Easily the most intriguing storyline heading into Saturday's preseason game against the Bengals is the Jets' proposed usage of third-year safety Antonio Allen at the cornerback position. Injuries have forced the Jets to work with some different combinations over the last few weeks with Allen and veteran Ellis Lankster starting at cornerback with the first unit over the past three days of practice.

In an article with the Star Ledger earlier this week, Allen's college position coach praised his versatility and man-coverage skills, but was dubious about his chances of developing into a full-time cornerback. Even Allen himself seemed skeptical. However, it does look like he'll get his chance to get some reps at the position Saturday night.

After the jump, some theories as to what the Jets might be thinking here and what this could mean for the defense once Dee Milliner and Dimitri Patterson can return from injury.

Introduction

As a rookie, Allen didn't play much, with one of his appearances being a rough game in New England where Tom Brady picked on him three straight times on the game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter. However, last year he won a starting job in camp and really won Jets fans over with his performance against the Patriots in October. Allen matched up with Rob Gronkowski several times in man coverage, breaking up two passes and returning an interception for a crucial touchdown. While Gronkowski got the better of him a few times, he held him to five catches on 13 targets overall, a more than credible effort and a tantalizing glimpse into his potential.

Over the course of the season, Allen had his ups and downs, but most of his best moments came when employed in man-coverage. That fits in with the comments of his position coach in the article linked above. All told, Allen was lined up opposite a receiver in the slot on 170 snaps, including over 40% of the time on pass plays.

So, Allen has in fact essentially had some experience in a cornerback role already. However, using him on the outside is something new. Allen did line up on the outside 16 times last year, but most of these would have been following a back or tight end who motioned out there.

Come in number 39

Entering the 2012 draft, one of the reasons Allen slid all the way to the 7th round was that nobody was too sure what his NFL position would be. He played a role called the "Spur" at South Carolina, which is best described as a hybrid linebacker/safety role. Rex Ryan noted last week that Allen's pro day was really poor as he sought to make the transition to defensive back. Surely Allen is too big and slow to play the cornerback position?

It's a copy-cat league and the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks may be pioneering an evolution in NFL secondary play with the size and versatility of their defensive backfield. I've already written about how the Jets have taken many of the same traits as the Seahawks on board, perhaps influenced by the fact that General Manager John Idzik came from there. Could this - whether "this" is using Allen situationally or full-time as a corner - be another example of trying to incorporate some of the things that have made the Seahawks successful into the Jets organization?

While he missed out on the Seahawks playoff success due to a suspension, there was one player on their roster whose measurables compare pretty closely to Allen, perhaps signifying that converting him into a cornerback of similar repute is not totally out of the question. Brandon Browner is a pro bowler who just happens to wear the same number 39 that Allen does. Let's compare combine measurements:

Height: Allen 6'1½" ... Browner 6'3½"Weight: Allen 210 ... Browner 221

40 yard dash: Allen 4.58 ... Browner 4.63

20 yard split: Allen 2.56 ... Browner 2.70

10 yard split: Allen 1.61 ... Browner 1.67

Bench press reps: Allen 17 ... Browner 13

Vertical jump: Allen 34 ... Browner 36½

Broad jump: Allen 118 ... Browner 123

Short shuttle: Allen 4.25 ... Browner 4.24

Three cone drill: Allen 7.02 ... Browner 7.20

So, in terms of their athletic profile, Allen and Browner are not too far apart. In addition, Allen's first two seasons in the league have seen him gain experience as a starting safety and lining up in the slot, whereas Browner's career started with a broken arm that sidelined him for his entire rookie year and then having to cut his teeth in Canada when he was released in July the following season.

Browner does have the advantage of having played cornerback in college, but that still factored into him going undrafted despite being a projected third round pick because teams were dubious whether he fit at cornerback or safety at the NFL level, a similar dilemma to that which Allen faced. There's also the question of how much of Browner's development to an NFL-ready cornerback can be attributed to performance enhancing drugs, for which he has been punished by the league.

Scheming around the weaknesses

Adding further intrigue to the Browner-Allen comparison is the fact that Browner signed with New England in the offseason. Based on last week's game, they're employing Browner (who will miss the first four games of the season while he serves his suspension) as a conventional cornerback. However, when I was scouting Ras-I Dowling, I noticed something which might factor into their gameplanning now that they have Darrelle Revis on the team.

Last season, I was surprised at how often the Patriots employed their cornerbacks in press coverage. Aqib Talib in particular was left on an island, but you'd often find three Patriots corners all up at the line in passing situations. Obviously we can anticipate that Revis will be employed in cover-0 situations, enabling the Patriots to roll safety support over to their other cornerbacks. Their deep safety is, of course, a converted cornerback (Devin McCourty) who has the coverage skills to latch onto a receiver downfield. What I noticed with regard to Dowling in particular was that there were several occasions where he played up on the receiver and then if the receiver ran down the seam, he passed him off to the deep safety and transitioned to covering the underneath zone. That would allow him to be physical at the line, keep the short intermediates in front of him and potentially jump a route if the quarterback is fooled by the switch. That's how I could see the Patriots employing Browner at times next year.

So, applying this to the Jets, maybe that's something the Jets could do with someone like Allen at times. It might be one way to fix the issue of teams being able to get rid of the ball quickly but without making yourselves as susceptible to the long ball. It also takes away the pressure from a guy like Allen in having to run stride-for-stride with a speedy receiver. Of course, the key to this might be Calvin Pryor, who has the range to make such an approach work in theory, but will need to develop and learn his role really fast.

The immediate future

Since the Jets stuck with the Allen and Lankster pairing since they first experimented with it, I would expect those two to start on the outside Saturday night. While Rex Ryan was asked how he thought Allen might handle the assignment if he drew AJ Green, I would imagine that Lankster will initially draw this assignment or they'll just play a side each and let that dictate who they cover. You might think the 5'9" Lankster would be overmatched against the 6'4" Green, but the Jets did put Lankster on Tony Gonzalez last season, so perhaps they are confident that he is physical enough to overcome that. As Rex said "if [you] can cover that kid, [you] can cover them all." Lankster is a player who loves cover-0 and the challenge of matching up with top receivers, but it remains to be seen if that's how they'll employ him Saturday. Darrin Walls will probably see action on the outside too.

The Bengals are a team that doesn't use a base offense very often, so the Jets will probably be in the nickel or dime most of the time anyway. As an example, during their playoff game against the Chargers last year, the Bengals had three or more receivers on 61 of 81 plays. Although one of those receivers was often tight end Jermaine Gresham lining up out wide or in the slot, they still had 30 plays with four or five receivers.

It will be interesting to see what happens when the Jets go into the nickel. Ordinarily, Kyle Wilson would enter the game to come in and play the slot. However, could this be dictated by matchups? If the speedster Marvin Jones goes out wide and the possession receiver Mohamed Sanu drops into the slot, perhaps Wilson would go to the outside. And what if Gresham is in the game? Does Allen match up with him? I'd have thought that would be the ideal match-up for him.

It's not unheard of for one of the starting corners to come out of the game when the team goes into nickel packages either. One such team that does this? New England.

Conclusions

The team is being creative in terms of looking for solutions to the problems which blighted the secondary last season. In many respects, Saturday's game is a good test, but by the time the season starts we can probably expect to see a more traditional alignment. That doesn't mean Allen can't continue to be employed in man-to-man coverage situations to make use of his skills in that area.

Even if Saturday's experiment is an abject failure, that's not the end of the world for the Jets defense, who know they have Walls and Wilson - two players who have held their own when used as starters on the outside in the past - waiting in the wings. With any luck, projected starters Milliner and Patterson will be available by opening day too.

As Rex noted, Allen is still ascending, adding "especially at the safety position" which is still where his future probably lies. However, within that role they can employ him in man coverage as they already did last season and, in that regard, Saturday's experience will hopefully stand him in good stead.

I'm looking forward to this aspect of Saturday's game and if this makeshift secondary can hold its own better than the starters did in the blowout loss to the Bengals last season, that might add a couple more viable options for the Jets to lean on once they have a full complement of defensive backs available again.

Tags: avsny, bentdouble, BGA, Bent Double

Oct 14, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold. (Kirby Lee)
Oct 14, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold. (Kirby Lee)

USC QB Sam Darnold is unlikely to leave school and enter the 2018 NFL Draft after the season, a source told Benjamin Allbright of 104.7 FM in Colorado.

The 20-year-old Darnold has completed 183 of 288 passes for 2,292 yards with 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in eight games this season for the 6-2 Trojans.

Darnold said before the season that a report that he might remain in school instead of entering the 2018 Draft did not come from him, but remained vague about his future.

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 (Jasen Vinlove)
(Jasen Vinlove)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter: The Jets once again gave a good account of themselves in this game, but they had too many defensive penalties and the offense dried up in the fourth quarter, enabling Miami's come-from-behind win. Despite knocking Jay Cutler out of the game, the Jets were unable to protect a 28-14 lead, the first time since 1999 they've had a two score lead in the fourth quarter and not won. Let's start this week by breaking down the performances on the defensive side of the ball:

Defensive Line

Once again, the defensive line didn't generate any sacks, but this was an extremely encouraging performance. Leonard Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson combined for five quarterback hits, and each stuffed a couple of runs as the Jets held Miami to just 53 yards on 25 carries. Williams almost picked up his first sack on a blitz from middle linebacker that led to Jamal Adams recording the sack cleaning up, while Wilkerson intercepted a tipped pass to set up a touchdown. Moreover, they both looked more powerful and explosive than they have in recent weeks. Hopefully this is a sign that they are getting closer to 100 percent...

Tags: Buster Skrine, Darron Lee, Demario Davis, Jamal Adams, Leonard Williams, Marcus Maye, Morris Claiborne, Muhammad Wilkerson, Rontez Miles, Sheldon Richardson
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 (Jasen Vinlove)
(Jasen Vinlove)

Jets QB Josh McCown could barely talk about the interception he threw that set up the Dolphins game-winning field goal in the team's 31-28 loss on Sunday. 

After blowing a two-touchdown lead, the Jets had the ball at their own 15-yard line with 47 seconds and three timeouts in their pocket. But on the very first play of a potential game-winning drive, McCown made a very costly mistake. And he knew it was going to happen before he even released the ball. 

"It was one of those where I tried to stop as I was throwing because I saw [CB Bobby McCain] late," McCown told Newsday's Bob Glauber. "So I didn't get enough on the ball."

Tags: Josh McCown
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Jets Post Game Overtime: 10/22 00:11:02
The Jets Post Game Overtime crew breaks down the Jets' 31-28 loss to the Dolphins, after surrendering a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter.

The New York Jets refused to go down quietly. After their fourth-quarter meltdown Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, there was some angry shouting in the locker room behind closed doors.

Quarterback Josh McCown said defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson was rallying his teammates. But it was Dolphins' rally that will be remembered after their 31-28 comeback victory Sunday.

The Jets blew a 28-14 lead in the final 12 minutes. Hence Wilkerson's postgame "pep talk."

Tags: Miami Dolphins, Josh McCown, Muhammad Wilkerson
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Bowles and McCown on loss 00:01:54
Todd Bowles breaks down the Jets' disappointing last-minute loss and Josh McCown comments on his crucial late interception.

The Dolphins overcame a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter and kicker Cody Parker drilled a game-winning 39-yard field goal to hand the Jets a second consecutive loss. >> Box score

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Oct 30, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; New York Jets offensive tackle Brandon Shell (72) during the second half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Jets won 31-28. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports (Scott Galvin)
Oct 30, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; New York Jets offensive tackle Brandon Shell (72) during the second half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Jets won 31-28. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports (Scott Galvin)

Jets T Brandon Shell left the team's game against the Marlins on Sunday with a neck injury and is doubtful to return, the team announced.

Tags: Brandon Shell
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New York Jets running back Bilal Powell (AP)
New York Jets running back Bilal Powell (AP)

Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson's is active for the Jets' Week 7 game against the Dolphins despite a lingering toe and shoulder injury that has put his status in jeopardy early this season.

Tags: Bilal Powell, Christian Hackenberg, Derrick Jones, Jordan Leggett, Muhammad Wilkerson
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Oct 8, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; New York Jets quarterback Josh McCown (15) congratulates wide receiver Jermaine Kearse (10) (Scott Galvin)
Oct 8, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; New York Jets quarterback Josh McCown (15) congratulates wide receiver Jermaine Kearse (10) (Scott Galvin)

 Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

THE GAME

The Jets (3-3) vs. the Miami Dolphins (3-2) at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Sunday, Oct. 22 at 1 p.m. ET.

THE WEATHER

It will be hot, as usual, with temperatures in the mid-to-upper 80s. It will also be windy, with sustained winds of 15-20 m.p.h. expected. And as always in Miami, there could be some late afternoon thunderstorms that potentially could impact the second half of the game.

Tags: Buster Skrine, Josh McCown, Morris Claiborne, Ralph Vacchiano
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Jonas Schwartz and Willie Colon look back at a tough loss to the New England Patriots. The guys discuss the brutal mistakes by the Jets which kept the Pats in the game, and the blown call at the goal line involving Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Plus, Jets defensive tackle Steve McLendon joins the show to talk about the struggles of Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams, and his role on the team. Later, Brian Costello of the New York Post calls in to give his take on the loss to NE, and how the Jets missed out on Deshaun Watson.

Click below to listen!

Tags: Leonard Williams, Muhammad Wilkerson, Steve McLendon
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Vacc's 3 Keys to a Jets win 00:01:37
SNY NFL Insider Ralph Vacchiano gives his three keys to a Jets victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

SNY NFL Insider Ralph Vacchiano gives his three keys to a Jets victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

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In the latest episode of Timeout with Taylor Rooks, former NFL running back Curtis Martin recalls some of the most dramatic moments of his life, including two near-death experiences, as well as his relationship with Bill Parcells, Bob Kraft, and the infamous trade that sent him from the Patriots to the Jets.

Click below to listen

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GEICO SportsNite: Jets vs. Miami 00:01:54
With Muhammad Wilkerson likely a game-time decision to play Sunday, Jeane Coakley talks to Leonard Williams about stepping up his game.

 

Tags: Leonard Williams
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New York Jets running back Bilal Powell (AP)
New York Jets running back Bilal Powell (AP)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - The last time the Jets had Bilal Powell in the lineup, at full strength, he ran all over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Forced into the lead back role with Matt Forte sidelined, he ran for 163 yards on 7.8 yards per carry, including a 75-yard touchdown run.

He's back this week in time for the Jets game in Miami on Sunday, and so is Forte, with both apparently as close to full strength as they're going to be. But the Jets can't revert to their old habit of splitting their backfield duties.

They need Powell to carry the load.

Tags: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Bilal Powell, Elijah McGuire, Jeremy Kerley, Matt Forte, Robby Anderson, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) (Noah K. Murray)
New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) (Noah K. Murray)

Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson (shoulder/toe) is questionable for Sunday's game against the Dolphins, and will be a game-time decision, head coach Todd Bowles said on Friday.

Wilkerson played through his shoulder injury in Weeks 4 and 5, and didn't practice throughout those weeks, so this might be the same scenario.

However, Bowles added that the team has discussed the possibility of giving Wilkerson one or two weeks off.

Tags: Bilal Powell, Muhammad Wilkerson
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New York Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins runs the ball against New England Patriots safety Duron Harmon during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins runs the ball against New England Patriots safety Duron Harmon during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

The Jets (3-3) take on the Dolphins (3-2) on Sunday in Miami at 1 p.m. Here's what's going on today:

Need to know

The Jets are preparing for the trip to Miami, so there will be no media access at Florham Park on Friday. The entire term, apart from Muhammad Wilkerson, practiced without limitation yesterday, so they are in good shape for the road trip.

SNY's Ralph Vacchiano will preview the game and send his three keys. Follow @RVaccianoSNY on Twitter to keep up with all the happenings.

Tags: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Bilal Powell, Miami Dolphins, Jordan Leggett, Muhammad Wilkerson
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GEICO SportsNite: Jets defense 00:01:25
Ralph Vacchiano reports in from Jets practice to address the question that is on everyone's mind; when will the Jets finally get a sack?

 

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Jenkins on overcoming addiction 00:03:29
On Jets Game Plan, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins sits down with Jeane Coakley to share about how he overcame his battle with addiction.

 

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New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) (Noah K. Murray)
New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) (Noah K. Murray)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- On the day the Jets re-signed Muhammad Wilkerson in the summer of 2016 to a blockbuster, five-year, $86 million contract, they made it clear they were banking on him and not Sheldon Richardson. Fourteen months later, Richardson was traded.

Tags: Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Jets running back Bilal Powell (AP)
New York Jets running back Bilal Powell (AP)

RB Bilal Powell, who missed last week's game due to a calf injury, practiced on Thursday and will return when the Jets face the Dolphins on Sunday in Miami, head coach Todd Bowles said.

DE Muhammad Wilkerson (shoulder/toe) was the only Jets player who didn't practice on Thursday.

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter: Powell should hopefully give a boost to the Jets' struggling running game, although I suspect the team's inability to get the running game going has more to do with how overmatched the Jets have been in the trenches...

Tags: Bilal Powell, Elijah McGuire, Matt Forte, Muhammad Wilkerson
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 (Ken Blaze)
(Ken Blaze)

He may be one of the most productive tight ends in football at the moment, but Jets TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins admits his career was taking a dive before joining the Green and White. 

Seferian-Jenkins has caught 23 passes over the last four weeks of the season. It could be more if he didn't have to serve a two-game suspension that stems from his DUI arrest last September when he was with the Buccaneers.

But ASJ doesn't mind the numbers. He is happy that he is still playing the game he loves in the first place. 

Tags: Austin Seferian-Jenkins
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The Jets (3-3) take on the Dolphins (3-2) on Sunday in Miami at 1 p.m. Here's what's going on today...

Need to know

The Jets practice today at Florham Park. Will Bilal Powell, Muhammad Wilkerson, or Robby Anderson return to practice after sitting out on Wednesday?

SNY's Ralph Vacchiano will be out at practice. Follow @RVaccianoSNY on Twitter to keep up with all the happenings...

Tags: Bilal Powell, Muhammad Wilkerson, Robby Anderson
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DNL: 2017 Jets season so far 00:02:58
The DNL panel discusses the Jets' season so far including if Todd Bowles deserves more credit and which player has disappointed the most.

 

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 (Dennis Schneidler)
(Dennis Schneidler)

The Jets featured many key players out during practice Wednesday including RB Bilal Powell, DE Muhammad Wilkerson, and WR Robby Anderson. 

Powell, who is nursing a calf injury, stretched with the team, but he didn't participate in anything else. He already missed last week with the same injury.

Wilkerson played through his shoulder injury in Weeks 4 and 5, He didn't practice throughout those weeks, so this might be the same scenario for No. 96...

Tags: Bilal Powell, Muhammad Wilkerson, Robby Anderson
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Daily News Live: Cool your Jets 00:03:02
The DNL panel discusses how the controversial play and loss to the Patriots could affect the Jets' mentality going into Week 7.

The DNL panel discusses how the controversial play and loss to the Patriots could affect the Jets' mentality going into Week 7.

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New York Jets safety Jamal Adams (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets safety Jamal Adams (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

The Jets (3-3) take on the Dolphins (3-2) on Sunday in Miami at 1 p.m. Here's what's going on today...

Need to know

The Jets practice today at Florham Park.

SNY's Ralph Vacchiano will be out at practice on Thursday and Friday. Follow @RVaccianoSNY on Twitter to keep up with all the latest Jets news and rumors...

Tags: Jamal Adams, Leonard Williams, Marcus Maye
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Daily News Live: Colon 00:01:10
Willie Colon's sources at the meeting between NFL owners and Roger Goodell on anthem protests say no progress was made Tuesday.

SNY's Willie Colon said sources told him that players felt "nothing was accomplished" during a meeting on Tuesday between the NFL, executives, players, and the NFL Players' Association.

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 (Robert Deutsch)
(Robert Deutsch)

After a hot start to his rookie season, Jets S Jamal Adams became the latest victim of Patriots' star TE Rob Gronkowski in the Jets' 24-17 loss on Sunday. 

Adams had troubles with Gronk from the beginning of the game. The Jets had a 14-0 lead when Patriots QB Tom Brady launched a ball toward the back of the end zone intended for Gronkowski. Adams made a play on the ball, but refs said that he made too much contact with the 6-foot-6 tight end resulting in a pass interference call.

Dion Lewis would score on the next play, and Adams was still surprised as to why the refs threw the flag. 

Tags: Jamal Adams
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New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles (Ben Margot/AP)
New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles (Ben Margot/AP)

The Jets (3-3) take on the Dolphins (3-2) on Sunday in Miami at 1 p.m. Here's what's going on today...

Need to know

The Jets are off today.

SNY's Ralph Vacchiano will be out at practice on Thursday and Friday. Follow @RVaccianoSNY on Twitter to keep up with all the latest Jets news and rumors...

Tags: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Buster Skrine, Jalin Marshall, Muhammad Wilkerson
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Daily News Live: Reffed Up 00:03:44
The Daily News Live panel discusses the controversial "fumble" call on Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the Jets' loss.

 

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New York Jets wide receiver Jalin Marshall (89) runs past Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Mike Thomas (13) in the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: (Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets wide receiver Jalin Marshall (89) runs past Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Mike Thomas (13) in the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: (Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports)

The Jets assigned wide receiver Jalin Marshall to the practice squad on Monday after they waived him on Saturday.

Marshall, who served a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, was waived to make room for cornerback Xavier Coleman on the team's active roster for Sunday's 24-17 loss to the New England Patriots.

The 22-year-old Marshall recorded 14 catches for 162 yards and two touchdowns in 10 games last season. He also returned 18 punts for 100 yards and 13 kickoffs for 324 yards.

Tags: Jalin Marshall
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