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New Jets Vets' First Night in Green & White

Posted Aug 8, 2014

Many of Team's Offseason Acquisitions Made Their Debuts in Thursday's Opener

All eyes were on the "new old guys" at the Jets' preseason opener against the Colts on Thursday night.

The Jets this offseason acquired a group of recognizably named veterans to bolster the team. The additions include Eric Decker and Jacoby Ford at wide receiver, Chris Johnson and Daryl Richardson at running back, Michael Vick at quarterback, and right tackle Breno Giacomini. In the preseason opener, these new Jets vets showed promise.

Thursday was the first time in Chris Johnson’s seven-year NFL career that he suited up for a team other than the Tennessee Titans, who drafted him in the first round back in 2008.

“It feels really weird,” Johnson said of playing for his new team. “It really didn’t hit me until we were out there playing, until we ran out for warmups. I really can’t explain it. It’s just weird.”

Despite the change of uniform, Johnson was back to his old ways. It took less than 24 minutes of play for the former 2,000-yard rusher in 2009 to score his first touchdown as a Jet and the Jets' only TD of the evening. He pounded his way into the end zone from a yard out, the final play for new teammate Vick’s 14-play drive in the second quarter.

“As far as Chris Johnson, I’m glad we don’t have to defend him,” said Ryan. “He still has great speed. He made a few plays and got hit a couple of times, but he popped up and had a big smile on his face, so he’s ready to roll.”

Having scored 10 or more touchdowns in four of his six seasons in the NFL, Johnson’s consistency is sure to add stability and productivity to the Jets' offense.

“It’s great,” Vick said about having Johnson lining up behind him. “When you have Chris back there, it poses a problem. It’s always a threat to a defense.”

At 34, Vick delivered one of the strongest performances among the NFL veterans making their Jets debuts, looking as fast as ever. The Philly transplant took the field in a familiar color scheme, taking command of the first offense in the second quarter, but this time the green and white garb wasn’t for the Eagles.

"He looked great,” said Rex. “When a quarterback can run for first downs, it puts a huge, huge stress on the defense.”

The four-time Pro Bowler once again had his moments for his former Eagles offensive coordinator, Marty Mornhinweg. He was also pleasantly surprised about the positive welcome he received from Jet fans.

“I mean I wasn’t expecting it,” Vick said of his warm reception by fans at MetLife stadium. “It was great. Great to get a good reception from the crowd. It only gets you going, gets your blood flowing, gets the adrenaline flowing. It doesn’t alleviate the butterflies, but even still at my age you still have the anxiety, which is a good thing. It helps you play even better. It brings out the best in me."

Decker, in his first game in green and white, doubled his reception total from the last time he played at MetLife Stadium — as a Bronco in Super Bowl XLVIII — with two receptions for 12 yards. The Super Bowl participant was part of the Jets' starting offense Thursday night.

“Decker presents that big target,” head coach Rex Ryan said of his 6’3” receiver. “But the thing I like most about him is that he’s a team guy. He’s competitive. He blocks. He’s starting to dig out those safeties. I was really happy with him.”

“We had a conversation about what the length of the game was going to be,” the fifth-year wideout said of decision to limit his plays to the Jets' two first-quarter series. “I was at a point where I felt like I got enough plays in and they felt the same way, that I showed enough.”

Richardson also suited up for his first game in a Jets jersey. He was acquired on waivers in May from the St. Louis Rams. Against the Colts he had a game-high nine carries, all in the second half, and gained 27 yards, second-most for the Green & White behind Alex Green's 29 yards.

“I feel good, but there are some areas I need to improve on — my pass blocking, man,” said Richardson who joined cousin Clyde Gates on the field. “I was a little disappointed in my pass blocking, but I mean we won so that’s all that matters. At the end of the day that’s what it’s all about: the team.”




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