Calvin Pace says Muhammad Wilkerson is "a quiet guy."
"He goes about his business in a very professional manner," Pace said. "And he listens. He takes coaching very well."
But Wilkerson is learning to crow just a little on the pro stage. And his play is paving his way, which means the Pro Bowl voters — his fellow NFL players, the league's coaches and the fans — are now listening.
"I feel like there's always room for improvement," Wilkerson said. "I feel like Monday was one of my best games that I put on tape, but I still have plenty more to play. It's a long season. People say I'm going to make the Pro Bowl and I appreciate the kind words, but at the end of the day I have to play each game and hopefully we'll see at the end of the season."
No better game than Monday night's 30-28 comeback win over Matt Ryan and the Falcons to win the voters over.
The third-year DE had seven tackles on the night. One was a strip sack of Ryan, his third in two years and fourth as a pro, with Leger Douzable recovering the fumble to set up the second of Nick Folk's three field goals.
Two more were tackles for loss as he remains one of the leaders of the Jets run defense that has now risen to No. 2 in the NFL in yards allowed per game — Rex's highest-ranking run defense since his Ravens D was No. 1 after 10 weeks in 2008 and the Jets' highest since at least 1995 — and to No. 1 in yards allowed per carry.
Did we mention he also drew a holding penalty on Falcons C Peter Konz? Tack 10 more yards onto the Mo-mentum toward Hawaii in February.
Wilkerson declines to take much credit, deflecting it to his teammates, who he said are every bit as confident today as they were before their big W in the ATL.
"We always had confidence in each other and we're going to keep believing in each other and playing good ball like we're capable of doing," he said, "and that's playing Jets football."
Short Season for Antwan Barnes
There was 10:53 left in the game and Antwan Barnes was on the field for his 18th defensive snap of the night. It would be his last for the season.
The play started fairly normal as Barnes shot out of his three-point stance, locked up with Atlanta LT Lamar Holmes, and tried to use his lightning-quick duck-under move to get to Matt Ryan.
But Ryan got rid of the ball quicker, as he often does. And Barnes, still engaged with Holmes and after planting his right leg, went down to the Georgia Dome turf. He was helped off the field and didn't return.
Today we learned the severity of that play. Barnes suffered a knee injury that will require surgery. He has been placed on Injured Reserve.
"That's a tough loss," head coach Rex Ryan said at his news conference following today's practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. "Talk about an underrated player. It wasn't just the production that he had but the production that he caused. He' s a guy that can run a 4.4 and has some physical gifts. I love his mentality, too. We're certainly going to miss him."
That production was limited to two sacks, one against Tampa Bay and one at Tennessee. But as Rex argued, he caused a little bit of production for others on his 146 plays in five games. A healthy percentage of the Jets' 16 sacks — their most after five games since 2008 — were from No. 95's presence at the end of the line.
And from his time in San Diego after the start of the '10 season through Atlanta on Monday night, Barnes had rung up 22.5 sacks in 45 games, exactly one sack every two games. Not bad for a part-timer, even a relentless one like AB.
"Antwan's a special guy, a special player," said Ryan, who coached him with the Ravens in 2007-08. "He's a great teammate here and he'll continue to be that."
LB Ricky Sapp, who was released last week, returns to replace Barnes on the active roster.
Besides Barnes, the Jets had eight players not participating in today's practice, but most were there with existing injuries coming off the Monday night game. New to the DNP list: RB Mike Goodson (illness), S Jaiquawn Jarrett (knee) and DT Kenrick Ellis (not injury-related). Rookie T Oday Aboushi (knee) moved up to limited participation along with RB Chris Ivory (hamstring) and CB Darrin Walls (shoulder).
The Steelers, after their London game and their bye week, are listing only four players on their report: Out (Definitely Will Not Play) — WR Markus Wheaton (finger). Limited — S Da'Mon Cromartie-Smith (hip). Full — G Ramon Foster (pectoral), QB Ben Roethlisberger (right finger).
The Jets also made a practice squad transaction today, signing 6'7", 364-pound DT Terence "T.J." Barnes (a Georgia Tech teammate of WR Stephen Hill) and releasing DT Junior Aumavae.