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August 22, 2009

Training camp shifted today to Florham Park, N.J., where the Jets opened their grounds for a public practice. (More than 1,700 spectators showed up.) They practiced in the morning in a light drizzle, their final practice before Monday night's pre-season game in Baltimore.

The TV networks are going to love Rex Ryan because he has a way of hyping a game. Most coaches downplay pre-season games, but Ryan, a former longtime Ravens assistant, has built this up like a playoff game. He called it "an attitude game" and "a double-chin-strap game" and the proverbial measuring-stick game.

"Let's see if we can match up with the elite teams in the league," Ryan said.

Imagine what he'll be saying for the big regular-season games.

I asked a few players in the locker room if they shared a similar sentiment, and the response was decidedly ho-hum. They see it for what it is -- just a pre-season game.

Let's get to some personnel news:

Ryan didn't specify how he'd use the quarterbacks, except to say both Mark Sanchez (starting) and Kellen Clemens will play in the first half. Look for Sanchez to get more reps than Clemens, who took more snaps in the first game.

Right now, it appears to be Sanchez' job to lose. If he plays well against the Ravens, one of the league's top defensive teams, he'll be named the starter next week. Bet on it. Ryan acknowledged that a strong performance against the Ravens, for either quarterback, would carry more weight in the evaluation process because of Baltimore's defensive prowess.

As part of the rotation, Clemens worked with the starters today in practice and he was ... um, not good. He was 1-for-4, also struggling in 7-on-7 drills. Sanchez was 2-for-4, not to mention some nice completions in 7-on-7.

"Today was one of my best days overall, with checking the ball down," Sanchez said. "... I was accurate in the wet weather. I feel like things are really coming together."

* * *

Let's update the injury situation: The Jets will have three-fifths of their starting offensive line for Monday night's game, as C Nick Mangold (knee) is expected to return. RT Damien Woody (concussion) and LG Alan Faneca (finger) both returned to practice today, but neither will play in the game. Barring setbacks, they should be ready for next week's game against the Giants. Look for Stanley Daniels and Wayne Hunter to start for Faneca and Woody, respectively.

NT Kris Jenkins (calf), CB Darrelle Revis (hamstring) and DB Donald Strickland (toe) also won't play against the Ravens. Jenkins' strained calf is taking longer than expected to heal; he hasn't practiced in three weeks Revis left the field midway through practice, but that was by design, according to Ryan. Not wanting to force Revis to run more than 30 yards, they limited him to red-zone passing drills. Once that was finished, he was done for the day.

* * *

Ryan called it "the best tackle of training camp, without question," and it was delivered by ... Clemens, of all people. In an end-of-game drill, which featured a bunch of laterals (one of which was picked off by the defense), Clemens threw himself in front of S Eric Smith, trying to cut him down. Both players landed awkwardly, certainly not the kind of play you see from a quarterback (a quarterback!) on the practice field.

Afterward, Clemens sheepishly admitted it probably wasn't his smartest decision.

"That was incredibly over-ambitious," he said. "I should not have done that. I'm sure he was (giving me a dirty look). I can't even make a good excuse. I shouldn't have taken him down."

Ryan was stunned by it.

"I looked at it in amazement," he said. "I thought, 'Did I just see that, two feet in front of me?'"

* * *

I did a little snooping and picked up some details from the annual rookie show, which took place Thursday night in Cortland. Sanchez dressed up as Ryan, using baby powder in his hair to give him that salt-and-pepper look and pillows (or something similar in puffiness) to simulate the coach's midsection.

Another popular part of entertainment night was the baby-picture ID contest. From what I hear, Tony Richardson's baby picture stole the show. It was a shot of him as a teenager, wearing a sweater and turtleneck and sporting one of those old "fade" hairstyles.

Richardson, 37, is the oldest player on the team. And as one player said, "That's what made it so funny."

* * *

Ryan on the receiving corps: "I don't think we're as bad as people think we are." Maybe not, but GM Mike Tannenbaum still is checking under every rock, as he likes to put it. The Brandon Marshall situation in Denvers appears to be deteriorating, as he didn't accompany the team yesterday to Seattle for its game. Clearly, Marshall is trying to shoot his way out of town, a la Jay Cutler. The Jets showed interest in Cutler and I suspect they'll show interest in Marshall.

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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rex Ryan will know a lot more about his team after it leaves Baltimore on Monday night.

The New York Jets coach might even find out who his starting quarterback will be.

"If there's such a thing as a special preseason game, I think this is it," Ryan said Saturday after the team's first practice since returning from SUNY Cortland.

With a handful of story lines marking the Jets' second preseason game, the top one is how rookie Mark Sanchez performs in his first NFL start against Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and the Ravens' vaunted first-team defense.

"It's going to be good for us," Sanchez said, "and obviously a great measuring stick against a tough defense."

Sanchez appears to hold a slight edge in his competition with Kellen Clemens for the starting job, and Ryan reiterated that there's a possibility an outstanding performance by either quarterback could help decide things.

"Obviously, you're taking the body of work and it won't be just through one game," he said, "but if someone steps up and shines against what is one of the best defenses in the National Football League, then you'd have to weigh it more than you would going against somebody else."

Baltimore, of course, is where Ryan spent the last 10 years of his coaching career, including the previous four as the defensive coordinator. So, going back to the city where he made his name against a tough defense he helped build means there will be some extra juice for a game that will be meaningless in the standings.

"This is an attitude game," Ryan said. "This is going to be great. Baltimore is as physical a football team -- Baltimore, Pittsburgh and the Giants -- as any teams in the league and that's what we want to be. We want to be that tough, physical team that won't back down from anybody."

The positive for Sanchez, Clemens and the rest of the offense is that the Ravens' aggressive defense is similar to what the Jets have been practicing against for the last several months.

"Our defense everyday is pretty tough," Sanchez said, "so I can't say this is going to be the end-all, be-all."

Clemens agreed, saying it will be a bit easier facing a familiar defense.

"But when Bart [scott] comes free, now that he's a Jet, he has to lay off us, whereas when Ray Lewis comes free on Monday night, he'll probably be seeing a whole different kind of red," Clemens said, laughing. "There is a familiarity, but I'm sure they've made some tweaks since Rex has been gone."

Ryan said both quarterbacks will play before the first half is over, but hadn't decided on the number of series each will have.

"Is one of them going to play substantially over the other? That could happen," Ryan said. "Kellen had the majority of the reps in the first preseason game and I could see Sanchez getting the majority of the reps in this one."

Whether it's two series or five, Sanchez will get the opportunity -- along with the starting offensive unit -- to go up against a Ravens defense that has ranked among the top for the better part of the last decade.

"They're going to be looking to get after him, just like we're going to be looking to get after their guy," Ryan said. "It's going to be as close to regular-season tempo than probably any game in the league, any preseason game."

While Ryan and Sanchez are amped up to play the Ravens, others on the offense are trying not to make too much of a preseason game.

"Just playing a couple of series, even though you might get to see where you are and what you might need to practice on, is not like playing a full game," left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson said. "I don't want to put too much emphasis and say, 'Oh, yeah, this is definitely going to tell us where we're at.' That's not a great measuring stick."

The fact the offensive line will be without two starters -- left guard Alan Faneca (broken finger) and right tackle Damien Woody (mild concussion) -- might also affect the production of both quarterbacks.

"Do I know who we'll have in there at the O-line? No," Ryan said. "It doesn't matter. I mean, it does, but in a way it doesn't. You're a Jet. You're expected to step up and play. We always say to our opponent, they've got to strap it on tight. Same thing this week.

"We know it's a double chin-strap game. Here it comes. Let's see what happens."


C Nick Mangold (right knee) is expected to play, but NT Kris Jenkins (left calf), CB Darrelle Revis (left hamstring) and CB Donald Strickland (broken toe) won't. ... QB Chris Pizzotti was re-signed Friday so Ryan could make good on a promise to get the former Harvard star in a game. "We'll say, 'All right, have at it kid. You've got one possession in the National Football League.' Some kids would die for that chance, so let's see what he does." ... The Jets drew about 1,700 fans in their first public practice at their facility this summer.

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August 22, 2009 By ARTHUR STAPLE arthur.staple@newsday.com

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - It's going to be special Monday night for Rex Ryan. That much we know.

The Jets' preseason visit to Baltimore to face Ryan's former club, the Ravens, could end up being special for some on-field reasons, too.

"This is an attitude game," Ryan said after the Jets held their first practice at their year-round facility after three weeks in upstate New York at SUNY Cortland. "It's going to be great because Baltimore is a physical team. That's what we want to be. We want to be that tough, physical team that won't back down from anybody . . . It's a double-chinstrap game."

That goes double for the Jets' quarterback competitors. Ryan said he "could see [Mark] Sanchez getting the majority of the snaps in this one" after Kellen Clemens took the majority of the snaps in the preseason opener against the Rams.

Sanchez told reporters that yesterday's open practice, before a little more than 1,700 fans in the rain, was "one of my best days so far." He continued his ascent to the starter's job with a day of crisp throws; Clemens struggled in drills, unable to complete a pass among the five he threw in 11-on-11 sessions.

That said, Ryan thinks that if either quarterback shines Monday night, the starter's job will be an easy call to make. The Ravens' defense - the one Ryan crafted in his decade in Baltimore - will provide a tough test for both young quarterbacks and the shaky offense.

"If someone steps up and shines against what is one of the best defenses in the league," Ryan said, "then you'd have to weight it more than you would going against somebody else."

Said linebacker Bart Scott, who was part of that Ravens defense for seven seasons, "You can't be afraid to fail, not against a defense like that. You have to come out and punch them in the mouth. They're going to come after [our quarterbacks]."

The Jets should have a bit more help to protect Sanchez and Clemens. Center Nick Mangold will return after missing the Rams game, though right tackle Damien Woody will not play.

Ryan has plenty of reason to want to see his team do well Monday. The Ravens also might have extra incentive, given that Ryan earned his Jets job by being the architect and steward of one of the league's best, most aggressive units.

"I don't know what they're putting into it," Scott said. "You never know with coach [John] Harbaugh. I'm sure they're out to prove it was more or less them, not Rex's system. But they're running the same system."

That could help Sanchez and Clemens, who have been seeing a similar defense for close to a month now in camp. They've been challenged by a Ravens-style defense, so now they get the real thing.

"Whatever they bring," Sanchez said, "we need to be ready."

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