FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- It has been two years since he last played for the New York Jets, but Darrelle Revis still has an affinity for coach Rex Ryan, whose defensive scheme allowed the star cornerback to create "Revis Island."
Revis, currently in his first season with the New England Patriots, is upset at the widespread speculation that Ryan will be fired after the season.
"It's kind of sad for the position that Rex is in right now, but at the same time [the record is] something that they've got to change," Revis said Wednesday on a conference call with the New York media.
Revis returns to MetLife Stadium on Sunday for the second time since his controversial 2013 trade to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs opened the 2013 season at MetLife.
This time, it'll spark more emotion for all parties because he's playing for the Jets' No. 1 rival.
"I'm really not trying to pay attention to [the Jets' struggles], I'm really not," Revis said. "Me and Rex have a lot of history and we all know that. Some of those guys are dear to my heart and everything, but like I said, I've got to focus on the things that I am doing here, and I wish Rex the best."
Sources said Ryan was interested in reuniting with Revis last offseason -- and vice versa -- but Jets' management and ownership decided not to pursue him when he was released by the Bucs.
Asked how much he misses Revis, Ryan smiled.
"Revis? Ah ... you know," said Ryan, who went on to say he's proud of the players he has.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman, who was previously listed with a thigh injury, is now also listed with a concussion. He was a limited participant at Wednesday’s practice.
Another new addition to the injury report is cornerback Kyle Arrington (hamstring). He injured his hamstring against the Dolphins and did not play the rest of the game.
Starting left guard Dan Connolly (neck/ankle) also missed the remainder of the game against the Dolphins after injuring his neck. He was previously dealing with the ankle injury.
Running back LeGarrette Blount (shoulder) and long snapper Danny Aiken (finger) are also new additions to the injury report.
Arrington, Connolly, Blount and Aiken were all limited at Wednesday’s practice.
Defensive end Chandler Jones (hip), rookie offensive lineman Cameron Fleming (ankle), linebacker Dont'a Hightower (shoulder), wide receiver Brandon LaFell (shoulder), defensive end Rob Ninkovich (heel), running back Shane Vereen (ankle) and linebacker Chris White (ankle) all continued to be limited participants, too.
Quarterback Tom Brady (ankle) remains a full participant at practice.
Injuries remain concern: When the Patriots made Easley their first-round pick (29th overall), the initial reaction was "surprised" because of his injury history. Easley tore both ACLs while at the University of Florida, and one of the main concerns that scouts expressed was that Easley was an undersized pass-rusher (6-foot-2, 288 pounds) coming off injuries who would now have bigger-bodied offensive linemen leaning on him -- not a great combination. Eight months later, the injuries remain a concern. Easley hurt his shoulder Oct. 5, and the official reason for his placement on IR is his knee.
Full offseason could help: By making the decision now, it gives Easley a chance to be ready to go for the start of the 2015 offseason program, as he could benefit greatly from a full offseason with the team. It was clear watching him in his nine snaps against the Chargers on Dec. 7 that he lacked the explosion and get-off in the pass rush that had scouts calling him a first-round talent athletically. That was the tip-off that Easley's knee wasn't right.
Who fills void? Easley's loss should have minimal impact on the team. His interior sub-rushing role was handled by Chandler Jones (returning after missing six games) in obvious passing situations in Sunday's win over the Dolphins, with Akeem Ayers coming on to rush off the edge. The Patriots have a lot of options along the line.
All comes back to health: Easley's talent was never in question entering the NFL, but his ability to stay healthy was. Because of that, he was a risky first-round pick by the Patriots and right now the risk hasn't paid off. It's too early to say it ultimately won't, but this wasn't the outcome that either side was hoping for at this point.
"He's very fast, explosive," Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich said. "He's done a lot of good things in this league. He's a good football player."
"He poses so many problems," added Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater. "He runs so hard, he runs like he's 240 pounds as far as breaking tackles, but he's got the speed of some of the elite guys in the league. He really poses a lot of problems with his skill set. It's not going to be a one-man effort, it's going to take all 11."
Between his time with the Seahawks and Jets this season, Harvin ranks seventh among returners in the league with 759 return yards, 476 of which have come on 19 attempts with the Jets. While he hasn't converted any kickoffs into a touchdown this season, Harvin has shown an ability to do so in the past, with five return scores on his career resume.
As a receiver, Harvin has hauled in 25 catches for 306 yards in his time with the Jets.
"You can do as best you can to simulate it all week but you won't really have a good feel for it until that first kickoff he brings out of the end zone," Slater said. "I think, with that being said, no one can try to give a Herculean effort. It's got to be everybody doing their job to the man and that's what it's going to take to stop him. It's not going to be one guy."
So far this season, the Patriots are among the league leaders in terms of lowest average kickoff return yardage per attempt (20.9). Given that four of the team's last five games against the Jets have come down to the last possession, special teams will play a critical role Sunday, just as they did in Week 7 with Chris Jones blocking a Jets field-goal attempt in the final seconds to seal with win.
"It'll be huge, especially with Percy there," Slater said. "I think he changes the whole dynamic so we definitely have to be on our P's and Q's and do the best we can to contain him."
Easley, the Patriots’ first-round selection from the 2014 draft, has been battling a knee injury. He tore the ACLs in both of his knees during his time at Florida.
Easley played in 11 games this season, with two starts, and was credited with nine tackles, one sack and one interception. His primary role came as an interior sub rusher, but he also gave the team some valuable snaps at defensive end in the base defense.
Meanwhile, the Patriots formally announced the signing of tight end Steve Maneri to the 53-man roster, filling Easley's spot. Also, rookie quarterback Garrett Gilbert was signed to the practice squad.
Maneri, a 6-foot-7, 280-pound former offensive tackle, spent a portion of training camp with the Patriots. Considering his background at a tackle, he is primarily a blocking tight end. Maneri said he does not have practice-squad eligibility, which would indicate that he was signed to the team’s 53-man active roster.
Gilbert, the Rams’ sixth-round pick (214th overall) in the 2014 draft, was released from St. Louis’ practice squad in October. Gilbert has practice-squad eligibility, and it's likely he'll land on the Patriots' practice squad as he practiced with the team Wednesday.
Gilbert played in college at Texas before transferring to SMU, where he had considerably more success than his time with Texas. The addition of Gilbert comes after the the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune reported that the Patriots were trying to sign rookie quarterback David Fales off the Bears’ practice squad, but the Bears promoted Fales to their active roster.
The Patriots have yet to officially announce the roster moves.
So with Sunday’s matchup against one of cornerback Darrelle Revis' former teams -- the Jets -- Brady talked about how valuable Revis has been to the Patriots’ defense.
Brady is more than thankful to be playing with Revis rather than trying to throw the ball onto Revis Island.
“He’s just a great teammate, a phenomenal player,” Brady said. “I think the thing that I am most impressed with is his coverage skills without getting penalties.
“That’s a rare thing to be backpedalling with guys who are some of the best athletes in the world running at you as fast as they can with the size and the speed of the way receivers are and to be able to cover those guys like he does is pretty amazing.”
Brady wouldn’t single out Revis as the MVP and instead explained the team approach of a Bill Belichick-led squad.
“It all depends on the team and what your role is on the team,” Brady said. “Everybody’s role is really valuable. I think in professional football certain positions always get more attention as to their value. Knowing our team, Coach Belichick, everybody is important. Everybody has to do their job because if you don’t do it then nobody else could do it for you.”
Brady discussed the value of his role and the constant pressure to make plays while leading the offense.
“Certainly my position, nobody can throw the ball or make the reads or call the plays in the huddle,” Brady said. “That’s what my job is to do. And you’ve got to do it every single day, you’ve got to do it every single week, you’ve got to be dependable, you’ve got to be durable. You’ve got to bring the energy and enthusiasm and, ultimately, try to help your team win.
“That’s the only reason why we’re playing is to win games, not to throw touchdown passes or catch touchdown passes.”
For Brady, an MVP is summed up in a simple statement.
“You’re doing whatever you can on every play to help the team win the game,” Brady said. “That’s, to me, what being valuable is.”
Here are some of the notable topics related to the New England Patriots:
Thoughts on the Patriots-Jets rivalry. Asked his place in the New England-New York rivalry, Ryan said he had no idea. Then he re-directed, saying, "We all know what's getting ready to happen in this game. We know that both teams give their maximum effort against each other. I don't think each team particularly likes each other. It's on. Regardless of what the record is. We could be playing for first place or whatever, it's the same effort always. It's usually a close game and it's usually a physical game."
More on the Patriots. While Ryan and the Jets don't like the Patriots, there is respect. "They always have it -- six years in a row that they've won the division. You're a little envious, I guess. It's what it is -- they're the ones you chase. We respect them a great deal -- they're led by a Hall of Fame quarterback and a Hall of Fame coach. So they're hard to beat and we recognize that, but that doesn't mean that we'll take our rightful place underneath them. That's not going to happen. We're here to beat them. That's our mentality every time we play them. They're going to get our best shot and we're going to get theirs; we understand that about each other."
How tough this season has been on him. When Ryan was asked how tough the season has been on him given "some of the things swirling about what's going on inside the team," he responded, "Anything that's swirling around inside our team, I'm proud of this team. We've got nothing (in terms of issues). Some guys' reports are probably as far off as any I've ever seen. This team is tight. Our record is the only thing that stinks. We have a great group of guys that care, that prepare, practice hard. It's obviously unfortunate that our record is what it is. But it has nothing to do with the type of character in this room."
Thoughts on competing against Bill Belichick twice a year the last six seasons. Asked how much he's relished matching X's and O's and wits with Belichick, Ryan said, "I don't know how I've fared that way with him, but as a competitor, you like facing the best. That's what he is. Obviously I like doing that, just like any competitor would. I obviously wish I had more success against him, but they do a tremendous job in all phases of the game. They're a really well-coached football team, and his assistant coaches are outstanding as well, and they've been around a long time with him. Obviously, it's a huge challenge. As a competitor, absolutely I enjoy the preparation and the battles against him."
"It seems like quite a while since we've played the Jets," Belichick said during his news conference on Wednesday. "Jets are playing well, they're a very competitive football team. They're in every game, they've been in a lot of tight games.
Flashback to Week 7, when the Patriots beat the Jets by just two points -- a 27-25 victory sealed by defensive lineman Chris Jones' blocked field goal as time expired.
The previous four meetings between these two teams have been decided by three points or less, with two of those games being decided in overtime. The last time a team won by more than three points was on Nov. 22, 2012, when the Patriots beat the Jets, 49-19.
"We'll see how it goes against the Jets," Belichick said. "We've played other teams and different matchups and all that. The Jets are pretty healthy, they had one change on their offensive line but the rest of those guys have all started 14 games. They've had pretty good consistency at tight end. The running backs are very good. The quarterback's a good runner. We'll see whether we can improve against the Jets in the running game. That's what we need to do."
In addition to a strong run game (they rank second in the NFL in rushing yards per game at 147.1), the Jets also stop the run better than most NFL teams as they rank fourth in opponents' rushing yards per game (87.5).
"Defensively strong front, good at stopping the run," Belichick said. "Physical pass rush team, those front seven guys don't come off the field too much. They're used in a lot less nickel and dime than we've ever seen. They try to keep those guys on the field as much as possible so they're a pretty disruptive group."
The Patriots may have locked up the AFC East, but these final two games against the Jets and Bills have major implications as the Patriots are vying for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Considering the history of Ryan's Jets playing the Patriots tightly, Belichick needs his team to play better than in the past.
"This will be a big week for us and I think we need to play better than we did the last time we played them," Belichick said. "I think that will be good enough. Barely was good enough last time but it'd be good enough this time."
Points per game
This week: First (31.5)
Last week: Third (30.8)
Last season: Third (27.75)
Jets in 2014: 30th (16.4)
Points allowed per game
This week: Eighth (20.0)
Last week: Ninth (20.5)
Last season: 10th (21.12)
Jets in 2014: 24th (25.7)
This week: Sixth (87 of 193, 45.1 percent)
Last week: Seventh (79 of 180, 43.9 percent)
Last season: 16th (83 of 221, 37.6 percent)
Jets in 2014: 21st (80 of 207, 38.6 percent)
This week: 16th (74 of 185, 40.0 percent)
Last week: 20th (71 of 169, 42.0 percent)
Last season: 26th (98 of 232, 42.2 percent)
Jets in 2014: 31st (89 of 193, 46.1 percent)
This week: Fourth (plus-11, 23 takeaways, 12 giveaways)
Last week: Tied-third (plus-10, 21 takeaways, 11 giveaways)
Last season: Eighth (plus-9, 29 takeaways, 20 giveaways)
Jets in 2014: 31st (minus-11, 11 takeaways, 22 giveaways)
Red zone offense (based on TD percentage)
This week: Seventh (37 of 59)
Last week: Seventh (34 of 54)
Last season: 15th (36 of 65)
Jets in 2014: Tied-29th (16 of 39)
Red zone defense (based on TD percentage)
This week: Ninth (20 of 41)
Last week: 12th (20 of 38)
Last season: 16th (28 of 50)
Jets in 2014: 25th (26 of 43)
G Logan Mankins (Buccaneers) -- Started and played all 55 offensive snaps in a road loss to the Panthers. The former Patriots captain has started all 14 games this season.
LB Dane Fletcher (Buccaneers) -- Played exclusively on special teams (22 snaps) in a road loss to the Panthers, recording one tackle. He has played in all 14 games this season, with three starts on defense.
G Ted Larsen (Cardinals) -- The 2010 sixth-round draft pick started at right guard for the second time this season after starting at left guard for the first 12 games of the season, playing all 68 snaps in a road win over the Rams.
S James Ihedigbo (Lions) -- Started and played 68 of 69 defensive snaps in a home win over the Vikings, totaling four tackles. He has played in 11 games this season, starting all of them, and has totaled 60 tackles, two sacks, eight passes defended, four interceptions, and two forced fumbles.
TE Benjamin Watson (Saints) -- He started and played 42 of 68 offensive snaps in a road win over the Bears, finishing with one catch for five yards. Watson has now played 465 of 934 offensive snaps and has 17 catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns this season.
WR Brandon Lloyd (49ers) -- Played 18 of 58 snaps in a road loss to the Seahawks and totaled one catch for 12 yards. In 12 games (2 starts), he has 13 catches for 280 yards and one touchdown this season.
ST Ray Ventrone (49ers) -- The longtime favorite of 49ers special-teams coach Brad Seely was inactive in a road loss to the Seahawks. He has played in seven games this season.
CB Sterling Moore (Cowboys) -- Nickelback started and played 48 of 55 defensive snaps in a road win over the Eagles (1 tackle, 1 pass defended). He has appeared in 14 games (seven starts) and has totaled 11 passes defended.
TE Daniel Fells (Giants) -- Started and played 29 of 61 offensive snaps in a home win over Washington, and had one catch for 16 yards. He has played 339 of 977 offensive snaps this season, appearing in 14 games (7 starts) and totaling 14 catches for 168 yards and four touchdowns.
S Brandon Meriweather (Washington) -- The 30-year-old was inactive in a road loss to the Giants, the second week in a row in which he was inactive. He has started all 10 games in which he's played, and has 54 tackles, three passes defended and three sacks this season.
LB Ja'Gared Davis (Washington) -- Wearing No. 58 after being signed off the Chiefs' practice squad, Davis played exclusively on special teams (19 snaps) and tied for the team lead with two tackles.
DL Kyle Love (Panthers) -- Signed with Carolina on Monday after not playing this season.
(Anyone else you'd like to add to the list? Send a suggestion via Twitter to @MikeReiss).
CB Aqib Talib (Broncos) -- Started and played 62 of 66 defensive snaps in a road win against the Chargers that clinched the AFC West title, and he was active with a team-high eight tackles, three passes defended and one interception. Talib has played 824 of 960 defensive snaps in 13 games, with 14 passes defended, three interceptions and 55 tackles.
WR Wes Welker (Broncos) -- Totaled two catches for 16 yards in a road win against the Chargers, playing 46 of 66 offensive snaps. In 12 games this season he has played 624 of 858 offensive snaps, totaling 43 catches for 392 yards.
ST Don Jones (Dolphins) -- He played 17 snaps on special teams in a road loss to the Patriots and led the team with two tackles. He has four special-teams tackles in three games with Miami after being claimed on waivers from New England.
WR Kamar Aiken (Ravens) -- He played 13 of 62 offenisve snaps in a home win over the Jaguars, but didn't register on the stat sheet offensively, although he did return a blocked punt 11 yards for a touchdown. He has 22 catches for 254 yards and two touchdowns this season.
LB Brandon Spikes (Bills) -- Played 8 of 71 defensive snaps in a home win over the Packers (1 assisted tackle), in addition to five on special teams. He has played 438 of 948 defensive snaps this season (46.2 percent).
WR Kenbrell Thompkins (Raiders) -- Played 28 of 80 offensive snaps in a road loss to the Chiefs, but didn't register on the stat sheet despite being targeted six times, based on tabulations by in-game statisticians. He has nine catches for 117 yards since joining the Raiders.
CB Darius Butler (Colts) -- Started and played 56 of 71 defensive snaps in a home win over the Texans (2 tackles). He has 42 tackles and seven passes defended this season.
S Sergio Brown (Colts) -- The former undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame played 18 of 71 defensive snaps in a home win over the Texans, as the Colts played a base defense with three cornerbacks. He had one pass defended and one special teams tackle.
QB Brian Hoyer (Browns) -- Did not play as the backup to rookie Johnny Manziel in a 30-0 home loss to the Bengals.
C Nick McDonald (Browns) -- Dressed but did not play in a home loss to the Bengals. The former Patriot, who played 16 games (3 starts) for the team from 2011-12, has started six of the last eight games for the Browns.
QB Ryan Mallett (Texans) -- Was placed on season-ending injured reserve last week with a torn pectoral muscle after making two starts in relief of Ryan Fitzpatrick.
LB Jeff Tarpinian (Texans) -- Played 22 special-teams snaps in a road loss to the Colts and was credited with one tackle.
OT Will Svitek (Titans) -- The 32-year-old veteran started at left tackle for the third week in a row, this time in a home loss to the Jets. He played 57 of 58 offensive snaps.
CB Jemea Thomas (Titans) – The 2014 sixth-round draft choice of the Patriots, who also spent time with Dallas and St. Louis before joining Tennessee, played exclusively on special teams in a home loss to the Jets (22 snaps) and didn't register on the stat sheet.
WR Greg Salas (Jets) -- Was placed on season-ending injured reserve (hamstring). He played in 220 of 962 snaps this season and had eight catches for 167 yards.
TE Zach Sudfeld (Jets) -- Played 14 of 65 offensive snaps in a road win against the Titans (not registering on the stat sheet), .as well as a team-high 24 special-teams plays (2 tackles). He has played in 112 of 962 offensive snaps this season (his primary contributions come on special teams) and has two catches for 35 yards.
TE Matthew Mulligan (Titans) -- After spending time with the Bears and Cardinals this season, the veteran blocking tight end signed with the Titans on Tuesday.
(Anyone else you'd like to add to the list? Send a suggestion via Twitter to @MikeReiss).