The Jets already knew they'd be without one starter when they open the regular season Sept. 13 in Houston, but that number doubled today. Six weeks after OLB Calvin Pace was suspended for four games by the NFL for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances, DE Shaun Ellis received a one game suspension and was fined an additional $100,000 for violating the NFL's substances of abuse policy.
"I just have to learn from this mistake, move on and put it behind me and get ready for Week 2," Ellis said.
Arrested last December for marijuana possession, the 6'5", 285-pound Ellis played in all 16 games last season and his eight sacks led the team.
"For it to carry on into this year is kind of tough. I wish I would have been able to just have dealt with it last year, and this year go into games fresh and put that behind me," he told reporters following this morning's training camp practice at SUNY Cortland. "It didn't happen that way, so I'll just have to go through it and deal with it, be ready for Week 2. Yes, I'm going to miss being out there, but I have confidence in the New York Jets that they'll get the job done. "
Ellis, who is entering his 10th season and is the longest-tenured Jet, has missed only four regular-season games since entering the league in 2000. His 61.5 career sacks rank fourth on the Jets' all-time list and he will likely pass Gerry Philbin (64.5) at some point this year.
"I think what is important is how it is going to affect us," said head coach Rex Ryan. "Who is starting hasn't really been determined. We'll go through that process. But again, we have a lot of confidence in our players. We always talk about the decal. Whoever goes out there is going to make a good count of themselves. We will miss Shaun, obviously, but we feel that we have the guys playing behind him and we should be just fine. Don't feel sorry for us. We will move forward from that."
The Jets posted 41 sacks in 2008 and 15 of those came from Ellis (8) and Pace (7). Without both men for the opener, Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine will have to find creative ways to get to Texans QB Matt Schaub.
"To be honest with you, that's two big losses with them being out for periods of time, Calvin being a little bit longer than Shaun. We have to find a way to rally and get it done," said DT Kris Jenkins. "I know they wouldn't want us to just let it go into the tank just because they're out. We have to make sure that we do what we're supposed to do. Hopefully the guys that are behind them understand that they have to step up and fill some big roles."
In preparation for Pace's prolonged absence, the Jets moved Vernon Gholston to the first unit defense on Sunday and he continued to work with the ones today. Ryan also likes his D-line depth and although he wouldn't lock in a starter to replace Ellis, you can expect Mike DeVito to play a large role.
"DeVito is a beast. I think he has one of the best work ethics on this team. He always works hard, he's always serious about what he does," Jenkins told newyorkjets.com. "I think DeVito can be a real player in this league and I think he's really about to get the opportunity to do that. I'm looking forward to seeing what he's going to do because DeVito is one of those quiet guys who doesn't make a lot of noise and all of that, but I really think he has the tool set to be a starter in this game."
In two NFL seasons, DeVito has appeared in 23 games as a reserve. The 6'3", 305-pounder, a Maine product who originally signed with the Jets as an undrafted free agent in 2007, is one of the strongest Jets and has had an impressive camp.
"I think DeVito is going to shock the word this year," Jenkins said. "He really is. I'm proud of him."