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Jets news, opinions and other football news 6/29/08

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BY MICHELLE TRAURING | michelle.trauring@newsday.com

8:07 PM EDT, June 27, 2008

Four Freeport High School seniors will receive a combined total of $10,000 in scholarships Saturday night from one of the school's most famous alums.

They just don't know it yet.

New York Jets starting left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson, 24, wants to use the element of surprise to maximum effect by keeping recipients in the dark until the scholarship and honors ceremony.

"It creates an atmosphere," Ferguson, 24, said Friday in an interview. "It's exciting.

Freeport's award winners will join 17 other seniors from Uniondale, Baldwin, Hempstead and Roosevelt high schools who received their D'Brickashaw Ferguson Foundation scholarships earlier this month.

The scholarships are intended to help students who have faced hardships pay for their college educations, Ferguson said.

"We're here to try and alleviate their difficulties, whatever they may be," he said. "Kids get their acceptance letters and say, 'Oh I got in!' but it doesn't end there."

Ferguson, who graduated Freeport in 2002, completed his religious studies degree at the University of Virginia in 3 1/2 years and currently is pursuing a master's in general business management at Dowling College.

He decided to start his foundation last year. "People would ask me what I was doing to help out and give back to the community," he said. "They weren't interrogating me or anything - just asking out of curiousity. I like that I can now talk about my foundation."

The D'Brickashaw Ferguson Foundation reaches far beyond scholarships, he said, and aims to help food kitchens and churches as well. "Our slogan is 'Building Communities One Brick At a Time,'" he said.

To get the foundation off the ground, Ferguson said he gave $20,000 out of his own pocket to students at the first four high schools, but purposely saved Freeport for the last leg of his scholarship tour.

Freeport has sentimental value for him, Ferguson said. "Every time I step in there, I swell with pride," he said. "And it's a good feeling to give back."

Students are always excited to see him when he visits Freeport, said district superintendent Eric Eversley. "He's an inspirational young man, a role model, and he's giving a wonderful gift to our community," Eversley said.

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AFC rankings: wide recievers

Posted: June 25, 2008

Sporting News correspondents

More: NFC rankings: wide receivers

In the latest installment of NFL offseason position rankings, SN's correspondents break down the wide receivers in the AFC.

1. New England Patriots: Randy Moss, who set an NFL record for TD receptions last year, and Wes Welker, who set a team record for catches, are a great combo. Jabar Gaffney and Chad Jackson are solid options in multireceiver sets.

2. Cincinnati Bengals: Chad Johnson has speed and athleticism; T.J. Houshmandzadeh makes tough catches in traffic and is a good blocker. Rookies Andre Caldwell and Jerome Simpson are the top candidates for the No. 3 job.

3. Indianapolis Colts: Reggie Wayne, a pass-catching machine , and Marvin Harrison, who is on the mend after missing 11 games in '07, give defenses fits on the outside. That opens the middle for second-year player Anthony Gonzalez.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers: Pro Bowler Hines Ward has shown no signs of slowing down, and Santonio Holmes has become a bigplay guy. No. 3 Nate Washington is talented and athletic. Rookie Limas Sweed makes the unit even better.

5. Cleveland Browns: Braylon Edwards emerged as a Pro Bowl starter last season, though he still drops too many balls. Donte' Stallworth will inject the underneath quickness that the team lacked last year. Joe Jurevicius is a wily veteran.

6. Denver Broncos: The recovery of Brandon Marshall (forearm) is critical to an offense that relies on his ability to bust tackles. Darrell Jackson is healthy and has 60-catch potential, and Brandon Stokley is a dangerous slot option

7. San Diego Chargers: Chris Chambers' reliable hands made life easier for Philip Rivers last season. Vincent Jackson appears ready to become a bona fide No. 1. Legedu Naanee catches everything thrown his way.

Top 5

1. Randy Moss, Patriots

2. Reggie Wayne, Colts

3. Chad Johnson, Bengals

4. Braylon Edwards, Browns

5. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Bengals

8. Houston Texans: With Andre Johnson as the top target and Kevin Walter and Andre Davis as his complements, the Texans have one of the league's most impressive three-deep groups. Jacoby Jones has playmaking potential.

9. New York Jets: Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery are both adept at running routes and catching the ball in traffic, but neither has breakaway speed. Coles must stay healthy, and Brad Smith must show more in his third season.

10. Buffalo Bills: The team hopes rookie James Hardy will be a reliable big target in the red zone and that he takes some of the defensive focus off Lee Evans, who is coming off a down year. Josh Reed and Roscoe Parrish are proven veterans.

11. Baltimore Ravens: Mark Clayton and Derrick Mason do a great job of finding holes in defenses, but they are primarily possession receivers. Demetrius Williams can become the deep threat if he stays healthy.

12. Kansas City Chiefs: As a rookie, Dwayne Bowe excelled at both making tough catches and running after the catch. It's a bad sign when Devard Darling is the top candidate as the other starter, though. Jeff Webb is a good possession receiver.

13. Oakland Raiders: The team threw a lot of money at Javon Walker, who is coming off his third knee surgery and a poor season. Most recently, he was an assault victim in Las Vegas. Ronald Curry and Drew Carter are decent targets.

14. Jacksonville Jaguars: The unit was revamped with Jerry Porter and Troy Williamson. Porter should draw double coverage on the outside, but Williamson had problems with drops in Minnesota. Reggie Williams improved in '07.

15. Tennessee Titans: Adding Justin McCareins doesn't quite solve the team's receiving woes. McCareins and Justin Gage can fight for the ball in traffic. Biren Ealy, undrafted last year, has put himself in the mix.

16. Miami Dolphins: Youth and inexperience abound at wide receiver, one of the biggest problem positions on the roster. The team seems confident in Ted Ginn Jr.'s ability to have a breakout season, especially given his progress as a route runner late last season. The new coaching staff intends to lighten his load on special teams so he'll have fresh legs to use his speed more on offense. Ernest Wilford, the Jaguars' No. 2 receiver last year, will assume a similar but more prominent role in the Dolphins' offense. He should complement Ginn well as an intermediate target with a big frame. Derek Hagan, David Kircus and Greg Camarillo will compete for the No. 3 job. All three have shown some flashes of ability but must be more consistent.

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AFC team reports rundown


Posted: June 25, 2008

Sporting News correspondents

More: NFC team reports rundown

Each week, Sporting News correspondents provide insight and analysis on every NFL team. Here's a sample of what you'll find in the latest AFC team reports.

East Division

Buffalo Bills

With the arrival of first-round pick Leodis McKelvin and free agent William James, CB Jabari Greer's starting job was supposed to be in peril. Apparently, Greer never got that memo. McKelvin will ultimately become a starter, but thanks to a terrific offseason, Greer will continue to have a key role in the secondary.

Miami Dolphins

Though Akin Ayodele's Cowboys roots give him an advantage because of his knowledge of the system, his versatility could keep him in the running for a prominent role. He might not have the elite speed and talent to make him a lock for a starting job, but he's strong and agile, and he adds much-needed depth at the position.

New England Patriots

DE Richard Seymour continues to be encouraged by an injury-free offseason. Hampered by injuries since 2005, Seymour participated in a full offseason of conditioning and workouts, which he expects will pay off when the season begins.

New York Jets

While the Jets are looking for Kris Jenkins to fill the void at nose tackle in 2008, backup Sione Pouha again will be crucial in short-yardage situations. Pouha, who was signed to a three-year extension the same day they acquired Jenkins, has a low base and good technique that make him tough against the run.

North Division

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens will move starting cornerback Samari Rolle inside as a nickel back on passing situations. He will continue to be the starter in base defense, but the Ravens feel more comfortable moving him inside this year because of several free agent additions.

Cincinnati Bengals

Locking down DT Domata Peko through 2014 is a smart move for three reasons. He pushes the pile, offers strong run support and provides good pass pressure up the middle. With Peko, LE Robert Geathers and RE Antwan Odom signed to long-term deals, the future looks promising for the defensive line.

Cleveland Browns

Rookie Beau Bell came through OTAs and minicamp confident he can help right away. There is little doubt the fourth-round pick is headed for the game-day active roster. He also shows the progression to help in the Browns' crowded inside linebacker rotation.

Pittsburgh Steelers

DE Brett Keisel led the team in quarterback pressures (31) last year, but he finished with only two sacks. He has to finish more plays and not allow the quarterback to escape from the pocket to be more productive.

South Division

Houston Texans

The Texans addressed their need for a pass rusher to complement Mario Williams by signing veteran LB Rosevelt Colvin, who will likely come off the bench behind Anthony Weaver in passing situations. Colvin has spent much of the offseason rehabbing a foot injury but is expected to be healthy in time for training camp.

Indianapolis Colts

There figures to be a spirited competition behind Dallas Clark at tight end during training camp. While much of the attention will be on rookies Jacob Tamme and Tom Santi, don't overlook Gijon Robinson, who might be a viable option as a blocker in the two-tight end formation.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Look for rookie DE Quentin Groves to make an immediate contribution because defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will find creative ways to create mismatches with him on passing downs.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans are expected to take more chances downfield under new offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger, which means QB Vince Young needs to improve his deep ball. Young thinks his improved footwork and a better familiarity with his receivers should help an area of weakness in his first two seasons.

West Division

Denver Broncos

Selvin Young still has a ways to go to establish himself as the No. 1 running back. But the team is pleased with his offseason commitment to getting stronger and his determination to disprove the perception he's an injury-prone, change-of-pace runner.

Kansas City Chiefs

Napoleon Harris was the starting middle linebacker during offseason practices, but there's plenty of time for that to change before the regular season. The Chiefs want consistency from Harris and won't hesitate to move Donnie Edwards from the outside and use free-agent addition Demorrio Williams in his place.

Oakland Raiders

CB Stanford Routt lost his starting job when the Raiders traded for high-profile CB DeAngelo Hall. However, he still figures into the Raiders' defensive plans as the nickel back. He showed a knack for making big plays last season, though he still needs work in the nuances of covering top-caliber receivers.

San Diego Chargers

Third-round pick Jacob Hester heard plenty of Norv Turner's voice during offseason workouts. Turner was all over Hester, who was playing tailback and fullback and lining up in the slot. He showed quickness and an ability to catch the ball, though he has a lot to learn.

CORRESPONDENTS: Baltimore, Mike Preston; Buffalo, Allen Wilson; Cincinnati, Chick Ludwig; Cleveland, Steve Doerschuk; Denver, Lee Rasizer; Houston, Megan Manfull; Indianapolis, Mike Chappell; Jacksonville, Michael C. Wright; Kansas City, Adam Teicher; Miami, Jeff Darlington; New England, John Tomase; New York, J.P. Pelzman; Oakland, Steve Corkran; Pittsburgh, Gerry Dulac; San Diego, Kevin Acee; Tennessee, Jim Wyatt.

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More Boom: On Jets' Offense, Quarterbacks

Published: Thu, June 26, 2008 - 9:12am EST

By Eric Allen

Allen is the senior managing editor of newyorkjets.com. He is in his seventh season with the Jets.

File Under: Chad Pennington, Eric Mangini, Kellen Clemens, Boomer Esiason, Alan Faneca, Empire Challenge

change font email article 06/26

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