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Jets News 8/23/09


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David Clowney emerges as front-runner in battle to be NY Jets' No. 2 wide receiver

David Clowney was blowing past defenders, channeling his inner Usain Bolt, when he asked a simple question to nobody in particular:

Who can catch the Clown?

The Jets' quarterback competition may grab the headlines, but Clowney has emerged as the front-runner in the No. 2 wide receiver battle. Clowney's blazing speed and big-play capability have turned him into the early favorite to start opposite Jerricho Cotchery when the regular season begins.

Clowney, who caught three passes for 103 yards and a 50-yard touchdown last week in the preseason opener against the Rams, has shined among a group of inexperienced pass catchers that includes Brad Smith, Wallace Wright and Chansi Stuckey.

"How can you not be impressed with what David Clowney's doing?" coach Rex Ryan said Saturday after the team's practice at their Florham Park facility. "We got some guys with some unique skill sets. That should be a great competition. I don't think we're near as bad as people think we are."

Clowney may not have to wait much longer to find out which quarterback will be throwing him the ball this season. The competition between Mark Sanchez and Kellen Clemens could come to a conclusion after Monday night's game if one of the quarterbacks shines against the stingy Baltimore Ravens defense.

Ryan admitted that he could "definitely" name his Week 1 starting quarterback next week before the third preseason game against the Giants on Aug. 29 if one guy produces in a big way against one of the league's elite defenses.

"Obviously, you're taking the body of work," Ryan said. "It won't be just through one game.

"But if somebody steps up and shines against what is one of the best defenses in the National Football League, then you have to weigh it more than you would going against somebody else."

Ryan also said that Sanchez, who completed a 48-yarder to Clowney on his first play to ignite a 93-yard TD drive in his only series last week, could get more reps than Clemens Monday.

"Before the half is over, both of them will be in there," Ryan said. "Is one of them going to play substantially more than the other one? That could happen. Kellen had the majority of the reps in the first preseason game. I could see Sanchez getting the majority of the reps in this one."

Clowney -- signed off the Packers practice squad in 2007 -- couldn't care less who's throwing him the ball. He's ready to impress and avoid the pitfalls from last season.

Clowney, 24, erupted early in the preseason (8 receptions, 222 yards) before breaking his collar bone and playing just two games in 2008.

When training camp began, Clowney hoped to grab the No. 2 wide receiver job that was up for grabs. But he struggled with inconsistent play and drops.

"I wanted to get that starting job immediately," he said. "A lot of times, I was trying to do too many things. I was trying to make the awesome catch when I didn't need to. That might have set me back a little bit. But at the same time, you learn from things like that. Ever since then, I've just been getting better each day."

So, he's sharpened his route running, bent on proving he's more than just a burner.

"He's starting to do the little things," quarterback Erik Ainge said. "You can see his game maturing. He's not just running past guys and catching touchdowns."

Clowney has embraced the competition. It's an opportunity he's been waiting for for a long time.

"There's nothing else I could possibly want more," Clowney said of cracking the starting lineup. "As long as I can show them that I'm a playmaker and I can stay consistent catching the ball, then I'm fine. When I catch it, just get up field and have someone behind me trying to catch me."

So, who can catch the Clown?

"I don't think nobody can once I get in front of them," Clowney said, laughing.


Just how similar are the Ravens' and Jets' defenses? As former Ravens LB Bart Scott said, "They do what they do. Oddly enough, they do what we do."

Added RB Leon Washington: "It's the Ravens against the Ravens."

Ainge will play the majority of the second half and rookie Chris Pizzotti will get one series, Ryan said.

Alan Faneca (finger) and Damien Woody (head) practiced, but will not play.

CB Darrelle Revis participated in red-zone drills, but hasn't been cleared to by the team trainer to run more than 30 yards on his sore hamstring.

C Nick Mangold (knee) practiced and is "probable." Ryan said he will likely play, but wasn't sure for how long.

NT Kris Jenkins (calf) didn't practice and is out.

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How Brett Favre's departure gave Jets ability to sign Mark Sanchez and sign Bart Scott

When Brett Favre called the Jets on Feb. 11 to tell them he was retiring, he actually made what could have been a very stressful and delicate situation simple for them. By then, they had already decided that with a new coaching staff, the best thing for the organization was to start over with a new and younger quarterback.

Instead of spending the money it would have cost to keep Favre, they used it on Mark Sanchez, the new face of the franchise, and Bart Scott, who has given the team an attitude adjustment. Sanchez starts tomorrow night in Baltimore and has positioned himself to score a knockout victory over Kellen Clemens with a respectable performance. Rex Ryan plans to name his season-opening starter this week before the Jets play the Giants on Saturday night, and Sanchez is the heavy favorite to get the job.

Jets owner Woody Johnson and GM Mike Tannenbaum, both of whom were fond of Favre, had said after the season they wanted him back, but it was clear that once Ryan was hired, the Jets were no longer interested in seeing if Favre's second act could be better than the first.

Here's the biggest clue: Ryan was hired on Jan. 19. Favre didn't quit until three weeks and two days later. Not once did Ryan pick up the phone to encourage Favre to return, to suggest a summit meeting in Hattieseburg, or just to say hello, what's new on the ranch? If Ryan wanted Favre, he would have lobbied for him to come back.

The Jets wanted, as one source said, a "fresh start." It made sense in Year One of the program to go in a different direction.

What would have happened if Favre had wanted to come back to the Jets? It never got that far, but the Jets likely would have asked for a two-year commitment to establish continuity, which might have scared him off. At the time, they refused his request to be released.

Favre's retirement opened up $13 million of cap space for the Jets. One source said the Jets would not have had the financial flexibility to sign Scott away from the Ravens with a six-year, $48 million deal ($22 million guaranteed) without Favre's money. And they were very unlikely to make the move for Sanchez if they had Favre.

The Jets first tried to replace Favre with Clemens and Brett Ratliff. They then made a run at Jay Cutler, but never received a return phone call from Denver. Then when Eric Mangini in Cleveland offered the fifth pick in the draft for the No. 17 pick and three spare parts, the Jets moved up and drafted Sanchez.

A few days later, Favre called and requested his release, same as he had done in February. Favre surely knew the Jets were no longer in position to pay him the $13 million left on the final year of his deal. But the Jets, with neither Clemens nor Ratliff lighting it up, would not have released Favre if they had not traded for Sanchez. Favre then could have either tried to force his way out or remain retired. There is no way the Jets could have cut Chad Pennington and Favre nine months apart and be left with Clemens and Ratliff.

Favre used the Jets as a one-year layover to get to Minnesota. He has alienated some people around the league. "I think it's self-serving," one GM said. "He really cut to the core of the Packers fans by signing in the NFC North. His legacy there is all for naught. It didn't bother me when he went to the Jets. To go to Minnesota, he just thumbed his nose at Packers fans. They put him on a pedestal. His legacy in Green Bay will never be the same.

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Inside-linebacker tandem of Bart Scott and David Harris are Jets' odd couple

Bart Scott is called "The Mad Backer" for a reason, and he didn't waste much time in giving his new sidekick - David Harris - a dose of the madness.

In their first game together as the Jets' inside-linebacker tandem, last week's preseason opener, Scott picked up a loose Rams helmet on the ground and started head-butting it - repeatedly. It belonged to guard Richie Incognito, a longtime nemesis. The sudden display of rage made quite an impression on Harris.

"When I saw that," he said, "I thought, 'We're going to have a fun year together.'"

Fun in a complementary, opposites-attract kind of way.

They are the Jets' Odd Couple, the two middle men in Rex Ryan's defensive front. Scott is a trash-talker with a mouth like Google - fast and always working. Harris is reticent, a man of few words. He's a five-second sound bite; Scott is a filibuster.

After a recent practice at SUNY-Cortland, Scott noticed Harris was being interviewed by a reporter, an almost rare occurrence. Scott couldn't resist.

"Hey, Dave, they want more juice from you," he yelled from about 30 feet away. "Instead of two words, they want four."

Harris laughed.

"I try to talk with my pads," he said. "Bart does both. He talks with his pads and his mouth."

That was 18 words, a lecture by Harris' standards.

He might be a wallflower, but Harris can be a brick wall in the Jets' run defense - when healthy. As a rookie in 2007, he posted a team-high 117 tackles after replacing Jonathan Vilma at midseason, the first rookie since Stan Blinka in 1979 to lead that category. A year ago, Harris wasn't the same, as he was slowed by a hamstring injury before missing five games with a torn groin. The final blow came in the finale, when he suffered a broken leg.

Now he's whole again, eager to become the next great inside linebacker in the Ryan system. He mentioned a guy named Lewis - Ray Lewis - as his inspiration. The Jets will see Lewis & Co. tomorrow night in Baltimore, a nationally televised preseason game.

"I don't like to compare myself to people, but I see Ray Lewis and the way he has dominated for so long in a Rex Ryan defense," said Harris, making an unusually unabashed statement for such a reserved person. "Hopefully, one day, I can be mentioned in the same breath as him and fill in that void."

Harris will learn a lot from Scott, who spent four seasons starting alongside Lewis. He left the Ravens to sign a six-year, $48 million contract with the Jets. Scott is a Rexpert - he knows every nuance in Ryan's system - and he wants to be a mentor for Harris. They have two things in common: They like to punish ball-carriers and they both grew up in Michigan

Scott was raised in one of Detroit's toughest neighborhoods, Harris in Grand Rapids. They have several mutual friends.

"That's what draws us together, our upbringing," said Scott, who turned 29 last Tuesday. "We've got common stories."

Said the 25-year-old Harris: "It's like I've known him my whole life."

Scott has a way of making people feel that way. He's the life of the party, engaging reporters, teammates, anyone willing to chat. Surrounded by reporters just recently, he stopped in mid-interview when he noticed an old tape-cassette recorder in the crowd. He segued into a riff on out-of-style electronic equipment.

"I bet you have eight-track tapes at home," Scott told the reporter, drawing big laughs.

On the field, Scott also is a chatterbox. Even in practice, he never shuts up. As rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez said, "I've never heard smack-talk like that in my whole life." Scott's bravado and energy should fuel the entire defense, which has lacked a vocal leader in recent seasons.

"Shoot, a guy like that, flying around, running his mouth, talking noise, it's contagious," Harris said. "It spreads real fast."

Harris has "a deadly silent, sarcastic, offbeat personality," according to Scott, who believes they have the ability to be the best inside-linebacker tandem in the league. He said a lot will depend on how well they communicate. There shouldn't be any confusion about their roles in the relationship.

Scott speaks. Harris listens.

"I think those two are going to be phenomenal together," Ryan said. "Bart, he speaks for both of them. They counteract. We got that memo from the league: You take Bart, David's got to be your other 'backer."

Said Harris: "It's like a marriage, but it works."

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Jets coach Rex Ryan has a healthy respect for the Baltimore defense he used to run -- healthy enough that he says if rookie Mark Sanchez or holdover Kellen Clemens stands out against the ravenous Ravens, he might well call a winner in the quarterback competition after Monday Night.

"Yes, it definitely is [a possibility]," Ryan said. "You're going against a top group. Obviously, you're taking the body of work. It won't be just through one game. But if someone steps up and shines against the best defense in the NFL, then you'd have to weigh it more than you would going against somebody else."

The Jets moved up in the draft to make Sanchez not only the fifth overall pick, but their quarterback of the future. Nobody has doubted that future would come, but the question would be when. Sanchez is trying not to worry about the when.

"For me, I don't want to put too much pressure on myself," Sanchez said. "There's no need to. Coach Ryan will make his decision when he needs to, and until that point, I'll keep doing my very best and show them my best every time I get an opportunity, and [tomorrow] is another opportunity."

This one will be bigger, with Ryan confirming this will be Sanchez's first start and he'll get the lion's share of the snaps after Clemens got the nod in the opener vs. St. Louis.

"Kellen had the majority or the reps in the first preseason game. I could see Sanchez getting the majority of the reps in this one," Ryan said. "There's nothing specific [i'm looking for in Sanchez]. Just go out and play quarterback, do your thing.

"That other team over there is pretty good on defense. They're going to be looking to hunt. They're going to get after him. It'll be good to watch. It's going to be closer to regular-season tempo than any other game."

It'll be a measuring stick game for Gang Green, and no Jet is being weighed and measured more than Sanchez.

"If you put too much pressure on yourself, make this the game where you have to do everything and do it all right, you're going to drive yourself crazy," Sanchez said. "My main goal is to have great tempo out of the huddle, no delay of game penalties, no negative plays, especially on first-and-10.

"Be smart with the football. Don't turn it over, whatever it takes. Throw the ball away, take a sack, just don't give it to the defense. The other thing, just be a leader. Be accurate, make positive plays, eliminate negative plays. It can't be an all-or-nothing deal or it's not going to work out right."

That's a lesson Clemens needed to learn after giving the defense interceptions up in Cortland and giving Sanchez the lead in the QB derby. The best play Clemens made yesterday was when he leveled Eric Smith, more of a collision than a tackle. Meanwhile, Sanchez excelled, hitting rookie tight end Jack Simmons for a TD in 11-on-11s.

"I'm playing the way I want to, minus the one play. [it] was one of my best days overall," Sanchez said. "[it] was a tough day, it was raining. If you try and force something over the top, you're going to get picked off. We stayed smart with the ball, checked the ball down and I was accurate in the wet weather. Things are really coming together. I'm just excited to get going."

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Bowe isn't going anywhere

By Dan Leberfeld

Posted Aug 22, 2009

There was a published report that perhaps the Jets could trade for Kansas City wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. But after watching Bowe last night for Kansas City against Green Bay, there is little chance the Chiefs part with this guy. He caught a 20-yard pass from Matt Cassel along with a short touchdown. It would be shocking if Scott Pioli traded this guy based on what I saw last night.

Who is better Westerman or Gholston?

By Dan Leberfeld

Posted Aug 22, 2009

Who is the better outside linebacker right now - Jamaal Westerman or Vernon Gholston? It's pretty close based on their work this summer. Here is what Rex Ryan had to say about Westerman on Saturday -

"I really like the things he’s doing," said Ryan. "You can use him a lot of different ways. You can use him with his hand in the dirt. You can use him inside (or) outside. I know we’re using him on

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BY Ohm Youngmisuk


Thursday, August 20th 2009, 4:00 AM

Rex takes another bite out of Pats

CORTLAND, N.Y. - One day after reiterating he will not bow down to Bill Belichick, Rex Ryan didn't fire any more Patriot missiles Wednesday.

Instead, the Jets coach sounded as if he were ready to send flowers and candy to New England.

Ryan opened his press conference Wednesday by making fun of his penchant for creating headlines with his mouth. Reading off a piece of paper, Ryan had a message for the media.

"Hello everybody," Ryan cracked in a stoic and emotionless tone of voice as laughter filled the room. "I like Tom Brady. I like Adalius Thomas. I really do. Anything else?"

FAVRE'S FATE: Brett Favre is happy to be in Minnesota, and Ryan is happy for the former Jets quarterback.

"Obviously he is a legend and we have the utmost respect for Brett Favre," Ryan said. "I know I do. Once we drafted (Mark) Sanchez we couldn't afford Brett. You know how I talked about him when I first got here, I would have loved the fact of Brett Favre being our quarterback. Would I have convinced him to try to come back if we never had a quarterback? I don't know. That is speculation."

TOE'S A NO: CB Donald Strickland, who has a broken toe, was wearing a walking boot on his right foot on the sideline. Strickland is out for Monday's preseason game against Baltimore but could play if it was a regular-season game. Ryan said RT Damien Woody (concussion) is improving. DT Kris Jenkins (strained calf) did not practice and did work on the side while CB Darrelle Revis (hamstring) did individual work. Ryan said all three are listed anywhere between questionable to doubtful for Monday....Ryan said the Jets are negotiating a new contract for versatile defensive lineman Mike DeVito.... The Jets signed S Nate Ness, an undrafted rookie free agent out of Arizona who was originally signed by Cleveland and waived on July 15.

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I seriously fear for Sanchez in this game.

not me-it's football and if he does get hurt then Clemens or Ainge will have to play and who knows what will happen.

For all we know IJ, Erik Ainge might just be the guy that ends up winning us another Super Bowl. I've seen it numerous times over the 40 plus years of watching this game. Remember Ainge's uncle Danny was a damn good pro basketball player who was on a few championship teams. Good blood lines there my friend.

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