Jets

Schwartz On Sports: Jets’ Battle Of The Bench

Matt Slauson #68 of the New York Jets. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Matt Slauson #68 of the New York Jets. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

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By Peter Schwartz

The Jets close out their preseason schedule on Thursday night against the Eagles in Philadelphia. Gang Green will only have 36 players in uniform, as most of the starters will have the night off.

”That number (36) is not very big,” said Ryan. “We’re going to run the ball a bunch.”

That’s good news for Chauncey Washington, who joined the Jets late last season. The former Jaguar and Cowboy has played well in camp, and will get one final shot at earning one of only a few final roster spots up for grabs. Also, the final chapter of the training-camp-long battle to line up between D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold along the offense line will come to a conclusion.

It appears as if Matt Slauson will be the starting left guard in his second NFL season. While it appears he has won the job over 2nd round pick Vladimir Ducasse, Slauson is not about to take anything for granted.

“Well, the job is always on the line,” said the former Nebraska Cornhusker, recruited by current Jets offensive line coach Bill Callahan. “But I think right now I have the edge because I’m comfortable with the system and I can go out there and play with confidence.”

My feeling is that Slauson had this job wrapped up long before training camp started. Ducasse would have had to severely outplay Slauson to even have a chance at the job.

Vernon Gholston also figures to see extensive action Thursday. The linebacker turned defensive end had a terrific camp and will be looked upon to help fill the void created by the foot injury to Calvin Pace.

“That directly hasn’t been told to me,” said Gholston. “I’ve been working at defensive end mostly. Early on, they kind of talked to me about doing both.”

As far as getting playing time against the Eagles, Gholston relishes the opportunity.

“I welcome the work,” said Gholston. “Rex had told me that I would be out there a little bit. With Calvin being out, I’ll have to step in and do a little more.”

Wide receiver Santonio Holmes is expected to play into the third quarter on Thursday, in what will be his final appearance in a Jets uniform for a while. He will begin the season serving a four-game suspension, and is looking forward to having a strong outing in Philly.

“No question,” said Holmes. “If I can go out and get six catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns, then I’m going to be pretty excited about what I did in the preseason.”

Holmes will train in Orlando during his suspension and will focus on his conditioning.

Thursday night was supposed to be the finale of the battle between Kellen Clemens and Kevin O’Connell for the number three quarterback job. But after Clemens agreed to a pay cut on Tuesday, O’Connell was cut. It appears as though the job now belongs to Clemens.

“I’m going to go out and play,” said Clemens of his expected extensive playing time Thursday. “I didn’t get a chance to compete for the number two job and that was one of the areas where I was frustrated early in camp. You just have to put your head down and push through it.”

Although he has been relegated to be the backup to both Mark Sanchez and Mark Brunell, Clemens decided that he wanted to stay with Gang Green. If he didn’t take the pay cut, he would have been released. So instead of chasing after a job elsewhere, he wanted to stay with a team that has a chance to do something special.

“The Jets have an awesome chance to win the Super Bowl this year,” said Clemens. “And I’m excited about the opportunity to be a part of it. I’m excited to be here.”

After Thursday’s game, the Jets will be off on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. However, the coaching staff will be busy trimming the roster down to 53 by Saturday’s deadline.

Then, preparations begin in full force for the regular season opener – Monday night, September 13th against the Ravens at New Meadowlands Stadium.

Some other pieces of business….

JETS ADD A LINEBACKER

Not it was not Adalius Thomas, but the Jets are taking a flyer on former CFL’er Ricky Foley. He was picked up on waivers from the Seahawks. Foley was a first round pick of the BC Lions in 2006 and last year recorded 12 sacks in the CFL.

Foley had a tryout with the Baltimore Ravens in 2006, so Rex Ryan is familiar with the 6’2”, 250 pounder.

JETS/SI COVERS PART TWO

When I talked about the new Sports Illustrated book earlier this week, I mentioned that the Jets have been on the cover of SI 19 times.

Make that twenty. Sort of.

The annual SI preview issue is coming out and will have five regional covers. The Northeast issue will have the Jets on the cover, showing Nick Mangold snapping the ball to Mark Sanchez.

TICKETS ANYONE?

The Jets have released some upper level, non-PSL seats for purchase on an individual game basis. About 2,000 tickets per game went on sale Tuesday at 4pm. Go to http://www.ticketmaster.com for details. The tickets became available when season ticket holders upgraded to PSL seats after the prices were slashed.

That’s it for now. Enjoy the game on Thursday night! The fun starts for real a week from Monday.