Two of the Jets' most important players on defense -- LB C.J. Mosley and DE Carl Lawson -- have been spectators as the Jets engineered two comeback victories so far in the preseason.
On Sunday afternoon, they will finally get to unleash all that pent up energy and aggression when the Green & White close out the preseason with their annual game against the crosstown rival Giants at MetLife Stadium.
"I wanted to play [against the Eagles], but the head guy [HC Robert Saleh] made a decision and you gotta respect it," Lawson told reporters on Wednesday. "That's pretty much it."
Lawson has been spoiling for action, especially after missing last summer after tearing an Achilles tendon in a joint practice against the Packers in Green Bay. Signed in free agency from Cincinnati, he expended some of his pent-up aggression in last week's joint practices with the Falcons and will have another opportunity on Thursday in a joint session against the Giants at their practice center in East Rutherford.
"I got my pregame jitters out at the Green & White scrimmage, in Philadelphia I was calm, cool, collected, ready to play," Lawson said. "There were no butterflies, the Green & White scrimmage was definitely a different scene. I've gotten over that."
The two local NFL franchises have not conducted a joint practice for many years -- 2005 to be exact -- and Lawson said it will feel like old hat after last week's two often contentious sessions against the Falcons.
"I enjoy football," Lawson, who is entering his sixth NFL season, said. "I like going against different people and competing. It's no different than what happened last week."
Like his fire-breathing teammate, Mosley, too, was all set to take the field in Philadelphia before Saleh told the two veterans to leave their helmets in the locker room.
"Any time you're on the field you can benefit from it," Mosley said. "I've been ready since the first preseason game, but I'm also going to listen to our coaches. They have a gameplan and want to get certain looks. It's about just being ready when your number is called. And I will be ready."
Asked if there was value in joint practices, Mosley said: "I look forward to it. It's mainly a chance to get live looks from a different team when it doesn't count in the won-loss column. You try to take advantage, in pads or not." He added: "For the most part, I really look at it as a game to study the opposition, do some game planning, get your mind set and ready for the season."
Mosley, entering his eighth season in the NFL, is also a big fan of Lawson's
"He's a high-motor guy, he goes one way, and that's fast," Mosley said. "He won't stop until he gets to the ball. The way he practices -- working, his moves -- you can just tell he's ready to get back out there, itching. He's been waiting two years, we're excited for him."
See the Green & White practicing on Wednesday to kick off the fifth week of preseason practices.
Lawson acknowledged that the Jets have a wealth of talent on the fortified defensive line. The Jets drafted two DEs in Jermaine Johnson and Micheal Clemons and brought in Bradlee Anae (who had a strip sack for a TD against Atlanta last Monday). They obtained in free agency Solomon Thomas and Jacob Martin, re-signed Vinny Curry, and also have John Franklin-Myers, Quinnen Willliams, Bryce Huff, Nathan Shepherd and Sheldon Rankins on the books, for now. To help Mosley and Quincy Williams in their linebacking chores, the team recently signed veteran Kwon Alexander and have watched as second-year men Jamien Sherwood and Hamsah Nasirildeen have played well so far in the preseason.
Saleh was asked how, and if he would accommodate all the bodies, particularly on the defensive line, and said: "I want 53 NFL players, I don't want to cut an NFL player because the number says keep eight here. Don't look at numbers of your group, it could be a tight end in competition with a D-lineman. You're not competing with guys in your room, it's outside the room where specials come into play and all things we ask these guys to do."
That said, by next Tuesday, each of the 32 NFL teams will need to reduce their rosters to 53 players (plus a 16-man practice squad).
"It's just nature of the beast, it comes with sport around this time," Mosley said. "We all know and understand that year in, year out the team rooms never look the same as the year before. You don't take any days for granted, for hanging out with your teammates because they could be gone the next day. Anyone on the field with us, I feel they put in all they could to make the team. That's what you're looking for, be the best you can be to make this team better, and let your play and your emotion do the talking."