Fearless Prediction: Falcons-Jets
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
SURFACE: Artificial turf
TV: FOX (Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa)
KEYS TO THE GAME: QB Chris Redman is expected to make his
third consecutive start for the Falcons, and he orchestrated an
offense that produced nine plays of 18-plus yards last Sunday. But
the Jets have given up a total of just 497 yards the past three
games. RB Michael Turner (ankle) will likely be a game-time
decision, and the ground game is critical considering the Jets’
ability to get after the passer. Offensively, New York leads the
league with 169.1 rushing yards per game. Rookie QB Mark Sanchez
(knee) appears on track to play, and he’ll lead a conservative
gameplan unless Atlanta finds a way to stuff the ground game.
FAST FACTS: RB Thomas Jones is the first Jet since Johnny
Hector in 1987-88 to post consecutive seasons with 10-plus
touchdowns. … Atlanta is 0-3 when Turner doesn’t play.
- QB Matt Ryan (turf toe) participated in his first practice
since suffering his turf toe injury. He’s likely to be listed as
questionable for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets.
- RB Michael Turner (right high ankle sprain) participated in
his first practice since reinjuring his high right ankle sprain
on Nov. 29. He will likely be listed as questionable for Sunday’s
- DE John Abraham returns to New York to face the Jets, his
former team, with only 3 1/2 sacks, and he got two of those sacks
in the season opener.
- RG Harvey Dahl (ankle) practiced Wednesday and Thursday. He
was replaced in the lineup last week by Quinn Ojinnaka.
- C Todd McClure is set to make his 126th consecutive start.
- QB Mark Sanchez was not officially cleared to play Sunday by
coach Rex Ryan, at least not publicly. But Sanchez took 75
percent of the snaps Thursday, up from 50 percent the day before,
and it appears he will start against Atlanta barring an
- CB Dwight Lowery was limited in practice Thursday and could
play Sunday for the first time since suffering a sprained right
ankle on Nov. 22.
- C Nick Mangold (illness) didn’t practice but is expected to
- FS Kerry Rhodes believes he will be in the starting lineup
against Atlanta after being demoted, but it’s unclear whether he
will be. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said Thursday that
Rhodes will be in with the base defense more than he was last
- CB Lito Sheppard has played well since regaining his starting
job, meaning opponents can’t simply go away from Darrelle Revis
and pick on Sheppard.
Inside The Camps
Falcons coach Mike Smith didn’t want to get too excited.
He attributed that little extra bounce in the team’s step to
the cold weather — 41 degrees is pretty chilly for Georgia — and
them wanting to get back inside.
However, it could have been from the return to practice of
quarterback Matt Ryan and running back Michael Turner. The Falcons
have played the last two games with 70 percent of their offense
sitting on the sideline.
Ryan suffered a turf toe injury and Turner reinjured his
sprained right ankle on Nov. 29 against Tampa Bay.
Both are hopeful that they will be able to play against the
New York Jets on Sunday.
“Right now, I don’t even think in those terms,” Falcons
coach Mike Smith said. “Right now I just think about getting them
back out here in practices. It was the first time that they
practiced in a couple of weeks. It was very limited with what they
did, but they did participate in team activities.”
It appeared that they both took about one-quarter of the
snaps with the first team.
“This was very limited in terms of the number of snaps they
took today,” Smith said. “It was an opportunity for us to see how
they respond to actually going out and participating and playing
Ryan had not spoken since suffering the injury early in the
Tampa Bay game.
“Nobody likes to have to sit down, but it’s something that
you’re going to have to deal with at different points in your
career,” Ryan said.
Turner originally was injured against Carolina on Nov. 15.
He tried to play two weeks later against Tampa Bay and was
“You just want to try to get back out there and be
productive,” Turner said. “It’s very important to see where I’m at,
to see if the soreness will go away and things like that. I need to
see if I can really handle playing and cutting.”
Their teammates were happy to see Ryan and Turner back on
“He was out there firing the ball everywhere,” wide receiver
Roddy White said of Ryan. “He was out there controlling the huddle
and telling guys to listen up. That was good.”
Fullback Ovie Mughelli said, “Matt looked good. It was good
to see him back in the huddle. They both looked good. I’m looking
forward to them coming back to the team and helping us win.”
Yes, Election Day was over a month ago. But listening to Rex
Ryan on Thursday, it was obvious that Campaign ’09 isn’t quite
As he has done numerous times this season, the Jets’ coach
offered plenty of unsolicited praise for cornerback Darrelle Revis,
whom he believes is not only the best cover corner in the NFL, but
the best defensive player in the league.
“If he’s not the NFL Defensive Player of the Year,” Ryan
said, “something is wrong with the system. Nobody and I mean nobody
in maybe the history of the game has had the challenges that he’s
faced week in and week out. You look at the top receivers in this
game now that he’s gone out and matched with and literally almost
shut down. He’s come up with six interceptions, but it’s not about
those numbers. Look at the passes that he’s broken up.”
Revis has a career-high 27 pass breakups, to be exact. It’s
a remarkable number, considering opposing teams don’t test him
repeatedly. Revis likely will cover Atlanta’s Roddy White on
“Look at the fact that he’s out there on an island one on
one,” Ryan said, “and teams still can’t throw that way. If they do,
it’s a mistake. It’s amazing. He deserves it and he’s on the No. 1
defense in the league. I’ve been around guys that have earned it,
Ray Lewis and Ed Reed (both with Baltimore.) Of course, those guys
deserve those awards, but I don’t think those guys even had the
impact that Darrelle Revis has had on this football team. I think
that’s why, I’ll get off my soapbox, he’s earned that award. It’s
not right on my part to stand up here and not maybe try to sell
that to the public. He’s earned this.”
Revis routinely handles the opposition’s best receiver with
little or no help. That allows the Jets to send more blitzers,
secure in the knowledge that Revis will lock down whomever he is
covering. He has one interception for a touchdown and has allowed
only two touchdowns in 13 games, a bomb to Miami’s Ted Ginn Jr. and
a quick timing pattern to New England’s Randy Moss.
Revis “studies the game like crazy,” Ryan added. “He hits
the practice field trying to compete and improve every day. He’s
physical. He’s a tough guy. He can support the run. He can play man
coverage, any zone coverage. Just the way he attacks his job. Will
he get beat? Yes, I guess he can get beat, but I’ll take my
chances. If there is one guy that I want to cover somebody, with my
paycheck on it, I want it to be Darrelle Revis. Period.”
One reporter brought up veteran Green Bay cornerback Charles
Woodson, who has eight picks and two sacks.
“Yes, but Charles can’t go out on a corner like this guy
can,” Ryan replied. “He can move inside and he can blitz. Revis
would be a great blitzer, but I’ve got the best cover guy in
America sitting over here so he’s going to be covering. He is not
blitzing. If you have a rare guy like this, he might not post those
kind of numbers, but I know one thing, Charles isn’t going out
there like this guy is.”
PREDICTION: Jets 20-15