishes his chance

Saturday, December 01, 2007


Star-Ledger Staff

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- The lockers of Jets wide receiver Laveranues Coles and tight end Chris Baker are adjacent at the team's Long Island practice facility, so it was no surprise when, yesterday afternoon, Coles quickly turned a question about Baker into a playful exchange.

"It isn't like I go sit upstairs (in the film room) and study Baker," said Coles.

"You could learn a lot," Baker said.

Baker might not have gotten a lot of love from his longtime teammate, but he has been a much appreciated part of the Jets' offense over the past month. With Coles, who leads the team in touchdown receptions, out for two of the past three games with injuries, Baker has caught 11 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown.

Against the 0-11 Dolphins tomorrow, Coles is expected to be back, though he is listed as questionable with an ankle injury. However, the Jets will be without leading receiver Jerricho Cotchery, out with an injured right index finger. Baker, then, could again be an important target.

"If it does end up happening that way, it's more than welcome," said Baker, a six-year pro. "It's something I've been looking forward to."

This season, through the first 11 games, Baker has 24 catches for 247 yards and three touchdowns. His production the past three weeks is close to half his season total and included his first two four-reception games this season.

Though he attributes that, in part, to the team being without Coles, Baker also said he has a "pretty good rapport" with quarterback Kellen Clemens, who took over the starting job in Week 9 against Washington.

Clemens found Baker wide open in the back of the end zone for the Jets' first score in their win over Pittsburgh on Nov. 18. And against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day, Baker made a leaping grab for a 22-yard gain in the first quarter, then Clemens looked to him on fourth-and-goal late in the fourth quarter, though Baker's diving catch was 1 yard short of the end zone.

"He's a guy that has a good feel for man and zone and a good feel for getting open against man coverage," coach Eric Mangini said. "You can run a route, but at the top of the route there's so much that you have to do to really separate, and Chris has done some nice things there."

Last year was Baker's first full season starting in the NFL, after breaking his leg in 2005, and he said midway through the 2006 season he became comfortable in his role. He worked on his routes with former Jets assistant Richie Anderson and gained confidence when the team went to him in clutch situations.

This year, with the Jets' offense ranked 30th in the league, has been a frustrating follow-up.

"We're 2-9, so it's obviously not an ideal situation," Baker said. "But when you get into a situation like this, you really just have to go out and focus and try to improve yourself."

Cotchery did not practice for the third straight day yesterday because of his finger injury. Coles, listed as questionable, had limited participation and said he is "trying to do everything I can to get back on the field." Also questionable for the Jets are CB David Barrett (hip), TE/LS James Dearth (foot) and NT Dewayne Robertson (knee).

For the Dolphins, LB Zach Thomas (migraine) is out, and DT Vonnie Holliday (ankle) and DE Matt Roth (groin) are questionable and did not practice yesterday.

Coles, a good friend and former teammate of Redskins safety Sean Taylor, said he doesn't feel comfortable asking Mangini for Monday off to attend Taylor's funeral, given the Jets' struggles this season.

"I just don't feel right, at this point in the season, asking coach for an absence," Coles said.

In the nine games before the Jets' bye, their defense had nine sacks total but have 10 in the two games since. Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said the change is the result of proper rush lanes and tighter coverage with disguises.

"It's a lot of those little things that I don't think would be that noticeable but have improved," he said.

Jenny Vrentas may be reached at


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Underdog Jets Possibly Down Top Two Receivers

Posted by Bob Bullock November 30, 2007 7:14PM

Categories: Games

Gang Green, embarrassingly a 1 1/2 point UNDERDOG to the winless FISH, could be without its top two receivers on Sunday. Jerricho Cotchery has already been ruled out of the game with a broken finger, while Laveranues Coles is still questionable with an ankle issue.

Poor Kellen Clemens, this guy has to prove himself to the Jets' brass having Brad Smith and Justin McCareins as his top two receiving options. It doesn't get much tougher than that. How can you expect this guy to move an offense with "weapons" like that?

I also can't believe this team is an underdog to a team that hasn't won all year. That is more proof of how much this organization lacks respect all over the place, even in Vegas! It's disgustingly embarrassing to be favored to lose against a winless team. The Jets had better use this as motivation. If not for themselves, than do it for their long suffering fans. Especially one in particular who plans on attending this game. Why? I have no idea.

"We're trying to go out and get a win, man," Guard Brandon Moore said. "Whether they're 0-11 or 11-0, guys are just trying to get a win, win No. 3, and get going and get positive because we enjoyed the feeling we had against Pittsburgh. It was short-lived, but we're trying to get back to that, that winning feeling."

All I know is that if I was a betting man I would stay clear of that 1 1/2 point spread. I would, however, be all over the UNDER!

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Behind scenes, assistants deserve their due

Jay Glazer

FOXSports.com, Updated 12 hours ago STORY TOOLS:

The NFL's stars have once again been placed in proper alignment. Randy Moss is back to being invincible. Terrell Owens is back to being unstoppable and, more importantly, a good NFL Samaritan and team player.

The story lines of players this year have been as remarkable as the Patriots' season. Brett Favre is everyone's favorite gunslinger again and a rookie rusher has defensive coordinators and defenders scratching their heads in amazement.

But what about the men behind the stars? The men who help place these constellations in the NFL's orbit? Those who log 20-hour days so a guy like Adrian Peterson can dazzle the senses. Those anonymous cogs in the NFL coaching machine who get the most out of guys teams need the most from.

It's time some of them no longer remain anonymous, at least on a national level. The unsung heroes on many teams are the position coaches who squeeze every last drop of potential out of some while keeping others from ruining their reps and careers. The behind-the-scenes grunts who spend more time in the film room than in their own living rooms.

FOXSports.com gives out proper praise throughout the league to those you may not know, but who certainly deserve the love. Sorry we can't include everyone who has done a solid job this year, but the following is a handful of coaches you may never have heard of who are quietly having a huge effect on their teams this year.

Who knows, a member or two of our list could end up being a bigger name than you'd ever think. After all, it was just two years ago when a little known DB coach named Mike Tomlin showed up in a very similar column.

Eric Bieniemy is helping maximize the talents of Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor. (David Sherman / Getty Images)

Cowboys receiver coach Ray Sherman

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When it was over 25 seasons ago, it was called the Mud Bowl. The Jets lost to the Dolphins, 14-0, in a game played in a rainstorm in a soaked Orange Bowl. At stake was the AFC title and a berth in the Super Bowl, which Miami then lost to Washington.

Sunday's matchup also has historical implications of a far different sort. Call it the Crud Bowl.

Winless Miami (0-11) is trying to avoid a place in the record books as the first winless team over a full NFL season since the 1976 expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers went 0-14. (The then-Baltimore Colts were 0-8-1 in the strike-shortened 1982 campaign.)

The Jets (2-9) are trying to avoid being the first notch on the Dolphins' collective belts.

No, it's certainly not the AFC championship game, but there is pressure.

"You know that team is going to come to win," right tackle Anthony Clement said. "They're going to play their hardest because they're looking to get a win. There's always added pressure when you play against a team that hasn't had a win. ... We have to prepare like we'd prepare any other week."

And, of course, it's not as if the Jets are in a position to take anybody for granted, considering the season they've had. And as the Jets players kept noting, Miami has lost six games by three points each, including a 3-0 defeat to Pittsburgh on Monday night.

"Just because they're 0-11 doesn't mean they're not a good team," linebacker David Bowens said of the Dolphins, whom he left as a free agent in March to sign with the Jets.

"We're in the same boat," strong safety Kerry Rhodes said. "They can easily have a different record, but they are what they are and we are what we are. We're both not that good right now. We're both struggling and trying to get a victory on Sunday. It's going to be a tough game."

The Dolphins are decimated on offense. Both Ricky Williams, who had just returned from a suspension, and Jesse Chatman were injured against Pittsburgh. Williams (torn pectoral muscle) is out for the season, as is Ronnie Brown (knee), who had 211 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns in the Dolphins' 31-28 loss to the Jets in North Jersey on Sept. 23. They're also on their third starting quarterback of the season, as rookie John Beck, a second-round pick, has started the last two games.

Rhodes did his best to minimize those injury problems, saying, "They're still dangerous. They're playing better as the season progresses. It seems like they're getting accustomed to the system that they're in. Now that they have the young quarterback in, they're trying to do some other things and get some quick balls out to Ted Ginn Jr. (Ginn) is making more plays. They're getting him more involved in the offense. They still have some weapons."

But perhaps the Dolphins' biggest weapons in this game are psychological, as they certainly will throw everything they have at the Jets in an attempt to avoid the ignominy of a winless season, 35 years after this franchise put together a perfect season.

SERIES HISTORY: 84th meeting. Jets lead series, 44-38-1. The Jets swept the Dolphins last season and have won six of the last seven meetings, including a 31-28 victory in New Jersey on Sept. 23. In that game, Miami RB Ronnie Brown had 112 yards rushing on 23 carries and 99 yards receiving on six catches. He scored three touchdowns, two rushing and one receiving. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, he's out for the season with a knee injury. Former starting QB Chad Pennington threw two touchdowns and ran for one in that contest.


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