Drew Coleman didn’t have any of his Texas friends book tickets to come to New York during training camp. He didn’t want anyone to risk big dollars when he felt he could be traded or, even worse, not make the 53-man roster.
“I’m just trying to make sure I’m on the team first. I’m on the team? Ya’ll come on up,” Coleman said.
Coleman, who has been with the Jets since 2006, was never in any real danger of being cut, at least as fast as defensive coordinator Mike Pettine was concerned.
“In our minds, as a defensive staff, he was never on the bubble,” Pettine said. “He was a guy that if there was ever an inkling on him not being here, there would have been a mad rush upstairs. From day one, we’ve always recognized the fact that Drew was a legitimate corner in this league and as Rex (Ryan) has said, you can never have enough guys at that position.”
A few weeks ago he gave them his hometown friends the OK to come to tonight’s game, which is good timing on a few fronts. Coleman will be the third cornerback in the Jets rotation tonight, which means he’ll be starting in the nickel for the second straight week.
“Starting kind of overwhelmed me a little bit, OK, I’ve got to be ready from the jump,” he laughed.
Coleman overtakes rookie Kyle Wilson, who has been lauded for his athleticism but may need more seasoning when it comes to starting in the NFL. Antonio Cromartie, the team’s No. 2 cornerback said that Coleman has earned it.
“He just enjoying it, he’s taking advantage of his opportunity,” Cromartie said. “For him to come in and make the plays that he’s making it’s a good feeling because now we know we have a good No. 3 cornerback.”
Darrelle Revis said he will play for the first time since injuring his hamstring against Randy Moss and the Patriots, and Revis will likely be on Moss again after he was traded to the Vikings. Nonetheless, Coleman might find himself matched with Moss, who addressed the possibility with a sense of humor.
“I can run with him I just can’t jump with him, so I’ve got to find a way to keep him on the ground,” Coleman said.
Usually Coleman plays a lot of special teams, and special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff said that Coleman’s expanded role in the defense will affect coverage on kickoffs and punt returns.
“It affects special teams because they play a certain amount of snaps and it makes it a little different,” Westhoff said. “I’m sure you saw last week Kyle was on our kickoff coverage team. He covered every kickoff. It’s all part of the process.”
Coleman may not be as big a name as Brett Favre, Randy Moss, Revis and tonight’s other majoy story lines, but in some ways, this game is as big for him as anyone else.