- Jane McManus, Reporter & Columnist, espnW.com
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The back and forth between the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins continued Friday when Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie caught himself before launching a Brady-esque profanity directed at Dolphins running back Reggie Bush.
"Honestly I don't give a ...," before Cromartie caught himself. "I'm not going to say what I really want to say about Reggie Bush."
Earlier this week, Jets coach Rex Ryan said Bush should apologize for his comments -- along the lines of a karmic "what goes around comes around" -- after Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis suffered a season-ending ACL injury in Miami when the teams last met in Week 3.
"It's football, injuries are going to happen, but for him to come out and say something like that, I mean, to me, it's unprofessional and at the same time it's not showing any kind of sportsmanship at all, so I mean I really could care less," Cromartie said.
The bad blood actually started in Week 3, when Ryan said the Jets needed to pour "hot sauce" on Bush, the NFL's second leading rusher at the time. Bush then hurt his knee after being tackled in that game and hasn't been as productive since.
Jets safety Yeremiah Bell said some of his former Dolphins teammates were upset about how Bush's injury went down. Defensive tackle Sione Po'uha, linebacker Bart Scott and safety LaRon Landry were in on the clean hit that took Bush out of the game, and this week Landry issued no apology, saying: "If I get penalized, I'm not going to stop head-hunting."
There's a fine line between talking tough and avoiding a fine from the NFL if there is a particularly egregious hit this Sunday. The NFL can take words into account when determining the amount of a fine or whether to suspend a player, which means any suspicious hits could be a lot more expensive.
But Bell said that won't be an issue.
"We don't play dirty, we don't do anything to play dirty," Bell said. "Are we going to come after people? Yeah, that's what we do, that's what the sport is, to be physical. We're not a dirty team, we're not intentionally trying to hurt anybody. When we tackle you and we swarm to the ball, we are trying to put some hurt on you. I mean that's just the name of the game."
So is Ryan concerned that all this tough talk -- which included Jets linebacker Aaron Maybin's comments that they would try to legally knock Bush out of Sunday's game and Dolphins center Mike Pouncey's retort that Maybin is a joke -- could lead to a game full of cheap shots?
"There won't be any of that," the coach said. "I think both teams want to be as physical as they possibly can within the confinements of the rules and in between the white lines. I expect this one to be an extremely physical game; it seems like it always is against Miami."
Bell said trash talk can be good for a team, as long as it doesn't cross the line on the field.
"Sometimes you talk to get your teammates excited and things like that, and other times if it goes too far it can get personal," he said. "But that's not what you want it to do, you don't want it to get personal. You want it to be all in good fun."
Bell said the Week 3 game was "probably one of the worst games we played all year" and that the Jets would have to do better Sunday.
One Jet who remained on the sidelines during the war of words was backup quarterback Tim Tebow, who was Pouncey's teammate at Florida and now is Maybin's teammate.
"I'm sure both of them are pretty good at talking trash," Tebow said.
Tebow added that he thought Pouncey did a lot of his trash talking for comic relief, and there were certain moments on the field when he'd hear Pouncey talk in a game where he'd just have to laugh.
So did Tebow pick up any of his skills in that area?
"I try not to talk too much trash," Tebow said. "I'll throw in a 'God bless you' every now and then, something like that, after a hard hit maybe. But I don't talk too much trash."
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