Off-season Whispers - Did Jets reach for LB?

From what we hear, quarterback Chad Pennington has bulked up this off-season.

One observer thinks he's probably in the 230-pound range. Pennington wants to get bigger and stronger in the upper body to help him avoid another shoulder injury.

Pennington was recently asked by MSG Network's Boomer Esiason if he's aware of any quarterback who has ever come back from a twice-repaired throwing shoulder and he said, "No, I don't, but there is a first time for everything." . . .

One thing about the Jets' new brass, coach Eric Mangini and GM Mike Tannenbaum, is that they are extremely focused. Like their mentors Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick, they refuse to deal with issues in press conferences that have nothing to do with the bottom line – winning football games.

A reporter asked Tannenbaum about first-rounder D'Brickashaw Ferguson, and how nice it was that he is from Long Island. That really means very little in terms of football, and Tannenbaum's answer reflected this reality.

"It is a nice story that he is from a local school, but we have been focused on getting good players and quality people," said Tannenbaum. "We have researched players thoroughly. We think those were more important aspects than him being from Freeport."

That answer is a much different approach that Herman Edwards might take. The former Jets coach would give long answers to about almost any question, regardless of the topic. This was a tremendous waste of time and the coach's energy . . .

Several prominent Jets like Curtis Martin and Chad Pennington were asked to take pay cuts this off-season, but, surprisingly, one player who wasn't on that list was Dewayne Robertson. He wasn't asked to restructure. Right now, he is the highest-paid defensive tackle in football, an honor he probably hasn't earned.

It looks like the Jets' brass is going to take a wait-and-see approach with "D-Rob" and see whether he's a good fit for the new program and scheme.

It remains to be seen if he can handle the nose tackle role in the 3-4 defense. Also, it remains to be seen if his problematic knee (bone-on-bone) can hold up.

As for 3-4 nose tackle, from a size standpoint (6-1, 324), he seems like a good fit.

But if Robertson isn't the guy to handle the 3-4 nose tackle job, who might it be? There are two other candidates – Sione Pouha and Matt McChesney, two second-year, 300-pounders who have the size and mentality to handle the role . . .

While not a lot of cuts are expected around the league on June 1, one player who might be released is Oakland Raiders defensive end Bobby "The Dawg" Hamilton. If he is on the open market, the Jets would certainly be interested in his services. He is a very good 3-4 defensive end, something that the Jets might need. He also has experience playing for Mangini with the Jets and New England . . .

One need the Jets didn't address in the draft was a speed receiver, something they desperately need. They never got around to it. So it looks like they will enter this season sans a deep threat. While they did pick a "receiver" in this draft, in fourth-round selection Brad Smith -- he was a quarterback in college, who is first learning the position. It's going to take him a while to learn route running, getting off the line, etc. Plus, he has good, but not great speed, running in the 4.5 area. So he wouldn't qualify as a speed receiver, per se.

Incumbent starters Justin McCareins and Laveranues Coles aren't speed receivers. They came out of college with that billing, but in the pros neither has displayed the afterburners you need to get by cornerbacks down the field. They do their best work on short-to-intermediate patterns. Free-agent addition Tim Dwight is more quick than fast.

The top speed guy they have on the roster might be undrafted free agent DeQuan Mobley, a Bronx product, who attended Texas A&M and runs in the 4.4 area. But he reportedly doesn't play to his timed speed.

So this need might have to be addressed next year, high in the draft. The Jets certainly have enough talent to get by at wideout, but they have nobody who scares opposing defenses downfield . . .

The management of the Jets' flagship radio station, 1050-AM, can't be happy right now. We hear that neither Tannenbaum or Mangini will be doing spots on the station. Over the last few years, the GM and head coach made weekly appearances on 1050. Not anymore. They are both going to do shows with SportsNet NY, not ESPN radio.

Tannenbaum and Mangini don't want to do a lot of media, attempting to focus mainly on football business. So they probably decided it was going to be TV or radio, and since the Jets-SNY deal is an important new project for the team, they went in that direction. Plus, ESPN Radio doesn't have much of an audience in New York . . .

The Jets extended punter Ben Graham's contract through the 2011 season. He could make over $5 million over the next six years.

"It was really a hands-down [decision] for us," Graham told the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald. "They made an offer and we just said, 'We'll take it.' I'm excited that I'm going to be punting for the New York Jets in the best city in America for the next six years." . . .

The Jets' selection of Ohio State linebacker Anthony Schlegel in the third round of the 2006 draft has some people around the league scratching their heads. One unnamed NFL personnel guy said his team didn't give Schlegel a draftable grade.

Most teams had him as a mid- or late-round draft pick, or as a premium undrafted free agent. While he's a tough player and great leader, he runs the forty in the 4.9 area and has stiff hips, so he can only play on running downs.

It will be interesting to see if the Jets were right about this guy, and a lot of other teams had him wrong . . .

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