New York Jets: T.J. Conley

Jets cut punter Conley

September, 4, 2012
Punter T.J. Conley fended off two challengers in the preseason, but he failed to make it to the regular season. The New York Jets cut him Tuesday, a league source confirmed.

The Jets haven't announced a replacement.

Conley, who punted for the Jets last season, was inconsistent throughout the preseason. They team acquired Spencer Lanning on waivers last week to punt in the final preseason game, but he didn't fare well. Many assumed Conley had won the job by default; the Jets had other ideas.

Conley had a 37.9 net average in the preseason, which ranked 30th in the league. The New York Post first reported Conley's release.

Jason Smith practices, might play in Philly

August, 29, 2012
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Jason Smith, run out of St. Louis after three difficult seasons, is glad to have a fresh start with the Jets.

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," the newly acquired tackle said Wednesday. "To somebody, I was beautiful."

Well, let's not go that far. Let's just say the Jets think he's more attractive than Wayne Hunter, whom they shipped to the Rams in a ballyhooed trade for backup right tackles.

"He's five years younger and a little more athletic" than Hunter, Rex Ryan said. "That's why we made the trade. When the trade was proposed to us, we were like, man, I was comfortable with Wayne in that role, but this is an opportunity. Let's take a look at him and see this young man."

Smith, wearing No. 63, practiced for the first time with his new team. Ryan hopes Smith can play about 10 snaps Thursday night against the Eagles, but he admitted he's not sure if that's possible.

This has been a stunning downfall for Smith, the second overall pick in 2009. He took a $6 million pay cut last spring, lost his starting job in training camp to a former sixth-round pick (Barry Richardson) and got traded for a backup. The Rams were so eager to get rid of him they agreed to pay $1.55 million of his $4 million salary for 2012.

"I think a fresh start is good for a lot of people," he said.

Ryan believes Smith was hurt in St. Louis by unfair comparisons to Orlando Pace, a franchise left tackle. Smith agreed.

"Orlando Pace was an eight-time Pro Bowler, I believe," he said. "There aren't many guys to do that throughout the course of their career, let alone play eight years. I made the statement before that he had his own shoes and I had mine. It's his life. I never looked at it that way. No disrespect, but a lot of people with a pen in their hand looked at it that way, but I didn't. It's their opinion." PHILLY FINALE: Ryan reiterated that Greg McElroy and Matt Simms will share the quarterbacking duties for the final preseason game. Most of the starters will get the night off.

INJURY REPORT: TE Dustin Keller (hamstring), LB David Harris (ankle) and DT Mike DeVito (calf) were among those that didn't practice. They're all expected to be ready for the season opener ... OLB Ricky Sapp (ankle) will miss his fourth straight preseason game.

TOUGH CUTS: Ryan said the linebacker position might present some of the toughest decisions on the final roster cutdown. Right now, they have 12 linebackers, including eight returning vets plus third-round pick Demario Davis.

PUNTING COMPETITION: Incumbent T.J. Conley said he was a little surprised the team claimed Spencer Lanning on waivers, creating a competition for the final game. Conley's response: Bring it on.

"I know I'm capable of being a great punter in the NFL, and that's what I plan on doing," he said.

He also said this about Lanning's arrival: "I'm not too worried about it. It's competition. I've dealt with it before and I've always come out on top."

Actually, that's not accurate. He got cut twice by the Jets, 2009 and 2010.

Camp preview: Special teams

July, 22, 2012
Breaking down the Jets, position by position, as we head to training camp:

Position: Special teams

Projected starters: PK Nick Folk, P T.J. Conley, KR Joe McKnight, PR Jeremy Kerley, LS Tanner Purdum.

New faces: PK Josh Brown.

Going, going, gone: PR Jim Leonhard.

Player to watch: Tim Tebow. Yep, that guy. He worked in minicamp as the personal protector on the punt team, and the Jets say they have no qualms about using him there during the season. Yes, it's a wrinkle that will force opponents to be on their toes for a gadget play, but it's also risky, asking your No. 2 quarterback to run downfield and make tackles. Coordinator Mike Westhoff started cooking up ways to utilize Tebow as soon as the trade was finalized.

Potential strength: The Jets are a team of many happy returns. McKnight is dynamite as a kickoff returner (a league-high 31.6 average last season) and Kerley is emerging is a very good punt returner (ninth with a 10.9 average). They can change field position in a heartbeat, and that will be important early in the season. The offense will experience growing pains in the new system, and a short field will be its best friend.

Potential weakness: The punting game has to get better. Conley finished 30th and 18th in gross and net average, respectively. The only competition on the roster is Travis Baltz, but that could change at any time. If Conley gets off to a slow start in camp, the Jets will be on the look-out for possible replacements.

Wild card: Brown, who was signed after the draft to compete with Folk. Brown isn't a wannabe or a has-been; he's a proven kicker in this league, still capable of getting the job done. He got cut by the Rams because he was in the final year of a five-year, $14.2 million contract, and they wanted to get younger and cheaper. Brown vs. Folk is a legitimate competition that probably won't be decided until the third pre-season game. Folk responded favorably last summer when he was challenged by the then-unproven Nick Novak, but there will be more pressure this time because of Brown's stature.