So who will be #2/Why was Walters axed?

Wide receiver Jonathan Carter was scheduled to play against the Philadelphia Eagles last Friday, but he didn't.<p>

After the game, he was seen with a wrap on his bad knee. Remember a knee injury ended his season prematurely last year, and that knee still seems to be bothering him. He missed a lot of practices this summer. He is also hampered by an ankle injury as well. He's listed as "probable" for the opener which might be kind.

Carter's inability to stay healthy shouldn't come as a surprise. That has been his history in the league. His skinny frame makes him prone to injuries. A high-ranking Jets source told us late last season Carter would not return kicks in 2004 because it was too dangerous with his frail body. But the Jets obviously changed their mind this summer when they made Carter the kick returner again, and now this decision is looking shaky.

We hear Jets special teams coach Mike Westhoff wanted to keep kick returner Ian Smart on the roster, but his wish wasn't granted. Smart looked terrific returning kicks and punts this summer. His experience doing both jobs in NFL Europe this past spring helped his confidence. It was surprising that Smart wasn't named to the practice squad on Monday, especially with Carter's injuries . . .

The most surprising cut on Sunday was perhaps defensive end Matt Walters, but when you look at the decision closely, it wasn't that shocking. With the team's move to the 3-4, they decided to keep eight linebackers, and this meant they were going to keep just eight defensive linemen, less than they had the last few seasons. With defensive end Bryan Thomas a lock to be the third end, rookie Trevor Johnson is a better fit for the fourth end spot. The Jets love Johnson, who looks like a seventh round steal. And the reason Johnson won the fourth spot over Walters is his ability in coverage. The new "W" position that John Abraham is playing requires the defensive end to drop into coverage quite a bit. Walters, an overachiever, who is athletically limited, can't handle the coverage role, while Johnson looks terrific at it.

"[Johnson] we feel is going to be a good player, and we think he has maybe a little bit better upside than Matt has,"' said Jets coach Herman Edwards. "He's very athletic and he can run." . . .

It looks like quarterback Brooks Bollinger helped his cause with his three touchdown performance in the fourth quarter of the Eagles preseason game. From what we hear, Bollinger will likely be the primary backup when the Jets open the season against Cincinnati this Sunday. Quarterback Quincy Carter is still at the rudimentary stages of learning the offense, while Bollinger is very comfortable in it . . .

The Jets were so sure cornerback Omare Lowe was coming back to the team's practice squad following his Sunday release, they left his locker in tact with his name plate on it. But a funny thing happened on the way to the practice squad. The Minnesota Vikings claimed Lowe to replace Derek Ross . . .

For all the people convincing themselves that the Jets opener against the Bengals is going to be easy, think again. The Jets problematic secondary situation could create a big problem for them against a Bengals passing attack that is loaded with weapons like emerging superstar wide receiver Chad Johnson, former #1 pick Peter Warrick and big target Kelly Washington. Also the Bengals have a huge offensive line, and intend to pound the ball against a Jets defense that was awful against the run last year. If they can successfully run the ball with power back Rudi Johnson, this should set up play-action passes for first-year starting quarterback Carson Palmer, who looked good in the preseason. With a rookie safety starting for the Jets in Erik Coleman, along with a rookie nickel back in Derrick Strait, the play-action could be very effective. This is a bad game to be without safety Jon McGraw (groin) and nickel back Ray Mickens (knee).

Also helping the Bengals offense in this game is the familiarity Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has with the Jets defense. Remember, Jets defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson worked under Lewis for three years in Baltimore, and Henderson basically put in Lewis' system in New York. So Lewis has a good idea of what Henderson will look to do in this game, and can help prepare Palmer accordingly . . .

Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski is the son of former Jets quarterback coach Zeke Bratkowski, who worked under both Joe Walton and Rich Kotite in New York . . .

Cornerback Andrew Davison seemed very disappointed the team put him on the practice squad, and kept rookie free agent cornerback Rod Bryant on the regular roster ahead of him . . .

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