Tongue untied

For one of the first times in camp, there actually was something worth looking at in the third-team secondary.<p>

Midway through Wednesday's afternoon session, the quarterback launched a deep ball down the middle of the field. Just as the wide receiver was about to grab it, the strong safety reached in and knocked the ball away. That safety-Reggie Tongue.

The eight-year veteran who has been sidelined since the second day of camp, finally returned to the field today to take several reps with the third team in each session. Tongue's left calf was still wrapped, but he seemed to move fluidly in his limited action.

"It felt great," he said. "I was expecting to be a little stiff, but I felt fine."

Tongue's replacement for the last two weeks, fifth-round pick Erik Coleman, made a few big plays as soon as he stepped in, and he quickly became one of the biggest stories of camp. Pundits conjectured that Coleman would unseat the only Jets' safety who has started for a full season, and head coach Herman Edwards fueled that fire by repeatedly drawing parallels to Wally Pipp.

After an unspectacular performance last Friday against the Saints, Coleman will need to show a lot more if he is to take the starting job-especially now that Tongue is back. But the veteran has some catching up to do.

"His off-the-field work has been great," Edwards said of Tongue. "He has been to all of the meetings. The thing he missed when you don't participate on the field is the timing of how you play."

Of course Tongue also needs to take in defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson's complicated system.

"I definitely have a lot of work to do to understand (the system) the way I need to understand it before we play Cincinnati," Tongue said.

The Jets have not officially declared that there is a competition for the starting strong safety spot. The reason-it is probably the 99 games Tongue has started in his career. Free safety Jon McGraw is second on the team with seven.

When asked what Tongue brings to the secondary, Edwards replied: "Obviously, it's his experience. He is a guy who has played a lot of football games."

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