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Antonio Allen benched, Marcus Williams starts in patchwork Jets secondary

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The New York Jets' secondary situation has deteriorated to the point where they held what amounted to an in-house tryout last week, looking for a new starter to play opposite Antonio Allen.

With starter Darrin Walls (calf) ailing, Rex Ryan had three veteran options for a replacement, but he picked Marcus Williams, an undrafted rookie who spent a month on their practice squad after getting cut by the Houston Texans. He became the fifth different starter at cornerback, a once-formidable position that has eroded.

But, wait, the story doesn't end there. Here's the kicker: Ryan decided to bench Allen at halftime of the Jets' 24-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.

"I wanted to stop somebody," Ryan sniffed, explaining why he pulled Allen.

Allen, a natural safety swinging back and forth between corner and safety, was roughed up in the first half. He allowed a 12-yard touchdown pass to tight end Travis Kelce and he also was beaten for 34 yards by Kelce, the longest pass play of the year for the dink-and-dunk Chiefs.

Ryan decided enough was enough. He inserted Josh Thomas to start the second half.

Strategy also factored into the decision. After playing "off" coverage in the first half, which didn't work particularly well, Ryan opted for this old-style, press-man coverage -- and he believed Thomas was a better option than Allen in that scheme.

Interestingly, Thomas expected to start the game. He found out Saturday it was going to be Williams and Allen. The other options were Phillip Adams and Kyle Wilson, who remained in the slot.

"[Williams] outplayed everyone on the practice field," Ryan said. "We said earlier in the week we never knew who the corners were going to be. It was because we were having a competition. We let them all fight it out. And, honestly, he outplayed everybody. And so sometimes you find out about a young man, and I was thrilled with how he and Thomas competed."

With Allen, not so much.

Rookie safety Calvin Pryor, continuing his disappointing season, was pulled in the second half and played sparingly. Ryan didn't call it a benching. He said opted for Jaiquawn Jarrett because he liked what he saw from him after Pryor went out with a shoulder injury. Pryor returned, but was limited primarily to special teams. He didn't seem bothered.

"They didn't want to mess up the groove," the first-round pick said. "Jaiquawn got out there and was playing pretty good."