David Bowens believes the Jets' special teams are ready to send a message Monday night.
"We'll set the tone. This is a game we want to show our identity as a team and it's going to start with special teams," D-Bo said. "That's just the mentality we're going to have — we're going to go out there and set the tone."
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The Chargers have a very good special teams unit and they'll provide a stiff test.
"They have a great core of guys, especially in their return game with Darren Sproles, obviously," Bowens said. "He had a 103-yard kickoff return last week and they have linebackers who play pretty solid, run fast. We watched their kickoff team today and they made a bunch of tackles inside the 20, so they have a bunch of athletic guys who can get to the ball. They're disciplined in their lanes and they create plays."
Last Sunday, Sproles delivered a historic performance in a shootout loss to the Broncos. The 5'6", 181-pounder amassed 317 all-purpose yards and averaged 38.4 yards on his five kickoff returns.
"He has everything. He has speed, and for as small as he is, the guy's tough. He's got power and he's not afraid of hitting the hole," D-Bo said. "You see a lot of fast guys who wait before they can get it open and hit. But this guy, he creates and he just hits it."
The same could be said of Kassim Osgood. Now in his sixth season, the 6'5", 220-pound wideout is a two-time Pro Bowler and one of the league's top special teams performers. He usually requires a mandatory double team on punts and kickoffs because he can get down the field and wreak havoc.
"He's definitely very disruptive," Bowens said. "We definitely have to know where he's at all the time. He's running down, pushing guys out of the way, going into the wedge and taking on two blockers."
Against the Patriots, the Jets' special teams had a frustrating day. They never had a chance to get Leon Washington going because Pats kicker Stephen Gostkowski had an outstanding day, recording five touchbacks on his six kickoffs.
"We couldn't get anything," D-Bo said. "And the one that we did, we felt we had a good chance on. We had a block here or there. But all day when you're getting touchbacks, it's kind of disappointing."
Chargers K Nate Kaeding got a lift from the Denver air last week, but Washington will probably have at least a couple of chances to bring the ball out Monday.
"Our timing and everything is getting better every week. We just need a chance. The first week we had [Mike] Westhoff back, it was OK, and last week we weren't able to get a lot," Bowens said. "If we get some chances to actually see it full game speed and get some good ones in, I think we can have a good year on that."
After starting the season with Mike Nugent at kicker and Ben Graham at punter, the Jets will be represented by Jay Feely and Reggie Hodges at those respective positions in Week 3. Nugent, who has a leg injury, will miss his second consecutive game and Feely missed a 31-yard field goal try early last week before connecting on a 21-yarder in the second half.
"Nobody is tougher on him that he is," Bowens said of Feely. "I've known Jay a long time. He was our kicker in college [at Michigan]. He knows and I know he's got that corrected. He'll be all right."
And Bowens, voted one of the two teams captain by his teammates, thinks the Jets will be in fine shape on special teams.
"It's hard to judge right now with only two games down," Bowens said. "But I think we're good. Wallace Wright is doing a great job as 'fire,' as a cover guy for our kickoff team. Our punt protection is good, it's pretty solid. And our punt return, we get some chances to get the return, I think we're good."
He'll gather the troops up for a quick talk before kickoff, but D-Bo knows they'll have to do their talking on the field.
"We'll talk and try to get guys going," he said. "But we won't need it this week."