NFC East: Bart Scott
A day earlier, New York Giants receiver Domenik Hixon suffered a season-ending knee injury when he crumpled to the ground untouched on a punt return.
The Giants seem less certain than the Jets about the artificial surface's culpability.
"I was right there when it happened and I saw it right away," Giants safety Antrel Rolle told ESPNNewYork.com reporter Ohm Youngmisuk on Thursday. "And I was, like, 'Damn, it don't look good.' He didn't make a cut or anything. It just got caught in the turf."
Said receiver Steve Smith of the turf: "I thought it was real slippery. We were all slipping and stuff. Hopefully it settles in when more people do stuff on it."
Giants general manager Jerry Reese said the FieldTurf wasn't to blame. FieldTurf spokesman Chip Namias also refuted Rolle's opinion.
"With all due and sincere respect to Antrel Rolle, who is a wonderful player, he is simply not medically trained or qualified to make such a statement," Namias said. "The people who run NFL teams are ultra conscientious, and there's a very good reason why 21 of the 32 member clubs use FieldTurf."
Rolle also complained about the surface being hot on the bottoms of his feet and claimed several of his teammates had a similar experience. Slippage was another concern.
Giants coach Tom Coughlin stopped short at blaming the turf, but suggested it was an issue.
"You can speculate on whatever you want," Coughlin said. "Fact of the matter is it was an injury that occurred when he was not hit. He was running up the field and we are just going to leave it at that."
The Jets acted plenty confident in the surface Wednesday. Quarterback Mark Sanchez, recovering from offseason knee surgery, participated fully in the workout.
"The turf is great," Sanchez said of the turf. "I didn’t have any slippage. [Antonio] Cromartie did, but he’s so athletic that he’s like when a dog falls, they get up so quick, you almost don’t see it."
Jets punter Steve Weatherford and outside linebacker Calvin Pace raved about the turf. Running back LaDainian Tomlinson told me "It's a fast track. Guys are going to really enjoy playing on it." Cornerback Darrelle Revis noted it could stand to be broken in more.
"It's new turf," Jets inside linebacker Bart Scott said. "It takes a while for this stuff to harden up and mat down. There's going to be loose rubber until you run over it a couple times. ... But you just have to make the adjustment. Early on you may have to go with shorter spikes, and then as it hardens up you can go with longer spikes.
"But I think it's still top-notch. It's soft. It's level. There's no divots. There's no seams. You just have to break it in."
Falcons unrestricted free-agent linebacker Michael Boley is scheduled to visit the Giants on Friday, according to Star-Ledger beat man Mike Garafolo. If everything goes well, Boley could sign with New York. This isn't a splashy move, but I think it would be a wise one.
No need to pay huge money for Ray Lewis or Bart Scott if you can get a solid player like Boley at a reduced rate. And with an emotional leader on defense like Antonio Pierce, I'm not sure how well Lewis or Scott would fit in.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome indicated Wednesday that the club is making progress on a contract extension with linebacker Ray Lewis, but he didn't know whether anything would get done before the start of free agency Friday. Lewis, 33, has never been a free agent.
Newsome also pointed out that reaching a deal with free-agent linebacker Bart Scott wouldn't necessarily preclude the club from also signing Lewis. I think it will be difficult to satisfy both players, and I'm not sure the Ravens should try. They've always seemed to have a good sense of when to let players leave. Some of us questioned the wisdom of letting a phenomenal athlete like Adalius Thomas hit free agency a few years ago, but the guy hasn't exactly lit it up in New England.
Lewis is still a possibility in Dallas, but a Cowboys source told me Thursday morning that the club hasn't even spent much time discussing the veteran player. Jones has been burned before when it comes to paying age. Right now, he's focused on paying for outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware and a $1.3 billion stadium.
Honestly, you haven't lived until Jones has given you a lecture on "burn rates." I know the daily burn rate at the owner's new stadium if anyone's interested.
Continue to visit the NFC Beast Blog for the latest on free agency.
|Tom Szczerbowski/US Presswire|
|Ray Lewis in Dallas? That transaction isn't likely to take place.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley and James Walker
Ray Lewis is a man who understands leverage.
That's why the free-agent linebacker spent part of the offseason trying to convince anyone who'd listen that he's always dreamed of playing for the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys would love to grant Lewis' wish, but they're busy trying to make DeMarcus Ware one of the richest men in football.
But try to suspend reality for a moment and imagine that Lewis really could end up with the Cowboys.
AFC North blogger James Walker and NFC Beast blogger Matt Mosley discussed this topic via e-mail earlier this week. In December, Mosley and Walker participated in what was hailed as the most successful blogger debate of the '08 season. Now, we've actually given this feature a name. Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for the first installment of Double Coverage, which includes English subtitles.
Mosley: James, it's a pleasure to be visiting with you in such an informal setting. I'm always more comfortable when thousands (perhaps millions) of people are eavesdropping. Anyway, I don't think the Cowboys are one player away from "getting over the hump." Honestly, it sort of depends on what you think the "hump" is. If it's winning a playoff game for the first time in 12 years, then certainly Lewis would help in that process. I think the man has way too much pride to allow his team to play like dogs in a do-or-die game like the season-ender against the Eagles.
But if Jerry Jones has learned anything over the years (and that's debatable), it's that you don't pay age. Lewis may still have a couple good seasons left, but you never know how he might fit into another defense. He has so much history with the Ravens that he knows every nuance of the defense. Another veteran, Zach Thomas, had a really tough transition in Dallas. I don't think it's guaranteed that Lewis flourishes in Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme.
Walker: I'm with you, Matt. It depends on the definition of "getting over the hump." For Dallas, it's winning -- or at least getting to -- the Super Bowl. The addition of Lewis alone won't do that for the Cowboys. Without Lewis, Dallas' defense was No. 8 in the NFL last year. With Lewis, who is 33, the unit might move up a notch or two, but I doubt it translates into a Lombardi Trophy.
The Cowboys are paper champions not because of their linebackers, but because their most important player doesn't show up in important games. I hate to put so much blame on one player, but if I had a nickel for every big game Tony Romo has won, I'd have ... no nickels. Lewis cannot help in that respect.
Mosley: You're being a little harsh with Romo, but I'll let it slide this time. I'm wondering what your take was on linebacker DeMarcus Ware's recent comments about Lewis. Sounds like Lewis was lobbying him pretty hard.
Walker: Ware had no reason to lie about this, so I do believe there is truth to it. But what Lewis allegedly said is what a lot of free agents say at some point: They want to play in Dallas. I've heard Cincinnati Bengals receivers Chris Henry and Chad Ocho Cinco say the same thing this past year in the AFC North. I'm sure there are several others who have repeated the same sentiment. If Lewis speaks, obviously it makes bigger headlines, but talk is cheaper than money. Unless Lewis is willing to take a pay cut to play in Dallas, then putting the star on Lewis' helmet isn't really his dream scenario. Much of this decision will come down to the highest bidder and that team should be Baltimore, because Lewis means more to the Ravens than any other team.