The Jets dealt disgruntled veteran guard Pete Kendall to Washington in August. On Sunday, Kendall will return to the Meadowlands as a visitor and make his eighth consecutive start for the Redskins.
"I don't know how I'm going to feel on Sunday. I feel a little bit excited at this point, but there is also this other emotion that I don't know how to express," Kendall said today in a late afternoon conference call with a handful of New York Jets reporters. "I don't know if it is disappointment or whatever you might call it. It is definitely mixed emotions about the situation and going back and playing against my friends."
After three years with the Green & White and two trips to the postseason, the 34-year-old Kendall was not happy with his contract and expressed his frustration throughout the summer. The Jets weren't actively pursuing a trade in June but found value in return when the 'Skins offered an undisclosed draft selection.
"We made the decision we felt was best for the organization at that time and we're very comfortable with the value we got," said head coach Eric Mangini. "It worked out well for all the parties involved. I wish Pete well. He looks like he's doing a good job for them — I know he's doing a good job. I'm happy for him."
Kendall admitted that facing his former teammates will be difficult. He's also played return games against the Arizona Cardinals and the Seattle Seahawks, his first two pro teams. But this one will be different.
"Essentially, the guys I will be playing against this weekend are the guys I practiced against and spent time with off the field and in the locker room since 2004," he said.
After Kendall started 45 regular-season games in three seasons for the Jets, they filled the vacancy at left guard with Adrien Clarke. Rookie Jacob Bender received a couple of starts at LG during the preseason but was activated for just the first time last week and played only on special teams.
Mangini was asked if he believed the line would have been better off had the 6'5", 292-pound Kendall stayed up north.
"You're really looking at the guys that you have," the coach said. "You don't know how things are going to play out. You don't know how injuries are going to play out. It's really evaluating where you are and what you're doing at this time."
In just a few days, Kendall will again line up next to LT Chris Samuels. Washington has the NFL's 28th-ranked offense while defensively New York's AFC representative is ranked 29th. The Jets are coming off their finest defensive effort of the year, containing the Bills offense until a late 85-yard touchdown strike from J.P. Losman to Lee Evans led to their fifth consecutive defeat.
"I thought the Jets were going to have a very good team again this year. I thought they were going to have a very good record," said Kendall, who finds himself a game over .500 at 4-3. "I have seen probably three or four games, and I haven't seen a game yet where the team looked overmatched or outplayed."
Since the trade, Kendall, a Weymouth, Mass., native and Boston College alum, hasn't thought much about the Jets.
"I got word from Mike [Tannenbaum] that there was a window of opportunity to execute a trade on a Wednesday and by Thursday morning I was on my way down here to the D.C. area," he said. "I had to go through the whole physical process, signing of the contract, meeting the media, and about 24 hours later my wife was down. We had a game to play and houses to look at, and I had to go in and start practicing and learning the system.
"We had another preseason game. Then the long weekend between the last preseason game and the start of the season, my wife and kids moved in. I'm sure you guys can imagine how busy it has been."