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Ferguson vs. Schobel One More Time


Thursday will be the fifth matchup between Jets tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Bills defensive end Aaron Schobel. And for the two hard-working lineman, among the best at their respective positions, it's business as usual.

"It's been an interesting year because I've been forced to go against a lot of the tough guys," Ferguson told Tuesday. "I always see it as a situation where either I do my job or I don't. No matter the talent on the other end, it's still important for me to perform."

"Everybody seems good to me at this point in my career," said the 31-year-old Schobel, who has six of Buffalo's 20 sacks this season. "I don't feel like I've played any bad tackles this year."

Over the years, the ninth-year Buffalo Bills DE has seen significant improvements in Ferguson's game.

"He's playing as good as anybody at that position," Schobel said. "He has long arms and he uses them well. He changes up his step. Sometimes he'll jump you. He does a bunch of different stuff. He knows the game. He knows what works for him and he's definitely playing better than he was two, three or four years ago."

Schobel even went as far as proclaiming Brick as one of the top three tackles he's faced this season, along with Cleveland's Joe Thomas and Miami's Jake Long.

Ferguson returned some compliments to his opponent.

"He's a great player," Brick said. "It's going to be important for me to see that I have a good game plan against what he's going to do."

The Bills defense is ranked 23rd, giving up 362.9 yards a game, but in the first matchup they put enough pressure on rookie QB Mark Sanchez to force five interceptions. Buffalo ranks third in the league with 25 takeaways this season.

"They've always been a team that knows how to get to the ball and cause people trouble," Ferguson said. "It's going to be important for us to make sure we truly know what's going on."

One thing that has been an Achilles' heel for the Bills the past few seasons is their vulnerability to injuries. The O-line is feeling it the most this year. The Bills came into the season with four players in new positions on the line and have continued to shuffle players in and out all season. Two weeks ago they lost rookie guard Eric Wood for the season.

That's something that the Jets O-line hasn't had to deal with for a while. The group will be starting its 28th game together — the longest a Green & White line has been together for the past two decades.

Despite Ferguson's hamstring pull from the Carolina game, head coach Rex Ryan said Monday he expects the 6'6", 310-pounder to play against the Bills, and so does Brick.

"We've been fortunate and blessed that we haven't gone through the injuries some of the other teams have had," said Brick. "You also have to give credit to our staff. Whether it is in the weightroom or the training room department, they've really been on their grind and making sure that everybody, even if they are nicked up, gets a speedy recovery.

"Whenever you can play with a teammate for a second year, same guys, there's that nonverbal [communication] that you gain," he said. "You don't have to say everything. Some things are just known. I know how he's going to respond. I know if I do a certain action, this is what he's going to do. That only comes with time. Those same guys being there, you don't have to worry about always verbalizing what you're going to do.

"Defensive guys pick up on that. You can only say so much before they're like, 'Oh, this is what they do.' It's really that nonverbal that gets developed through time."

Heading up to Toronto for the first time, Ferguson is unsure of what the atmosphere will be in the Bills' home away from home at the Rogers Centre.

"I'm happy that both teams are traveling," he said. "At least it's not like one team has the advantage of staying home. It should be interesting."

Schobel doesn't particularly like that they have to play across the border because the Bills might not have the advantage he feels they have at Ralph Wilson Stadium. In last season's AFC East matchup at the Centre, there seemed to be as many 'Fins fans as Bills faithful in the stands. But it could be worse than the nearly 100 mile trek up the Queens Elizabeth Way that seperates Buffalo from Toronto.

"We lose a home game but at least we're not flying to Europe or something," Schobel said. "That would be awful. So it's not that bad. In this weather, sometimes you're lucky to be able to play inside this time of the season."

In December, jumping back into the playoff race is music to Brick's ears.

"The character of the team is really tested when they're faced with adversity," he said. "I think we're responding well and we're going to continue to get back to where we want to be so that we have a postseason and we can allow that fate to take care of itself."

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