In a column by Rich Cimini over on ESPNNewYork.com, New York Jets receiver Santonio Holmes seemed to take a shot at the young Patriots secondary with a nonanswer that seemed to say plenty.
"If I could speak my mind, I would," Holmes said Thursday on the Patriots' DBs. "But just off the strength of me being a professional, I don't worry about those guys."
Translation from Cimini: The New York Jets believe they can do some serious damage against a New England pass defense that is uncommonly poor. The Patriots are allowing 289 passing yards per game, the most in the NFL and by far the worst of the Bill Belichick era.
When asked if he's ever faced a rookie cornerback who could cover him, Holmes smiled.
"Negative," he said. "That was proven Super Bowl Sunday two years ago when [the Cardinals] had a rookie follow me around the whole game. I wouldn't do it if I was them. Don't do it."
Holmes was referring to his MVP performance for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII, when he caught 13 passes for 226 yards -- much of it against then-rookie Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Patriots rookie Devin McCourty, who is tied for fourth in the NFL with 5 interceptions, figures to see some time against Holmes on Monday night.
The one thing the Patriots do well is limit big plays -- only seven completions in the 30-plus-yard category. But they're vulnerable to the slow death, and the Jets evidently believe they can exploit the inexperience of the secondary.
"If you play young guys, you have that edge, no matter how talented they are," receiver Braylon Edwards said. "You have to use that edge. If you get caught in a back-and-forth with a young guy, you turn into that young guy, too. The key is to show them on every play that you're the veteran, why I've been in the league six years and you've been in the league two or three."
If the Jets play consistently, they "can take advantage of the weaknesses in their secondary," Edwards said.
They did that in the first meeting, as Edwards and Cotchery combined for nine catches, two touchdowns and one two-point conversion. The biggest force was tight end Dustin Keller, who was deadly on seam routes against the Patriots' Cover 2 scheme -- seven catches for 115 yards and a touchdown.