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Jets news 5 /23/08

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NOSE TACKLE: The JetsNew York Jets are hoping Kris Jenkins makes the transition from being a 4-3 defensive tackle to a 3-4 nose tackle.

May 23, 2008 -- That wasn't the beginning of a solar eclipse that Chad PenningtonChad Pennington was witnessing as he peered over center across the line of scrimmage in yesterday's offseason practice at Hofstra.

It was Kris Jenkins.

"You just see a massive wall in front of you," Pennington said. "There's not a lot of wiggle room there."

The 6-foot-4, 360-pound Jenkins is what the Jets hope is the answer to the nose tackle dilemma that has plagued their defense since coach Eric Mangini took the reins and installed his 3-4 defensive scheme.

"He's a hard guy to block," Jets LG Alan Faneca said. "He's a whole lot of man who has great skills and is good with his hands. He definitely draws the attention of more than one guy a lot of times."

This is exactly what the Jets are hoping for with the addition of Jenkins, whom they traded for with the Panthers earlier in the offseason.

The Jets are hoping for two things from Jenkins: that he can make the transition from being a 4-3 defensive tackle to the nose and that he can keep his weight in check.

He ballooned to 394 pounds late last season and has trimmed to 360 at the request of Mangini.

"He makes 360 look good," Mangini quipped the other day. "I wish I could say the same. He's a fluid athlete, especially for someone his size."

Jenkins keeping his weight down will be critical to his and the Jets' success. His contract reflects that, with a significant weight clause written into it.

"I'm getting to the point in my career now where every little bit helps - especially when you get into double teams," Jenkins said. "It helps to alleviate pressure on my joints. I feel great doing what I've done now and I wouldn't go back the other way again.

"I had an excuse to get on top of it - my kids. Eating isn't just about football; it's way of life. I want to be around for my kids. That's what I used to motivate me."

Jenkins, 28, said the two most significant things he's given up in his diet include white rice and Fruity Pebbles cereal in the morning.

"The hardest part is the routine," he said. "You have to get a routine and you have to stay dedicated. One of the things I realized is I can't eat less to lose weight; I have to eat right."

Jenkins, entering his eighth NFL season, has started 31 of 32 games during the past two seasons. He had 52 tackles, 2.5 sacks and one pass defended in 2007 for a Panthers defense that allowed 3.8 yards per rushing attempt, the fourth-best average in the NFL. He called making the move to nose tackle "different," but vowed he'd master it.

"My whole career, except for my rookie year, I've always played single gap defense - just go up field and disrupt," he said. "I love this challenge, because now I have to be basically a stud. You've got two gaps, you can't move, you can't let anybody block you on double teams, you've got to take it head-on. It lets me express myself, show a little bit more of what I can do."


Rookie No. 1 draft pick, LB Vernon Gholston is not in camp at the moment because, by NFL rule, players cannot join their NFL team until they either graduate or finish finals. Gholston is still finishing up classes at Ohio State . . . S Abram ElamAbram Elam , who's been in Florida with his family since the shooting death of his older brother, is back in camp.


Rookie QB Erik Ainge isn't participating because of recent surgery on his throwing pinky. Mangini, though, said he was "impressive" in the morning meeting, where he was asked to name everyone in the room. "He nailed it," Mangini said. "There are about 100 people in there and he named all of them."


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Versatile first-round pick Keller impressing Jets

BY ERIK BOLAND | erik.boland@newsday.com

May 23, 2008

Dustin Keller earned a degree in organizational leadership from Purdue University.

Starting with the rookie minicamp in early May and continuing Monday with the onset of OTA practices that rookies can attend, Keller began his pursuit of additional higher learning.

"I'm studying more in this playbook than I ever was in school," Keller said after yesterday morning's workout. "It's like I'm getting a degree in football now."

The Jets moved back into the first round to take the 6-2, 248-pound tight end, who flummoxed Big Ten defenses much of last season but did so acting more as a vertical receiving threat than a traditional tight end. The Jets saw Keller as a multi-dimensional playmaker, and there he was yesterday, lining up in several positions, including the slot.

"It's something I find to be a lot of fun, being able to be all over the field and kind of confusing the defense," Keller said. "You [the defense] see there's a tight end in the game but you don't know where he's going to line up. You have no clue. It makes me really excited that I can run out of different spots, run pass plays from all over the field."

Coach Eric Mangini has been impressed.

"He's got excellent vertical speed," Mangini said. "He's able to put a lot of pressure on the defense very quickly. Zone or man, his ability to pressure you and get on you so quickly, it's a tempo-changer."

With Chris Baker skipping OTAs in the hope of forcing the Jets to redo his contract, Keller could benefit, though veteran Bubba Franks, a more traditional tight end, would be the more realistic beneficiary. Regardless, Keller is smart enough to avoid speculating.

"I'm just trying to soak in the offense and whatever the coaches are asking of me," Keller said. "I'm looking forward to when Chris does get here so I can learn from him, learn a few things from him along with Bubba and Jason [Pociask]. I'm looking forward to all that."

Looks as if he's learned plenty already.

Notes & quotes: NT Kris Jenkins inflated to nearly 400 pounds last season with Carolina but confirmed what Mangini said last week: that he has shed significant weight and is about 360. "I feel great," Jenkins said. "Doing what I have done now, I would not go back the other way." ... Besides Baker, two players missed practice: LB Vernon Gholston because Ohio State's academic session hasn't ended, and P Jeremy Kapinos for personal reasons ... In the quarterback battle, Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens have been alternating working with the first team. Yesterday was Clemens' turn and he had the best pass of the day, a 40-yarder down the right sideline to Laveranues Coles that beat the tight coverage of Darrelle Revis.

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'Difference of opinions' Friday, May 23, 2008

Tight end Chris Baker has skipped the Jets' voluntary practices this month because of an ongoing contract dispute. He has said the Jets promised to revisit his contract if he had a productive 2007 campaign, and he finished that season with a career-high 41 receptions. When asked Thursday about Baker's claim, coach Eric Mangini said, "Everyone has a difference of opinions and I respect the difference of opinions."

Baker wants a raise from his current four-year, $6.6 million contract. He's due $683,500 this year and $2.1 million in 2009.

Mangini also was asked about the fact that the Jets have renegotiated contracts with right guard Brandon Moore and wide receiver Laveranues Coles.

"I don't talk about the specifics of anybody's contract and I hope you guys can respect that," Mangini said. "I will say each one that comes up, or anything that comes up, you have to deal with in a way that's right for that and the way that is specific to that."

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Slimmed-down Jenkins raring to go for Jets

By Jane McManus

The Journal News • May 23, 2008

HEMPSTEAD - After the professional football thing runs its course, Jets defensive tackle Kris Jenkins thinks he may have a second career as a food critic. And considering how refined his tastes have become, one can see why. He might be one of the few 349-pound guys who cooks his egg-white omelets with truffle oil.

"It's olive oil but they infuse it with truffles so it's heart-healthy," Jenkins said.

Despite his listed weight, consider also that Jenkins has slimmed down considerably since last season. Food is his weakness, but he realized pushing 400 meant he might not be around as long after football. Jenkins has a fiancee, Tashia, and three boys under the age of 6, and he started thinking he needed to change something if he wanted to watch them grow up.

He dropped more than 30 pounds by changing his diet to whole grains and cutting out all alcohol, "No partying, none of that," Jenkins said. He eats sushi and likes it, gets lot of fiber and makes sure he gets enough sleep. No one told him he had to do it, he just knew it was time.

"It wasn't hard," Jenkins said. "I had an excuse and basically my excuse to get me on top of it was my kids."

Jenkins, 28, was brought over as a free agent from Carolina, which drafted him in the second round of the 2001 draft. He is part of a series of offseason moves that Jets fans have hailed as evidence of the team's commitment to winning this season.

Carolina does not play the same defensive alignment as the Jets, but Jenkins feels the 3-4 will be a place where he can showcase his strengths.

"I love the challenge because now I have to be, basically, the stud," Jenkins said. "You got two gaps, you can't let anybody block you - double teams, whams, everything you got to take it head-on. It's different but it lets me kind of express myself. In a 4-3 defense you're basically restricted to that one gap. In the 3-4 defense I get to express myself a little bit more, show a little bit more of what I'm capable of doing."

It's a long way from 2004, when he injured his shoulder and got up to 400 pounds while spending the second half of the season on injured reserve. For a player who was an alternate on the 2002 Pro Bowl team, it wasn't an easy time.

"Part of the beat down I got comes with the job," Jenkins said.

Getting back on the field after a 2005 ACL tear, Jenkins realized he needed to do something to improve his long-term prospects on and off the field. And the change in diet has improved his life - and not just because he knows gourmet terms like "infused."

"It is huge," Jenkins said. "I'm getting to the point in my career now that every little bit helps, especially when you are getting the double teams off the end. Plus, it helps alleviate the pressure on my joints. I feel great. Doing what I have done now, I would not go back the other way."

Notes: As a junior, No. 6 overall draft pick Vernon Gholston isn't able to practice with the Jets until graduation day at Ohio State, June 8, which will keep him out of mini-camp in the first week of June. ... Punter Jeremy Kapinos missed yesterday's practice due to family reasons. ... Will Montgomery took some repetitions as the long snapper during practice. ... Midway through the morning practice, skies darkened and players were pelted with small hailstones. Just as quickly, the skies cleared.

Reach Jane McManus at jmcmanus@lohud.com.

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Kerry Rhodes' show must go on



Friday, May 23rd 2008, 12:38 AM

Weissman for News

While Kerry Rhodes has been focused on football this offseason, Jason Taylor's (below) mind has been dancing elsewhere.

Kerry Rhodes has no desire to dance with the stars, but he'd sure like to be one.

The Jets' talented safety, nicknamed "Hollywood" by his teammates, has made no secret of his ambition to pursue a post-football career in show business. But, unlike the dancing Dolphin - Jason Taylor - Rhodes has devoted his entire offseason to football.

That represents a departure from last year, when it seemed like he was always in front of a camera, either filming a movie or modeling for a magazine spread. There were enough offers to keep him busy again, but Rhodes made a unilateral decision - no outside prodding, he claimed - to make himself a 2-4/7 football player.

"The biggest thing is, I want to let everyone know I'm really focused coming into this year," Rhodes said yesterday at Hofstra, where the Jets continued their voluntary workouts. "It's a big year for us; we want to bounce back. With one of our leaders being gone - (Jonathan) Vilma - I want to step up and concentrate all my time on football, make sure everything is right for the team and make sure these guys follow me."

Taylor has taken a different approach, resulting in a feud with Dolphins VP Bill Parcells. Taylor, the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year, missed the first nine weeks of the team's offseason to participate in TV's "Dancing with the Stars," finishing runner-up on Tuesday to former Olympic skater Kristi Yamaguchi.

On Wednesday, the Dolphins announced that Taylor won't be in training camp, a strong indication that he is finished in Miami.

There were no tears at Hofstra. As far as the Jets are concerned, they would rather see Taylor dancing a tango than chasing their quarterback. Since 2002, he has recorded 11-1/2 sacks against them.

"He's done an excellent job of wreaking havoc on us," Chad Pennington said.

A smiling Eric Mangini said, "The longer he wants to stay out of Miami's camp, I think he should."

Mangini wouldn't say how he would respond if one of his players tried to pull a Taylor, but you can bet he wouldn't be thrilled. As far as anyone can tell, the Jets don't have any potential TV dancing stars, although Rhodes is "pretty enough to do it," Pennington cracked.

Rhodes feels a greater obligation to his team, perhaps because he signed a five-year, $33.5 million contract extension last month, but he understands why Taylor opted for the ballroom over the locker room. He said "it's too bad (Taylor) has come under so much scrutiny" for dancing.

"He's up there, close to the end of his career, and it's a good career move for him," said the 25-year-old Rhodes, eight years Taylor's junior. "He got a lot of attention from that. You never know what might come of that. He may be the next superhero that does a movie down the line. When America loves you, you have a lot of things that come your way."

For now, Rhodes will be happy with a playbook, not a movie script.

STAYING CLASSY: Aside from TE Chris Baker, who is unhappy with his contract, top pick Vernon Gholston is the only player not in camp. By league rule, the defensive end must remain at Ohio State until his class finishes the semester. The Jets have yet to begin contract discussions with Gholston, the draft's No.6 selection. The first and third choices (Jake Long and Matt Ryan, respectively) already have signed. ... Mangini indicated the Jets never promised Baker they would sweeten his contract if he played well, as Baker has claimed. "Everybody has different opinions," Mangini said. ... NT Kris Jenkins, whose weight ballooned to a dangerously high 393 after last season in Carolina, said he has dropped 30-plus pounds, motivated by his three young children. "I want to be around for my kids," he said.

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For Faneca, New Colors and a New Start With the Jets


Published: May 23, 2008

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — Alan Faneca leaned forward at left guard, same mop of red hair sneaking out of the helmet, same No. 66 stretched across the jersey, same physics lesson delivered after each snap: force = mass (x) acceleration.

In 10 seasons with Pittsburgh, Jets guard Alan Faneca was named to the Pro Bowl seven times and started 153 regular-season games.

Football felt familiar and felt new, often both at the same time.

Familiar because Faneca spent his career dominating that same position. New because Faneca used to do so in Pittsburgh, before going green and signing with the Jets as a free agent this off-season.

“It’s different when you’ve been in black and gold for a decade,” Faneca said after practice Thursday. “Even the first day, you walk in on the green carpet. You put your workout clothes on, and you’re wearing green shorts.”

Drafted by the Steelers in 1998, Faneca played 10 seasons there, made 7 Pro Bowls, won a Super Bowl and started 153 regular-season games.

He sometimes laughed when teammates, especially younger ones, talked of spending their whole careers in one city, with one team. He knew that football equaled business, that players came and went. But as the years crept by, he could not help wondering: what if he retired in black and gold?

“When you spend as much time as I did in Pittsburgh, you start leaning toward thinking that might be a possibility,” Faneca said.

Everything fell apart before last season, when Faneca expressed unhappiness with his contract and free agency became inevitable. Ten years in one place, then gone, just like that.

The day before the free-agency period, Faneca painted his daughter’s play room, worked on projects around the house, anything that kept him busy. When the Jets called at 12:01 a.m. on Feb. 29, his skin was still flecked with yellow paint.

Coach Eric Mangini and General Manager Mike Tannenbaum were on the line. They detailed how they planned to return the Jets to the playoffs after a 4-12 season. They wooed Faneca with his importance to the plan.

He hung up thinking the Jets presented “a strong possibility.” Faneca eventually signed with them for four years and $32 million, with roughly $20 million guaranteed.

Faneca, 31, spent the recent months living in a Marriott down the street from the Jets’ facility here, flying back to visit his family and searching for a house in New Jersey. He closed on new digs May 8, joined shortly after by his wife, Julie, and daughter, Anabelle.

The transition to a new offensive line came easier. Sandwiched between center Nick Mangold and left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson, two former first-round draft picks entering their third seasons, Faneca provides the veteran presence the Jets lost when Pete Kendall left for Washington last off-season.

“I want to be the rock between them,” Faneca said.

Once a week, the offensive linemen meet for dinner. Despite the size of the deals signed by Faneca and another free agent, Damien Woody, the linemen rotate choosing locations as well as who picks up the check. Recent outings included P. F. Chang’s and Brazilian food.

“I knew him as a great offensive lineman,” Ferguson said of Faneca. “He’s a great player. He’s a real hard worker. That’s what I noticed most.”

Other reactions were similarly positive. When running back Thomas Jones — he of a single rushing touchdown last season, despite more than 1,100 yards — saw Faneca, he rushed over, smiled wide and wrapped him in a bear hug.

Faneca joins a host of free agents the Jets signed this off-season. Are they good enough to get the team back into the playoffs?

“We look good on paper,” Faneca said. “It’s on us to put it on the field and put it all together. In Pittsburgh, we were pretty much the opposite. We probably didn’t look too good on paper, but we got it done.”

Jones would be happy to follow Faneca all the way into the playoffs. After practice Thursday, the rest of the offensive lineman joined Faneca for a photo shoot. They stood in one end zone, Faneca in the middle, ready to put paper into practice.

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Guards, and Their Paychecks, Are Finally Standing Out


Derrick Dockery learned the value of offensive tackles early. He was one in high school, earning the prestige afforded to the very large bodyguards for the most important player of all, the quarterback. Every kid wanted to play one of the hot offensive positions, Dockery said

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Love what I hear about Jenkins, Faneca, and Rhodes

Ainge's naming everyone in the room and Keller's "studying more than in college" bits are good too :lol:

rhodes seems to be the odd man out this year. He didn't really have a down year last year but i think some of us (me included) have forgotten how good he can be. He will be one of the main guys benefiting from a stronger pass rush and run D.

Should be fun to see how Mangini utilizes him.

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