Jeremy Kerley to face Raiders

Updated: December 5, 2013, 8:47 PM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPN.com

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- For the first time in two months, the New York Jets will be whole on offense. Maybe they can end their touchdown drought.

Wide receiver Jeremy Kerley, who has missed three games after suffering a gruesome elbow injury, was cleared to play Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. He participated Thursday in a full practice and looked "outstanding," according to coach Rex Ryan.

The Jets will have their key skill-position players together for the first time since Week 4. Wide receiver Santonio Holmes, limited to only two plays last week because of a lingering hamstring injury, is expected to have a larger, if not full-time role.

The improved health of key players, coupled with a streamlined game plan, has fueled optimism in the Jets' locker room. The offense is in a funk, having gone eight straight quarters without a touchdown. As a result, the Jets (5-7) have dropped three straight, crippling their playoff hopes.

But on Thursday, they actually conducted a practice with their starting lineup intact.

"We're coming," tight end Kellen Winslow said. "It's going to be fun. We're letting lose a little bit and we're going to let guys play and go make plays. We don't have anything to lose."

Rookie quarterback Geno Smith, who leads the league with 23 turnovers, has absorbed most of the criticism. Smith, who retained his starting job despite being benched last week at halftime, has been instructed this week to take a let-it-loose mindset into the game.

"I want him to play just a little more natural," offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. "Lately, he's been so focused on his reads and his progressions, making sure everything is perfect. Let it flow, play a little more natural and turn it loose just a little bit. … His natural instincts have to show up, and he has great instincts. I suspect he'll be pretty good at that down the stretch."

Mornhinweg apparently has taken a new approach with regard to the game plan. While it's not necessarily a scaled-back plan, he's focusing on the plays that work best, according to players.

Cynics might say that won't leave many plays. After all, you're talking about an offense that managed only 39 total yards in the first half of last week's 23-3 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

"That's one reason I came here: I knew this was going to be a great challenge," said Mornhinweg, presiding over the 30th-ranked offense.

Kerley's return will help. He's their most consistent receiver, leading the team with 28 receptions. He dislocated his elbow Nov. 3 against the New Orleans Saints, one week before Holmes returned from a hamstring injury that sidelined him five games. They haven't played together since Week 4.

"With a healthy Holmes, Kerley and Winslow, that'll be a big help to us, obviously," Ryan said. How much they get out of Holmes remains to be seen. He made only a cameo last week after aggravating his hamstring in practice. His day consisted of only one pass route, as he was pulled for precautionary reasons, according to Ryan.

This week, they expect a lot more out of Holmes, but he's still not ready for a full game, Ryan said.

"It doesn't look like he's hobbled at all," Ryan said. "He looks good and explosive."

The Jets are desperate for a spark, as Smith has completed only 29 passes -- in the last four games. That's an average day for Peyton Manning.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.


EDITORS' PICKS

  • Jurassic Park
    The so-called dinosaur Nets got the Game 1 victory in Toronto.
  • Solarte Surprise
    Yangervis Solarte has been sensational for the Yankees so far this season.
  • Things Could Get Messy
    Forcing Geno Smith into an open competition threatens to stunt his growth as a QB.
  • Bracing For The Worst
    Woody's fate will likely be announced next week -- and he's expecting bad news.
  • Complete Control
    The Rangers dominated the Flyers in Game 1 thanks to stickhandling and skill.

ALSO SEE

MORE NFL HEADLINES