The New York Jets travel to Reliant Stadium on Sunday for a Week 1 matchup against the Texans.
Rex Ryan starts his first season as head coach of the New York Jets. For the past 10 years, he was a member of the Baltimore Ravens' coaching staff, and he was the defensive coordinator starting in 2005.
Quarterback: Mark Sanchez was the fifth overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, and he's the first rookie in Jets franchise history to start under center in a season opener. Sanchez started 16 games at Southern California, completing 64.3 percent of his passes and tossing 41 touchdowns. He totaled at least 200 passing yards nine times in 2008.
During the preseason, he was 24-for-37 (64.9 percent) for 347 yards passing, throwing three touchdowns and one interception for a 111.0 passer rating. In the preseason finale against the Eagles, Sanchez played one series and was a perfect 5-for-5 passing for 67 yards and one touchdown.
Running back: In 2008, Thomas Jones set new Jets single-season records for total touchdowns (15) and rushing touchdowns (13). He led the AFC with 1,312 rushing yards and was a starter in the Pro Bowl. In games during which Jones scored a touchdown, the Jets were 10-2. He averaged 4.5 yards a carry on the season.
Behind Jones is Leon Washington, who was good for 448 yards rushing and six touchdowns along with 47 receptions for 355 yards and two touchdowns last year. The Jets added to their riches at running back in the draft, selecting 2008 Doak Walker Award winner Shonn Greene in the third round. At fullback, three-time Pro Bowler Tony Richardson has played in 202 regular season games and, at the age of 37, is the oldest member of the team. Richardson has blocked for seven 1,000-yard rushing seasons in his career.
Wide receiver: Jerricho Cotchery headlines a receving corps that features returning veterans Chansi Stuckey, Brad Smith, David Clowney and Wallace Wright. Cotchery caught a team-best 71 receptions for 858 yards and five scores in 2008. In 75 career
games, he has registered 260 receptions (three consecutive 70-plus catch seasons) for 3,260 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Stuckey posted three touchdowns along with 32 receptions for 359 yards in 2008. Clowney is coming off his second consecutive productive preseason. In the 2009 preseason, he registered seven receptions for 243 yards, which was second in the AFC. His 34.7 yards per catch was the highest average in the NFL for players with more than one catch. Smith, a fourth-year veteran, has played in 47 games, starting 13 at wide receiver (11) and running back (two). He also has lined up at quarterback, the position he played in college at Iowa. Wright has played in 37 games over four seasons, starting one at wide receiver.
Tight end: Starter Dustin Keller had a solid rookie season in 2008, totaling 48 receptions for 535 yards (11.1 avg.) and three touchdowns. The Jets signed veteran Ben Hartsock on Sept. 3 after he was released by Atlanta. Hartsock totaled 27 receptions for 273 yards (10.1 avg.) in 56 games played. As a blocker, he helped pave the way for three 1,000-yard rushers: Edgerrin James (2004 and 2005, Colts), LenDale White (2007, Titans) and Michael Turner (2008, Atlanta).
Offensive line: Seven linemen from last year's roster return, including all five starters. Each started all 16 games in 2008. The unit is led by center Nick Mangold, who was voted to his first Pro Bowl in 2008, and left guard Alan Faneca, who made his eighth Pro Bowl appearance after last season and has started 169 career games, including 112 consecutive contests.
Right guard Brandon Moore has 73 consecutive starts under his belt. At left tackle, D'Brickashaw Ferguson was chosen as the second alternate for the Pro Bowl in 2008 and has started 48 consecutive regular season games. Right tackle Damien Woody has played in 144 games, earning 137 starts.
The Jets' offensive line allowed only 30 sacks in 2008, down from 51 sacks in 2007. They also helped the running backs average 4.7 yards per carry and score 20 rushing touchdowns.
Defensive line: In the Jets' 3-4 defense, new addition Marques Douglas joins starters Kris Jenkins and Shaun Ellis in this group that helped the Jets rank seventh in rushing yards allowed per game in 2008. However, Ellis, who had eight sacks a year ago, will not play in the season opener due to a league suspension.
Jenkins was voted to his fourth Pro Bowl in 2008. He recorded 53 tackles, nine pressures, 3.5 sacks, eight tackles for loss, one forced fumble, two deflected passes and a blocked kick. Mike DeVito has appeared in 23 games as a reserve defensive end after signing as an undrafted free agent in May 2007. He is expected to start at left end in place of Ellis. Backing up the nose is Sione Pouha, who has played in 46 career games with 72 tackles. Veteran Howard Green has played in 37 games, starting 12.
Linebacker: Inside linebacker Bart Scott headlines the Jets' linebacker corps. Scott followed Ryan from the Ravens to the Jets this offseason, signing as an unrestricted free agent with New York. He played 109 games with 58 starts with the Ravens, totaling 508 tackles, 16 sacks and three interceptions and earning a Pro Bowl appearance in 2006.
Third-year man David Harris starts next to Scott on the inside. Harris has played in 27 games and led the team in tackles as a rookie in 2007 with 117.
Veteran Bryan Thomas and second-year pro Vernon Gholston will man the outside. Calvin Pace, who had seven sacks in 2008, will not play against the Texans because of a four-game suspension. Gholston, the Jets' 2008 first-round pick, will start in Pace's place. Thomas has played in 109 regular season games with 64 starts, recording 23 sacks and five forced fumbles.
Reserve outside linbacker Marques Murrell played in 12 games in 2008, making 10 tackles and forcing a fumble on special teams.Special teams ace Larry Izzo is responsible for 257 special teams tackles in 188 career regular season games and has played in 103 consecutive games dating back to 2002. He earned Pro Bowl selections on special teams in 2000, 2002 and 2004.
Secondary: Darrelle Revis and new acquisition Lito Sheppard will be the starting corners, joining safeties Kerry Rhodes and newcomer Jim Leonhard in a talented secondary. Revis has started all 32 games in his career and earned his first Pro Bowl selection in 2008 after finishing the season with 59 tackles, five interceptions and 15 passes defensed.
Sheppard was acquired by the Jets in an offseason trade with Philadelphia. A two-time Pro Bowl selection (2005-06), the 2002 first-round pick has 18 interceptions (three returned for touchdowns), three forced fumbles, two sacks and one fumble recovery in 93 career games.
Rhodes was chosen as a third alternate for the Pro Bowl in 2008. He has started 64 consecutive games to begin his NFL career and has 12 interceptions, nine sacks, five forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries.
Leonhard, who also played with the Ravens last year, is a veteran of 54 NFL games and has recorded one sack and three interceptions. He also has 326 yards on 31 punt returns (10.5 avg.).
Kicking game: Ninth-year kicker Jay Feely hit 24-of-28 field goals in 2008, including his last 14 attemps, and was 39-for-39 on extra point attempts for 111 points.
Veteran punter Steve Weatherford was signed on Monday. He had eight punts for Jacksonville for a 43.4 average in the 2009 preseason. He has punted in 46 games for the Jaguars, Chiefs and Saints.