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Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Westhoff: Patriots line up in a wall, too

By Tim Graham

New York Jets special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff shrugged off the seriousness of the punt coverage phalanx strength coach Sal Alosi and some inactive players formed in Sunday's game.

Even with Jets tight end Jeff Cumberland revealing Alosi had instructed them to do it all season, Westhoff downplayed any outrage by noting other teams, including the New England Patriots, also do it.

"If you watch [the Patriots], if you watch their defense when the other opponents' punt team's out there, they're up there pretty close in that line," Westhoff said on ESPN 1000 in Chicago. "So, yeah, it certainly looks like they're trying to do it.

"Now are they doing something illegal? Are they tripping anybody? Heck no and I'm not saying that at all. That's not the point. But, yeah, they're lined up there. Does it make a difference? I don't know. I really don't know. It's hard to say because to tell you the truth until this occurred I never really looked at anybody's sideline in all my years."

Westhoff insisted he didn't instruct the Jets to form a wall to limit the space gunners have to operate on their sideline. Westhoff's disavowal reiterated previous claims from Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum and head coach Rex Ryan.

Alosi brought attention to the practice by tripping Miami Dolphins gunner Nolan Carroll. The Jets have suspended Alosi indefinitely without pay and have fined him $25,000.

Cumberland, who has been deactivated every game this year, explained the practice was in place all season.

"We've been doing that since the beginning of the year, standing right there," Cumberland said. "Sunday was not the first time that we'd been doing that. ... [Alosi] never really just gave a reason. He just said during punt return 'You just stand right here by this line, everybody just stand right here.' There wasn't really a reason why. But we kind of figured just in case somebody ran over here."

That this wall had been formed all year and neither Ryan nor Westhoff noticed would be pretty incredible.

To be fair, their attention would be on the field during the game. The coach's film they use to review games is shot from the end zones and wouldn't reveal what's transpiring on a team's sideline.

But really ...

"The fact that those guys were lined up, you can't deny it," Westhoff said. "Yeah, they did do it. Apparently, he lined him up just to say 'Hey, let's line up and make it a little narrower corridor.' It's not like it's an illegal thing to do. But it was something that really shouldn't occur now that I see it."