AFC East: Jeremy Kerley

So the New York Jets' wide-receiver situation has improved over the past 24 hours, with the addition of Eric Decker. Now you have Decker, Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill and David Nelson as your top four guys. You have basketball size with Nelson (6-foot-5), Hill (6-4) and Decker (6-3). The Jets could add another veteran in free agency, perhaps James Jones (6-1).

Does this preclude them from drafting a receiver in the first round? Not at all. They absolutely could select a "speed" player to complement all the big bodies. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. certainly could see them going in that direction. He believes they still need a No. 1 receiver because he doesn't see Decker thriving in that role.

"I think Decker is a good No. 2 receiver," Kiper said Thursday in a media conference call. "If you’re asking more than that, maybe you’re expecting too much. He was in the perfect scenario certainly in Denver with Peyton [Manning] last year, when you think about what he was able to do numbers-wise. When he was at Minnesota, I had a second-, third-round grade on him when he came out. I liked him coming out of Minnesota as a 2, not a 1.

"If you get a guy like Marqise Lee or you get a guy like Odell Beckham Jr. (at No. 18), or if you get a guy like Brandin Cooks at that point, you’re still getting a guy who could be very viable with Decker," Kiper continued. "They still could take a wide receiver. If they didn’t, you have to look at a versatile linebacker, you certainly could look at a tight end if [Eric] Ebron slid down there. There’s going to be an attractive receiver still there. What they have to decide is, is Decker enough or do they want to get an Odell Beckham Jr. or a Brandin Cooks or Marqise Lee because all three of those players -- at least two of those -- I think still could be there when the Jets pick."

We still have two months to debate it.
From now until March 11, the start of the league year, we'll profile potential free agents that figure to be on the New York Jets' radar:

Sanders
Player: Emmanuel Sanders, Pittsburgh Steelers

Position: Wide receiver

2013 stats: 67 receptions for 740 yards and six touchdowns -- all career highs. He averaged only 11.0 yards per catch, a career low. He played in 796 offensive snaps (75.7 percent).

2013 salary: $2.5 million.

Sign him up: The New England Patriots thought enough of Sanders last year to sign him to an offer sheet. They would've surrendered a third-round pick, but the Steelers decided to match the one-year, $2.5 million offer. Sanders responded with his best year, which included a long touchdown reception against the Jets -- a play in which he torched Antonio Cromartie. He had only two drops last season out of 112 targets, per ESPN Stats & Info -- one of the lowest drop percentages in the league. Obviously, the Jets need help at the position. Sanders is an ascending player (he turns 27 on March 17), although some believe he's already close to his ceiling.

Reasons to stay away: Sanders might have been a fit for the Patriots, who like smallish, slot receiver types, but the Jets already have a Sanders-like player in Jeremy Kerley. Sanders is steady, but his stats -- everything from yards after catch to catch percentage -- were no better than the league averages last season. He'd upgrade the receiving corps from a depth perspective, but for at least $5 million a year (the going rate for a wideout of his ilk), you expect better than average.
NFL Network draft Mike Mayock conducted a pre-combine conference call Tuesday with reporters. A few takeaways from a New York Jets perspective:

1. Mayock called this "the deepest and best draft class I've seen in probably 10 years," especially at the wide receiver position. That's good news for the receiver-needy Jets. Mayock said there's so much talent in the draft that a general manager told him that having a top-20 pick this year is equivalent to a top-10 choice last year. The Jets pick 18th.

2. Assessing the Jets' receiving situation, Mayock said, "They need some talent out there." He said he wouldn't be surprised if the Jets picked multiple receivers in the draft. That, of course, could hinge on how they attack free agency. He believes the Jets could have a shot at one of the top three wideouts at 18, most likely USC's Marqise Lee or Texas A&M's Mike Evans. Clemson's Sammy Watkins will be "long gone."

3. Lee and Evans are totally different in terms of body types and skill sets. Lee can play inside, outside and return kicks. At 6-5, Evans is a massive target on the outside. Mayock mentioned how the Jets already have Jeremy Kerley in the slot and Stephen Hill on the outside, adding that Santonio Holmes (an expected cap casualty) is "at the end of his career." Mayock added, "I just think you pick less about X's and O's there; it's which guy is the best football player. My perspective is, you can't go wrong with either Marqise Lee or Mike Evans." He also mentioned Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin, in the Evans mold at 6-5, as a possible consideration.

4. Mayock is high on North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron, so much so that he wouldn't be surprised if Ebron is a top-10 pick. The Jets need a pass-catching tight end like Ebron. Based on Mayock's evaluation, it doesn't sound like he'll slip to 18.

5. It took more than a half-hour into the session with reporters, but Mayock was finally asked about Missouri's Michael Sam, the first openly gay prospect in NFL history. Sam's sexual orientation never was mentioned; Mayock kept it strictly about football, giving Sam a lukewarm evaluation.

"He’s a tweener," Mayock said. "That's why people have trouble with the evaluation. ... I saw him on tape and again at the Senior Bowl. What I saw was a natural edge rush guy. He's much better going forward than backward. He’s got a little bit of explosion off the edge, but he doesn’t have the length (at 6-1 5/8, 255 pounds). He’s got linebacker size, but he’s got the physical skill set of a defensive end. He’s a tough fit. What I see is a situational pass-rusher, not an every-down player, and a core special teamer."

Mayock expects Sam to be picked anywhere from the third to fifth round.

6. Mayock raved about Notre Dame's Zack Martin and his versatility, his ability to play guard and tackle. It would be a stunner if the Jets went in that direction at 18, but it's something to file away, considering guard Willie Colon and tackle Austin Howard are headed to free agency.

Practice Report: All aboard

December, 20, 2013
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets practiced indoors for the third straight day as the team prepares to face the Cleveland Browns at 1 p.m. Sunday. The day should be warm and perhaps rainy, but ultimately it’s a meaningless game in terms of playoff implications.

All the Jets were available and appeared to practice with the team during the portion of practice open to the media. Jeremy Kerley said his elbow almost feels back to normal, no one appeared to be taking a pitch-count day, and none of the wide receivers were on the bike.

Now if they just had something to play for.

Upon Further Review: Jets Week 14

December, 9, 2013
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- An examination of the four hottest issues from the New York Jets' 37-27 win over the Oakland Raiders:

[+] EnlargeGeno Smith
AP Photo/Kathy WillensThe Jets are 4-0 when Geno Smith runs for a TD, as he did Sunday.
1. They ain't dead yet: Sunday could've been a really, really big day for the Jets, but the two teams they're chasing for the second AFC wild-card spot -- the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins -- squeezed out late, come-from-behind victories. That leaves the Jets (6-7) one game behind them, but it's really two games because they lost to both teams, meaning they'd lose a head-to-head tiebreaker. They still have a game with the Dolphins, in the season finale, but the Jets might be eliminated by then. But, hey, it's Week 15 and they're still alive. Hear that, Kellen Winslow?

2. Run, Geno, run: Geno Smith is "definitely known as just trying to be a gunslinger," fellow quarterback David Garrard said, but the rookie has the ability to make plays outside the pocket. He showed it against the Raiders, rushing for 50 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown on a read-option play. What took so long? Smith has been reluctant to embrace the idea of becoming a running quarterback, but he needs to understand he can spark the offense with his athleticism. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg also did a better job of calling designed runs and rollouts, allowing Smith to throw on the run. If you have a weapon, use it. The Jets are 4-0 when Smith scores a rushing touchdown.

3. Disappearing defense: Rex Ryan's defense usually gets stronger late in the season, but this particular unit is backsliding. The Jets allowed a fourth-string running back -- Marcel Reece, who actually plays fullback -- to rush for 123 yards. Are you kidding? In the past two games, their once-feared run defense has allowed 275 yards. Part of the reason is because they're playing fewer eight-man boxes -- they need a second safety to help in pass coverage -- but they're also missing far too many tackles. Frankly, the tackling has been atrocious. They got away with it against the bad team like the Raiders, but they have no shot next week against the Carolina Panthers if they allow short gains to turn into big plays.

4. Special K's: Jeremy Kerley's return to the lineup sparked the slumping offense, which scored more points than it did in the previous three games combined. Another "K" player, Kellen Winslow, also provided a boost. For a change, Winslow played a significant role in the passing game, finishing with three catches for 61 yards. In recent weeks, he had become after afterthought, partly because of his chronic knee. But it also seemed like the coaching staff had phased him out. Well, he was phased in against the Raiders. Winslow knows how to get open, a big help to a rookie quarterback. He could be a key down the stretch.

Halftime Report: Jets up 20-3

December, 8, 2013
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Jets, up 20-3 at halftime, managed more first-half offense than they've had in a month with an offensive touchdown, a defensive touchdown and two field goals against the visiting Oakland Raiders.

The last time the Jets scored this many points in a first half was Week 9 against the Saints.

That’s not to say it’s been pretty. Jets quarterback Geno Smith has benefitted from the return of WR Jeremy Kerley, who scored with 3:17 left in the first quarter with a 25-yard reception, while the Raiders struggled to figure out who they were going to use at quarterback.

Best defense is offense: Ed Reed had an interception in the second half to give the Jets the ball at Oakland’s 4 yard line, and the Jets had to settle for a field goal after Santonio Holmes dropped a third-down pass in the end zone. Jets safety Antonio Allen blocked a punt for a touchdown with 3:55 left in the second quarter, giving the Jets a 20-3 lead.

Back after this: The Raiders had their top three running backs on the inactive list. That meant they used FB Marcel Reece to run the ball, and substituted quarterback Matt McGloin with backup Terrelle Pryor, who ran a few option plays en route to a field goal before getting swapped back out for McGloin after an interception.

More time for Kerley: The Jets offense has been led by Kerley, with 3 catches for 35 yards and a touchdown, and TE Kellen Winslow Jr. and Holmes, who both have 45 yards on 2 catches at the half. All three are playing more snaps than they have in recent weeks, with Winslow in on 10 plays, Holmes on 21 and Kerley in on 14. There may be more time to go around since Stephen Hill was declared inactive before the game.

W2W4: Oakland Raiders vs. New York Jets

December, 6, 2013
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Contrary to what Kellen (The Greek) Winslow believes, the games still matter for the New York Jets.

Despite a three-game losing streak, the Jets (5-7) still are mathematically alive. The bigger issue, though, is the future of Rex Ryan, who has four games to convince his bosses he's the right man for the head coaching job.

Ryan can't afford a loss to the Oakland Raiders (4-8). If the slumping Jets can't defend their home field against the league's worst road team, it'll put a significant dent in Ryan's bid for a 2014 return. Under Dennis Allen, the Raiders are 2-12 on the road. They've lost 12 straight in the Eastern time zone by a combined score of 379-198. They're playing a backup quarterback, rookie Matt McGloin. They have injury concerns at running back. Their roster screams "rebuilding," as they dressed 16 undrafted players in their previous game.

And yet this game could be problematic for the Jets, who never have lost four straight under Ryan. After all, it's hard to win when you can't score.

Kickoff is 1 p.m. at MetLife Stadium. What to watch for:

1. Mettle detector: The Jets invested so much emotionally last week, in what they called a must-win game, that you have to wonder how much is left in the tank. Ryan's teams have always played hard for him, but this will be a gut check. Ryan spent the week trying to boost morale, commending the team's practice performance and lavishing praise upon his draft picks. There was a players-only meeting, with David Harris and D'Brickashaw Ferguson addressing the team. It might have been too little, too late, but we'll see. It would be a mistake to underestimate the Raiders. For all their issues, the Raiders usually come prepared. They have a plus-45 point differential in the first quarter, second in the league.

2. The Gang's all here: For the first time since Week 4, the Jets will have their regular offense intact. The return of WR Jeremy Kerley provides another option in the passing attack, especially in the short and intermediate zones. WR Santonio Holmes is healthier than last week (so they say), so he might actually play more than two snaps. We know the Jets aren't the Greatest Show on Turf, but they're rolling out the best they've got. They have no excuses. "Let's see how we close this thing out when we're healthy," Ryan said.

If they can't break the slump against the Raiders, it could last another two weeks because points will be at a premium next week at the Carolina Panthers. The Jets have gone eight quarters without a touchdown -- 114 plays, an elapsed time of 129 minutes, 36 seconds. They treat the end zone as if it's radioactive. There will be plenty of one-on-one opportunities on the outside, as the Raiders like to blitz and play man-to-man coverage. They've rushed five or more on 44 percent of the opponents' dropbacks, the third-highest rate in the league. Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg streamlined the offensive game plan, focusing on the plays they do best -- slim pickings. The Raiders have struggled against slant passes, so look for that.

3. Clock ticking for Geno: The decision to stick with QB Geno Smith, despite his historic struggles, indicates the organization is determined to get a complete evaluation of the rookie. General manager John Idzik doesn't think anything positive can be gained by sitting him. So on we go. Mornhinweg took a different approach this week, imploring Smith to play loose and let his natural instincts take over. Don't be surprised if Mornhinweg calls more designed runs for Smith, who can create a spark with his mobility. He will get blitzed -- a lot. The Raiders will test Smith's recognition skills and the Jets' pass protection.

4. The In-and-Out Corner: Rookie CB Dee Milliner needs a big play in the worst way. He will remain in the starting lineup despite being pulled last week in the third quarter, his third in-game benching. If the coaches continue to yank him, he'll show up on the injury report with a case of whiplash. Milliner, drafted ninth overall, is a key part of the Jets' future. He needs to finish the season on the upswing, providing some evidence to the organization that it didn't swing and miss. You can bet the Raiders will go after him, but their receiving corps is thin. Their top playmaker in the last game was Andre Holmes, who surpassed his career totals in one afternoon. McGloin is fairly effective when throwing deep. Hear that, Ed Reed?

5. Replacing Josh Cribbs: Cibbs, placed on injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle, wore a lot of hats and it will take more than one player to replace him. Newly-signed Darius Reynaud will return kickoffs and punts, with Bilal Powell and Kerley expected to handle the Wildcat role on offense. Reynaud has dealt with ball-security issues in the past, especially on punt returns.

Kerley may hold key to Geno's success

December, 6, 2013
12/06/13
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – A month after a dislocated elbow sidelined Jeremy Kerley, the Jets wide receiver will return Sunday against the Raiders, making for a complete and healthy offense for the first time since Week 4.

Jets coach Rex Ryan admits Kerley’s arrival, coupled with Santonio Holmes’ return to health after a hamstring injury, is a better scenario in which to judge rookie quarterback Geno Smith.

“We don’t make excuses or anything else but obviously having your top guys healthy, I think makes a huge difference,” Ryan said. “We had those conversations and to me it’s like, judge us moving forward. And look, you’re going to judge us anyway up to this point, and you should and I understand it. But let’s see how we close this thing out when our guys are healthy.”

[+] EnlargeJeremy Kerley
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesBanged-up Jets receiver Jeremy Kerley said he's not going to shy away from taking more punishment on Sunday.
Kerley said he expects to be at least 90 percent on Sunday, and has decided not to wear any padding on the elbow. That said, Kerley expects that opponents would target his vulnerable left side and his elbow will get hit.

“I know it’s going to happen,” Kerley said. “Pain is going to occur; might get hit, might fall on it wrong. Just looking to get over it as soon as it happens.”

The mood in the Jets locker room was light on Friday. The special-teams players had decorated their lockers with Christmas lights and erected a giant inflatable Santa Claus in the center of the room. The Jets are not eliminated from the playoff picture, but several players noted that, with all injured players healthy for this week, they have a fair shot after three straight losses.

“We’re all looking for something, some type of edge, some type of motivation and in some aspects we’re out of words,” offensive lineman Willie Colon said. “We understand that we’ve made this mess and the only way out of it is on us pulling together as a team and as a family and start winning games.”

There is a better chance with Kerley in the lineup. The slot receiver has been a safety valve for Smith this season, and backup quarterback David Garrard said it’s no coincidence that the team’s three-game losing streak was while Kerley was out.

“Those two guys are vital to our offense and they just make it easier for Geno,” Garrard said. “When you’re a young quarterback you need to have your weapons out there.”

There is a pretty high opinion of Kerley in the locker room. Despite the missed games, he leads the team in catches and yards with 28 for 347 this season.

“Kerley, to me he’s nothing but Wes Welker, that’s what he could be, really,” veteran tight end Kellen Winslow said. “Honestly. He’s definitely that talented, he’s got those point guard moves, option route runner, great route runner.”

Garrard agreed with that assessment and said that Kerley hasn’t reached his potential as a receiver because he hasn’t been the focus of an offense yet.

“He’s a young guy and I don’t think that in the systems he’s been in they’ve really utilized slot receivers,” Garrard said. “In the past it’s been ground and pound and try to throw outside routes and he gets lost in the shuffle. [Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg] is a little different, and in his system he’s going to use somebody like Kerley, because early on in the season he was getting thrown to quite a bit.”

Part of the reason the Jets had a harder time of it without Kerley, Garrard said, was because of the way he worked the slot, drawing defenders to him.

“He’s that guy that works the middle,” Garrard said, “and usually when you work the middle you’re working linebackers and third corners. He’s usually going to have a pretty good day against those guys. The defense has to think about him, they have to have cover guys get on him because if you try to put your third or fourth corner on them he’ll make it a long day for them.”

With Kerley drawing more attention, Smith usually has a few more options. With three losses against him, and three benchings in recent weeks, a stable performance could slow the drumbeat of criticism. It’s something players like Winslow are mindful of.

“It comes down to making plays for Geno,” Winslow said. “They’re going to bring it so we’re going to have to get open. It’s going to be man coverage -- they’re going to blitz us. Stuff is going to happen a little faster, so we just have to get it.”

“We’re not out of it,” Colon said. “I think why we’re all disappointed is one point in time we had the keys to the car and we sat back three weeks and all those game that we’ve lost are more than winnable. We’re not talking the Pats or the Saints, we’re talking teams that are struggling and we dropped an egg.”

But it’s still not too late. The Jets can begin to dig out of the hole on Sunday, and they'll be equipped, theoretically, to do it.

“When we’re all firing, when we’re all doing our thing out there,” Kerley said, “it’s a beautiful thing.”

Practice report: All hands on deck

December, 6, 2013
12/06/13
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FLORHAM PARK -- The New York Jets appeared to have all their players available for Friday morning’s practice, which was held in the field house because of rain.

If receivers Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley are available on Sunday against the Raiders, it will be the first time they both play for the Jets since Week 4. Since the Titans game, one or both of them has been injured. Holmes aggravated his hamstring injury last Wednesday and, although active against Miami, only saw a few first-half plays. Kerley had a bad elbow injury that has caused him to miss three games so far.

Kerley has been an important safety valve for rookie quarterback Geno Smith, who has played poorly in the three games Kerley has been out.

Jets coach Rex Ryan will be asked about their availability as his news conference later this afternoon.

Cromartie, Holmes, Kerley up in air

November, 29, 2013
11/29/13
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The Jets have a number of key players who will be game-time decisions, Rex Ryan announced Friday, including WR Santonio Holmes, CB Antonio Cromartie and WR Jeremy Kerley. The Jets are hosting Miami at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Holmes
Kerley
Cromartie's injury dates to when his hip was dislocated in 2008. He characterized his current injury as a ligament issue with his right hip. This year he's experienced a lot of pain, and he's given up more yardage than he usually does to opposing receivers.

"It just restricts me from being explosive," Cromartie said. "I can't open up my stride as much as I've wanted to. But, it's just something that I try to deal with, with myself, and go through the treatments and just try to get myself better from that way. But today just running around, I felt more explosive. I just felt more comfortable with it today then I have since I reinjured it back in really Week 2 of the preseason. So, it's a point of just getting ready and just making sure I'm mentally ready if I'm going to play, and from a physical standpoint I think I'll be fine."

The Jets have struggled to limit big pass plays from their opponents this year and, although Cromartie hasn't been as effective as in recent years, he is still by far the team's top corner.

"Do we want Cro out there, sure, but it's always about the next guy up," defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman said.

The Jets' backup plan includes Darrin Walls and possibly Kyle Wilson. Rookie Dee Milliner, a first-round pick who has had his own struggles on the field, would start on the opposite side.

On Friday, Cromartie said he's been less than upfront about his pain, blaming some of his misses on technique rather than his hip. He's been waking up with pain and tightness in the area.

"I'm never a guy to look for excuses," Cromartie said, "because if I'm on the field, I'm on the field and my teammates, myself, my coaching staff, they expect from me to be 100 percent when I'm on the field. I ask myself to be that way when I'm on the field also."

But the coaching staff is aware that Cromartie hasn't been as dominant this year, and that the injury could be a culprit.

"It probably does have some affect on him," Ryan said.

Holmes is a player who hasn't been recognizable, even when he can get into a game. His reps are reduced and it's reflected in his production. Holmes was a Super Bowl MVP after the 2008 season, but this year he has been a shadow of himself after missing a year with a Lisfranc injury that needed surgery to repair.

"Hopefully we'll get him back and get him healthy because we're going to need him," Ryan said.

Holmes did not practice for two straight days, and Ryan said it was his hamstring rather than his foot that was bothering him. Holmes is listed with both on the injury report.

"I'm concerned," Ryan said.

Earlier, Holmes was cagey about his health, saying he felt the same as he's felt the last three weeks. "Pretty good," Holmes said. Later, Ryan announced he didn't practice and would be a game time decision.

As for Kerley, he's the least likely to play Sunday. The slot receiver hasn't had a full practice in three weeks, and Ryan said getting him into the game would be hard given his position as a receiver and the nature of the elbow injury. Ryan was concerned that Kerley was unable to protect himself should he fall and need to brace himself, even though Kerley very much wants to go.

"If he's capable, he'll be out there." Ryan said.

It's official: Jeremy Kerley ruled out

November, 23, 2013
11/23/13
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The New York Jets confirmed the obvious Saturday, downgrading injured wide receiver Jeremy Kerley (dislocated elbow) to out for Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens. Previously, he was listed as doubtful.

Kerley, three weeks removed from the gruesome injury, returned to practice this week on a limited basis, but he practiced in the red no-contact jersey and didn't start catching passes with two hands until Friday.

On Friday, Kerley expressed his desire to play, but that was never a possibility. The question becomes whether he can return next week to face the Miami Dolphins.

As expected, linebacker Garrett McIntyre also was ruled out for Sunday.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Jeremy Kerley said he is ready, but New York Jets coach Rex Ryan said the wide receiver is doubtful for Sunday’s game in Baltimore.

Kerley
“Very doubtful,” Ryan said.

In his second week recovering from a dislocated elbow, Kerley said he is ready to come back, which is a little amazing considering how bad the injury looked on impact.

“I thought the worst,” Kerley said. “I thought I had broken something. But (it’s) slightly dislocated, nothing major, definitely can recover from it, definitely looking to jump back on the field.”

Kerley was limited in practice on Friday, but wore a red jersey. He was able to get in on some team reps, and caught a few passes using both hands. On Thursday he was just using one hand to catch them.

“One hand, two hands, doesn’t even matter,” Kerley said. “If they throw it I’m going to try to catch it."

Technically he could still play on Sunday, but Ryan indicated the reason he wasn’t ruled out was because he practiced in a limited capacity. Still, Kerley indicated he wanted to get back on the field.

“I’m looking to jump on the field tomorrow whenever, just got to play it day to day though,” Kerley said.

The injury reports:

JETS

Doubtful: WR Jeremy Kerley (elbow), LB Garrett McIntyre (knee).

Probable: G Willie Colon (calf), CB Antonio Cromartie (hip), DT Kenrick Ellis (back), QB David Garrard (knee), WR Stephen Hill (knee), WR Santonio Holmes (foot, hamstring), WR David Nelson (illness), WR Greg Salas (finger), TE Kellen Winslow (knee).

RAVENS

Questionable: DT Haloti Ngata (knee), LB Daryl Smith (thigh), CB Lardarius Webb (abdomen).

Probable: WR Marlon Brown (knee), WR Brandon Stokley (thigh).

Practice Report: No sign of Kerley

November, 15, 2013
11/15/13
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets wide receiver Jeremy Kerley didn’t even make an appearance at practice on Friday. He’s been listed on the injury report with an elbow, but had been on the bike and working with trainers earlier in the week. His absence obviously doesn’t bode well for the chances that he plays on Sunday when the Jets head to the Bills.

Aside from Kerley, linebacker Garrett McIntyre was the only other Jet not practicing with his position group. McIntyre rode the bike and has been listed with a knee injury.

Ed Reed was making a study of the defense. During installations, he stood behind the defensive backs and asked questions of veterans like Dawan Landry and Antonio Cromartie when the plays were over.

It looked like he was getting a crash course in the Jets' schemes. Reed could play as soon as Sunday, at least in certain packages.

Reed was still wearing No. 22. Reed’s usual number hasn’t been relinquished by cornerback Kyle Wilson, who didn’t want to discuss any possible transactions on Thursday when he was asked about it.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- His coach believes he's going to play. All the signs point to it as well.

Yet, Santonio Holmes still won't commit to a return this weekend against Buffalo.

[+] EnlargeSantonio Holmes
AP Photo/Mark ZaleskiSantonio Holmes looks to be on track to return on Sunday in Buffalo.
"At this point it's still day by day. Inching a lot closer to playing and I just have to get the green light from the trainers," Holmes said. "I can say 'yeah, I want to play' but the production on the field with practice and through the rehab stuff has to be drastically improved to give me the green light."

Despite Holmes being noncommittal, the receiver is on track to return for Sunday's divisional game at Buffalo. The receiver last played Sept. 25 against the Titans and has suited up for just four games due to his hamstring injury. Jets head coach Rex Ryan called Holmes' hamstring injury "major" and the "worst one we've had this year by far."

"At this point, being 5-4, we all need all of our hands on deck and to get the opportunity to play with this team and help push for a playoff run it's something all of us want," Holmes said. "Continue to take it one day at a time. Be smart about the decisions that I want to make for the team, not just for myself."

The Jets have managed to stay in the thick of the playoff race despite not having Holmes for most of the season, and his return should give a boost to a unit that lacks playmakers and will likely be without Jeremy Kerley (elbow) on Sunday. Holmes was cautious working his way back to the team as he wanted to ensure that he would not come back for a game just to find himself sidelined for additional time.

As Holmes rehabbed, however, he missed crucial practice time with rookie quarterback Geno Smith. The duo had little time to work together in the preseason as Holmes was working his way back from his surgically repaired left foot, and they've been on the field for less than four full games together. Smith has completed just 10 of 24 passes to Holmes (41.7 percent).

Holmes has 10 catches for 243 yards and one touchdown on the year. His best game of the season came against the Bills in Week 3, as he torched them for 154 yards and a touchdown on five catches. The Bills were without safety Jairus Byrd and corner Stephon Gilmore that day, and corner Leodis McKelvin was injured during the game.

"I missed a lot of time during the summer when I had a major opportunity to get to know him and get a feel for how I how run routes and the things I can do on the field. To not have those opportunity present themselves throughout this year really throws off the chemistry between a quarterback and a receiver," Holmes said. "Really need as much time as you can in understanding each other so things can go right on the field. At this point it's about moving forward and looking forward to what we can do and not worry about what we didn't have."

Upon Further Review: Jets Week 9

November, 4, 2013
11/04/13
8:00
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An examination of four hot issues from the New York Jets' 26-20 win over the New Orleans Saints:

[+] EnlargeGeno Smith
Al Bello/Getty ImagesGeno Smith was a game manager, at best, in Sunday's victory.
1. A Sanchez-ian performance: Geno Smith's stat line (8-for-19, 115 yards) resembled something out of 2009, when the Jets micro-managed then-rookie Mark Sanchez. Back then, they overcame Sanchez's modest passing days and frequent mistakes all the way to the AFC Championship Game, thanks to a terrific defense and a strong running game. The Jets have tightened the reins on Smith in recent weeks, and it never was more evident than on the Jets' last two meaningful possessions Sunday -- both three-and-outs. In both cases, it was run, run, short pass. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg didn't want to Smith to lose the game. Was it a lack of trust? Perhaps, but there were other factors in play: a patchwork receiving corps and strong defense. Smith was reduced to game manager, and it worked: no turnovers. Prepare for more ugly ball down the stretch.

2. A new bell cow: The flavor of the month in the backfield is Chris Ivory, who rushed for a season-high 139 yards against his former team. In recent weeks, the Jets have gone away from Bilal Powell, relying on Ivory as the workhorse. Why? Because Ivory is healthy and fresh. He was huge in each of the past two wins; he ran for 104 yards against New England in Week 7. Ivory's powerful, downhill style should make him an effective weapon in the second half of the season, especially with the weather turning cold. The question is his durability. If he stays healthy, Ivory will be one of the big stories over the final seven weeks. Mark it down.

3. Much-needed bye: The Jets are a beat-up team, especially on offense. This week's bye comes at an ideal time. The major question surrounds wide receiver Jeremy Kerley, who suffered a potentially serious elbow injury. The bye will give extra time for wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who has been nursing a hamstring injury for five weeks. The team is hopeful he can play in Week 11 at Buffalo. Tight end Jeff Cumberland (concussion), safety Antonio Allen (possible concussion) and linebacker Garrett McIntyre (knee) also are on the mend.

4. Milliner responds: That Rex Ryan, he sure knows how to push his players' buttons. His latest project: rookie cornerback Dee Milliner. One week after his in-game benching in Cincinnati, Milliner responded with a solid game against Drew Brees & Co. Perhaps buoyed by Ryan's mid-week gush fest -- he predicted that Milliner would be the top rookie corner by season's end -- the former Alabama standout managed to get through the game without being sent to timeout. Unofficially, he allowed five completions for 49 yards -- not bad, considering the opponent. "The kid played his butt off," Ryan said. If Milliner becomes a consistent player, it would be a huge boost to the defense.

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