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Keller Has a Ball Teaming Up with Favre


2008 Preseason Week 2 - Jets vs Redskins Photos

It was what the fans who flocked to the Meadowlands on Saturday wanted see -- and football's author couldn't have scripted it better. Brett Favre, possibly the most trumpeted acquisition in Jets history, fired his first in-game touchdown to Dustin Keller, the dynamic rookie who has turned heads in training camp.

Favre, on second-and-goal from the 4-yard line, hit Keller in the end zone for the game's first score with 5:25 left in the first quarter. The tight end ran a short out route and ditched Rocky McIntosh — the linebacker fell down as Keller made his move — then quickly spun around to snare the pass.

"It was a simple play," said Favre, who finished 5-for-6 with that score in his Jets debut. "We had Keller and [Bubba] Franks on two quick outs. Keller had better leverage at the 5."

The play might've been relatively simple in design, and it was just a preseason game, but it holds a lot of significance for the rookie. He can now boast that his first NFL touchdown catch came on Favre's first TD pass in green and white.

The score came on Favre's 14th and final snap of the night, and, like an opera singer, he left on a high note with the crowd roaring. Keller shared in that.

"I couldn't have picked a better person to catch it from," said Keller, whom the Jets traded up to take in the first round of April's draft. "He's really the most legendary player in the NFL right now. I can't really explain the feeling."

No need. Favre's gesture and Keller's reaction said it all.

The quarterback said that Keller brought the ball to the bench and offered it to him, but he declined. Favre, instead, autographed it and gave it to the rookie to keep.

Keller, after the game, was still beaming and seemed in awe of the situation; similar to the way a kid does when he gets a piece of memorabilia signed by one of his favorite athletes. But really, that's what it was.

The tight end kept the ball within arms distance at all times as he dressed — even putting it next to his sneaker as he tied his laces — and said that it was ticketed for his trophy case.

"I'm going to keep it in mint condition," he said with a smile.

The ball will be, but his handwear certainly isn't. Keller said that Favre, with his bullet throws, has been destroying the receiver's gloves.

"We're going to have to get him to chip in with some of whatever he's getting from the Jets to get us some new gloves," Keller joked. "He's tearing them apart constantly."

What Can Brown Do for Jets?

It's not often that a defensive lineman, especially in a 3-4 defense, ties for the game high in tackles. But it was one of those nights for Kareem Brown, the second-year defensive end who unofficially finished with six tackles (four solo).

There are tackles, and there are impact tackles. Brown, who played with the second-team defense, got into the Redskins backfield several times and not one of his stops was made beyond four yards of the line of scrimmage.

"Kareem has done a good job throughout camp," head coach Eric Mangini said of the 6'4", 295-pound lineman the Jets claimed off waivers from New England last November. "For a big man he runs pretty well."

So quick was Brown off the ball that one had to wonder if it was just reaction or if he was able to diagnose some of the plays before the snap.

"We did a good job in practice," said Brown, crediting the Jets coaching staff. "They gave us the looks we practiced pretty much all week. Because of that, I think I was a step up on what they were doing in the game."

OK, so he's fast and receptive. The coach likes it.

"There's a lot of competition on the defensive line," Mangini said, "but every time he has a performance like that, it definitely opens some more opportunities."

Lowery: "We're Playing Football Now"

Redskins quarterback Todd Collins saw a seemingly favorable matchup on first-and-10 from the Washington 30 in the second quarter. He spotted rookie speedster Devin Thomas singled up against Dwight Lowery, who entered the league with questions about his acceleration.

Another week, another answer.

Thomas, who was clocked as low as 4.32 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, took off on a go-route up the right sideline and Collins threw deep to him. But Lowery, who timed at 4.59, was stride-and-a-half-for-stride with him.

The rookie showed that his 0-to-60 is good enough.

The pass being underthrown was likely what kept it from being intercepted. Lowery redirected Thomas toward the sideline, was able to get inside, and wound up in better position than the receiver to make the catch.

"When they came out on that play, he split out very wide so I figured they were going to do something with him," said Lowery, who had a 62-yard punt-return touchdown last week against the Browns.

Lowery believes the Redskins had perused the scouting reports and, on that play, tried to pick on him, reasoning that Thomas could beat him downfield.

"I'm sure they read about the 40 times and things like that coming out of the combine," he said. "But we're playing football now. It's all about positioning. I played my technique and got in good position. In fact, I think I should have caught it."

Lowery is well aware of the perception and his wanting to dispel those beliefs is part of what drives him.

"Naturally, as an athlete and a competitor, you want to prove people wrong," he said. "When people knock you, you can go two ways with it. You can listen to what they say or you can go out and make them change their minds."

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