Josh Cribbs was behind the wheel of his car driving when he received a text message from his agent telling him to call as soon as possible. He pulled over immediately and started praying as he followed his orders and dialed his agent's number. Moments later, Cribbs heard a chant that told him all he needed to know.
"J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets!"
The three-time Pro Bowl return specialist/receiver finally had his new home.
"This is like a rebirth for me," Cribbs said today, adding, "I'm healthy now, 110 percent, kind of 111 percent, and I'm ready to be used any way they need me."
"We think that he looks pretty good right now," head coach Rex Ryan said after today's practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. "Now, what that means, what kind of role he'll have on offense, I'm not sure yet. Certainly he'll have a role as a returner for us."
RB-KR Mike Goodson and WR Clyde Gates were placed on IR and Cribbs was signed, all on Tuesday, and Cribbs already is listed as our No.1 kickoff returner and third punt returner.
Among AFC teams, our 8.2 yards per punt return is right in the middle of the pack, ranked eighth, but our 20.3-yard kick return average comes in lower than every team but the Buffalo Bills.
No active player has more kickoff returns (387) or kickoff return yards (10,015) than Josh Cribbs. His eight kickoff return TDs are tied for first among active players with none other than ex-Jet Leon Washington (who didn't practice for the Patriots today with an ankle injury). And Cribbs is tied for eighth among active players with three punt return TDs. Just 10 months ago, he caught a touchdown pass in the Pro Bowl.
"I think with that name on the back, if he stands back there, you're going to be a little nervous because we've all been scorched by him in the past," Rex said. "There's a knack for hitting those returns. It's not just about speed and all that. It's a guy that's seen it and certainly he's been there and done it before."
Yet despite a résumé unparalleled by many, he'll be playing with a chip on his shoulder. He's using this opportunity as a fresh start to once again prove that he can spark a football team with his dynamic plays, just as he did as an undrafted free agent with Cleveland back in 2005.
For all those people who say that at 30 years of age, he's too old, washed up, lost a step, or can no longer play at an elite level, keep talking. Please.
"I'm trying to hear that," Cribbs said. "I want to hear the naysayers because I use it for motivation. I've been working hard."
At 6'1" and 192 pounds, the ninth-year veteran prides himself on having a combination of speed and power.
"I'm going to get the job done," he said. "I picked up some weight through the years, muscle mass, so if somebody's fast enough to catch up to me, they ain't going to be strong enough to bring me down. That's kind of my motto.
"I'm going to run through a kicker, I'm going to run through arm tackles," he added. "You've got to put a body on me to bring me down. I'm not going to be a fast small guy. It's a combination of speed and power. If you're fast enough to bring me down, that's half the battle."