Around the AFC East: Week 4 Report

A look around the AFC East, what's going on with the division opponents. The Buffalo Bills lost LB Takeo Spikes who will fill in?. The Miami Dolphins thought about talking to Rohan Davey. The New York Jets wonder about Brooks Bollinger. Get more inside info in Week 4's Around the AFC East, the place where insiders get the low-down on the New England Patriots division opponents each week.

Week 4: Around the AFC East
By Scout.com Staff

Jets :: Dolphins :: Patriots

BUFFALO BILLS

The Bills have long boasted that their backup linebackers are good enough to start. Now they'll get to prove it.

The loss of Pro Bowler Takeo Spikes for the remainder of the season with a torn Achilles' tendon means third-year pro Angelo Crowell will start the rest of the season at weak outside linebacker.

Not only is Crowell stepping into very big cleats starting with Sunday's game against New Orleans and star running back Deuce McAllister at the Alamodome in San Antonio, he's stepping into chaos.

Buffalo, which has ranked among the NFL's top 10 run defenses the past two seasons and has finished No. 2 overall in yardage allowed both years, has plummeted to dead last against the run through three games.

And that was with Spikes in the lineup.

Buffalo's 32nd ranking is well deserved after it gave up 191 yards rushing to Tampa Bay and 236 to Atlanta in consecutive weeks, games the Bills lost to fall to 1-2. Turning things around won't be easy.

In addition to losing Spikes, middle linebacker London Fletcher is less than 100 percent with a bad hamstring and run-stuffing strong safety Lawyer Milloy is playing with a cast to protect a broken right thumb. Milloy struggled wrapping up Falcons' ball carriers last week.

"We lost one of our leaders. It's hard," Milloy said of losing Spikes. "Speaking personally, I'm out there with one arm already and now I lose someone I depend on. But it's the NFL. Everyone here is a professional and we expect the person behind him and the person behind him to fill those shoes."

Crowell seems ready.

After a stellar career at the University of Virginia, where only Charles McDaniel (432) and Jamie Sharper (435) had more career tackles than his 420, Crowell was selected in the third round of the draft by Buffalo in 2003.

That's the same year Spikes signed with Buffalo as a free agent. Rather than complain about his fate, Crowell has been a student of Spikes' game while becoming a major player on Buffalo's special teams units. Last year, he had 28 special teams tackles.

"This is a battlefield promotion," the 6-foot-1, 235-pounder said. "I just have to prepare like I did in college and go out there and play ball. I can't be Takeo, we're two different people and we bring different things to the game. I'm just going to go out and do my job within the scheme of the defense and let the game come to me and don't try to force anything. The coaches see some good things in me, so my job is to go out and do my job."

Fletcher, who will take it upon himself to make sure Crowell knows where to be, said his new partner has always prepared diligently in the past.

"He is extremely talented, he's as gifted an athlete as we have in the linebacker corps," Fletcher said. "He's strong, he has natural instincts, things you can't coach, so I feel confident in Crowell as a player. Sometimes it's a matter of going through the mistakes, and then you make them and they never happen again."

Still, nobody on the Bills is kidding himself that Spikes can be replaced. He can't. His speed on the field gave the defense great flexibility in designing schemes and he was an emotional leader in the locker room.

"It's a very tough loss," coach Mike Mularkey said. "It's hard to replace a player of his caliber."

Said Fletcher: "If it was a game or two, then you're feeling a little bit different. But to not have him and we have 13 ball games left this year ... it's something we're dealing with right now."

Spikes had surgery Tuesday to reattach his Achilles and many of his teammates were praying that he can recover and still be the same player that he was. In 2001, former Bills Pro Bowl middle linebacker Sam Cowart suffered a torn Achilles' in the opener against New Orleans and he has never been the same impact player he was. He now plays for Minnesota.

"I'm not sure of the recovery rate as we speak, but I assume he's going to be (fine)," Mularkey said. "With him, I have a feeling he'll be back."

Was Spikes' injury preventable? He was held out of practice last Friday after complaining of a sore lower right calf. Game tape shows Spikes falling to the ground while chasing Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick.

"It just looks like it just gave out on him," Mularkey said.

The Bills won't get much sympathy around the AFC East after losing their defensive heart and soul.

The New York Jets lost starting quarterback Chad Pennington (shoulder) for the season and in New England, the Patriots, who already were without linebackers Ted Johnson and Tedi Bruschi, lost safety Rodney Harrison (ACL) and offensive lineman Matt Light (leg) for the season.

"Every year on every team in the National Football league somebody has season-ending injuries. We're not unique," Fletcher said. "That's the nature of the business. Those teams that win the Super Bowl have had those types of deals. You come out, you get ready to practice and you get ready to work. That's how I approach it."

SERIES HISTORY: 8th meeting, Bills lead 4-3. Teams last met in the 2001 season opener when the Saints took a 24-6 victory in Orchard Park to ruin coach Gregg Williams' debut. The loss kick started a 3-13 campaign. New Orleans scored 24 unanswered points in the second half when it out-gained the Bills in yardage 236-78. Running back Ricky Williams, who would become a regular Bills nemesis after being traded to the Miami Dolphins, wound up with 93 yards rushing and he also caught a 19-yard TD pass from Aaron Brooks. The game was a precursor of things to come for the Bills, who suffered a huge loss early in the game when Pro Bowl middle linebacker Sam Cowart ruptured his Achilles' tendon and was lost for the season.

NOTES

--Pro Bowl LB Takeo Spikes had surgery Tuesday to repair his ruptured right Achilles' tendon. Dr. James Andrews performed the operation in Birmingham, Ala. "From what we've been told, it went well," general manager Tom Donahoe said. "It's a long rehab process but Takeo's a special worker and he'll do what he has to to get back." Spikes was placed on season-ending injured reserve while rookie linebacker Liam Ezekiel was added to the 53-man active roster from the practice squad. Signed to the practice squad was LB Wendell Hunter. Hunter was a training camp cut.

--WR Eric Moulds expressed his frustration over the fact Buffalo did not attack Atlanta's banged up secondary nearly enough last week. At one point, the Falcons were missing their two starting corners. "There are corners out there playing who are not starters and you have to go after them," said Moulds, who has just eight catches for 66 yards so far. "The coaching staff said that we should run the ball a little more and I didn't want to second guess what they wanted to do but, but at some point, we have to be able to take shots down field and make some plays."

--LB Jeff Posey on the Bills' 1-2 start: "We lost two in a row but there is a lot of football left. We lost (our first four) last year and missed the playoffs by one game. We'll come in, watch film, correct what we messed up on and just understand that we have a lot of football left."

--Before the season began, many Bills defensive players said they were ready to carry the load until Losman and the offense got in sync. When asked if that blueprint was in danger of being tossed out the window now that the defense has played back-to-back poor games and its top player, Takeo Spikes (Achilles), has been lost for the season, coach Mike Mularkey bristled. "I don't know if anybody in our building has said we have to carry (so and so)," he said. "It's not a word out of our mouths. We have to play better as a defense, as a team, no question. J.P. has to play better, no question. But it's a process. With a young quarterback, each game is a learning experience and hopefully he's going to learn."

--The Bills were eager to trade RB Travis Henry last July to the Tennessee Titans in order to avert a training camp side show with Willis McGahee, but were there other motives? Henry's four-game suspension this week for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy came as a result of Henry's third violation. It's known that Titans coach Jeff Fisher was informed by the league that Henry was in the league-mandated program, which is required after the first failed drug test. It means Henry's first two violations happened while a member of the Bills. The Bills had no comment on Henry's current situation.

BY THE NUMBERS: 2 - Passing first downs by the Bills offense in last Sunday's loss to Atlanta, fewest in a Buffalo game in 25 years.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "There was a lot of talk all training camp and it's something that you hate to hear. You begin to believe the hype. I always talk about not living on your merits from a year ago or last week. We have to learn how to respond every day and learn how to receive success. We have to regroup and be honest. This is what we are. The last two weeks, we haven't played well and that's exactly who we are. It's week three, going into week four. We like to believe we're a better team but we have to show it. It's one thing to talk about it, it's another thing to line up and get it done." - Veteran FS Troy Vincent, talking about the Bills failing to live up to the team's own high expectations so far after last year's 9-7 finish.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Bills aren't likely to throttle down the design of their passing game and give struggling new starter J.P. Losman more shorter and simpler throws to attempt so he can find some semblance of a rhythm.

His first two passes against Atlanta last week were deep sideline throws, first to Eric Moulds, then to Lee Evans, as Buffalo tried to capitalize quickly against backup CB Christian Morton, who was starting in place of an injured Jason Webster. Losman had both receivers open but overthrew each pass. The pass to Evans did result in an illegal contact call.

"We opened the game with a couple of chances (down field), but I don't want to use the word 'pamper,'" Mularkey said. "Whatever he sees, I want him to take. (Against the Falcons), it wasn't the short stuff; the checkdowns or drop offs to the tight end that he saw."

Of the 39 pass completions that Losman has, 26 have gone to the wide receivers and 13 to his running backs and tight ends. After the two fly routes to Moulds and Evans last week, Losman came back with a dump pass to FB Daimon Shelton for eight yards and a quick sideline toss to Moulds for eight. Those routes and completions kick started a 13-play, 50-yard drive to a field goal.

So why not do it more?

"I guess it would be the norm for any quarterback, especially a young quarterback to find a rhythm," Losman said. "But everybody is sitting down on our routes now, sitting in the box to stop the run game. We came out like that in the Tampa Bay game, keeping everything underneath, and in this game we tried to air it out. There were some throws there. I like exciting plays. I like the deep approach, the deep corners. We just got to hit them. We just have to keep going. I don't want them to scale back the game plan, because we have the players and the ability to make those plays."

PLAYER NOTES

--RB Willis McGahee is already sixth on the Bills' all-time list of career 100-yard games with nine. He's likely to be in third place when the season ends, passing Joe Cribbs and Travis Henry (13 each) and Cookie Gilchrist (10).

--TE Tim Euhus, who has missed the year's first three games with a shoulder/pectoral injury, could see his first action Sunday. He is doing more work in practice and could be getting close to a return. The Bills have had virtually no production from their tight ends yet in the passing game and Euhus' return would be welcomed.

--WR Roscoe Parrish, still wearing a cast on his right wrist that was injured in training camp, has been ruled out of the Saints game Sunday. He's due to be re-examined next week, but coach Mike Mularkey said the team's top draft pick is still 2-3 weeks away.

--SS Coy Wire has a thigh bruise and is questionable for Sunday's game.

--LB London Fletcher, who strained his right hamstring in the loss at Tampa Bay but was able to play in last week's loss to Atlanta, is getting closer to full strength. He is not on this week's injury report.

--PK Rian Lindell's 9-for-9 start is the third longest streak to open a season in Bills history. The club-record is 17 in a row by Steve Christie in 1994 followed by 10 in a row by Scott Norwood in 1985.

GAME PLAN: The Bills need to keep this one simple and run the ball on New Orleans' No. 23-ranked defense, which is reeling with injuries worse than their own. The Saints list 11 players on their injury report, including six on defense. But rather than just pound the ball against an eight-man front, Buffalo also needs to soften things up against a Saints secondary where every player is nicked and star veteran strong safety Jay Bellamy is out with a shoulder injury. Last week, the Vikings Dante Culpepper threw for 300 yards and three TDs against this unit. Defensively, the Bills No. 32 run defense will have its hands full with versatile RB Deuce McAllister and athletic QB Aaron Brooks. But the club should get a collective emotional lift trying to pick up the slack after the loss of Takeo Spikes and should be able to force some errors. Brooks has two TDs and five interceptions and has been sacked eight times so far.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

Bills CBs Nate Clements and Terrence McGee, who lead the NFL's No. 1 pass defense, vs. Saints WRs Joe Horn and Donte Stallworth, who have combined for 27 catches in just three starts.

Bills RBs Willis McGahee and Shaud Williams, who have struggled in blitz pickup, against Saints CB Fred Thomas, who has two sacks.

Bills KR Terrence McGee, who is third in the NFL in kick return average at 29.3 yards, vs. Saints kick coverage unit that ranks second.

INJURY IMPACT: Mike Williams (ankle) could miss his second consecutive start, putting free agent Greg Jerman back in the starting lineup at RT. Williams, who did not practice at all last week, missed Wednesday's practice. The coaching staff gave Jerman a good review after the Falcons game, but he did allow a sack and it should be noted they did not have much faith running the ball to his side. Only two of Willis McGahee's 27 runs went off right tackle, good for no gain and a gain of eight yards.

Meanwhile, the loss of Takeo Spikes has had an indirect impact on Buffalo's special teams. With Angelo Crowell taking over the full-time role at Will linebacker, it's likely he won't play as many special teams as he did. Crowell is one of Buffalo's top coverage men, recording 28 tackles last season.

The Saints are without one of the NFL's best return men in Michael Lewis (knee), who was placed on IR last week.

 


MIAMI DOLPHINS

Lance Schulters admits he still doesn't have Miami's defense entirely figured out, but that didn't keep the Dolphins free safety from winning AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for his performance in last Sunday's 27-24 victory over Carolina.

Schulters had a 30-yard interception return in the fourth quarter to help set up Olindo Mare's game-winning field goal with four seconds remaining.

"I told them it was just a matter of time, especially with the type of pressure that we have," said Schulters, referring to the seven-man blitz Miami deployed on his interception. "The timing just happened to be perfect. All I had to do was the catch the ball and run with it."

Schulters also forced a Jake Delhomme fumble on a third-quarter sack and finished with four tackles to capture Player of the Week honors for the first time in his eight-year NFL career.

"It's never happened to me before so I'll take it," Schulters said. "It's a great feeling. Your hard work paid off and you helped your team accomplish something."

"I was happy that we won, but I was kind of upset with the way we played. We made some mistakes. We won ugly."

Schulters prospects didn't seem much prettier three months ago following his release from Tennessee. With teams shying from signing him because of concerns about a major foot injury that sidelined him for 13 games last season, Schulters didn't land a one-year, $665,000 contract from the Dolphins until training camp already had started.

Schulters then worked in a backup role for five preseason games before being promoted ahead of Yeremiah Bell the week prior to the regular-season opener against Denver.

Schulters has responded by leading Miami in interceptions (two) and passes defensed (three). He also is tied with strong safety Tebucky Jones for fourth on the team in tackles with 16 entering the bye week.

"We knew we needed to get an experienced player who could possibly be a starter," Dolphins coach Nick Saban said. Both of our other safeties (Bell and Travares Tillman) are really just special teams guys. It works well for our team from a role standpoint. It took him a while (to learn the defense), but any time a guy starts behind the eight ball, it's going to take him a little more than the other guys who learned everything (in the off-season) ... He's got a pretty good understanding of what we're doing and he's done a nice job."

Schulters said he is still trying to grow completely comfortable in what he considers a much more complicated defense than the ones he previously played in with San Francisco (1998 to 2001) and Tennessee (2002 to 2004).

"Every day it's still a work in progress," Schulters said Wednesday. "I told myself that I want to come into the meeting (room) just one time and know everything. Today, I came into the meeting room and we put in something new and it was like, 'Huh? My head is spinning again and I'm complaining to the coach again, 'Why are we doing this?' But it's a learning process."

BYE WEEK SCHEDULE - The Dolphins will practice Thursday before giving players time off until Monday.

NOTES

--Coach Nick Saban said the Dolphins had planned to bring in Rohan Davey for a workout, but the free-agent quarterback instead signed Tuesday with Arizona. Davey was Saban's starter at Louisiana State University, but the Dolphins made no move to sign him after his release by New England during the preseason.

--The Dolphins came 15 yards away from having an NFL streak end. Miami hasn't allowed a 300-yard passer in a league-best 33 consecutive games, but Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme passed for 285 against the Dolphins.

The Redskins rank in second place at 23 straight games.

--The date for the Dolphins-New Orleans Saints game is October 30 at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, which is where Nick Saban coached LSU the past five seasons. Dolphins punter Donnie Jones, who played for LSU, checked out his old haunt Monday night by returning to Baton Rouge for the Tigers' 30-27 loss to Tennessee.

--The Dolphins lead the AFC and rank third in the NFL in per-carry run defense at 2.9 yards per attempt.

--Miami's AFC East opposition suffered major injury losses last week with New England safety Rodney Harrison (knee), Buffalo linebacker Takeo Spikes (Achilles' tendon) and New York Jets quarterback Chad Pennington (rotator cuff) now out for the season.

"I am sure we will have some things to overcome throughout our season," Saban said. "When those kinds of things happen, it will be our mental toughness and disposition towards adversity that is going to help us get through it. That is part of it and is something that everybody has to have if you are going to be successful. Give someone else an opportunity and go. That is how I'd look at it."

BY THE NUMBERS: 9-7 - Miami's all-time record in games prior to a bye week.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "The guys like to come to work now. We are taking practice more serious. You are not waiting all week for the game. You are waiting to come in, practice and get better on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday leading up to the game. Actually, that's the biggest difference - the focus of the team." - Dolphins tight end Randy McMichael on whether he can sense a different attitude in the locker room this season.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

After surrendering 11 passes for 170 yards and three touchdowns to Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith, one area that Saban is hoping to improve during the bye week is his team's nickel defense. In particular, the Dolphins need to get better cornerback play against slot receivers as Reggie Howard struggled against the Panthers. Howard started the first two games before being demoted behind rookie Travis Daniels.

The Dolphins are evaluating several ways to fix the problem during their bye week and are considering the promotion of cornerbacks Eddie Jackson or Kiwaukee Thomas ahead of Howard.

"We're working on it," Dolphins coach Nick Saban said after Wednesday's practice. "We're working on better technique, experimenting with some personnel to see if we can put some better combinations together. And we can do some things scheme-wise to help ourselves."

PLAYER NOTES

--LB Junior Seau didn't practice Wednesday but Dolphins coach Nick Saban said an MRI test on his strained calf was negative. Saban wouldn't say whether Seau would be ready to play October 9 against Buffalo.

--SS Tebucky Jones didn't practice Wednesday because of a strained hamstring suffered in last Sunday's 27-24 victory over Carolina. Coach Nick Saban wouldn't say whether he expects Jones to play against Buffalo.

--RB Ronnie Brown practiced Wednesday despite missing some snaps against Carolina because of a strained left hamstring. Brown is expected to start against Buffalo.

--DE Matt Roth practiced Wednesday despite suffering a twisted ankle against Carolina. Roth is expected to play as a backup against Buffalo.

--FS Lance Schulters was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against Carolina. Schulters had four tackles, a forced fumble and an interception that helped set up K Olindo Mare's game-winning field goal with four seconds remaining.

INJURY IMPACT: The Dolphins have yet to have a player on their 53-man roster miss a game because of an injury.


NEW YORK JETS

The Jets are approaching this week's game with the Ravens (0-2) at M&T Bank Stadium Sunday afternoon with a business as usual attitude, despite the fact they're playing without their top two quarterbacks.

It's really the same way the Jets (1-2) had to approach things in 1999, when the had high hopes coming off a trip to the AFC Championship Game the year before but lost quarterback Vinny Testaverde in the first game to a torn Achilles tendon.

While its rare for a team to lose their top two quarterbacks in the same season, let alone the same game, the Jets are ready to deal with the situation and prepare with third-year player Brooks Bollinger - with just 19 career snaps - as the main signal caller for now.

"You check out the character of your team," coach Herman Edwards said. "I think when you're pressed to that, it can be a good thing too because you know you're fighting a lot of different distractions as a football team. You've got to understand, there's 13 games left. We're 1-2, you win this week you're 2-2, and you're okay. That's what we have to understand as a football team."

While Bollinger doesn't have a rocket arm - neither did Chad Pennington or Jay Fiedler, for that matter - he is more mobile, something that gives the Jets another option on third downs.

"The thing that Brooks has that's maybe different than the other two guys, Brooks is a threat to tuck it down and run for a first down or run for more yards than that," said left guard Pete Kendall, who thought Bollinger looked quite comfortable when called upon against Arizona last year.

One thing the Jets liked about Bollinger when drafting him was his ability to win games. A starter since his freshman year at Wisconsin, Bollinger compiled a 30-12 record, one of only seven Big Ten quarterbacks to record 30 wins in a career. He also holds the Badgers record for a quarterback with 518 carries for 1,767 yards and 26 touchdowns.

"He's a gutty guy, a gutty football player. He's a tough guy, can throw his body around. He plays that way when he gets in the game," said Edwards, who added that Pennington good be the backup Sunday if there wasn't any structural damage to his shoulder. "Sometimes in practice he's not fun to look at. He's not a pretty passer when he passes it, but he finds ways to throw it in little alleys. He's always had to do that because he's not a tall enough guy (Bollinger is 6-foot-1). He plays with a lot of energy."

But the Jets hope they won't have to rely so heavily on Bollinger's arm and more on the legs of running backs Curtis Martin and Derrick Blaylock. The running game was always what the Jets played off of with Pennington under center so that part hasn't changed.

But the run-blocking has been suspect without the steady presences of tight end Anthony Becht and right tackle Kareem McKenzie, who both left as free agents. The Jets barely use the two-tight end set anymore and while Adrian Jones has been solid on the right side, left tackle Jason Fabini has been very inconsistent and now he's dealing with a sprained right MCL, causing a possible tackle shift.

SERIES HISTORY: 5th meeting. Ravens lead series 3-1. New York won their first meeting, an overtime contest back in 1997, but haven't won since.

NOTES

--After seeing Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion on his injured shoulder, Chad Pennington was given the same diagnosis that the Jets doctors gave him - a tear to the right rotator cuff. Pennington will be treated with rest and rehabilitation to see how the shoulder responds and will be re-evaluated in 2-3 weeks.

--Vinny Testaverde's first day back with the Jets was an interesting one. He parked in center Kevin Mawae's spot upon arrival, but Mawae didn't complain too loudly since Testaverde was the one who came up with the idea of close parking for veteran players.

--After working out eight quarterbacks for the third spot on the depth chart behind Brooks Bollinger and Vinny Testaverde, the Jets settled on Kliff Kingsbury. Kingsbury was actually selected one pick later than Bollinger in the 2003 draft, with Bollinger going 200th and Kingsbury 201st to the Patriots. Looks like the Jets finally got their man.

Coach Herman Edwards even had a hard time remembering who his new quarterback was.

"Yeah, what's the guy's name? Kliff Kingsbury," Edwards said. "I forgot, we signed another one."

BY THE NUMBERS: 8 - quarterbacks worked out by the Jets on Tuesday before they settled on Kliff Kingsbury as their No. 3 quarterback.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Vinny realizes he's been gone for two years and that the only thing (the players know about Vinny Testaverde is on the Madden game. That's the first Madden game." - coach Herman Edwards talking about how a number of the Jets' young players will recognize new quarterback Vinny Testaverde.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

Brooks Bollinger will be in at QB with Chad Pennington and Jay Fiedler out with rotator cuff injuries. About to face a tough Ravens defense, the Jets will concentrate on the running game with Curtis Martin and keep things simple with Bollinger for now. The long passes coordinator Mike Heimerdinger was expecting to implement will be on hold while the Jets concentrate on mid-range passes and play action off the running game - that's what the Jets do best.

The running game could be taking a hit blocking wise if the Jets have to tinker with their offensive line. With Jason Fabini questionable with a sprained MCL in his right knee, the Jets may have to move Adrian Jones from the right side to replace Fabini and bring in veteran Scott Gragg (signed at the end of training camp) to play RT. FB Jerald Sowell is also playing with a sprained right ankle and because TE Doug Jolley is in the doghouse for lack or production, the Jets won't use the two-tight end set as much. All those factors could spell trouble for the Jets running attack.

PLAYER NOTES

--FB B.J. Askew is doubtful with a sprained right ankle.

--LB Eric Barton did not practice Wednesday with a sprained right ankle. Mark Brown will start if Barton can't play.

--LT Jason Fabini did not practice Wednesday (sprained right MCL) but will try to practice Thursday wearing a brace. If he can't play, Adrian Jones will move from right tackle to left and reserve Scott Gragg will come in to play left tackle.

--QB Kliff Kingsbury was signed to be the team's third quarterback after a workout Tuesday.

--QB Chad Pennington's rotator cuff injury may not be a complete tear but the Jets are convinced he'll miss the rest of the season.

--QB Jay Fiedler's injury (a dislocated right rotator cuff) may have him back in as quickly as one month, but like Chad Pennington, the Jets aren't expecting to get him back anytime soon, if at all.

GAME PLAN: The Jets are going to keep it real simple for new QB Brooks Bollinger and hand the ball off a lot to Curtis Martin and Derrick Blaylock. They'll still throw the ball but Bollinger and his teammates will have to keep their eye on Ravens LB Ray Lewis and S Ed Reed. Expect a lot of short to mid-range passes, much like the Jets game plan the last few games.

On defense, the Jets must keep Jamal Lewis from having a breakout game and try as best they can to rattle Ravens QB Anthony Wright, who like Bollinger, is a back thrown into the starting role because of the injury to Kyle Boller.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

Jets WR Laveranues Coles, who the Jets haven't thrown long to so far, vs. Ravens CB Chris McAlister, who doesn't have an interception yet this season. Coles has done well in one-on-one matchups thus far, getting separation and making a few catches, but the big play has eluded him. With new quarterback Brooks Bollinger keeping things a lot closer to the line of scrimmage, McAlister can stay even tighter on Coles.

Jets NT James Reed, who made tremendous strides last week with seven tackles, vs. Ravens RB Jamal Lewis, who has just 57 yards rushing in two games, 25 on one rush alone. Lewis is due for a big game eventually but after a slow start, Reed has improved as the point man in the Jets attempt to stuff the run. Reed's chemistry with MLB Jonathan Vilma has improved as the Jets allowed the Jaguars to average just 3 yards a carry. In Week 1 the Chiefs averaged 5.8 yards a carry.

INJURY IMPACT: LT Jason Fabini, who will try to practice with a brace, probably will be very limited this week with a sprained right MCL. ... LB Eric Barton won't practice much this week and isn't likely to play this week in Baltimore. ... QBs Chad Pennington and Jay Fiedler are out with rotator cuff injuries. ... FB B.J. Askew won't play this week with a sprained right ankle.


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