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Jets news and football articles 6/5/08

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June 5, 2008 -- While Tony Richardson was surveying the free-agent market, signing with the JetsNew York Jets became a no-brainer. While Eric Mangini was surveying the market, signing Richardson became a no-brainer, too.

Had one of those dating matchmakers matched up Mangini and Richardson in its compatibility computer, smoke would have been coming out of the sides of the terminal.

Richardson, a sage 14th-year fullback who played 11 seasons in Kansas City and the last two in Minnesota, might as well have invented the "core values" Mangini has preached. And Richardson represents the exact football leader Mangini craves - one who instills discipline, structure and vision.

"Being the son of a military man, I like the way [Mangini] runs things," said Richardson, who will participate in a minicamp today and tomorrow in Hempstead. "It's about details, trust and relationships. He runs a tight ship here. There are no shortcuts to winning. You've got to work and bust your butt. I like that attitude."

Does that sound like a Mangini man, or what?

Richardson's dad, now retired in Alabama, was an Army sergeant major. His sister, who was part of Desert Storm, is still serving and is stationed in Fort Bragg, N.C.

Despite coming out of Auburn 15 years ago, Richardson has the look of a much younger man. He hardly looks the part of the grizzled veteran. "Just good living," he joked.

At 36, he's a mere year younger than Mangini. "I wanted to bring in a contemporary," Mangini quipped. "He graduated high school the same year [i did] and could actually relate to the same songs, things like that."

Turning more serious, Mangini said, "With Tony, he's one of those guys that you can't find anybody that says a negative thing about the guy. I was looking hard for someone that wouldn't say something nice about him - just for some balance - and I couldn't find anyone."

Richardson, though not necessarily a prototypical fullback, has blocked well enough to make three Pro Bowls. He's paved the way for Adrian Peterson, Marcus Allen, Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson.

"He's opened a lot of holes for guys over the years," Mangini said.


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Star-Ledger Staff

Calvin Pace hadn't even played a down in the NFL when he fell out of favor.

The Arizona Cardinals were in position to take hometown favorite and Arizona State star Terrell Suggs with the sixth pick overall in the 2003 draft, but instead traded down and selected Pace at No. 18.

Had Pace panned out in Arizona, he might have been able to make the tormented Cardinals fans forget that decision. But as Pace was unproductive, oft-injured and jostled around the depth chart in his first four seasons, Suggs turned into a two-time Pro Bowl linebacker with the Ravens and one of the NFL's top pass-rushers.

Pace started at defensive end as a rookie but had just one sack in 16 games, and his playing time was reduced the following season. In 2005, he missed the season's final 11 games after tearing tendons in his right arm while falling through a sliding glass door during horseplay with a friend during the bye week.

"One of the worst things that happened to me," Pace said.

The non-football injury allowed the Cardinals to dock Pace $473,750 of his base salary, and the organization contemplated releasing him at the end of the season. In 2006, Pace was moved to strongside linebacker but still struggled. In his first four seasons, he had just 54 tackles and 7 1/2 sacks in 51 games (22 starts).

"It is just one of those places," Pace said. "It's hard to put into words if you're not there first-hand to see it. I don't want to speak negatively on the place because they did draft me. I did get a chance to play."

By the time it finally clicked for Pace in Arizona -- after the Cardinals switched to a 3-4 defense last fall, he had a career-best 6 1/2 sacks and 98 tackles -- he had put himself in position to land a lucrative free-agent contract.

In March, the Jets outbid Bill Parcells and the Dolphins for Pace, signing him to a six-year, $42 million contract that included a $20 million signing bonus to play linebacker in the Jets' 3-4 scheme.

Pace, who took a helicopter ride from Long Island to the Jets' new training facility in Florham Park during his recruiting visit ("It was something I'll always remember"), picked the Jets because of the "little things" like yoga classes, the Pilates classes, the training staff and the fact the club provides breakfast and lunch for the players.

"Those are things I've never seen before in the NFL," said Pace, who was a bit overwhelmed while as many as 10 teams courted him. "It's kind of funny to put in perspective that people think of you that much. I just take it as the hard work and perseverance more than anything (paid off). I had a lot of downs in Arizona."

As he takes part in the Jets' mandatory minicamp today through Saturday in Hempstead, N.Y., the 6-4, 272-pound Pace is hopeful those down times are behind him. So are the Jets.

Coach Eric Mangini has compared Pace to former Jets linebacker Mo Lewis because of his versatility. He views Pace as an every-down player.

"He's very fast ... has very good athletic ability and change-of-direction for someone his size," Mangini said. "A lot of times, the taller they get, the bigger they get, the stiffer they get."

Pace, 27, realizes great expectations come along with a big free-agent contract. But he's prepared for it.

"It was easy for me to come in and just be one of the guys," he said. "I just have to go out and do my job. I can't do more than I can do. I can't try to do somebody else's job. If I don't get a sack one game and I help (defensive end) Kenyon (Coleman) get two, then I did my job."

Dave Hutchinson may be reached

at dhutchinson@starledger.com

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Expect Kendall Part II at Jets mini-camp

By Dan Leberfeld

Posted Jun 4, 2008

It looks like history might repeat itself on Thursday at the Jets mandatory mini-camp.

Last year, disgruntled guard Pete Kendall showed up and blasted the team's management over his contract.

This year, expect a similar approach from dismayed tight end Chris Baker, who wants a new deal.

Baker has boycotted most of the team's off-season workouts, just like Kendall did last year. Baker and Kendall are both represented by the same agency.

The Kendall approach of non-stop blasting of the team in the media eventually got him traded to Washington(where he got the money he wanted).

So expect the agency to advise Baker to take the same approach - verbally shoot your way out of Hempstead.

And this campaign will start in earnest on Thursday.

Baker is in the third year of a four-year contract that averages $1.65 million a season. He has repeatedly claimed that Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum essentially told him that he has outplayed is contract.

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June 4, 2008

Wesley Walker fights Lowe Syndrome

You read a lot of stories these days about former NFL players getting into trouble and struggling to get by, but here

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Camp countdown '08: New York Jets

Posted: June 2, 2008

J.P. Pelzman / For Sporting News

Sporting News continues its breakdown of all 32 NFL teams while counting down to the start of training camp. Today's team is the Jets:

Coach Eric Mangini often talks about how each season is "unique." Nothing carries over from one year to the next. He'd better be right, since there's not much for the Jets to take from their disappointing 4-12 season in 2007.Instead, the team tried to move forward with a flurry of offseason moves. On offense, the Jets signed left guard Alan Faneca and right tackle Damien Woody to plug a leaky line. On defense, they added outside linebacker Calvin Pace and traded for nose tackle Kris Jenkins to shore up a unit that didn't have enough compatible pieces to properly run the 3-4 scheme during Mangini's first two seasons at the helm.Next, the Jets drafted edge rusher Vernon Gholston with the sixth overall pick, having realized that the only way to challenge division kingpin New England is to consistently pressure quarterback Tom Brady.But for the Jets make a run at the AFC East title this year, or even rebound from last season's mess, the new additions must step in and make a difference right away.


Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer uses multiple formations, pre-snap motion and even some no-huddle to confuse defenses. He also employs gimmicks like direct snaps to running backs.Schottenheimer will continue to call the plays, but it should be interesting to see how much influence new assistant head coach Bill Callahan has on the game plan. Callahan, who will work with the offensive line, ran a traditional West Coast offense when he was the coach at Nebraska.


The Jets run a 3-4 scheme very similar to the one used by New England, where Mangini served for a year as defensive coordinator. Mangini remains very hands-on with the defense, although Bob Sutton is entering his third year as the coordinator.The Jets primarily employ zone coverage in the secondary and don't blitz all that much up front, instead opting to use schemes and games to get to the passer.

The book on: Shaun Ellis

A rival sizes up the Jets' defensive end:

"He is a big, powerful end. He is strong, a solid technician, and a good effort guy. Most of his pressure comes off of power and not speed. He probably hates the 3-4. Most defensive ends prefer the 4-3 because they only have to control one gap and have a better shot at getting sacks and pressures and making more money."Guys like (New England's Richard) Seymour are fine with playing 3-4 as long as they are compensated for it. But Ellis is plenty strong enough and looks like your typical 3-4 end."

Bottom line

The Jets addressed most of their pressing needs in the offseason, especially on defense, but it could take time for all those new parts to mesh. The revamped offensive line must come together quickly and allow the Jets to control the ball, because the attack still doesn't have quick-strike potential. Nor does it have a clear leader behind center heading into camp.Improvement is expected, particularly with a fairly favorable schedule, although the team will need to make four West Coast trips for the first time in its history.The Jets still aren't close to the Patriots' level, but 8-8 seems like a realistic finish. The playoffs are at least a year away. SN prediction: 8-8, second in AFC East.

J.P Pelzman covers the Jets for the Bergen (N.J.) Record and Sporting News.

> http://www.sportingnews.com/yourturn...c.php?t=419040


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How Valuable is Chris Baker?

By Joe Caporoso | June 4th, 2008

Mandatory minincamp starts tomorrow, and many reporters are anticipating a Pete Kendall like show from disgruntled tight end Chris Baker. Personally, I think Kendall is a much more vocal guy than Baker, and that his discussion with reporters won

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Chris Baker Will Be Doing More Than Practicing at Jets Minicamp

Posted Jun 4th 2008 10:00AM by Josh Alper

Filed under: Jets, AFC East, New York

Summer's getting started and, for a lot of families, that means a return to vacation spots they've enjoyed for years. Familiar faces, places and activities fill the days and nights with fun. The Jets do something similar, except that they substitute gut-wrenching conflict for fun.

The team will be welcoming Chris Baker back into the fold when minicamp opens tomorrow and there figures to be some deja vu to the proceedings. Baker will practice and then he'll head into interviews with media so that he can slam the team for not negotiating a new contract with him over the offseason.

"You put someone in a position where they really love you and have been really loyal to you and then they turn that to anger and then hate and it doesn't matter what a person's personality is, he's going to speak out," Baker's friend said.

It should all sound very familiar. The exact same thing happened with Pete Kendall last year. He skipped every voluntary workout and then made the mandatory ones to avoid fines and maximize his chances to voice displeasure. That mostly served to stiffen the resolve of everyone involved and led to the ugly breakup during training camp and a massive hole on the left side of the Jets line.

The Jets probably wouldn't miss Baker as much as Kendall but the yearly battles with players aren't good for the team. Figure out a solution sooner rather than later this time because not every summer vacation needs to be exactly the same.

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Can vets hold off the rookies in key defensive battles?

By Pat Kirwan | NFL.com

Senior Analyst

Despite limitations in practice due to roster size and the unpredictability of who is lining up against you in preseason games, teams must still find a way to settle starting positions that are up for grabs this summer.

The defensive camp battles look very interesting to me this year. Just as we pointed out in the offensive camp battles: veterans will not give up their starting position to a high draft pick without a fight. Just because a rookie or young player looks great in shorts during OTAs, he is not a lock to start.

I can't wait too see some of these defensive camp battles for myself on my camp tour for NFL.com and Sirius Radio. Some pit veterans against veterans, others are veterans against rookies. The ability to tackle and be physical is impossible to evaluate in shorts, so the battles truly get underway once the pads go on. Competition is what every coach wants. Of course there are elite players that don't have to compete for their starting position, but most starters still have to earn their spot each year.

Defensive end

College sack numbers mean very little when young players get to camp. I've known college players with close to 20 sacks as seniors and zero as NFL rookies. One-dimensional pass rushers are easily eliminated. As for defending the run, young players aren't ready for the power and athletic ability of NFL offensive tackles; disengaging from a block can be a real issue.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

Paul Spicer

Derrick Harvey Spicer, 32, did have 7.5 sacks in 12 starts last year. Harvey is the future, for sure, but Spicer isn't giving the job away.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars

Reggie Hayward

Quentin Groves Hayward will be tough to beat if he's healthy. From 2003-05, when he played 16 games in each season, he averaged 9 sacks a year. The problem is that he couldn't stay on the field the last two seasons. Groves may have issues with size, especially in run situations.

3. Miami Dolphins

Matt Roth

Phillip Merling Roth is a bit of a tweener, size-wise, and Merling has the bulk to be a two-gapper in the new defensive scheme.

4. Arizona Cardinals

Bertrand Berry

Travis LaBoy Although there is a chance that both players could end up on the field at the same time this season, in terms of choosing one over the other, this battle is too close to call.

5. St. Louis Rams

James Hall

Chris Long As the second overall pick, Long may be handed the position. If that's the case, he will handle it the right way. He has already started to gain the respect of his teammates, but it would still be a wise move to let Hall start when camp opens and have Long win the spot.

Defensive tackle

The game happens real fast inside and any hesitation in penetrating a gap or reading a scheme can neutralize the best of young talent. Even though no one is giving them a chance at this point, I have a feeling some of these veterans will hold off the youngsters. Still, most of the players listed below will be in a rotation.

1. Kansas City Chiefs

Ron Edwards

Glenn Dorsey The Chiefs will rotate tackles in this scheme and Dorsey looks like the next Warren Sapp. But beating NFL guards is not easy; offenses will attack Dorsey rather than run away from him.

2. Cincinnati Bengals

John Thornton

Pat Sims The Bengals are looking for a stout defender inside to slow down the run. If Sims demonstrates the ability to do it, the rookie will win this position battle.

3. New Orleans Saints

Hollis Thomas

Sedrick Ellis Thomas needs to get in great shape to stay up with the motor that first-round pick Ellis will bring to the field everyday.

4. Philadelphia Eagles

Brodrick Bunkley

Trevor Laws The Eagles like to use a 3- or 4-man rotation at the tackle position and both men will play, but Bunkley has to start feeling the heat as a former first-round selection. Laws is a crafty rookie who will push to start quickly.

Inside linebacker

The ability to key and diagnose plays, separate from blockers and take good drops in coverage usually separates players in the inside linebacker battles.

1. New England Patriots

Victor Hobson

Jerod Mayo There is a lot of hype around first-round pick Mayo, but Bill Belichick's system may take time for him to digest. Hobson, a free-agent addition, is a steady veteran.

2. Detroit Lions

Paris Lenon

Jordon Dizon The Lions surprised many when they took Dizon as high as they did (second round), but they were looking for a guy with a big motor. He may struggle to separate from blockers early and wait until he sees how deep his drops have to be in this league.

3. Cleveland Browns

Andra Davis

Leon Williams Both guys can attack the run game and survive the pass game. Williams played well when given the chance last year and this battle should go down to the wire.

Outside linebacker

Outside backers in the 3-4 better get after the quarterback when their number is called. The 4-3 guys have to be able to cover a tight end or a back out of the backfield.

1. New York Jets

Bryan Thomas

Vernon Gholston Thomas said he didn't play at a high level last year and now he has one of the strongest players to come out of college football on his heels. If Gholston plays hard for 60 minutes then this battle will be over.

2. Carolina Panthers

Landon Johnson

Dan Connor Connor was too good to pass up when the Panthers were able to draft him in the third round. In fact, the Panthers brass didn't expect him to be available. Now we have a good camp battle that should make Carolina a better team. Johnson is physical and Connor is ahead of most rookies when it comes to the mental part of the game.

3. Arizona Cardinals

Chike Okeafor

Clark Haggans Find a way to get them both on the field. Arizona is going to be a better team because it has so many camp battles going on and this may be the best of the bunch.


The modern game has made this a "matchup" position. Most decent safeties can fill in the box and make a tackle, but the group gets split quickly when personnel groups and formations put them in space.

1. New York Giants

James Butler

Kenny Phillips When all is said and done, these two may both start. But until then, Butler brings Super Bowl experience and Phillips brings athletic ability and matchup skills.

2. Washington Redskins

Reed Doughty

Stuart Schweigert Schweigert was just signed as the Redskins continue to beef up the back end of their roster. He had 10 starts for the Raiders last year with 69 tackles, four passes defended and two interceptions. Doughty came off the bench after the death of Sean Taylor and started six games with 53 tackles and two passes defended. Both are close in age, setting up a battle which may be won by the guy who flashes big-play ability in preseason games.


Young corners will get picked on by NFL quarterbacks and some will fold under the pressure. The older, savvy vets read routes better, pick up receiver tendencies and know how to survive. While the young guys will get beat, if they can recover, close on the ball and make a play, then they will get the nod.

1. Arizona Cardinals

Roderick Hood

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie Rodgers-Cromartie is raw and hasn't seen a lot of NFL arms or receivers. He is fast and, with limited coverage calls, could be ready early.

2. Buffalo Bills

Jabari Greer

Leodis McKelvin McKelvin is in the same boat as Rodgers-Cromartie; Greer, like Hood, has enough tricks to survive this battle for at least the short term.

3. Dallas Cowboys

Anthony Henry

Mike Jenkins Henry could move to safety or he could stand his ground against the rookie. He will respond to the competition -- and Pacman Jones could make this battle a moot point if he plays this season.

4. Detroit Lions

Travis Fisher

Leigh Bodden The Lions needed a corner and the Browns were willing to give up Bodden. Rod Marinelli will let this camp battle go the distance.

5. New England Patriots

Jason Webster

Terrence Wheatley Wheatley can fly, but this defense needs smart corners not cover corners. Webster could survive now that Asante Samuel, Randall Gay and Eugene Wilson are gone.

6. New York Giants

Sam Madison

Terrell Thomas Thomas isn't the only competition for the 34-year-old veteran, but he is the guy I will watch this summer. Madison will probably hold off the youngster, but if Thomas gets on the field in 2008, then it could be a case of no turning back.

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