Pennington vs. Pats secondary a mismatch

The Patriots cornerback situation is a mess.<p>

With both Patriots starting cornerbacks, Ty Law and Tyrone Poole, out this Sunday, the Patriots are forced to play a lot of young, inexperienced players in the secondary - including cornerbacks Randall Gay, Asante Samuel and Earthwind Moreland. Wide receiver Troy Brown has also been forced to play cornerback, handling the nickel back role. The Jets should be able to do a lot of damage against this patchwork group on Sunday.

We asked a Jets receiver for a scouting report on the group of cornerbacks the Patriots are forced to play now.

"[Randall Gay] is a young raw guy who has a lot of athletic ability, but he's undersized. He doesn't have great technique, but he makes up for it with his athleticism. He is really athletic and quick. He just needs to learn the system better. He is definitely fast.

"Asante [Samuel] is the most underrated guy they've got in the secondary. I think he has a lot of skills and makes a lot of plays. He reminds me of Ty Law. He takes a lot of chances and guesses a lot. He undercuts a lot of routes. He's not physical, but he's very athletic and quick and breaks on the ball very well. His best attribute are his instincts.

"Earthwind Moreland is a journeyman. A fair assessment would be he's like a smaller safety out there playing corner. He's got good athleticism, pretty good instincts, but not great hips. He is easily beatable. "Troy Brown is just a ridiculous athlete, so it wasn't that big of a surprise [he's been successful playing cornerback]. They bring him in on sub plays and third downs when the other team uses more receivers. It seems like he is holding his own." . . .

DE John Abraham (knee-out), who was just voted to his third Pro Bowl, will miss his third straight game with a LCL sprain in his right knee. It looks like Abraham will not be back for the Jets season finale against St. Louis either.

"I think I'm pointing to the playoffs," said Abraham. "That is the big thing for me." The Jets clinch a playoff spot with a win over New England this Sunday, or a combination of losses by other teams.

When Abraham does return, it will likely be as a situational pass rusher initially.

Abraham will once again be replaced by Bryan Thomas, who has taken a quantum leap as a player this season. During his first two seasons in the league, it looked like the UAB product might be a bust.

"He's playing very, very consistent," said Jets coach Herman Edwards. "(Jets defensive coordinator) Donnie Henderson is not afraid to call any defenses with him out there. I think he understands his opportunity and he's taking advantage of it. He's been solid."

LB Victor Hobson (ankle-probable) will likely return this week from a high ankle sprain that has kept him out a month.

"I anticipate he will play this week," said Edwards. "That's my anticipation. Pretty sure he will."

But remember, Hobson was probable prior to the last two games, but was deactivated for both. So there is a still a chance he might not suit up. If he does come back, he will not start. Henderson intends on easing him back in the lineup. Mark Brown has done a solid job filling in for Hobson. If Hobson plays this week, he will have a limited role.

LG Pete Kendall (knee-probable) will start on Sunday. His bad knee is just a by-product of starting for nine years in the league. It will not keep the Boston-native out of Sunday's game against his hometown Patriots.

DT Dewayne Robertson was listed a probable on Wednesday with a head cold, but was taken off the injury report on Wednesday. He didn't practice on Wednesday, but did on Thursday and Friday.

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