Slow start for Ground & Pound

August, 4, 2012
8/04/12
11:00
PM ET
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- So much for Ground & Pound.

The Jets' top three running backs combined for only 23 yards on 11 carries in Saturday night's intrasquad scrimmage, hardly a grand debut for Tony Sparano's run-oriented attack.

Shonn Greene (six carries for 5 yards) and Bilal Powell (three for 7) were held in check. Joe McKnight (two for 11) broke a 15-yard run, but he fumbled on the play. McKnight has had fumbling issues in the past, and he can't afford mistakes because he's battling Powell for the No. 2 job and the third-down position.

Powell helped his cause on a third-down play, hauling in an 8-yard pass from Mark Sanchez for a touchdown.

The running game, no doubt, was hurt by the absence of three starting linemen -- RG Brandon Moore (in Canton for Curtis Martin's Hall-of-Fame induction), C Nick Mangold (at the Olympics to see his sister compete) and RT Wayne Hunter (back). They were replaced by Vladimir Ducasse (false-start penalty), Caleb Schlauderaff and Austin Howard, respectively. The first-team line allowed three sacks, but had great pass protection on the TD pass.

Schlauderaff, a natural guard, had a rough night at center -- two fumbled snaps and a high shotgun snap. The Jets need to find a true center to back up Mangold.

DEFENDING TIM: Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine made a sly strategic move. With Tim Tebow at quarterback, the defense played a two-deep safety look, with man coverage underneath. The Jets almost never show that look in a game, especially not with a running quarterback like Tebow, but Pettine knew he wouldn't get burned because the quarterbacks weren't "live" ballcarriers in the scrimmage. On one play, he actually used NT Marcus Dixon as a "spy."

"I gave him a hard time at halftime," Tebow said. "We were laughing about it, but you know it would be fun to see (in a regular-season game)."

LONDON CALLING: Rex Ryan said he's glad Mangold finally decided to make the trip to London to watch his sister, Holley, compete Sunday in weightlifting.

"The fact his sister is in the Olympics, competing in the Olympics, is an amazing thing," Ryan said. "So, yeah, I’m happy that he’s going, no question."

KICKING COMPETITION: Incumbent Nick Folk gained a slight edge in the competition. He was 3-for-3 in FG attempts, while Josh Brown was 3-for-4, missing from 40 yards.

SIMMS TRACKER: Rex Ryan opened his postgame news conference by mentioning the "quarterback controversy." Let's explain.

"Obviously, (there's) this quarterback controversy with Matt Simms," Ryan said, unsolicited. "Was it Matt Simms or Phil Simms? I don’t know, but he looked pretty darn impressive."

Phil's kid, the fourth-stringer, completed both passes, including a 31-yard TD strike to WR Raymond Webber. Wonder if Greg McElroy is concerned?

BRINGING HEAT: Against the first- and second-team offenses, the defenses recorded four sacks -- LB Calvin Pace, LB Demario Davis, LB Garrett McIntyre and DE Jay Richardson ... Rookie DE Quinton Coples disrupted a run on the very first play of the scrimmage, but disappeared after that ... Rookie WR Stephen Hill had no receptions ... Looking for a positive from the QBs? No turnovers ... Former Jets S Jim Leonhard signed with the Broncos.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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