2012 Training Camp Preview: Defense

By Dennis Agapito and Ron Pickett – (Link Offense) (Link Special Teams)

Last year the Jets carried between 24-27 players on defense and they had 6-7 members on the defensive line. Defensive ends rookie Quinton Coples (North Carolina), Mike DeVito, Muhammad Wilkerson along with tackles Marcus Dixon, Kenrick Ellis, and Sione Pouha have all but secured a roster spot.

The Jets will look to improve on their 111 yards allowed per game (13th) rushing and 35 total sacks (17th) from last season. The team feels the addition of first round draft pick Quinton Coples (7.5 sacks, 15 tackles-for-lose 2011) along with increased production from second year DT Ellis (7 tackles) and DE Wilkerson (49 tackles, 3 sacks) will help stopping the run and getting to the quarterback.

Depending upon the number of d-linemen the team chooses to carry there might be one more spot available. DT Martin Tevaseu has been with the Jets since 2010 but saw his first action in 2011 recording three tackles in five games. With the Jets and new defensive line coach Karl Dunbar looking to use more four man fronts Tevaseu might have added value and could be the final d-linemen on the roster.

Veteran DE Jay Richardson (117 TCKL, 7 sacks, in four seasons) is also making a push for a roster spot. Originally drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 2007 he played with them until the beginning of 2010 where he was place on injured reserve but was able to become a free agent after agreeing to an injury settlement.

He then signed with the Seattle Seahawks seeing limited action for the rest of the 2010 season and was out of football in 2011. Richardson signed with the Jets on April 16, 2012 as a free agent, hoping to revitalize his career, but he’ll have to impress to make the final cut.

The linebacking core has many established players: David Harris, Calvin Pace, rookie Demario Davis (Arkansas State), Josh Mauga and Aaron Maybin seem to be locks for a roster spot. ILB Bart Scott is coming off a down season (66 TCKL, 4.5 sacks) and will be 32 in August while OLB Bryan Thomas (33) is recovering from an Achilles tear during last season and recent shoulder surgery. Both probably remain with the team but need to leave open the possibility that one might be cut.

The Jets have been raving about outside linebacker Ricky Sapp for some time now. Drafted in 2010 by the Philadelphia Eagles Sapp was considered a top prospect but injuries cause him to drop to round five (#134). He missed the 2010 season with a knee injury and was released the following year after leaving the Eagles for undisclosed reasons.

The Jets signed Sapp to their practice squad on October 31, 2011, released him November 21st and re-signed him November 28th. He was promoted to the Jets roster for their final 2011 game but was left inactive. It is difficult to gauge if Sapp is over his injuries and ready to contribute, but the Jets seem to think so. Depending upon if Scott and Thomas stay Sapp maybe the odd man out if he can not contribute on special teams as last season the Jets usually carried eight LBs on the roster.

LBs Nick Bellore and Garrett McIntyre mostly contributed on special teams and had 31/18 special teams tackles respectively but only 12 tackles total on defense. Here is where tough decisions have to be made because the Jets will need to replace one or both of these players roles if cut.

The team will likely carry four safeties this season veterans Yeremiah Bell, LaRon Landry and Eric Smith along with rookie Josh Bush (Wake Forest, 59 TCKL, 6 INT 2011) who will see action in passing situations. Unless the Jets decide to carry five safeties, they only had four at most last year, there will be some players left out.

Tracy Wilson saw limited action in the final five games last season when promoted from the practice squad, after DB Emanuel Cook was released. Wilson contributed mostly on special teams only recording four tackles on defense.

Round seven selection Antonio Allen (South Carolina, 88 TCKL, 3 INT 2011) will have a difficult time beating out the veterans as his strength is a run stopping “in the box” safety. With Bell/Landry on one year contracts and Smith’s future after this season unclear Allen could find himself a prime practice squad candidate to prepare for a roster spot. If Landry, who’s extremely injury prone and still rehabbing an Achilles injury, gets seriously hurt they can sign Allen off the practice squad to fill in.

If either Wilson or Allen makes the roster it will be due to their ability to play special teams but carrying five safeties, one who strictly plays specials, limits other positions.

The top three cornerbacks are already set: Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson are the starting and nickel corners but after those three is gets very murky. This is an area of concern for Jets fan. Lack of depth at the cornerback position can be catastrophic. What if Kyle Wilson gets hurt as the 3rd corner? Who will fill that role?

Last season the Jets never had less the seven CBs on the roster. Dime-back Donald Strickland and reserve/special teams CB Marquice Cole are both no longer with the team. Ellis Lankster is considered the replacement for Strickland going into camp.

Originally a seventh round (#220) pick of the Buffalo Bills in 2009 but released in 2010 opting to play in the Canadian Football League. He signed a reserve/future contract with the Jets on January 5, 2011 but was cut on September 3, 2011. He re-signed October 11, 2011 seeing action in seven games on special teams mostly. Lankster has 11 tackles and 1 pass defense in his NFL career.

CB Isaiah Trufant contributed on special teams (12 tackles) and returned a blocked punt for a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys but has zero pass defenses or interceptions in his two year NFL career.

DB Royce Adams, played both receiver and DB at Purdue (2006-09) but will stick with DB in training camp. Adams also has some experience as a kick returner in college and played last year with the AFL’s Pittsburgh Power. CB Julian Posey (Ohio University) went undrafted in 2011 and spent most of the season with the Jets practice squad last year.

Rookies Donnie Fletcher (Boston College, 35 TCKL, 2 INT 2011), Ryan Steed (Furman, 24 pass defenses, 16 interceptions during his collegiate career) and D’Anton Lynn, son of Jets running backs coach Anthony Lynn, (Penn State, 49 TCKL, 1 INT 2011) will be competing for a spot.

The Jets have lots of questions about the depth at the CB position with all the spread offenses they see a fourth cover CB is important as well as backups in case of injury.  Also Cole and Strickland played special teams any replacement will have to fill that void. It seems that Trufant/Lankster will make the team just because they can play the specials but the Jets might want to look at camp cut downs to try and sure up the position as there is vast inexperience after Kyle Wilson.

The Jets seem to like Adams as he was used in various roles at mini-camp and could have a special teams impact. Rookies Fletcher, Lynn, Steed along with second year Posey will need an impressive camp to make the team as some will be released or have to settle for time on the practice squad since there are seven players but only four spots.

What to look for at camp:

  1. Battle for the last defensive line spots as the Jets carried 6-7 defensive linemen last year. When reading about practice, look for the guys who are deflecting passes and constantly in the offensive backfield making plays. Look for who’s stopping the run and beating blocks, as well for the interior linemen.
  2. Who is getting important reps in the linebacking core? Bart Scott has said that he is in the best shape of his life. He better be with Demario Davis breathing down his neck for the starting position. Look for promising signs like Bryan Thomas having a sack or makes a tackle for no gain against the run. That will show you he’s back healthy from injury.
  3. What linebackers are doing drills with the special teams? Just like most other positions,that could be their way of making the team.
  4. We all know Revis, Cromartie and Wilson will be the top three corners. Look for names like Steed, Lynn, Adams, Trufant, Lankster, Fletcher and Posey instead. Are the writers saying that these guys are creating pass deflections, making interceptions, blanketing receivers downfield or are they doing tackling and backpedal drills on another field. The 4th cornerback spot will help when teams like the Patriots go with four wide receivers against the Jets this season, so it is a pivotal battle to watch.
  5. Second string safeties, it should be interesting to see or hear about guys like Antonio Allen and Eric Smith as far as covering tight ends and being “in the box” players.
  6. Observe the intensity that Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine are showing towards the defense. Read the blogs and articles looking for information on their involvement during drills and scrimmages. With a high intensity offensive coordinator, the Jets defensive coaches have to be able to match or surpass it. Remember the Jets are still a defensive minded team.

Tracy Wilson to the Active Roster

Emanuel Cook was waived yesterday and today he was replaced on the active roster with another Safety (Tracy Wilson).  The release of Cook came as a surprise since he was a solid special teams contributor.

Here is the official announcement from the Jets on the Tracy Wilson signing:

The New York Jets have signed S Tracy Wilson from the practice squad to the active roster. The announcement was made by General Manager Mike Tannenbaum.

Wilson (S/6-2/203/Northern Illinois/Harvey, IL) originally signed with the Jets (8/24/11) as a free agent after he was not selected in the 2011 supplemental draft. He appeared in the final two preseason games for the Jets before being waived (9/3/11), and was later signed to the Jets practice squad (10/12/11). In three seasons at Northern Illinois, he started 17-of-32 games and amassed 171 total tackles, 3.5 tackles-for-loss, four fumble recoveries and one interception.

Jets Cut Cook; Sign Sapp

The New York Jets have waived S Emanuel Cook, signed LB Ricky Sapp to the practice squad and released LB Eddie Jones from the practice squad. The announcements were made by General Manager Mike Tannenbaum.

Cook (S/5-10/185/South Carolina/Riviera Beach, FL) was signed to the Jets active roster (12/8/10) after being waived (9/5/10).  In his Jets career, he recorded 10 special teams tackles in addition to one tackle and a forced fumble on defense.  Cook originally signed with the Jets as a rookie free agent (5/1/09) and was waived (11/11/09).  He spent the remainder of the 2009 season on Tampa Bay’s practice squad before being waived (6/18/10).  He earned All-Southeastern Conference honors all three years he played at South Carolina.

While you are watching to see if your elite players can redeem themselves, you should be checking out our weekly Fantasy Football Waiver Wire article so you can start planning on whom to pick up in their place.

Sapp (LB/6-4/252/Clemson/Bamberg, SC) was released from the Jets practice squad (11/21/11) after being signed to the practice squad (10/31/11).  He was released by the Eagles during training camp (08/05/11). He was originally a fifth-round draft pick of the Eagles in 2010 before being placed on injured reserve (08/31/10). Sapp started 36-of-50 games at Clemson where he posted 17.5 sacks and 142 tackles during his career.

Jones (6-3/260/Texas/Kilgore, TX) was signed to the practice squad (11/21/11) after spending time on both the practice squad and active roster earlier in the season.  He spent training camp with the Jets and made his NFL debut at New England (10/9/11).  In 50 games at the University of Texas, he started eight, and totaled 111 tackles and 13 sacks during his career.  Jones was named All Big-12 honorable mention as a senior in 2010 after he notched 52 tackles, six sacks, 10 tackles for loss and one forced fumble.

NY Jets Safety Emanuel Cook To Host Charity Weekend

New York Jets safety Emanuel Cook will be hosting a Charity weekend in West Palm Beach, Florida on July 1st and 2nd in remembrance of his best friend DeAndre Butler.  The festivities begin at 5 p.m. on July 1st at Duffy’s Sports Grill (721 Village Blvd), followed by a celebrity bowl-a-thon on July 2nd at Verdes Tropicana Lanes (2500 N Florida Mango Rd).  Celebrity guests to include Kenrick Ellis (the NY Jets 2011 3rd round pick), former Jet and current Cleveland Brown Abe Elam,  Tampa Bay Buccaneer Preston Parker, as well as other special guests.

All proceeds of the events will go the Leukemia and Lymphoma society in memory of DeAndre Butler.

For more information on the events you can email Emanuelcookfans@gmail.com or RememberDeAndreButler@gmail.com, or you can check out Emanuel Cook’s official facebook page at www.facebook.com/officialemanuelcook.  Also you can follow Emanuel on Twitter @emanuelcook27.

For those of you that are unable to attend: Customized red silicone bracelets imprinted with “Remember DeAndre Butler” are now available for the purchase price of $5.00. All proceeds of the fundraising will go to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in Memory of DeAndre.   To purchase a bracelet please email DeAndreBracelet@gmail.com with the quantity that you want (payments can be made through paypal).   Price includes free shipping. Please allow 7-10 days for delivery.

Inside the NY Jets: Interview With Safety Emanuel Cook

Recently New York Jets safety Emanuel Cook took the time to answer a few questions.  Cook is one of several young players on the Jets roster that will be looking to take on a larger role on defense, as well as special teams.

TR: As the NFL lockout continues to drag on, it appears that the frustration levels continue to rise for all of the parties involved. What has this experience been like for you over the last couple of months? Anything that has surprised you?

EC: It’s difficult, but I remain optimistic that a resolution can be reached. I want to play football and the players want to play football. I spend my time working out and studying so that I’m ready to go when we get back to work. I didn’t really know what to expect from this situation as it’s the first time our generation of players has been through it. I hope that it can be resolved soon so we can get back to work and focus on the task at hand…to win the Superbowl!

TR: As a NFL player that has been locked out from all of the team’s facilities, what have you been able to accomplish in terms of conditioning and preparing for the upcoming season?

EC: I train and workout almost every day on my own. I have a special trainer that I work with. Kenrick Ellis and I went to college together and we’re both from West Palm Beach, so we get together to work out quite a bit as well. I’m in the gym, I swim, I do beach workouts and field drills. As far as mental preparation, I’m also studying my plays. Not having a designated schedule definitely requires more discipline, but I’m happy with what I’ve been doing and I’m feeling in shape and ready to go.

TR: Over the past couple of weeks several players, including New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, have started organizing their own camps and workouts. What are your thoughts on these types of organized workouts? Have any of your teammates contacted you in regards to upcoming training sessions?

EC: I think anything the team can do to build in terms skill and comradery is a positive thing. I know some things are in the works, but I haven’t heard anything definite yet.

TR: From a player’s perspective, how much do you think the lockout is going to hurt this year’s rookie class?

EC: It’s tough, but they’ll get through it. Everybody has to just keep a positive head and stay focused. I think it will be particularly hard for the UDFA’s who need the chance to show what they can do. It would have been very difficult for me if this had happened a few years ago. Hopefully we’ll be back in camp at the end of July and it won’t come to that.

TR: Off the field you have been very involved in supporting several charities including the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. Are there any experiences or upcoming events that you would like to share?

EC: I lost a best friend and high school football teammate, DeAndre Butler, to Leukemia in December of 2008. I’ve made it my mission to use whatever visibility I have to help in the fight against blood cancers in his memory. July 1-2 in West Palm Beach I am having a Celebrity Charity Weekend. We’ll have a meet and greet at Duffy’s Sports Bar on July 1st from 5-7pm as well as a Bowl-a-thon at Verdes Lanes on July 2nd from 3-6pm. It will be hosted by myself and I’ve got a handful of other NFL players coming to support, including Kenrick Ellis.

I’ve also created red silicone bracelets imprinted with “Remember DeAndre Butler” that I’m selling for $5 with all proceeds going to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Their New York City Chapter recently asked me to run for their “Man of the Year” in 2012 and I accepted, so I’m looking forward to that campaign as well.

Anybody who is interested in coming to the charity Weekend or wants a bracelet can email RememberDeAndreButler@gmail.com or checkout facebook.com/rememberdeandrebutler. They can also always email me at emanuelcookfans@gmail.com. I read every message that comes in. Aside from my work for the LLS, I do regular visits to The Children’s Home Society of Florida (www.chsfl.org). I play sports with the kids outside and sponsor a pizza party. It’s important to me to give back to the children, especially those in what could be difficult situations.

TR: You have actively embraced social networking as you often interact with your fans on Twitter (@emanuelcook27) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/officialemanuelcook). What went behind your decision to embrace social networking and what has it been like interacting with all of the fans?

EC: I’ve had my Facebook Page for about a year and a half, but it seems to be getting more attention now. I saw a lot of other players were on twitter, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I have to say that interacting with the fans and seeing how much they really do support me and the team has been really cool. There are a handful of people that engage religiously. I’m still trying to get used to twitter, but I think I’m doing ok. I also started a youtube page (www.youtube.com/officialemanuelcook) and I’m working on some videos for that. To me, I feel like the fans make the game. They support us. They are the reason why I’m able to do what I do and play the game that I love. The least I can do to thank them is interact. That’s why I decided to do the personalized autographed cards to anyone who asked for one at no cost to them (can be received by emailing emanuelcookfans@gmail.com). I didn’t know how it would go over, but I’ve sent over 500 out and more requests come every day. I also know this is a stressful time for the fans and if I can do anything to make that better, I try to do that.

TR:  Emanuel, once again thank you for your time.  I strongly encourage everyone to check out Emanuel’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/officialemanuelcook) as well as follow him on Twitter (emanuelcook27).  Emanuel routinely interacts with the fans and shares his insight on everything from the NFL, to gaming, to the NBA.

In April Emanuel Cook shared his thoughts on Rex Ryan, as well as what it is like to play alongside Darrelle Revis.  For the full interview see:  April interview with Emanuel Cook.

NY Jets Sign Emanuel Cook

Eric Allen is reporting on NY Jets.com that the NY Jets have made a minor roster move.  They have signed a Safety, Emanuel Cook and released linebacker Ezra Cook.

signing S Emanuel Cook and releasing LB Ezra Butler. Cook, a South Carolina product, signed with the Jets as an undrafted free agent, was released prior to the ’09 campaign and spent time on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ practice squad last season. After playing collegiately at Nevada, Butler signed as an undrafted free agent with the San Francisco 49ers in 2008 and also played with the UFL’s Las Vegas Locomotives in ’09.