Nick Folk, T.J. Conley win jobs

Updated: August 30, 2011, 5:46 PM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

With one preseason game remaining, the New York Jets have settled on their kicking specialists: placekicker Nick Folk and punter T.J. Conley.

The Jets ended the positional battles Tuesday, releasing placekicker Nick Novak and punter Chris Bryan, coach Rex Ryan confirmed.

Neither decision came as a surprise, although Jets fans might not be thrilled with Folk, the incumbent. Folk nearly lost his job in 2010 because of a midseason slump, but he rallied late in the year and ended up kicking the game-winning field goal in the Jets' wild-card upset of the Indianapolis Colts.

Ryan commended Novak for his challenge, saying he "has a great chance to kick in this league," but the team liked the way Folk responded to the push from Novak. Folk is having an "absolutely outstanding" camp, according to Ryan.

"The competition was good, but clearly, we feel Folk is our guy," the coach said.

Folk has made four of five field-goal attempts in the preseason, missing from 43 yards. He's also averaging just 63.6 yards on his kickoffs, recording only one touchback even though the kickoff spot has been moved up to the 35-yard line. But Folk has considerably more experience than Novak and he's familiar with the sometimes tricky winds at MetLife Stadium.

Novak was solid in the preseason, going 2-for-2 and averaging 65.3 yards on kickoffs.

Conley and Bryan were neck-and-neck going into Monday night against the New York Giants, but Conley gained separation with his best outing of the summer (43.7 net average). Bryan, a former Australian Rules football player, impressed early in camp, but he fizzled late, averaging only 35.7 against the Giants.

The Jets are taking a risk with Conley because he has no NFL experience, and there's always the chance they could acquire another punter on the final roster cutdown. This was his third training camp with the Jets. In the previous two, he never made it to the final cut.

They close the preseason Thursday night against the Philadelphia Eagles, a quick turnaround. Ryan confirmed that he's not planning to play any starters. No. 2 quarterback Mark Brunell (pulled calf) won't practice this week, so it looks like rookie Greg McElroy will start.

The Jets have several banged-up players, including fullback John Conner (sprained ankle), cornerback Darrelle Revis (hip), nose tackle Sione Pouha (knee), wide receiver Derrick Mason (knee), tight end Jeff Cumberland (hamstring) and wide receiver Logan Payne (dislocated wrist). Payne, battling for the fifth receiving job, will have surgery and is expected to miss significant time.

Revis' injury isn't serious. He will practice, but his reps will be monitored. Conner is expected to be ready for the Sept. 11 opener against the Dallas Cowboys, according to Ryan. If something were to happen to Conner, they would reach out to former Jet Tony Richardson, 39, their starting full back from 2008-10.

"Tony would be the ideal guy," said Ryan, adding, "I don't think it's anything close to that. It's just a left ankle sprain."

Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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