The Jets (0-1) play the Bengals Sunday night at the NMS. Here's what to watch:
1. Plax-A-Go. Plaxico Burress makes his Jets debut, his first NFL game since November, 2008. Burress will start opposite Santonio Holmes, and the plan is to play him for most of the first half. (The starters are expected to play into the second quarter.) We know Burress can outjump/outreach defenders for passes, but it'll be interesting to see if the long layoff has affected his speed and ability to separate against man-to-man coverage.
2. Pass protection. There seems to be some panic among fans and media types because the Jets allowed seven sacks last week to the Texans. Word of advice: Relax! The Jets didn't have two-fifths of their starting line, and none of the sacks were allowed by starters. All-Pro C Nick Mangold returns to the lineup, so there will be more cohesion and no botched protections calls. RG Brandon Moore (hip) remains out, and that's a concern because replacement Vladimir Ducasse is a liability, but don't indict the entire line because of mistakes by the backups. This still is a very good O-line, albeit short on depth.
3. Young backs. Shonn Greene (foot) is out, and LaDainian Tomlinson isn't going to get a ton of work, which means Joe McKnight and rookie Bilal Powell will share most of the work. This could be a showcase for Powell, who is having a quiet camp. If Powell makes some noise, he could push McKnight for the No. 3 job.
4. Middle men. The defense will be without two of its up-the-middle guys -- NT Sione Pouha (knee) and ILB Bart Scott (high ankle). If this were a regular-season game, the run defense would be vulnerable. Because it's the preseason, the absences will allow the Jets to develop some depth. Martin Tevaseu is expected to start for Pouha, with rookie Kenrick Ellis also seeing significant time. Josh Mauga, coming off a big game, will start for Scott.
5. On the edge. OLB Calvin Pace (groin) could be held out as a precaution, which would create a big chance for Jamaal Westerman. The coaching staff believes Westerman, in his third season, is ready to blossom as a pass rusher. Okay, let's see it. Newcomer Aaron Maybin, picked up off the scrap heap after being cut by the Bills, will make his Jets debut. The former No. 1 pick, having a Gholston-esque career, has some burst off the edge, but he's light in the pants and not super instinctive. This ought to be interesting.
6. Pitching rotation. Mark Sanchez will start and play into the second quarter, with rookie Greg McElroy slated to be the first out of the bullpen. Mark Brunell will miss his second straight game, this time with a pulled calf, so it'll be the McElroy show once again. For his sake, he'd better hope the pass protection is beter.