Jets' Kicking Concerns A Big Deal

The New York Jets have kicking concerns, and that's never a good problem to have when the team is expected to have some close games during the season. Mike Nugent has come under fire for his poor outing against the Titans. Head Coach Eric Mangini even had to address questions on whether the team's punter could make some field goals if needed.

It already has come to this. One day after Mike Nugent's dismal performance against Tennessee, first-year coach Eric Mangini was asked if Australian punter Ben Graham might do double-duty for the Jets.

"Ben does a lot of stuff," Mangini said. "Right now we're focused on Ben being the punter. He did a really nice job (against the Titans). "

That he did, averaging a net of 44 yards on eight punts. And he was flawless as Nugent's holder. Once those kicks got airborne however, that's when the trouble began.

Nugent pushed a 34-yard attempt wide right, hit the right upright on a 30-yarder, and also missed a PAT. Yes, to the right.

"I don't like the fact I put my teammates in that situation. They are unbelievable in the fact that they had my back every time," Nugent said.

Of course, that may not always be the case. Chad Pennington doesn't figure to throw for 300-plus yards every game, as he did Sunday. And with the Jets' running game very shaky at this point, long touchdown drives may not be plentiful. All the more reason that they need Nugent to be the kicker they thought they were getting when they drafted him in the second round in 2005 after Doug Brien's debacle in Pittsburgh in the 2004 playoffs.

When asked if he was thinking about bringing in another kicker to compete with Nugent, Mangini said that he and general manager Mike Tannenbaum would meet Monday night, "just like every night. We'll go through the game and the performances across the board, (and) look at what's out there in terms of opportunities. I don't mean that exclusively in that one area. That's something that we'll do every single night. We'll do that again and see if there's any possibilities to improve the team."

Now that was not a rip on Nugent, but it was far from a vote of confidence, either.

"It didn't even look like me kicking," Nugent admitted Monday after watching tape of the game.

"The thing I love is that we've got 15 games to go," he added. "I don't think I'm in a slump. I had one of the best camps I've ever had. It was just one of those days. I didn't put everything together like I should have and like I can."

Nugent's confidence in the team allowing him to work out the kinks may be a bit premature. The Jets brought in three kickers this week for auditions. Paul Edinger, Tyler Jones and Owen Pochman who all showcased their ability for Tannenbaum and Mangini. Edinger is the most experienced of the group and figures to get the call if Nugent continues his struggles in week two against the Patriots.

Notes

The Jets offered the Patrots a second round pick for WR Deion Branch, but were they interfering with a division opponent by telling Branch's agent what they offered? New England filed a tampering complaint against New York for their negotiations with Branch.

Coach Eric Mangini was especially pleased with the play of Norm Katnik, who filled in at LG after Pete Kendall was injured in the second quarter.

"I think that's a great example of how we always talk about flexibility, guys playing different spots," Mangini said. "Norm has played center, he's played guard, he's played tackle. It's also a good lesson for everybody to see, (that) just because you're not the starter, you always need to prepare like you're the starter because a game where you may anticipate very limited reps suddenly becomes 65-to-70 reps. I thought Norm went in and did a really good job as a backup going in and playing that role."

--One of the primo parking spots at the Jets' Hofstra University training facility goes to the individual who was named the practice player of the week. For the Week 1 preparation against Tennessee, that honor went to DL Dave Ball for his work impersonating Tennessee's DEs on the scout team.

"To me this is always going to be the most important person we recognize in any game that we win," Mangini said, adding that Ball "just gave us a really good look at the type of ends that they have and the speed they have. The look team is so vital for preparing the team."

--Seattle obtained New England holdout WR Deion Branch on Monday for a first-round pick in the 2007 draft. NFL Players Association lawyer Richard Berthelsen said the Jets had offered a second-round pick to the Patriots for Branch.

--LG Pete Kendall left in the second quarter Sunday with what was announced as a left hamstring pull. Norm Katnik replaced him and finished the game. Kendall's thigh was wrapped while he stood on the sideline, and coach Eric Mangini said Monday that he was "sore."

--S Kerry Rhodes apparently injured his left ankle on the game's final play Sunday, but Mangini gave no update on him Monday.

--RB Cedric Houston, a former standout at the University of Tennessee, was inactive Sunday despite leading the Jets in rushing during the preseason with 178 yards at 4.0 yards per carry. He could be active against New England as the Jets try to improve upon an anemic ground performance against the Titans.

--CB Andre Dyson, a former Titan, had two interceptions off Kerry Collins and his old team. "I'm sure that was especially meaningful for him," Mangini said.

--WR Laveranues Coles had 153 yards, his third-best single game in that category, on eight receptions. He had a 41-yard grab. He's only had one reception of 40 yards or more in each of the last two seasons.

 

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