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Monday, August 8, 2011
Notebook: Jets learned from AFC title loss

By Rich Cimini

After the Jets got torched by Peyton Manning in the 2009 AFC Championship Game, they decided to make the secondary the No. 1 priority in the offseason. Hence, they traded for CB Antonio Cromartie.

They learned another team-building lesson with last season's loss to the Steelers in the AFC title game. After getting trampled by Rashad Mendenhall in the first half, the Jets identified defensive-line depth as the top priority.

Hence, they drafted Muhammad Wilkerson and Kenrick Ellis in the first and third rounds, respectively. They got younger, parting ways with Shaun Ellis, Trevor Pryce and Kris Jenkins (injured at the time).

"We want to be the most physical team in the league and we weren't that day," Rex Ryan said Monday. "Pittsburgh was more physical than we were, especially in the first half. They pushed us around."

The Jets relied on three defensive linemen for most of the season -- Ellis, NT Sione Pouha and DT Mike DeVito. As Ryan said, "We had three guys slug it out on every snap." As a result, they wore down, he believes. Now they will go with a six-man rotation, with the two rookies joining Pouha, DeVito, Marcus Dixon and Ropati Pitoitua.

ELLIS CASHES IN: The Patriots finally made it official, announcing they have signed ex-Jet Shaun Ellis, who needed to pass a physical before it became official. Ellis signed a one-year contract for $4 million, with incentives that could take it to $5 million, according to ESPN Insider John Clayton.

The Jets offered a one-year deal for the veterans' minimum -- $910,000. Can you blame him for leaving?

ARMS RACE: Wilkerson has an 84-inch wingspan. When he faces the long-armed D'Brickashaw Ferguson in pass-rushing drills, it makes for quite a sight.

"It's kind of funny because they're so far apart," LB Bart Scott said. "They look like two giraffes fighting."

EXTRA POINTS: DL Matt Kroul has been switched to the offensive line. The players jokingly call him "Fat Faneca," a reference to former LG Alan Faneca. Nearly a decade ago, the Jets struck gold when they moved a defensive lineman to guard -- Brandon Moore, whom Ryan called the best guard in the league ... The Jets signed OLB Eddie Jones (undrafted FA/Texas) and OLB David Herron (five NFL teams) ... Biggest surprise on defense, according to Ryan -- rookie LB Nick Bellore, an UDFA from Central Michigan ... Another UDFA that has jumped out is WR Michael Campbell (Temple).