FOXBOROUGH — When Darrelle Revis went down with a season-ending knee injury in Week 2, it was thought the loss of the Pro Bowl cornerback would significantly weaken the Jets’ secondary. But Wes Welker believes the unit remains competitive.
“They still have a lot of great players, a lot of guys who get around to the football and do a good job of covering,’’ Welker said. “Obviously, Revis is a big loss, but guys have stepped up and done a good job for them.’’
The Jets enter Sunday’s game with the fifth-ranked pass defense in the league at 209.3 yards per game, while the Patriots’ top-ranked offense (445.3 yards) is averaging 293.0 yards passing, third most in the league.
Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson now form the Jets’ cornerback tandem. Cromartie, who tied for the team lead with four interceptions last season, is tied for the AFC lead with three this season.
“Very rarely have we matched up in the past,’’ Welker said of Cromartie. “Maybe a few plays here and there. For the most part, we’re different type players. He’s a bigger guy, longer guy, faster guy, but he does a good job with his ball skills. You’ve just got to run good routes, get open, and try to make plays.’’
Asked if it was a relief not to have to face Revis, Welker replied, “Of course. He’s a great player. But they’ve got guys who are stepping up and doing a great job for them. You’ve just got to make sure you’re running great routes and doing what you need to do to get open.’’
Welker again showed in last Sunday’s loss to Seattle that he’s fearless enough to go over the middle, absorb a hard hit, and bounce back to his feet.
“That kind of toughness is what you come to expect from Wes,’’ said teammate Matthew Slater. “To see him bounce back like that does a lot for our football team.’’
Asked if he took pride in taking big hits and continuing to play, Welker said, “Of course. You’d like to avoid them. You never like to take those types of hits, but it’s part of what you sign up for when you take on this job.’’
Man of few words
The intensity of the Patriots-Jets rivalry has seemingly simmered down with a muting of the rhetoric.
When asked if he hated the Jets, Patriots coach Bill Belichick replied, “We have a competition each week against whoever the next team on our schedule is. So whoever that is, that’s who we compete against. It’s nothing personal, it’s just competition.’’
Asked if he there was any rise in intensity when the team confronted a familiar opponent with a lot of history, Belichick was not about to give the Jets bulletin-board material, saying, “It’s a familiar opponent we have a lot of history with.’’
So there was nothing extra? “It’s a familiar opponent we have a lot of history with,’’ Belichick repeated. “There are other teams you can put in that category. Then there are other teams that wouldn’t be in that category, like Seattle.’’
Feeling their pain
Tight end Aaron Hernandez (ankle) and guard Logan Mankins (calf, hip) returned to practice Friday. They were among 11 Patriots listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.
Also among those questionable are Patrick Chung (shoulder), Julian Edelman (hand), Rob Gronkowski (hip), Dont’a Hightower (hamstring), Sebastian Vollmer (back, knee), and Welker (ankle).
Steve Gregory (hip), Brandon Bolden (knee), and Tracy White (foot) are listed as out.
The Jets listed defensive linemen Kenrick Ellis (knee) and Sione Pouha (back), running back Bilal Powell (shoulder), and defensive back Eric Smith (knee) as doubtful. Wide receiver Clyde Gates (shoulder), center Nick Mangold (ankle), and running back Joe McKnight (ankle) are questionable.
Safety LaRon Landry (heel), who missed Thursday’s practice, returned to full participation Friday and is probable.
The NFL fined Seahawks defensive end Jason Jones $15,570 for unnecessary roughness for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Tom Brady last Sunday. Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes did not draw a fine for his unnecessary roughness call in the same game . . . Running back Stevan Ridley was lucky he was not disciplined by the fashion police when he showed up Friday wearing a powder blue, one-piece jumpsuit. “They call me an angry Teletubby,” Ridley said . . . The Patriots will don throwback uniforms on Sunday that replicate those worn by the 1985 team. The Patriots, who are 8-3 in throwback uniforms, last donned them for a 30-21 home victory over the Jets Oct. 9, 2011.
Michael Vega can be reached at email@example.com.