Mangini: Barlow has gotten a lot of opportunity this week

The Jets practiced Saturday for the final time prior to their departure for Miami.  Cedric Houston, a feature back in recent weeks, is nursing a calf injury and is listed as questionable on the injury report.  Houston's absence at practice has meant more work for both Kevan Barlow and Derrick Blaylock. 

"He (Kevan Barlow) has gotten a lot of opportunity this week with some extra reps," Mangini said this morning.  "So has Derrick.  We'll look at the whole group and make a decision collectively. All that stuff ties into it, and it's more than just the running back position. If you have an extra guy up, who do you put down?   Do you keep the same number? There are three or four things that shift with any decision to add or subtract."

New York Jets' Head Coach Eric Mangini, 12.23

Opening Statement…

I know this will be the last time we talk prior to Monday night. I want to wish everybody a happy holiday. Thanks for coming in this morning. I realize this is earlier than we normally do our time together.

Today what we're doing is reviewing the whole game plan. It will be some things that we just want to clean up and maybe a couple different looks. We will have a condensed practice and meetings today. We will get some nice concentrated work, good review work before we head down to Miami.

On today's schedule…

It would be more than a normal Saturday. It would be more than the Saturday, but not quite a Friday.

On Cedric Houston…

He did a little work yesterday. He'll do more today. Just like everything else, you go through the meetings, then you reinforce it with the reps on the field. This will give him another opportunity to get some more reps and see where he is. With any injury like this, really any injury in general, we take the whole time. We do have the extra time even later on Monday. We'll see how it goes.

On when the decision will be made on Houston…

Sometimes it cleans itself up. It could clean itself up today. Sometimes you have to wait. There never is a certain time. We try to go through the whole time there before we make any final decisions.

On Kevan Barlow…

He's gotten a lot of good work this week. He's gotten a lot of opportunity this week with some extra reps. So has Derrick (Blaylock). We'll look at the whole group and make a decision collectively. All that stuff ties into it, and it's more than just the running back position. If you have an extra guy up, who do you put down, do you keep the same number? There are three or four things that shift with any decision to add or subtract. Mike Westhoff will probably have to be the most flexible because the special teams change quite a bit, or multiple teams could have a new player on it.

On Jonathan Vilma rarely coming off the field this season…

You're always looking for that ability to play every single play, to be a three-down player. Some guys are three-down players. Jon also plays somewhat of a role on special teams. That makes him a four-down player. That's tough to do. Jon has done a good job with that. He's the same at practice. You have to yank him off the field to get somebody else some work. That's just how he's built. He likes being out there. He enjoys it. He just loves being there.

On who direct plays in the event Vilma leaves the game…

Everybody, the linebackers. Usually it's been the inside linebackers and the safeties. They coordinate the two areas there. All those guys have worked through, whether it's Eric Barton, Brad Kassell, Kerry (Rhodes), Erik (Coleman) or Eric (Smith). They've all worked on the communication element. That's why it's so important to have everybody talking, everybody giving calls and getting calls. Even when we don't have a noise game where the defense is going to be affected, we still practice with noise to force the hand signals, to force the presnap communication.

On Barlow in practice this week…

He's been exactly the same way straight through. Everybody understands that we can only bring so many guys. If you aren't part of that mix, you have an opportunity the next week to be part of that mix. You have to carve out the role on offense or defense. Then you have to carve out the role on special teams. He's been in the idea of working on special teams. He works on show team. With all those guys, there's not a sense of, 'okay, I wasn't active last week, my mood changes.' It's a new week, it's a new opportunity. How can I get better? How can I contribute? Especially at the running back spot, all those guys take reps on show teams. They all work in on special teams. It's been good.

On players taking reps on show teams…

That approach is the right approach for anybody. You see it across the board where Laveranues (Coles) works out on show team punt return. He'll be out in the vice, jamming people up. Kellen (Clemens) will jump in times on show team kickoff. If you need someone to help out, you jump in, help out. There's no phase that's more important than another phase. Everybody's involved in special teams. Maybe you're not a featured guy, but how can you help those guys get the best possible look?

On Curtis Martin…

He won't be traveling. Just wanted him to come out and be as involved as he would like to be. He's been such a big part of our season even though it hasn't been on the field. He's played such a big role. It's always good to have someone like Curtis there to bounce ideas off of for the players that maybe don't have the experience, like Leon (Washington), to talk to. He's been around throughout the year. He's just been a really great addition in the role that he plays right now.

On if Martin's involvement has increased…

No, I don't think it's changed. I didn't really look at it in terms of visibility or non-visibility. He's been a mentor for not just the backs, but a lot of guys will talk to him. He's very insightful.

On the running back situation for the weekend…

That's a function of seeing how many reps he (Cedric Houston) takes, how he responds, where you are a day from now, all that stuff. That's happened before, where a guy may go through the whole week, not get as many reps as he usually gets, but then play a significant role in the game, not really miss too much of a beat there. You're trying to balance it off and gather information. That's what we'll do to another degree here this morning.

On Stacy Tutt…

With Stacy, he's like the rest of that group, whether it's Jamie (Thompson) or Wallace (Wright). Any of those guys that have been on the practice squad, they're consistent. They're giving the best possible look they can. When they do get shots to work with the offense or defense, they've taken advantage of them.

As we see some of the things those guys can do, you may have a roster opportunity, you bring them up. Wallace, he got beat out for special teams player of the week last week but he had four tackles. That's exactly what we're looking for.

On Tutt's contributions...

He actually was very instrumental on Cedric's touchdown run. He came in, sealed the linebacker off to our left, helped create the hole for Cedric. Ran some routes, did a lot of different things. Just a different style of back. With all those guys, they all present various match-up problems.

On Tutt's style…

Evolving. He's got good hands. He's obviously growing into the position in terms of blocking and blitz pickup. The world looks a little bit different back there. Picking up the quarterback instead of having a bunch of our guys pick up guys for you. That's part of the process. We ask these guys to do a lot of different things. It could be split out, it could be motion back in, it could be run the ball, it could be receiving out of the backfield. It's not really pigeonholed, this is the one thing you do.

On Tutt compared to Brad Smith…

I think there's a lot of similarities between the guys. They're both very selfless guys. They're both extremely smart. They both have a good perspective on the whole offense because of their experience playing quarterback. Stacy is a little bit bigger than Brad is in terms of weight. I don't think he'll be shifted to receiver.

On if Tutt's hand injury during training camp slowed him down…

No, I don't think so. I think I saw a lot of promising things with him. The fact he made the practice squad was great. It's just what you did at that point. Jamie (Thompson) is another guy that was on the practice squad for quite a few weeks before he got the nod. Wallace (Wright) too.

On bringing others up from the practice squad…

Probably not today. With that, it's also you have to look at what position you really need. If you can get someone off your own practice squad, you would always love to do that, they have the familiarity with the system, the players, the coaches. Sometimes you just don't have the right fit for the opening that you have.

On protecting practice squad players for next season…

They're able to sign at any point with anybody right now. If you bring them up the active roster and you cut them, they go through waivers. They can be claimed. Right now they're allowed to sign with anybody.

On limitations of being on the practice squad…

There are requirements or limitations of how long you can be on the practice squad. Sometimes that comes into play where you have two guys, and one is practice squad eligible, one isn't. You may have to keep the guy that isn't because you can't keep him on the team otherwise. It's more than just games. It's accrued seasons. That's why we have Mike (Tannenbaum).

On Tannenbaum planning the holiday part in Miami…

I don't know if he's planned a party since college when he was president of his fraternity. I'm optimistic, cautiously optimistic. We'll have a menorah, a tree. I think it's going to span the globe.

On celebrating the holiday…

Tonight is Christmas Eve at my house. Jake doesn't know any different. I told him Santa Claus is coming tonight. We'll put the cookies and milk out, carrots for the reindeer. We'll wake up in the morning, it will be Christmas. Luke, he's just happy to be there. We'll just go through it like we would a normal Christmas morning, do all those things. He's smart, but I think we can pull it off.

On playing on Christmas…

It was scheduled. There's nothing we can do about it. Some guys had to work on Thanksgiving. It's nice, too; we're playing on a day where there will be a nice viewing audience. It will be exciting. You'd love to be with your family, but it's a great opportunity as well.

Injury Report Jets Questionable: FB B.J. Askew (foot), CB David Barrett (hip), WR Laveranues Coles (back), RB Cedric Houston (calf) & DB Eric Smith (foot)
Probable: *RB Kevan Barlow (calf), *LB Matt Chatham (foot), *C Nick Mangold (hip), *WR Justin McCareins (foot), *OL Brandon Moore (back), *DL Rashad Moore (hand), *QB Chad Pennington (calf), *LB Anthony Schlegel (illness), *DE Bryan Thomas (shoulder), *S Jamie Thompson (ankle) & *WR Wallace Wright (thigh)

Dolphins
Doubtful: WR Marty Booker (ankle)
Questionable: CB Will Allen (groin/quad) & *RB Ronnie Brown (hand)
Probable: *QB Joey Harrington (ankle) & *DT Keith Traylor (knee)
Denotes players who participated in practice

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