New York Jets: Sione Po'uha

Sunday notes: Jets could return to L.I.

August, 3, 2014
Aug 3
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- After a few weeks in hibernation, the New York Jets Sunday notes are back:

1. Homeward bound? It's early to be talking about next summer, but the Jets' Long Island-based fans will appreciate this. SUNY-Farmingdale is under consideration as the team's training-camp home in 2015, according to sources. In fact, Jets staffers already have checked out the Farmingdale facilities. The school doesn't have a football team -- therefore, no football field -- but it has intriguing potential because it has plenty of space for fields and extensive on-site parking. The Jets haven't made a final decision -- they're exploring options, including Cortland -- but I'm hearing that Farmingdale is gaining momentum.

It could come down to a football vs. marketing decision for the Jets. From a football standpoint, Cortland is ideal because of its facilities and remote location -- 200 miles from Florham Park, N.J., isolating the players and coaches from friends and family. That means fewer distractions, a great place to build team chemistry. Rex Ryan loves it here. On the downside, the Jets are a long way from their season-ticket holders, and returning to their Long Island roots would help them reconnect with a segment of the fan base that believes it has been ignored since the team bolted Hofstra in 2008. Farmingdale probably would draw bigger crowds than Cortland, and never forget this: The NFL is a business.

2. Cap relief: The Jets received a $1.75 million salary-cap credit this year because of an injury grievance it settled with former nose tackle Sione Po'uha, who was released in March 2013. Let me explain. Pouha, whose 2013 salary ($5.0 million) was guaranteed against injury but not skill, filed the grievance because he believed his release was injury-related, sources said. A true warrior and team leader, he played with a severe back ailment in 2012, one that caused complications after the season.

When a grievance is pending, 40 percent of the player's salary counts against the cap, according to the collective bargaining agreement. In other words, Po'uha counted $2 million on the 2013 cap. Several months ago, he received a $250,000 settlement from the Jets, sources said. That amount was deducted from the $2 million hit in '13, resulting in the $1.75 million credit this year.

The Jets would have had a ton of cap space without the Po'uha verdict. Now they have even more, about $21 million. Po'uha, 35, who didn't play last season, is unofficially retired.

3. The nomads: It always raises eyebrows when a player bounces around the league. In many cases, there's a story behind the story. The Jets added two such players -- cornerback Dimitri Patterson and pass rusher Jason Babin. Babin, with his seventh team in 12 years, is particularly interesting because he has been highly productive in the past -- and yet he's always on the move. Something is fishy.

"The guy's personality can over time wear out his welcome, and he's not real good vs. the run at the point of attack," one AFC personnel executive said.

The Jets plan to make Babin a situational pass rusher, so his inability (and/or desire) to play the run shouldn't be a major factor. But it will be interesting to see how he fits in with the others. The Jets have a tightly-knit group on defense, especially the linemen, and an outsider with attitude might not play well in the room.

When I asked Babin about his transient career, he said, "The cool thing was the opportunity I've gotten over the years, living in different places. It's really helped shape me as a man, a husband and a father. I appreciate all the different opportunities I've had."

4. No Holmes withdrawal: The wide receiver room is a lot different without Santonio Holmes. The chemistry is better, from what I'm told. The elder statesman is Eric Decker, and he's still only 27. The current group of receivers is closer in age than the Holmes group, resulting in more interaction between the players in the meeting room. Holmes wasn't a loner -- he tried to help younger players if he was in the mood -- but, for the most part, he was high-maintenance. Said receivers coach Sanjay Lal: "This is a tight group. They've become good friends quickly."

5. Doubling Decker: A popular theory floating around is that, unless another receiver option emerges, Decker will see a lot of double coverage. Obviously, that didn't happen often in Denver, not with Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker on the field. The Jets have an answer: Decker will line up a lot on the same side as Jeremy Kerley, whom they believe is a weapon in the slot.

"How do you double-cover that?" Lal asked. "Schematically, you can dictate who gets double covered."

6. Catching up with Sanchize: Based on the early reports out of Philadelphia, Mark Sanchez is having a terrific camp. People say his arm looks stronger than ever, which is interesting because people around the Jets believed he had lost arm strength in recent years. They noticed a drop-off late in 2010, when he suffered a shoulder injury against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He avoided surgery, but he was never really the same. In a crazy kind of way, maybe last year's shoulder surgery -- the result of an infamous preseason injury -- was a blessing in disguise. It allowed doctors to finally correct an ongoing issue that was having an impact his play.

7. Westhoff rips Milliner: Suffice it to say, former special teams coach Mike Westhoff isn't a Dee Milliner fan, and he didn't care for Milliner's "best-cornerback" comment. "Man, I'm not sure he's the best cornerback up here in Cortland. And I might include the university," Westhoff said in a radio interview. Ouch.

Westhoff, visiting camp in his role as an analyst for ESPN New York 98.7 FM, remains in good standing with the Jets. In fact, he attends Ryan's daily news conferences and isn't shy about asking questions. He posed an insightful question the other day, noting how linebacker Quinton Coples failed to set the edge on a particular run to the outside. Ryan agreed with his former coordinator.

8. Wilkerson's contract situation: Two first-rounders from the 2011 draft class -- cornerback Patrick Peterson and tackle Tyron Smith -- have received huge contract extensions. There has been a lot of speculation about the possibility of an extension for Muhammad Wilkerson, picked 30th in 2011. General manager John Idzik doesn't comment on contracts. One longtime league executive, asked if he thinks Wilkerson will get a new deal before the season, said, "John doesn't do anything unless he has to." In other words, sit tight, Mo; it might not happen until next year. He's signed through 2015.

9. The new Geno: Geno Smith looks more at ease than last season, and it's not even close. That goes for on the field and off the field.

10. The new CJ2K: Chris Johnson had 69 percent of the Tennessee Titans' total rushing yardage since 2008, the highest percentage of any player in the league. You can bet his percentage won't be that high with the Jets, not with Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell also in the backfield. I could see that number dropping to the 40-to-50-percent range.

Camp preview: Defensive line

July, 22, 2013
Breaking down the Jets, position by position, as they prepare for training camp, which opens Thursday:

Position: Defensive line

Projected starters: Muhammad Wilkerson, Kenrick Ellis, Sheldon Richardson.

[+] EnlargeKenrick Ellis
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesKenrick Ellis is preparing for his third NFL season -- but his first as a starter. What kind of production will the Jets get from him?
Projected reserves: Antonio Garay, Damon Harrison.

New faces: Richardson, Garay.

The departed: Sione Po'uha, Mike DeVito.

Player to watch: Richardson. The Jets' scouts were so high on Richardson (No. 13 overall pick) that they rated him fourth on their draft board. He's an athletic lineman with a terrific motor, and he's expected to play a key role on the revamped line. The question is, does he fit Rex Ryan's 3-4 base defense? Richardson isn't accustomed to being a two-gap lineman, so there will be a transition period. Ryan won't get the best of Richardson if he lines him up as a 5-technique end in a straight 3-4 front, so he's likely to move him around, using him in 1- and 3-technique positions as well.

Potential strength: Without question, this is the youngest and most athletic defensive line of the Ryan era. And it should be. After all, they've picked first-round linemen in the past three drafts -- Richardson, Wilkerson and Quinton Coples, who will be used in a hybrid role. Wilkerson, entering his third year, has a chance to be one of the best 3-4 DEs in the league; some say he's already there. The line started to get a bit creaky last season, especially with the banged-up Po'uha at nose tackle. The '13 group has a chance to be special if it realizes its potential.

Potential weakness: Depth. A bad injury to one of the top four players would be devastating. The depth isn't as bad as it looks on paper, because they can use Coples, Calvin Pace, Antwan Barnes and Garrett McIntyre -- all outside linebackers -- at defensive end in certain fronts. Nevertheless, they still need a veteran backup to increase the comfort level.

Wild card: Ellis. This is Year 3, so he's out of mulligans. After two years of adversity (injuries and legal problems), Ellis steps into a starting role, replacing the well-respected Po'uha. Basically, Ellis was handed the job based on his potential. He has the size (6-foot-4, 346 pounds) and raw ability to control the point of attack, but he's still green and needs technique work. His small-college background bought him a two-year honeymoon. Now it's time to deliver. If not, Garay could assume the starting job on the nose.

Rapid Reaction: Jets pick Richardson 13th

April, 25, 2013

PICK: First round (13th overall)

PLAYER: Sheldon Richardson

SCHOOL: Missouri

POSITION: Defensive tackle

HEIGHT: 6-foot-2½

WEIGHT: 294 pounds

What this means: Rex Ryan apparently still has some influence in the draft room, as the Jets used their two first-round picks on defensive players. This marked the third straight draft in which they chose a defensive linemen in the first round. Richardson is a terrific talent, but many believe he's best suited to be a penetrating lineman in a one-gap scheme. That's not how the Jets play defense, but they could be planning to play more 4-3 fronts. Richardson had only one impact season, recording four sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss last season. He's a junior college transfer who played only two years at Missouri. He was suspended one game last season for violating an unspecified team rule. He's explosive and light on his feet, capable of blowing up blocking schemes.

How he fits the defensive scheme: It'll be interesting to hear Ryan's explanation of Richardson's role. With Richardson, Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples, the Jets have the makings of a formidable front. And don't forget about NT Kenrick Ellis. It sure looks like Ryan and new coordinator Dennis Thurman will be calling more 4-3 fronts. In a 3-4, Richardson has the size to hold up as a 5-technique end. He also has the athleticism to be a third-down rusher. Ryan has options.

Projected impact: The Jets' run defense plummeted to an embarrassing 26th last season -- and that was with Mike DeVito and Sione Po'uha. They cut Po'uha and lost DeVito in free agency, signing veteran Antonio Garay as a stop-gap measure. But do you really want to go into a season with Garay and the still-unproven Ellis as your top interior linemen? Not really. Richardson should help immensely on first and second down, possibly on third. If Richardson, Wilkerson and Coples reach their potential, the Jets will have a premier line.

Injury report: Rex optimistic about Po'uha

October, 26, 2012
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Rex Ryan had some good news Friday: He thinks nose tackle Sione Po'uha will play on Sunday. It would be Po'uha's fourth game this season after sitting with a lower back injury.

Running back Joe McKnight (ankle sprain) did not practice, but said again Friday, "I'm playing." RB Bilal Powell said he did a little more on Friday than he has during other practices, but said the decision on whether he plays will be left to the Jets.

LB Bart Scott missed practice altogether, making it less likely he plays. His consecutive games streak currently stands at 119.


Doubtful: DT Kenrick Ellis (knee), RB Bilal Powell (shoulder), LB Bart Scott (toe).

Questionable: TE Jeff Cumberland (wrist), C Nick Mangold (ankle), RB Joe McKnight (ankle), DT Sione Po'uha (back), S Eric Smith (knee).

Probable: G Vladimir Ducasse (knee), WR Clyde Gates (shoulder), WR Jeremy Kerley (finger), S LaRon Landry (heel), G Brandon Moore (hip), LB Calvin Pace (shin), QB Mark Sanchez (back), G Matt Slauson (knee), T Jason Smith (not injury related).


Out: CB Richard Marshall (back)

Probable: S Reshad Jones (heel), LB Koa Misi (hamstring), RB Daniel Thomas (concussion), DE Cameron Wake (neck), S Jimmy Wilson (ankle)

Po'uha, Powell, Smith declared out

October, 20, 2012
Nose tackle Sione Po'uha, running back Bilal Powell, safety Eric Smith and nose tackle Kenrick Ellis -- all of whom were listed as doubtful on the injury report -- won't play Sunday against the Patriots, the Jets announced Saturday.

As expected, none of the players accompanied the team on the trip to New England.

Running back Joe McKnight, listed as questionable with a high ankle sprain even though he didn't practice all week, made the trip. He will be a game-time decision. Po'uha, battling a significant back issue, was limited in practice Friday, fueling hope that he could return next week against the Dolphins.

So what does this all mean? The Jets are down to two healthy running backs, Shonn Greene and rookie Jonathan Grimes, who has no NFL experience. With McKnight iffy, Rex Ryan floated the idea of using Tim Tebow as a traditional running back, although that seems a remote possibility. Powell (dislocated shoulder) isn't expected to play for a few weeks.

With Po'uha and Ellis (sprained knee) out, the Jets will play for the second straight week without an experienced nose tackle. Chances are, they will employ a committee approach, with recently-signed Daniel Muir seeing some time on the nose.

Without Smith (sprained knee) for the second straight week, they will use rookies Antonio Allen and Josh Bush as their backup safeties.

Practice report: Who's in, who's out?

October, 19, 2012
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Joe McKnight will be a game-time decision against the Patriots on Sunday with his high ankle sprain, Jets coach Rex Ryan said Friday.

Asked about Sione Pouha, who has missed games with a lower back injury, Ryan said he was doubtful again this week -- even as the other option at nose tackle, Kenrick Eliis, will miss another game with a knee injury.

“You have to do what’s in the best interest of the player as well and sometimes you don’t want to have a young man step out there when maybe he’s not fully healed,” Ryan said. “That’s something that we won’t do. We want Sione in the long haul that’s for sure.”

Here is the official injury report:


Doubtful: DT Kenrick Ellis (knee), DT Sione Pouha (back), RB Bilal Powell (shoulder), S Eric Smith (knee)

Questionable: WR Clyde Gates (shoulder), C Nick Mangold (ankle), RB Joe McKnight (ankle)

Probable: WR Stephen Hill (hamstring), TE Dustin Keller (hamstring), WR Jeremy Kerley (finger), S LaRon Landry (heel), G Brandon Moore (hip), LB Calvin Pace (shoulder), QB Mark Sanchez (back), LB Bart Scott (toe), G Matt Slauson (knee), LB Bryan Thomas (hamstring)


Out: RB Brandon Bolden (knee), S Steve Gregory (hip), LB Tracy White (foot)

Questionable: DT Ron Brace (back), S Patrick Chung (shoulder), WR Julian Edelman (hand), TE Rob Gronkowski (hip), TE Aaron Hernandez (ankle), LB Dont'a Hightower (hamstring), G Logan Mankins (calf, hip), C Nick McDonald (shoulder), CB Sterling Moore (knee), T Sebastian Vollmer (back, knee), WR Wes Welker (ankle)

Probable: DT Kyle Love (knee)

Injury report: Mangold, Po'uha sit out

October, 17, 2012
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Jets center Nick Mangold and defensive tackle Sione Po'uha did not practice Wednesday.

While Mangold's day off was likely a maintenance day, as he played Sunday, Po'uha's absence is of concern. He has missed the last two games with his back injury and there doesn't seen to be a resolution at the moment.

Running back Bilal Powell (shoulder) and Joe McKnight (ankle) both sat out as well. Powell will not play Sunday against the Patriots and it doesn't look good for McKnight. That leaves the Jets with two healthy running backs.

Here's today's full report:

C Nick Mangold (ankle)
DT Sione Po'uha (low back)
DT Kenrick Ellis (knee)
WR Clyde Gates (shoulder)
S Eric Smith (knee)
RB Bilal Powell (shoulder)
RB Joe McKnight (ankle)

LB Bart Scott (toe)
TE Dustin Keller (hamstring)
WR Stephen Hill (hamstring)
LB Bryan Thomas (hamstring)

QB Mark Sanchez (low back)
LB Calvin Pace (shoulder)
G Brandon Moore (hip)
G Matt Slauson (knee)
S LaRon Landry (heel)
WR Jeremy Kerley (finger)



RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
LB Tracy White (foot)

S Patrick Chung (shoulder)
WR Julian Edelman (hand)
S Steve Gregory (hip)
TE Rob Gronkowski (hip)
TE Aaron Hernandez (ankle)
LB Dont'a Hightower (hamstring)
G Logan Mankins (calf/hip)
G Nick McDonald (shoulder)
CB Sterling Moore (knee)
T Sebastian Vollmer (Back/knee)
WR Wes Welker (ankle)

DT Kyle Love (knee)

Jets get physical in practice

October, 5, 2012
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- When Rex Ryan met with his coaching staff early in the week, he put out a suggestion box, so to speak, asking for ideas on how to get the team out of its funk. OL coach Dave DeGuglielmo offered this:

An eight-minute period in practice in which the first-team offense faced the first-team defense -- the type of thing they do in training camp.

So they did it Thursday, and Ryan loved it. All but one play in the period was a run. They used running plays from their base, power and boss packages. It wasn't live tackling, but it was full-speed. It made sense, considering their problems running and stopping the run.

"I challenged our guys to compete against each other," Ryan said Friday. "The only way to get better is to go full-speed against each other. That's what we got back to."

INJURY UPDATE: TE Dustin Keller (hamstring), WR Stephen Hill (hamstring), NT Sione Po'uha (back) and LB Bryan Thomas (hamstring) are expected to miss practice for the second straight day. There's virtually no chance of Hill playing Monday night against the Texans. Po'uha and Thomas are major question marks. Losing both players would be a big hit to the already beleaguered run defense.

Keller runs routes during Friday's practice

September, 7, 2012
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Jets tight end Dustin Keller stretched, worked on the side and then ran some routes with the offense during the portion of Friday’s practice open to the media.

Keller (hamstring) was limited Thursday, but believes he will play in Sunday’s season opener versus Buffalo.

Also, defensive tackle Sione Po’uha participated in position drills. Like Keller, Po’uha (back) was also limited Thursday.

The Buffalo News reported that Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson (groin) was on the field for Friday’s practice.

Practice report: Another action-packed day

August, 23, 2012
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- There was action before, during and after practice on Thursday here at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center.

Before practice, coach Rex Ryan revealed that Wayne Hunter has lost his starting job at right tackle in favor of Austin Howard.

After practice, Santonio Holmes declared himself fit to play Sunday night against the Carolina Panthers.

In between, the Jets worked out for 2½ hours Thursday afternoon in front of a few hundred fans as training camp winds to a close. They got to see Howard take all the reps with the first unit, and Holmes get a few live reps as well -- wearing a red no-contact jersey -- as he continues to recover from a rib injury.

In terms of other practice observations:

INJURY REPORT: RB Joe McKnight, who missed Wednesday's practice with shin splints, was back on the field, but limited. S LaRon Landry was also limited for precautionary reasons. ... TE Jeff Cumberland, WR Patrick Turner, WR Chaz Schilens, DT Sione Pouha, CB Ellis Lankster and LB Ricky Sapp did not practice.

GROUND AND POUND: The Jets worked extensively on their running game Thursday. Gang Green averaged just 1.8 yards per carry in Saturday night's preseason loss to the Giants, gaining 58 yards on 32 totes.

OPPOSITE SIDES: The first-team offense and first-team defense rarely matched up against each other Thursday. The Jets were likely preparing for Sunday night's game against the Panthers, having the first-stringers face scout teams.

THE HIGHLIGHT? Mark Sanchez completed a beautiful pass over the middle to Royce Pollard on one of the few plays when both the first-team offense and first-team defense matched up against each other, in 11-on-11 drills. Pollard went high to reel in the ball, in between safeties Yeremiah Bell and Josh Bush. Sanchez was fired up after the play.

On the day, Sanchez completed four of seven passes against the first-team defense. Tim Tebow went 2-for-3 against them, with a sack.

In 7-on-7 drills, LB David Harris dropped a gimme interception thrown by Tebow. But he made up for it with a nice pick on a pass thrown by Greg McElroy. Rookie LB Demario Davis also had an interception late in practice, in 11-on-11 drills.

THE KICKING GAME: Nick Folk nailed all three of his field goal attempts at the end of practice, including one from 53 yards away. Josh Brown also connected from 53 yards, but missed a shorter attempt.

REMEMBER ME? Former Jets offensive tackle Damien Woody, now an ESPN analyst, visited practice on Thursday, along with his two sons. Kind of ironic, considering this was the day the Jets made a switch at Woody's former position.

What went wrong on Big Ben's last pass

January, 24, 2011

Jason Bridge/US PresswireBen Roethlisberger was able to complete his final pass, despite pressure from Sione Pouha.
It was a gutsy call by Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin -- gutsy because it worked. If it had failed, they'd be calling it a stupid decision in the Steel City.

With two minutes to play, the Steelers clinging to a five-point lead, Tomlin called a third-and-6 pass even though the New York Jets were out of timeouts. The Jets came oh-so-close to breaking it up, but there were breakdowns on the play.

First, the Jets' edge rushers let QB Ben Roethlisberger out of the pocket. That could be because they were playing for a run. Rex Ryan admitted that he was "shocked" the Steelers didn't run the ball in that situation. You let Big Ben out of the pocket, and he will make you pay more often than not.

Nose tackle Sione Pouha pressured Roethlisberger and got in his face.

"I hit him right when he threw the ball," Pouha said. "I tried to affect the throw, but obviously Ben is Ben. Right when I hit him, I was hoping to deter the throw somehow, but he's been in that situation so many times that it's second nature to him."

It was a brilliant throw on the run. The Jets dropped into a Cover-3 zone. Once Big Ben escape the pocket, the Jets applied their "plaster" coverage rules -- play man-to-man against the closest receiver in your zone. For linebacker David Harris, that meant wide receiver Antonio Brown. But that's a tough cover for a 250-pound linebacker.

"He was in my zone, so I pretty much had to match him," Harris explained. "I tried to stay with him the best I could, but he's a good athlete and he made a heck of a play. There was too much separation."

Brown made a sliding catch for 14 yards, giving the Steelers the first down they needed to run out the clock.

Business as usual for Sanchez; early practice report

December, 30, 2010
Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez did some light throwing and worked on foot drills during the portion of practice open to the Media Thursday afternoon. It appeared as if it was a normal practice day for Sanchez (right shoulder), who will most likely play Sunday, but it is not known yet to what extend (if any).

In other news, the three Jets who did not practice yesterday: DE Shaun Ellis (back); S James Ihedigbo (knee/ankle) and RT Damien Woody (knee) were not seen during the open portion. CB Antonio Cromartie (groin), DT Sione Pouha (back), DT Trevor Pryce (hip) and CB Darrelle Revis (hamstring) were all out on the field.

More information will be available later when the full practice report is revealed.