- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The war of words between the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins escalated Thursday, with Dolphins center Mike Pouncey calling Jets linebacker Aaron Maybin "a joke" and claiming they will target Maybin in Sunday's game at MetLife Stadium.
"You can tell Aaron Maybin we'll be after him on Sunday," Pouncey said on ESPN New York 98.7 FM's "Stephen A. Smith & Ryan Ruocco" show.
Pouncey was responding to remarks from Maybin and Jets safety LaRon Landry, both of whom made inflammatory comments Wednesday about Dolphins running back Reggie Bush. Maybin told ESPNNewYork.com, "We want to knock him out, but we're out to do it legally."
That drew the ire of Pouncey, who fired back by saying Maybin doesn't have enough credibility to speak out.
"I can respect LaRon Landry, what he said, (because) he's a starter, he's a proven player in this league," Pouncey said. "For Aaron Maybin to open his mouth, I just don't understand it.
"It's going to be a physical game. Hearing that from a guy known as one of the biggest busts in NFL history ... for him to open his mouth and say he's going to hurt our starting running back, no, we're not going to have that."
Speaking to reporters in South Florida, Pouncey said, "He won't even play enough to hurt Reggie. I don't even want to talk about him. He's a joke."
Maybin, a former first-round pick of the Buffalo Bills, is a situational pass-rusher for the Jets. He has played 23 percent of the Jets' defensive snaps and has recorded only four tackles.
Confronted by reporters, Maybin said he didn't want to engage in a back-and-forth with the Dolphins.
"In order for us to beat Miami, we have to stop the run and that means eliminating Reggie Bush," Maybin said. "However people want to take that out of context, that's fine, but I'm not going to get into it."
The bad blood actually started in Week 3, when Jets coach Rex Ryan said they needed to pour "hot sauce" on Bush, the NFL's second leading rusher at the time. Bush went on to bruise his knee on his 10th carry of that game, caught in a pileup after an initial hit by Landry. After the game, linebacker Calvin Pace said they "had to put him out."
Bush took umbrage, telling a South Florida radio station that Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the game, deserved to get hurt.
"What goes around comes around," Bush said at the time.
Ryan and Pace clarified their remarks, saying they were misinterpreted. They said they never intended for Bush to get hurt. This week, Ryan added another layer to the controversy, claiming Bush should apologize for his comments about Revis' injury.
Bush responded Wednesday by saying Ryan's apology wasn't sincere. Asked if he's concerned about retribution from the Jets, Bush said, "They're the ones who started it. If there was ever any retaliation it would come from us."
Landry spiced things up, suggesting that Bush will be intimidated when he steps on the field Sunday. He's averaged only 2.8 yards per carry in the three games since the injury.
"Every time he sees me, he will remember that hit (from Week 3)," Landry said. "If I'm in the box or I'm going downhill, he'll remember that hit."
Linebacker Bart Scott believes Bush may have remembered an incident from 2006, when they played for the Baltimore Ravens and New Orleans Saints, respectively. Scott said he was accused of hurting Bush in that game. At the time, "he didn't want to deal with the physicality of the position," Scott said.
Landry said he expects Bush to be tentative Sunday.
"Just watch the way he runs," Landry said.
The Jets won the first meeting in overtime, 23-20, but it could've been a different story if Bush had remained healthy. He gained 61 yards on 10 carries, gashing the Jets' struggling defense. Pouncey expects more of the same.
"We ran the ball terrific in the first game and we expect to do the same thing this time," he said in the radio interview. "Last game we let it get away from us. They made one more play than we did. We're expecting a whole different outcome this time."