Jets finally get their RB as Barlow passes physical

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- New Jets running back Kevan Barlow has
barely slept the last two days.

Who can blame him? He was in Oakland, Calif., for a preseason
game Sunday when the 49ers told him they traded him to New York.
Barlow was stunned. It was only days earlier that coach Mike Nolan
reassured him that he had a future in San Francisco.

So Barlow packed up the few items he had and took a red eye to
New York, landing early Monday morning. From the airport, Barlow
went to take his physical -- and passed -- before joining his new
teammates for the afternoon practice.

He watched most of it, participating in only a few drills.
Barlow also got his first glimpse of Chad Pennington, who returned
to practice after going home to Tennessee to be with his ailing
father and missing last weekend's preseason game against

Though Barlow was tired, his adrenaline and excitement carried
him through the day.

"I was really shocked. I wasn't expecting it," Barlow said.

The Jets sent the 49ers a fourth-round draft pick in 2007 for
Barlow, Nolan confirmed Monday.

"I'm still kind of in a blur right now," Barlow said.
"Everything happened so fast. Just [Sunday] I'm getting ready to
play the Raiders, now I'm here in a Jets uniform. It's good,
though. I'm excited about the opportunity I have to come out here
and play."

Even better for Barlow: bolstering a running back group
struggling without Curtis Martin, who has been unable to practice
because of a lingering right knee injury. Though the 33-year-old
Martin insists he wants to play this season, the future is

Barlow idolized Martin as a child. He grew up in Pittsburgh and
went on to play for the Panthers in college, same as Martin. When
Barlow showed up at the Jets facility Monday, Martin sat him down
for a chat.

"There was no one bigger than Curtis Martin in Pittsburgh,"
Barlow said. "We were talking before I came out here, and I was in
awe, like, 'Man, I've got Curtis Martin, Hall of Fame running back,
sitting next to me.' I'm ecstatic about it."

Barlow does come with some baggage. After gaining a career-best
1,024 yards in 2003, he seemed unsuited for the pressure and
workload of a full-time starting job in 2004. Barlow managed 822

He had another dismal year in 2005, running for 581 yards with a
career-low 3.3 yards per carry. Barlow also had some spats with
teammates and coaches, including a long-running feud with fullback
Fred Beasley. The players quashed their fight last season.

Barlow dismissed the questions, saying he was a "great
character guy."

"I had some issues as a rookie with Fred Beasley, but that's
behind us," he said. "Me and Fred are best of friends right now.
It was a situation, I was 21 years old, he was a veteran and he
wanted things to run a certain way and I had to get accustomed to
that. But like I said that's behind us."

Jets coach Eric Mangini, who has repeatedly said he wants
upstanding citizens on his team, said the team looked into Barlow's
background and was comfortable with what was found.

"When we brought Bryan Cox in here in '97 or '98, there was a
lot of talk about the way that he was and the problems that he
had," Mangini said. "I can tell you he was one of the best guys I
have ever worked with. ... I feel really comfortable with the
research we've done on Kevan."

That Barlow passed his physical was a big step. Last week, the
Jets traded for Browns back Lee Suggs, but he failed his physical
and the deal was voided. Barlow should be able to supplant
Derrick Blaylock and Cedric Houston for a starting job.

Despite the way he left the 49ers, Barlow said he has no hard
feelings for Nolan.

"It was definitely puzzling to me," Barlow said. "Coach Nolan
came in, obviously he wants his guys out here that he drafted that
he wants to play, and I'm fine with that. ... I left San Francisco
on the West Coast, I'm here on the East Coast. I'm going to start a
new slate and get things going out here."

But first he needs to catch up on some sleep.