“I’m just doing my job,” says Darrelle Revis, sitting beside his locker after Friday afternoon’s practice. He is responding to a question regarding the most difficult aspect of covering Randy Moss, who has terrorized cornerbacks since entering the National Football League as a rookie in 1998. How dangerous is Moss? He is a major reason why the ’98 Vikings and ’07 Patriots had two of the greatest offenses of all time. Moss was the enzyme in both cases, his arrival coinciding with historic productivity. He has size, speed, and deceptive strength. And yet, Revis seemed to view the task with the calmness of a detached observer, just another day at the office.
The elite corner established himself in the eyes of many Jets followers with a strong performance against Moss while still a rookie in 2007, holding his own in the winter chill of Foxboro. The stakes have been gradually rising since that contest, the Jets and Patriots dueling for a divisional crown neither claimed in ’08, and prepared to dance again as consensus favorites this time around. Just don’t expect Revis to flip his top. He may have grown up watching the flamboyant antics of Deion Sanders, but for a star player, he possesses a refreshingly quiet assurance.
When tasked to scan his memory bank in order to reflect on that aforementioned solid rookie outing, Revis quickly responded and all but disassociated himself from the past. “I wouldn’t say that particular game [helped him arrive],” he said calmly. “Being a rookie was more about learning Mangini’s system and feeling comfortable with that. ” Perhaps the humble defensive-back is unwilling to reflect on his immense importance to the Jets. But his teammates in the secondary are more open.
“You can leave him by himself,” says safety Kerry Rhodes. “And you can be more of a freelance.” Jim Leonhard also gets it. “He [Revis] allows you to do so many things,” said the first-year Jet. “Just to know you can count on him. It’s kind of funny watching him on film… not only how well he does things, but how easy he makes it look.”
The laconic ease of Revis follows him both on and off the field. In interviews, he offers nothing that can be construed as remotely controversial, yet doesn’t sound remotely evasive while answering questions. For instance, does Randy Moss talk trash? “Randy is actually a real nice guy, responded Revis, and, touching all his bases, “It’s the same thing with Andre Johnson last week.”
Revis is undoubtedly one of the best Jets draft decision this decade. The team traded up to acquire his services, and the move has paid massive dividends. A freak athlete with top flight field awareness, Revis is the total package at cornerback. He was even a superb return man back in college, and ironically enough, discussing this almost made him crack. Revis smiled painfully when the subject was bought up. “You kind of miss it sometimes…. it [reminded] me of being in a peewee football game…” Revis trailed off for a moment, before regaining his focus. The Jets obviously want to protect their most valuable asset in coverage. And the man seemed to understand this fact, shaking his head and repeating, “I’m just doing my job.”
If the Jets manage to finally snap the Patriots’ recent run of dominance at the Meadowlands, their soft spoken corner may be the reason. Revis will definitely be entrusted with the unenviable task of guarding Moss, often in one-one situations, which will allow the Jets to take their shots at Tom Brady. “Yeah,” says Revis matter of fact, “playing man to man is my job.”
The home opener will mark Shaun Ellis’ return from suspension. The defensive end will suit up and provide pressure from the edge for the first time this season. When asked how he could have possibly contributed to the decisive victory against Houston, Ellis said, “It’s kind of hard to say what I could have added, but I think my presence would have been felt. I just wanted to play my game. Those guys are terrific guys. I wanted to be there with them.”
Ellis will have his chance against New England. A long-standing competitor against Tom Brady, Ellis has a healthy respect for the quarterback. ‘He’s really smart, like Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, [and] those types of guys. They’re really not going to mess up that often. You’ve really got to force them into bad decisions.”
Rex Ryan isn’t sensing any hypocrisy in the league allowing the Minnesota acquitted to play while Calvin Pace serves his suspension. “That’s the league,” said the head coach. “The league makes those kind of determinations. Clearly I wish Calvin Pace were playing right now. He’s not and he’s accepted responsibility. Come week five against Miami, we’ll certainly be happy that he’s back.” Shaun Ellis offered that Pace should play mind games while on the shelf. “It’s a tough situation. [He should] look at it like you’re rehabbing.”
The Jets have enjoyed relatively good health so far in ’09, and Rex Ryan is expecting “everyone” to be ready for the Patriots game. Vital defensive component Kris Jenkins, however, has been listed as probable. Ryan was asked whether he’ll be watching Jenkins closely. “I guess a little bit,” he said. “I like to keep fresh pass rushers in there anyway… he’s [Jenkins] such an unusual guy. He’s a guy that if he is not in there, the other team will no-huddle you then.”
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