Commentary

Step right up and greet the 2010 Jets

Gang Green fans get first game-action look at new players, stadium on Monday night

Updated: August 16, 2010, 5:30 PM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

To paraphrase Rex Ryan, say hello to the bleeping New York Jets, your 2010 version.

After a headline-making offseason and look-at-us start to training camp, the big-talking, camera-hogging Jets will take their act to the field Monday night to start the preseason against the New York Giants -- the grand football opening to the $1.7 billion new Meadowlands stadium.

A prime-time ESPN audience will get its first peek at Ryan & Co., which will unveil four key additions -- running back LaDainian Tomlinson, wide receiver Santonio Holmes, cornerback Antonio Cromartie and pass-rusher Jason Taylor. Cromartie will start -- possibly Tomlinson, too -- with all four expected to see action in the first quarter.

The biggest story involves a player who won't be in uniform, star cornerback Darrelle Revis, whose contract holdout has reached 16 days. He will be replaced in the lineup by No. 1 pick Kyle Wilson, a Piscataway, N.J., product who will play on the East Coast for the first time since 2004.

"I'm expecting them to come straight at me," said Wilson, who never played near home while starring for Boise State. "I'm going to go out there like it's the Super Bowl."

If Wilson is overwhelmed in his first professional game, it might prompt general manager Mike Tannenbaum to show a greater sense of urgency in the Revis negotiations. It's a no-win situation for the Jets because even if Wilson plays well it's not going to make anybody forget about Revis, arguably the best corner in the league.

Cromartie and Holmes are having excellent camps, and they should add playmaking ability on their respective sides of the ball. Taylor, 36, isn't reminding anybody of the '07 Taylor, but his slow start could be attributed to offseason shoulder surgery.

The greatest curiosity surrounds Tomlinson, 31, an all-time great trying to recapture his form (or something close to it) after a disappointing finish to his amazing career in San Diego. He doesn't have the same open-field speed he once did, but his short-area quickness in practice seems good enough for a workmanlike role. His biggest contribution could be as a pass-catcher out of the backfield, as he has made several big plays as a receiver.

"He's got a sizable chip on his shoulder," Ryan said, "and he's looking to have a monster year."

Don't expect to see a lot of Tomlinson and Taylor against the Giants. Ryan is mindful of the wear and tear on older veterans, and he will pace them through the preseason, preparing them for the Sept. 13 season opener against the Baltimore Ravens.

As long as Ryan is around, the Jets will be a defense-oriented team, but the early spotlight will be on the revamped offense. The unit is trying to replace leading rusher Thomas Jones and left guard Alan Faneca, and there are legitimate chemistry questions with so many new skill-position players -- Tomlinson, Holmes and wide receiver Braylon Edwards (his first camp with the Jets).

This, too, is an important game for quarterback Mark Sanchez, who underwent offseason knee surgery. He claims to be 100 percent, but he has yet to take a hit on the knee. Until he does, he can't clear that psychological hurdle.

Sanchez said his No. 1 objective is building on the chemistry the Jets have established in camp.

"We want to score more points than we did last year," he said of the offense, which ranked 17th in scoring (348 points). "Touchdowns over field goals, and that's going to come with me making better decisions in the red zone and on third down. I think this can only help. This can only show we're going to be a lot better on offense during the season. It's going to be nice."

Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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