In the aftermath of last week's fourth-quarter meltdown against the Houston Texans, Rex Ryan vowed there would be no panic, that his pride-and-joy defense would be just fine. Obviously, he couldn't make wholesale changes, but he did make one:
Brodney Pool is out as the starting free safety, Eric Smith is in. The team announced the change about an hour before Thursday night's kickoff against the Cincinnati Bengals.
There were communication issues and breakdowns in the secondary -- the entire defense, for that matter --and Ryan was so furious that he lashed into the defense on Monday. Pool has been a disappointment, but it's unclear if Pool's demotion is tied to last week. One possible reason: The coaching staff believes Smith is better in coverage against tight ends, and the Bengals have a good one, rookie Jermaine Gresham.
Another note regarding the inactive list: Obviously, RT Damien Woody (knee) will start -- why else would he be active -- but it's interesting to note that rookie G/T Vladimir Ducasse is active for only the second time. Wayne Hunter would replace Woody if he can't finish the game, but Ducasse would provide extra insurance.