|Jets won't be forgetting Martin's role and contributions|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 06 September 2007 04:48|
No, the NFL's No. 4 career rusher isn't coming out of retirement. It just appears that way.
The Jets have left Martin's locker intact, complete with his helmet, jerseys, pads and green and white nameplate. It's a shrine of sorts to one of the franchise's most successful and popular players.
While others have come and gone - and had their lockers filled immediately by other players - coach Eric Mangini had a simple explanation for leaving Martin's locker as is.
``Because he's Curtis,'' Mangini said. ``Curtis still has a presence in the building, and I love having Curtis around. He'll always have a locker in the heart of Jets fans.''
Martin officially announced his retirement in July after sitting out last season because of a bone-on-bone right knee injury suffered during the 2005 season. He finished with 14,101 yards rushing, ranking behind only Emmitt Smith (18,355), Walter Payton (16,726) and Barry Sanders (15,269) on the career list.
SO MANY CAPTAINS: The NFL introduced a plan this season to put ``C'' patches on the jerseys of each team's captains, yet the 49ers won't wear the letters.
That's because the 49ers appointed 10 captains Monday, and the league only allows five lettered jerseys on the field. Because Nolan doesn't want to choose among the members of his council of captains, he doesn't plan to use the ``C'' at all.
Nolan, who had four team captains in each of his previous two seasons, met with his group after practice Monday. It includes cornerbacks Nate Clements and Walt Harris, linebacker Derek Smith, receiver Arnaz Battle, defensive lineman Marques Douglas, offensive tackle Jonas Jennings, center Eric Heitmann, kicker Joe Nedney, quarterback Trent Dilfer and fullback Moran Norris.
After each position group elected a captain, Nolan also appointed Jennings and Harris, the 49ers' two union player representatives. The captains are responsible for relaying teammates' concerns to Nolan and resolving other problems without taking them to the head coach.
``Our team recognizes those 10 guys, and I meet with them every week and go over any issues they may have,'' Nolan said. ``Sometimes it may be a 30-second meeting. Other times, it could go as long as 30 minutes. This is the committee that allows me to interact with the football team in additional ways other than, 'Come see my in my office,''' Nolan said.
Nolan still will choose three game captains each week.
BUCKING HISTORY: Lane Kiffin has been compared at times to Jon Gruden because both were young, energetic, offense-minded coaches when they took over the Oakland Raiders.
But owner Al Davis said the two coaches are different, noting Kiffin is more involved in the whole game, while Gruden focused almost entirely on offense.
``I thought he was quick, bright, aggressive, on top of it,'' Davis said of his new coach. ``But he's got to win. No different than Jon Gruden, who didn't win his first two years. Those things happen. But they are different. Entirely different in my opinion.''
Kiffin, 32, hopes he's the same as Gruden in one respect. Gruden is the only coach to have a winning record with the Raiders since the team returned to Oakland for the 1995 season. Gruden went 38-26 in his four seasons at the helm, taking the team to the postseason his final two seasons and building the team that went to the Super Bowl the following year.
Kiffin will be the youngest man to coach an NFL game in more than four decades when the Raiders face Detroit on Sunday. Lions coach Rod Marinelli knows Kiffin well, having worked in Tampa with his father, Buccaneers defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, for years.
``I know one thing, he's got the same work habits his dad does,'' Marinelli said. ``He's got the same intensity. He's a constant in terms of preparation. He's come up hard and working. I know Lane very well, and he's doing a great job out there. I'm really proud of him.''
Bill Callahan is the only other coach to have even a single winning season, going 11-5 in his first year before losing to Gruden and Tampa Bay in the Super Bowl following the 2002 season. Callahan went 4-12 the next season and was fired with a 15-17 record.
Callahan was replaced by Norv Turner, who went 9-23 before Art Shell won only two games last year and was fired. The coach who preceded Gruden, Joe Bugel, also got fired after one season, going 4-12 in 1997. The first coach after the team left Los Angeles was Mike White, who went 15-17 in two seasons.
WEATHER BUG: For those fans who think NFL officials could use all the help they can muster, Sprint if offering up a weather aid.
Dubbed WeatherBug, the wireless devices that some game officials will carry this season can provide a weather alert. WeatherBug provides the latest weather information, including custom alerts for heat index; lightning detection warnings; wind gusts; and severe weather in the area.
game-winning touchdown pass or a tornado threat seen in advance by NFL officials on the field.''
Adds NFL vice president of corporate communications Brian McCarthy: ``We are always looking for innovative ways to improve all facets of our game. This service provided by Sprint will better equip our officials in making real-time decisions.''
HOW MANY QBS?: Heading into the season, 14 of the 32 NFL teams have just two quarterbacks on their rosters. Nine teams carried just two quarterbacks in 2006 and in 2005 it was just four teams.
The teams are defending champion Indianapolis, New Orleans, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Buffalo, Atlanta, Green Bay, Denver, Houston, Carolina, Seattle, Dallas, Arizona and St. Louis.
Of the 256 regular-season games played in 2006, a team used its third QB just four times, each time a coaching decision and not because of injuries to the first two quarterbacks. Since 2001, three quarterbacks attempted a pass for the same team in only 19 of 1,528 games.
DON'T MAKE ME DO IT: Reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Jason Taylor is the Miami Dolphins' backup long snapper, and he hopes to remain No. 2.
``Nobody knows your long-snapper's name,'' Taylor said. ``Of all the guys who touch the ball, he may be the most important guy, even with quarterbacks, because he can quickly win or lose you a game based on a snap. There's a lot of pressure on that position. I would much rather not have to go do it.''
Taylor hopes to focus instead this season on a roaming role on defense as a combination end and linebacker. Last year he had 13 1/2 sacks, forced 10 fumbles, recovered two, intercepted two passes and returned both for scores.
John Denney is in his third year as the Dolphins' long snapper, and that's his only job.
``Every night, before I go to bed, I pray John Denney stays healthy,'' Taylor said.
AP Sports Writers Mark Long in Jacksonville, Dennis Waszak Jr., in New York, Steven Wine in Miami, and Greg Beacham and Josh Dubow in San Francisco contributed to this story.