Programming Note: "Jets Talk LIVE" will air at 3:00 PM Thursday as I'll be joined on set by both defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and RB-KR Joe McKnight. We are accepting questions across all of our media platforms.
Greetings Jets Nation. It appears like the Green & White will finally have a bit of good news on the injury front as TE Dustin Keller is expected to make his return to the offensive lineup Sunday against the Colts.
Despite a hamstring injury, Keller appeared in 29 snaps against the Bills in Week 1. But the balky hammy prevented him from returning to the lineup in Week 2 and DK would go on to miss the first four games of his NFL career.
"I think the whole thing with me is with the way I play, kind of everything needs to be full speed," he told reporters this week. "When you come off a hamstring you have to limit yourself and I think at times — me personally —I pushed it too hard and it gave me setbacks. It was good to get that full week of rest last week. It feels really good now."
Mark Sanchez and the Jets 28th ranked pass offense are in need of a boost. Keller is one of the finest pass catching tight ends in football and you have to account for the 6'2", 250-pounder down the middle of the field. He is Sanchez's security blanket and DK led the Jets receptions each of the past two seasons (65, 2011 and 55, 2010). During that time, Keller also had 23 catches of 20 yards or more.
With Keller finally back in the fold, the Jets should have a nice 1-2 combo at tight end with No. 81 and an emerging Jeff Cumberland.
Q: Same question I have had every week. When are they going to play Tebow with some consistency?
EA: I appreciate your consistency Melva. You have been vocal in your support of more playing time for No. 15 and the facts remain — his role will be game plan and opponent specific.
If newcomer Jason Hill handled Tebow's perfect pass in the second quarter on Sunday night, the speedster might be somewhere in Canada by now. Then No. 15 provided a spark as a punt protector with his three-yard gain on 4th-and-1 to start the second quarter.
Some folks will naturally question the Jets attack early in the fourth quarter against the Texans. Tebow bulled his way for 13 yards to get the Jets to the HOU 3 and before being stuffed for no gain on 1st-and-goal. Then Mark Sanchez entered the game and threw a pair of incompletions, leading to a Nick Folk field goal that cut the deficit to 23-17.
"I wish we would have a little more success with it," said Coach Ryan of the Tebow package on Tuesday. "At times, it looks really good and we just have to stay with it."
This isn't ESPN's "First Take," so the Jets aren't about to get into "What If" scenarios. Sanchez is still the starter and Tebow remains a package player.
John L.Los Angeles, CA
Q: This is the second time I've asked this question. Does Mark Sanchez need eye glasses? He is not seeing the field correctly.
EA: Unfortunately the doctors and the training staff don't share the club's medical records with me. (On an aside — I actually have eagle vision in one of my eyes. I don't remember which one, but I digress.) I'm not a Sanchez apologist, but seeing the field hasn't been a problem in 2012. He was plagued by a few drops again Monday and J.J. Watt made a great play down there by the goal line on the first pick. Personnel people will tell you that quarterbacks don't account for DL unless they are dropping in zones. The second INT wasn't a great ball, but that is a play Jeff Cumberland has to make and the young TE told me so Sunday night on "Jets Replay."
Sanchez has poor numbers (48.4% passer-6TDs-6INTS) and he has not been stellar, but the offense's struggles are multi-layered. I like it that the Jets had five passing plays of at least 24 yards against the Texans and Keller is ready to roll.
Mark H.Atlantic Beach, NY
Q: Greg McElroy, Greg McElroy, Greg McElroy should be our QB. A lot of us agree with Joe Willie Namath.
EA: I was with Broadway Joe Monday night and he didn't call for a quarterback change. Did you have a source that you can send us on that?
Mark F.Fitchburg, MA
Q: Since I am one of the few loyal Jets fans left, I was wondering how effective you think Aaron Berry, Lex Hilliard and Jonathan Grimes will be this season? And how long before they finish their homework and contribute on the field?
EA: Oh I think there are lots of loyal Jets fans out there, but they just don't know how to voice their support periodically.
Good question. Special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff said both Berry and Hilliard will have key roles on his unit moving forward. Hilliard split his 30 snaps on offense and special teams in Week 5. Hilliard made the heads up play of the night, scooping up a Mark Sanchez fumble in the second quarter and running for 15 yards. He was also on the field for the offense's first play and he flashed throughout on teams. Berry (6) and Grimes (5) combined for 11 special teams snaps Monday night.
Berry, who was expected to start for the Detroit Lions before experiencing off-the-field issues, will have an opportunity to play a role the defensive backfield.
Q: Hey Eric. Will Rex Ryan be fired if he doesn't make it to the playoffs this year or does the GM believe in him?
EA: Mike Tannenbaum has a lot of faith in Rex Ryan and I don't feel the Jets head coach is any danger. The Green & White are 2-3 and 11 games remain. Despite the injuries and people writing the Jets off, we have to let this season play out.
Q: What's going on with Jonathan Grimes? He will definitely help them out in the running game if he is put into the mix. He had really good stats during the preseason.
EA: A New Jersey native and William & Mary product, Grimes had a solid preseason for the Texans with a 4.6-yard per carry average. He is not a big back, but Grimes has shown the ability to break tackles and he is said to have a decent burst. You have to figure he has to make his mark in special teams before getting into the offensive mix. Practice will also be important because if you can flash on a scout team, then you will earn a shot at some QT (quality time).
Bill B.Forked River, NJ
Q: In the preseason, (Coach) Ryan Raved about (Muhammad) Wilkerson. I haven't heard much about him so far. What's going on with him?
EA: Wilkerson has had a decent sophomore campaign to date, racking up 11 tackles in a Week 2 win over Miami and I thought he spent an awful lot of time in the Steelers backfield in Week 3. During his impressive rookie campaign, Big Mo totaled 53 stops, three sacks, two PDs and one FF. He has seen more double teams in 2012 and has collected 22 tackles through five games. Wilkerson and Mike DeVito have been the Jets two most consistent performers up front and they are both particularly sound against the run. You would like to see Wilkerson collapse the pocket a little bit more consistently and I'm sure he might say the same thing.