The Jets and Lions do not have a storied history together. As non-conference foes, they face each other once every four years. But for some of the Jets players, there are some interesting story lines to follow for this game.
Bart Scott, Braylon Edwards and Vernon Gholston were born and raised in Detroit, and David Harris is from nearby Grand Rapids. For the four of them, it will be a homecoming game on the road, and each of them will have plenty of family members and friends in the sold-out crowd.
“I think guys are excited. Bart, David Harris, Braylon [and] Vernon ,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said. “Calvin Pace was even born in Detroit. He lived there [until he was three], so he doesn’t remember much of it. Of course, we have Eric Smith , but he is actually from Ohio and went to Michigan State. We’re very aware of where guys are from.”
Jane McManus of ESPN New York wrote about the hometown heroes this week, and evidently Rex Ryan buys into the hometown hero theory.
“I had an old football coach tell me that he really believed in the hometown hero,” Ryan said. “What I mean by that is we had a running back who didn’t play for eight games and all of sudden he’s rotating him in there with the starters for this week. I was like, ‘Why are you playing this guy?’ ‘Oh, he’s from this town.’ The guy goes out and rushes for 120 yards. I was like, ‘Whoa.’ Ever since that time, I bought into it.”
In that case, maybe we can expect a breakout game from Gholston, a Detroit native who ironically went to Ohio State and hasn’t seen a huge amount of playing time since being drafted by the Jets in the first round of the 2008 draft.
Gholston gave away 77 tickets for friends and family, so it would not shock me to see him get extended playing time from Rex Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine .Update: Vernon Gholston will get his first start since his rookie year under today. Gholston will start at defensive tackle over Mike DeVito.
Meanwhile, left guard Matt Slauson will have his own reunion of sorts when he matches up with former college teammate Ndamukong Suh, the rookie sensation who has been dominant since being drafted with the No. 2 pick overall in this year’s draft.
Slauson and Suh went up against each other in practice at Nebraska every day until Slauson left. He was a sixth-round pick by the Jets in 2009 and has come into his own as the starting left guard this season.
However, Suh will most likely line up against Brandon Moore or Nick Mangold on most snaps, so the old Cornhusker teammates won’t have a lot of one-on-one battles.
Suh, whose first name Ndamukong means “House of Spears” has already racked up 6.5 sacks and an interception in his first seven games as a pro. He even scored his first NFL touchdown last week, showing off his impressive speed for a 300-pounder.
Not only is he a huge front-runner for defensive rookie of the year, the man named Suh might even be the best defensive tackle in the NFL. Or even the best defensive lineman in general.
Needless to say, the Jets standout offensive line is going to have their hands full with a guy who routinely beats double teams and wreaks havoc on every snap. They’ll need to contain this monster of a man if they want their hometown guys to come away with a hometown win.
This is no ordinary 2-5 team. These Lions are a force to be reckoned with.