On Thursday evening, Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum settled into the WCBS-TV broadcast booth and gave fans a hint of what was coming for today's roster cutdown.
"We could wind up maybe with some non-traditional numbers," Mike T said during his club's preseason finale victory over the Eagles.
And although the Jets' roster is not etched in stone, they'll enter the regular season with some innovative roster distribution.
After a summer highlighted by the arrival of the most famous No. 4 in NFL history, the Green & White will keep four quarterbacks. In addition to Brett Favre and Kellen Clemens, Brett Ratliff, the first-year QB from Utah, and rookie Erik Ainge, the fifth-round pick out of Tennessee, earned roster spots.
Ratliff was especially impressive during four exhibition games, throwing for 499 yards and four touchdowns while completing 68.1 percent of his passes.
"When you have players that you like at that spot, that's a good situation," said Jets head coach Eric Mangini on a conference call with beat reporters early this evening. "Sometimes it's hard to find three that you like. So it's unique and it's different, but all four of them are guys that we like."
The signalcallers will have plenty of targets available in practice with seven wideouts. Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery are set at their starting spots and they'll be joined by Brad Smith, Chansi Stuckey, Marcus Henry, Wallace Wright and David Clowney.
There's good versatility among the WR reserves. Stuckey is a quick player who will be dangerous in the slot (and also played CB in Philadelphia). Henry (6"4', 207) has a good size/speed combo. Wright is one of the team's top special teams performers.
And Clowney is the Jets' fastest overall player. He suffered a shoulder injury against the Redskins but displayed quick-strike ability before that, averaging 27.8 yards on his eight receptions.
Defensively, there are three safeties in secondary coach Jerome Henderson's backfield. Abram Elam will provide depth behind Kerry Rhodes and Eric Smith, and don't forget about David Barrett, either. The corner, in his ninth year out of Arkansas, got time at safety in both of the Jets' final two preseason games.
Once viewed as a longshot, CB Ahmad Carroll progressed throughout camp and put himself in a position to make the club. Carroll was not only credited with 11 tackles on defense but also averaged 27.6 yards on kickoff returns and lined up at gunner on the punt coverage team. Carroll's recovery of a muffed punt against the Eagles led to the Jets' winning score.
Among the more notable cuts were CB Hank Poteat, LB Matt Chatham, a pair of young offensive linemen — Jacob Bender and Nate Garner — and TE Jason Pociask.
"Matt and Hank are both guys I've had a long relationship with both here and in New England," Mangini said. "I've know them a long time. It's very difficult — it was hard."
The 31-year-old Poteat started a career-high nine games last season and registered his first two interceptions, while Chatham played in 25 games and had 28 teams tackles after leaving the Patriots and playing for the Jets in 2006-07.
Veteran T Wayne Hunter gives the Jets a veteran presence, making both Garner and Garner expendable. Pociask could have served as a backup fullback to Tony Richardson, but T-Rich enters '08 as the club's only FB.
"It was a difficult process," Mangini said. "I felt we had really good candidates for all the different spots."
The Jets have a terrific tandem at running back with Thomas Jones and Leon Washington. But Jesse Chatman, who had 180 total yards of offense against the Eagles, will have to wait until the fifth game, at home against Arizona, to make it a talented trifecta.
Chatman was suspended without pay for the team's first four regular-season games for violating the NFL's Policy on Steroids and Related Substances.
"I think Jesse has had a very good training camp and it was really punctuated by his game against the Eagles," Mangini said. "He's disappointed and so am I, but I look forward to him being able to come back and contribute."
Rookie Kenwin Cummings, a Wingate product, made a fantastic transition from a small-school 4-3 end to a pro linebacker. He'll join another impressive young 'backer in Marques Murrell.
"He has a great motor and he has great inherent toughness," Mangini said of Adrian's little brother. "It's not a finished product. It's not polished at this point but it gets better."
The Jets will only look to get better as they scan the waiver wire. Mangini reiterated that "a lot of things can happen" and they're always searching for ways to improve the personnel. So be advised to mark your 53 in pencil as Mangini and Tannenbaum also work on adding as many as eight to the practice squad after noon today.