New York Jets: Darius Reynaud

W2W4: Oakland Raiders vs. New York Jets

December, 6, 2013
12/06/13
5:00
PM ET
Contrary to what Kellen (The Greek) Winslow believes, the games still matter for the New York Jets.

Despite a three-game losing streak, the Jets (5-7) still are mathematically alive. The bigger issue, though, is the future of Rex Ryan, who has four games to convince his bosses he's the right man for the head coaching job.

Ryan can't afford a loss to the Oakland Raiders (4-8). If the slumping Jets can't defend their home field against the league's worst road team, it'll put a significant dent in Ryan's bid for a 2014 return. Under Dennis Allen, the Raiders are 2-12 on the road. They've lost 12 straight in the Eastern time zone by a combined score of 379-198. They're playing a backup quarterback, rookie Matt McGloin. They have injury concerns at running back. Their roster screams "rebuilding," as they dressed 16 undrafted players in their previous game.

And yet this game could be problematic for the Jets, who never have lost four straight under Ryan. After all, it's hard to win when you can't score.

Kickoff is 1 p.m. at MetLife Stadium. What to watch for:

1. Mettle detector: The Jets invested so much emotionally last week, in what they called a must-win game, that you have to wonder how much is left in the tank. Ryan's teams have always played hard for him, but this will be a gut check. Ryan spent the week trying to boost morale, commending the team's practice performance and lavishing praise upon his draft picks. There was a players-only meeting, with David Harris and D'Brickashaw Ferguson addressing the team. It might have been too little, too late, but we'll see. It would be a mistake to underestimate the Raiders. For all their issues, the Raiders usually come prepared. They have a plus-45 point differential in the first quarter, second in the league.

2. The Gang's all here: For the first time since Week 4, the Jets will have their regular offense intact. The return of WR Jeremy Kerley provides another option in the passing attack, especially in the short and intermediate zones. WR Santonio Holmes is healthier than last week (so they say), so he might actually play more than two snaps. We know the Jets aren't the Greatest Show on Turf, but they're rolling out the best they've got. They have no excuses. "Let's see how we close this thing out when we're healthy," Ryan said.

If they can't break the slump against the Raiders, it could last another two weeks because points will be at a premium next week at the Carolina Panthers. The Jets have gone eight quarters without a touchdown -- 114 plays, an elapsed time of 129 minutes, 36 seconds. They treat the end zone as if it's radioactive. There will be plenty of one-on-one opportunities on the outside, as the Raiders like to blitz and play man-to-man coverage. They've rushed five or more on 44 percent of the opponents' dropbacks, the third-highest rate in the league. Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg streamlined the offensive game plan, focusing on the plays they do best -- slim pickings. The Raiders have struggled against slant passes, so look for that.

3. Clock ticking for Geno: The decision to stick with QB Geno Smith, despite his historic struggles, indicates the organization is determined to get a complete evaluation of the rookie. General manager John Idzik doesn't think anything positive can be gained by sitting him. So on we go. Mornhinweg took a different approach this week, imploring Smith to play loose and let his natural instincts take over. Don't be surprised if Mornhinweg calls more designed runs for Smith, who can create a spark with his mobility. He will get blitzed -- a lot. The Raiders will test Smith's recognition skills and the Jets' pass protection.

4. The In-and-Out Corner: Rookie CB Dee Milliner needs a big play in the worst way. He will remain in the starting lineup despite being pulled last week in the third quarter, his third in-game benching. If the coaches continue to yank him, he'll show up on the injury report with a case of whiplash. Milliner, drafted ninth overall, is a key part of the Jets' future. He needs to finish the season on the upswing, providing some evidence to the organization that it didn't swing and miss. You can bet the Raiders will go after him, but their receiving corps is thin. Their top playmaker in the last game was Andre Holmes, who surpassed his career totals in one afternoon. McGloin is fairly effective when throwing deep. Hear that, Ed Reed?

5. Replacing Josh Cribbs: Cibbs, placed on injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle, wore a lot of hats and it will take more than one player to replace him. Newly-signed Darius Reynaud will return kickoffs and punts, with Bilal Powell and Kerley expected to handle the Wildcat role on offense. Reynaud has dealt with ball-security issues in the past, especially on punt returns.

Injury Report: Santonio Holmes isn't peachy

December, 4, 2013
12/04/13
5:49
PM ET
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Santonio Holmes, wearing red glare-reducing contact lenses, said that the hamstring injury he aggravated last week in practice had improved by Wednesday, when he was limited in practice. Holmes played just a few snaps with the offense against the Miami Dolphins and missed two practices last week.

“Making strides, making really good strides,” Holmes said. “Today was an even better practice and I look forward to steadily making progress throughout the rest of this week.”

Still, with just four games left, the season has nearly passed Holmes by. The Jets receiver played the first four games, but then missed five straight and has played only sparingly in the last two. After missing all last season with a Lisfranc injury, he has just 13 catches for 326 yards this year.

“The season it is what it is what it is right now,” Holmes said. “We all wish for peaches and creams every day and having Christmas every day around here but we have to deal what we have right now and that’s right now an up and down season, and we have to finish out these last four games on a good roll.”

Holmes, who misses Thursday practices to keep his work load low, has almost achieved special guest status in games and practices. Wide receiver Stephen Hill said he doesn’t notice when Holmes isn’t able to practice.

“Sometimes you really don’t notice it,” Hill said. “I’m not saying that Tone is not a threat, It’s just we have so many reps in practice where just in case he’s not in, we’ve got people who take his reps. So we’re just making sure we’re all on the same page with that so we’re communicating on and off the field just in case he’s not there.”

KERLEY CLOSING IN: Jets WR Jeremy Kerley practiced on Wednesday and appears to be getting closer to return after an elbow injury that has kept him out of three games. “All I can do is try to get myself healthy,” Kerley said.

CRIBBS TORE PECTORAL: KR/RB Josh Cribbs tore his pectoral muscle during the Miami game, which is why he was put on IR this week. Newly signed KR Darius Reynaud was in the locker room Wednesday and said he’s only been told he’ll work special teams this week. Cribbs expanded that role to the offense quickly.

JETS

Did not practice: TE Kellen Winslow (knee).
Limited: CB Antonio Cromartie (hip), WR Santonio Holmes (foot, hamstring), WR Jeremy Kerley (elbow), DE Muhammad Wilkerson (wrist).
Full: G Willie Colon (calf), DT Kenrick Ellis (back), WR Stephen Hill (knee), RB Chris Ivory (ankle), C Nick Mangold (wrist), LB Garrett McIntyre (knee), CB Dee Milliner (wrist), WR Greg Salas (finger), QB Geno Smith (right wrist).

RAIDERS

Did not practice: G Mike Brisiel (ankle, knee), LB Kaluka Maiava (ribs, calf), RB Darren McFadden (ankle), WR Denarius Moore (shoulder), RB Jeremy Stewart (ankle, knee), S Usama Young (neck)
Limited: S Tyvon Branch (ankle), LB Miles Burris (toe), DE Jason Hunter (foot), RB Rashad Jennings (concussion), T Menelik Watson (illness).

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