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Jets' rookie TE turning heads Monday, August 4, 2008


HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. - Tackling was not allowed in the Jets' intrasquad scrimmage Saturday, as the team doesn't want to risk needless injuries. Thus, the rules more closely resembled those of touch football.

But if there was one thing the game demonstrated, it's that tackling Dustin Keller will be difficult - even when normal NFL rules apply.

The rookie tight end from Purdue had four receptions for 79 yards, including a 55-yard catch-and-run from Kellen Clemens for the White team's only touchdown.

Keller said, "My mentality going into every single practice, whoever I'm going against, is I feel as if nobody can cover me. If you don't have that mentality, then you're already setting yourself up for failure."

Keller has been a tough man to cover for Jets defensive backs, such as on that touchdown, when he caught a seam route over the middle, had brief contact with free safety Abram Elam and then was on his way to the touchdown.

"It's just a credit to how talented he is," Clemens said. "He went one-on-one with a safety. For us, that's a pretty good matchup when you've got Dustin Keller running down the middle of the field. I just threw that to an area and let him go get it. He did a great job."

"I've just been seeing him make plays. That's all I've been seeing," wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said. "He's been everywhere."

In talking about the play, coach Eric Mangini gave some insight into how the 6-foot-2, 248-pound Keller - who was a wide receiver in high school - can have an impact on a game with his size and speed.

"I think that the play that he scored on is a really good look on how a tight end can affect the defense," the coach said. "Deep down the middle of the field, he gets over the top, catches it, you miss one tackle and [he goes] the distance.

"That puts a lot of pressure on defenses, because they have to make a decision [as to] how much coverage do you want to push outside the receivers and how wide open do you want to leave that middle corridor. ... It's a stretch on opposing defenses."

So maybe it wasn't a stretch by the Jets to select Keller with the 30th overall pick, as the "hybrid" tight end appears poised to contribute as a rookie. The Jets' tight end situation is somewhat unsettled, with seventh-year veteran Chris Baker, last year's starter, on the physically-unable-to-perform list with a back problem after a salary dispute with the organization. The Jets also have former Packer Bubba Franks and third-year player Jason Pociask, who is known mostly for his blocking.

Keller isn't focusing on the depth chart, however. He merely wants to keep improving.

"I feel like I can definitely stretch the defense," he said, "If they're overplaying, I think I can do a lot of stuff underneath. I just feel a lot more comfortable with the offense now. ... I thought I was a pretty good receiving tight end in college, but coming here and talking to the coaches and [having them] coaching me up on a whole bunch of different things has definitely opened my eyes up to a ton of different things."

Just as Keller has opened plenty of eyes with his play.

E-mail: pelzman@northjersey.com

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Talent of rookie end Keller excites Jets at camp


August 4, 2008

Dustin Keller wasn't trying to sound ****y.

Far from it, and besides, the Jets rookie was simply responding to the particular phrasing of a question. The question was this: Can anyone on this team cover you? In camp to this point, no one really has.

"Well, of course my mentality going into every single practice, whoever I'm going against, I feel as if nobody can guard me," Keller said after Saturday's Green and White Practice at Hofstra in which he caught a 55-yard touchdown pass from Kellen Clemens. "If you don't have that mentality, you're already setting yourself up for failure."

Keller's first training camp has been anything but a failure. The Jets traded back into the first round in April's draft to grab the tight end from Purdue, a move that brought them criticism. But during the first week and a half of training camp, Keller has shown signs of why some compared him to another "hybrid" tight end, the Colts' Dallas Clark, in April.

He has lined up at multiple receiver positions so far, with the only constant being that he is frequently open. Just as critical, there have been few dropped balls. "I've just been seeing him make plays, that's all I've been seeing," receiver Jerricho Cotchery said Saturday. "He's been everywhere."

Cotchery's 27-yard touchdown reception from Chad Pennington accounted for the Green team's touchdown in its 10-7 victory over the White on Saturday. Cotchery had a perfect sideline view of Keller breaking open in the seam in the fourth quarter, with Clemens delivering a strike that pulled the White to 10-7.

"I saw that last pass coming and I was like, 'No, no no,' because he [Keller] was flying," Cotchery said. "He was rolling down the middle of the field. But he's doing a great job, man. He's got everyone excited."

Keller finished Saturday with four catches for 79 yards.

"I think that the play that he scored on is a really good look on how a tight end can affect the defense," coach Eric Mangini said. "Deep down the middle of the field, he gets over the top, catches it, you miss one tackle and you go the distance."

It left Clemens, who is in a tight contest with Pennington for the starting quarterback job, impressed.

"It's just a credit to how talented he is," Clemens said. "He went one-on-one with a safety [Abram Elam]. For us, that's a pretty good matchup when you've got Dustin Keller running down the middle of the field. I just threw that to an area and let him go get it."

Keller limped off the field toward the end of Saturday's practice, coming to the sideline after not quite being able to catch up with Clemens' deep ball down the middle in the final seconds. He was seen after the practice with his left ankle wrapped but appears to be all right, signing autographs for fans for about 20 minutes and then talking to the media.

"I'm fine," he said.

On the field, few would dispute that.

Notes & quotes: Linebacker David Harris (thigh), wide receiver Laveranues Coles (thigh), and running back Jesse Chatman (undisclosed) sat out Saturday. On Friday, Mangini said of Harris and Coles, "It shouldn't be that prolonged." ... From the end zone, Ben Graham uncorked an 86-yard punt Saturday ... Mike Nugent, kicking for both teams, hit a 45-yard field goal in the third quarter to put the Green team ahead 10-0, then missed a 48-yarder in the fourth quarter that would have given the Green a 13-7 lead ... After being off yesterday, the Jets practice twice today at 8:45 a.m. and 5:45 p.m. Both workouts are open to the public.

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Posted: 3:49 am

August 4, 2008

NFL players are generally not pining for training camp to begin once late July arrives. Knowing two-a-day practices in 90-degree heat await is not an attractive thought to players, who would rather proceed directly from mini-camp to the regular season.

Kris Jenkins, who turned 30 yesterday, is an exception.

Jenkins, possibly the JetsNew York Jets ' most significant offseason acquisition, picked up in a trade with the Panthers, couldn't wait for training camp to begin because that meant he could start hitting again.

Defensive tackles the size of the 6-4, 350-pound Jenkins like to hit as much as chefs like to cook.

"Can't you tell by the smile on my face?" Jenkins said. "I'm enjoying it. I'm happy to be here. Happy to have another shot. It's cool getting the rust off and getting ready to get back into form."

Form for Jenkins is the way he played in 2002, 2003 and 2006 - his three Pro Bowl seasons.

The key to Jenkins' success as a Jet will be how he adapts to the 3-4 defensive scheme the Jets use as a base, which is much different from the 4-3 he has been playing in throughout his career.

The now-departed Dewayne RobertsonDewayne Robertson , whom the Jets could never fit properly into the 3-4 because he was not big enough to take on two opposing offensive linemen, was a liability on the line.

Jenkins believes he'll be a great fit in the middle because he doesn't care about putting up gaudy statistics. He knows the nose tackle in the 3-4 is not someone who's going to have a lot of sacks.

"I've never really looked at football as a glorification sport," Jenkins said. "To some people that's what they enjoy. To me, I've never really been a spotlight person. I take pride in going out there, strapping on the pads and giving 100 percent.

"I'm a grunt. I'm old-school. I'm my father's son. He was an offensive lineman and I'm a defensive lineman, my brother's a defensive lineman. We take pride in doing the dirty work, and we don't need the glorification."

Asked how Jenkins will adapt to the 3-4 scheme after having played as a 4-3 tackle in his career, Eric Mangini said, "He'll be a perfect fit."

Joking about the size Jenkins brings to the middle of the Jets line that Robertson didn't have, Mangini said Jenkins makes the Jets' 3-4 scheme "a 3-41/2."

It didn't take long for Jenkins to get the attention of Nick MangoldNick Mangold , the Jets center and Jenkins' new teammate. On the first day of training camp, which meant the first day of hitting, Jenkins made his presence felt.

"On the first day of hitting he popped some punch," Mangold said. "He is an amazing physical player. He has size and speed and I don't know what his official weight is, but I know it's a lot more than I am.

"This is a great opportunity for both of us to get better. It's something that's exciting for my development and for the team."

Jenkins joked, "I think I caught Nick a little off guard, but he stepped up to the plate quick. It was cool to let him know that even though I am a vet who's starting to get old in age I've still got it."

Jenkins found it difficult to express himself during the offseason workout program and in the minicamps, which are non-contact. That's why he couldn't wait for training camp to begin.

"I love hitting," he said. "It's hard to practice without pads on, because football is a violent sport."

Jenkins, who has a weight clause in his contract, has embraced the way Jets management has treated him with regard to how he handles his weight, which ballooned to nearly 400 pounds last year.

"They let me handle it like a veteran and I've appreciated that," he said.

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Recco Report: Green vs. White

Jerry Recco


New York, NY (WFAN) -- With only five days left before they play the Browns in their first preseason game the Jets played each other on Saturday.

The "Green & White" scrimmage lacked full contact as the plays were blown dead. The Green team held off the White club 10-7. Here are some observations:

Chad Pennington started for the Green team, playing with the first team offense against the first team defense. Pennington looked good at times, average at others but never bad or great. He threw for 115 yards with a TD pass to Jericho Cotchery.

Kellen Clemens, playing for the White squad, went for more than 130 yards through the air, hooking up with Dustin Keller on a gorgeous 55 yard pass play that resulted in a Keller score as he out-muscled Abram Elam for the ball.

And speaking of Keller, the kid can flat-out get down field and catch the football. So far there is nobody on the Jets roster that can cover this guy. He SHOULD be a major issue for opposing teams for a long, long time.

Vernon Gholston had a sack.

Chansi Stuckey, who missed all of last year with an injury, was very active. He only had 1 catch for 20 yards but it seemed like he was alot more involved, if that makes any sense.

Ben Graham smashed a punt over Stuckey's head that officially went for 86 yards!

Sloppy game from the standpoint of penalties. Unofficially, I would say at least 15 combined from the two teams. As you would expect, alot of false starts, holdings and a couple of passing interference calls.

Kris Jenkins seemed to really clog up the middle of the line making it very tough for the Jets & Thomas Jones to run inside the tackles.

Mike Nugent hit a 47 yard field into the wind but then missed a 48 yarder with the wind at his back.

It's still way to early to tell who will win the starting job at quarterback but in my opinion it will be Pennington. He's been the better QB for a week and while Clemens looks fine, he's also not turning anybody's head. Time will tell, but it does appear that it'll be another year with #10 under center.

And while still not official, all indications are that the Jets will move out of Hofstra & into their brand new facility in Florham Park on September 2nd.

The club is off on Sunday & will get back on the field at 8:45AM on Monday. Joe & Evan are broadcasting live from 10A-1P so make sure to stop by and heckle Evan about the

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