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Anthony Recker's three-run homer leads Mets past Phillies

The Mets' Anthony Recker (20) and Dilson Herrara
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The Mets' Anthony Recker (20) and Dilson Herrara are greeted in the dugout with waving towels after Recker hit a three-run home run off Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher A.J. Burnett that scored Herrara and Wilmer Flores in the sixth inning of a game on Sunday, Aug. 31 2014, in New York.(Credit: AP / Kathy Kmonicek)

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The Mets long have been out of playoff contention in a season in which they hoped to make major progress. But their dramatic "come-from-ahead" 6-5 win over Philadelphia Sunday afternoon at Citi Field showed they are anything but down about their predicament.

Although they did their best to squander the 5-2 cushion backup catcher Anthony Recker gave them with a three-run homer off Phillies starter A.J. Burnett (7-15) in the sixth inning, the Mets showed real toughness in key spots. They also got a lift from rookies Wilmer Flores at shortstop and Dilson Herrera at second that offers hope for the future.

"We're very young, as you can see," manager Terry Collins said of a lineup that included three rookies and two second-year players. "We haven't played anywhere near like we thought we were going to, but they come to the clubhouse each day with a smile on their face and get ready to play. You've got to make sure you stay positive, and this team does that."

Collins credited David Wright and Curtis Granderson with setting a positive tone, but he sat Granderson after a 1-for-17 slump on the homestand to allow him to "clear his mind." Wright was 1-for-10 during the homestand coming into the game but had two hits, including a single that gave the Mets a 2-1 lead in the fifth.

That was when the dramatics began. Ryan Howard hit his 20th homer to tie it at 2-2 in the sixth, but Mets starter Dillon Gee's toughness in three key spots kept the game in check.

Gee (6-6) allowed a fourth-inning run but got out of a bases-loaded situation when Wil Nieves hit into an inning-ending double play turned by Flores and Herrera. With a man on third and two outs in the fifth, Gee struck out Jimmy Rollins, and he stranded two more Phillies in the sixth after Howard's homer.

"I was trying to bear down and make good pitches when I had to," Gee said of the double-play ball. "I got fortunate there. I thought the big one was the strikeout to Rollins to end the inning."

The Mets took tenuous control in the bottom of the sixth. Flores led off with his third single of the day and Herrera drew a one-out walk. Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg visited Burnett but left him in to pitch to Recker, who had struck out twice. Big mistake. Recker jumped on Burnett's first-pitch curveball and buried it in the leftfield seats for a 5-2 lead.

"He had thrown me a first-pitch curve on a couple of at-bats," Recker said. "I knew they told him to attack me because we had Curtis Granderson on deck as a pinch hitter. He had to get ahead or throw a strike. I didn't know for sure he'd throw the curve. I got lucky."

The Phillies got a run-scoring single from Rollins in the seventh before Dana Eveland stranded two runners with strikeouts of Howard and Grady Sizemore. Domonic Brown hit a leadoff homer off Jeurys Familia in the eighth to make it 5-4, but Flores' diving stab of a grounder up the middle got the Mets out of the inning.

In the Mets' eighth, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, playing for Granderson, doubled, stole third and scored when Herrera singled for his first major-league RBI. It turned out to be the winning run.

Jenrry Mejia allowed the first two Phillies to reach base in the ninth before Herrera and Flores turned another double play on a grounder by Howard against the shift. Mejia gave up an RBI single by Sizemore before getting Brown to ground out to end it.

Reflecting on all the plays that allowed the Mets to pull out an otherwise meaningless game, Eveland said, "Hopefully, it can lead to us playing a strong September.

"Our pitching is going to be stronger in the future. There's talent in this clubhouse. We want to finish strong with the idea that this is going to be a playoff team."

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After a thrilling end to the BCS National Championship Game, how do you feel about moving to a playoff system?

I'm happy about there being more meaningful football. I'm bummed. I like the BCS. I don't care either way.

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What do you think the Mets will do with Bartolo Colon now that the non-waiver trade deadline passed?

Trade him in August if he clears waivers Trade him in the offseason Keep him in rotation for 2015

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Bad news for Josh Edgin (elbow)

Mets relief pitcher Josh Edgin walks to the

Mets relief pitcher Josh Edgin walks to the dugout after being taken out in the eighth inning of a game against the Chicago Cubs in at Citi Field on Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. (Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke)

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The Mets' David Wright hits an RBI-single off Mets vs. Phillies

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Relievers Josh Edgin and Daisuke Matsuzaka did not accompany the Mets on their flight to Miami to begin a six-game road trip. Both are having elbow problems, but Edgin's might be the most ominous.

Manager Terry Collins said Edgin will be "down a while" and Edgin called it a "bad day" because's he's uncertain whether he will need left elbow surgery. He had platelet-rich plasma therapy last Monday, but when he tried to warm up during Friday's game, he was unable to go. He subsequently had an MRI that showed bone spurs in his elbow.

"I'm going to stay here to see the doctor and go from there," Edgin said.

 

Cavalry arrives

Collins said Dana Eveland will take over for Edgin as the primary lefthanded reliever, but the Mets also promoted lefthander Dario Alvarez from Double-A Binghamton. Three other players were called up to join them in Miami: infielder Josh Satin and righthander Erik Goeddel from Triple-A Las Vegas and catcher Juan Centeno from Binghamton.

Wright breaks out

David Wright, playing with an injured left shoulder, snapped out of a 1-for-10 slump with two hits. "At times, I probably have kind of hurt us a bit offensively," he said, "but if I feel like I'm capable of going in there and doing some damage in the lineup, then I'm going to play."

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Trade him in August if he clears waivers Trade him in the offseason Keep him in rotation for 2015

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Anthony Recker's three-run homer leads Mets past Phillies

The Mets' Anthony Recker (20) and Dilson Herrara
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The Mets' Anthony Recker (20) and Dilson Herrara are greeted in the dugout with waving towels after Recker hit a three-run home run off Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher A.J. Burnett that scored Herrara and Wilmer Flores in the sixth inning of a game on Sunday, Aug. 31 2014, in New York.(Credit: AP / Kathy Kmonicek)

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The Mets' David Wright hits an RBI-single off Mets vs. Phillies

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The Mets long have been out of playoff contention in a season in which they hoped to make major progress. But their dramatic "come-from-ahead" 6-5 win over Philadelphia Sunday afternoon at Citi Field showed they are anything but down about their predicament.

Although they did their best to squander the 5-2 cushion backup catcher Anthony Recker gave them with a three-run homer off Phillies starter A.J. Burnett (7-15) in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Mets showed real toughness in key spots and got a lift from rookies Wilmer Flores at shortstop and Dilson Herrera at second that offers hope for the future.

"We're very young as you can see," manager Terry Collins said of a lineup that included three rookies and two second-year players. "We haven't played anywhere near like we thought we were going to, but they come to the clubhouse each day with a smile on their face and get ready to play. You've got to make sure you stay positive, and this team does that."

Collins credited veterans David Wright and Curtis Granderson for setting a positive tone, but he sat Granderson after a 1-for-17 slump on the homestand to allow him to "clear his mind." Wright was 1-for-10 during the homestand coming into the game but had two hits, including a single that gave the Mets a 2-1 lead in the fifth.

That was when the dramatics began. Mets starter Dillon Gee (6-6) surrendered the tying home run in the sixth to Phillies slugger Ryan Howard, his 20th. But Gee's toughness in three key spots kept the game in check.

Gee allowed a fourth-inning run but got out of a bases-loaded situation when Wil Nieves hit into an inning-ending double play turned by Flores and Herrera. With a man on third and two outs in the fifth, Gee struck out Jimmy Rollins, and he stranded two more Phillies in the sixth after Howard's homer.

"I was trying to bear down and make good pitches when I had to," Gee said of the double-play ball. "I got fortunate there. I thought the big one was the strikeout to Rollins to end the inning."

The Mets took tenuous control in the bottom of the sixth when Flores led off with his third single of the day, and Herrera drew a one-out walk. Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg visited Burnett but left him in to pitch to Recker, who had struck out twice. Big mistake. Recker jumped on the first-pitch curve and buried it in the leftfield seats for a 5-2 lead.

"He had thrown me a first-pitch curve on a couple of at-bats," Recker said. "I knew they told him to attack me because we had Curtis Granderson on deck as a pinch-hitter. He had to get ahead or throw a strike. I didn't know for sure he'd throw the curve. I got lucky."

The Phillies got a run-scoring single from Rollins in the seventh before reliever Dana Eveland stranded two runners with strikeouts of Howard and Grady Sizemore. Domonic Brown homered off Mets reliever Jeurys Familia leading off the eighth to make it a one-run game, but a diving stab by Flores of a grounder up the middle got the Mets out of the inning.

In the Mets' eighth, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, playing for Granderson, doubled, stole third and scored when Herrera singled for his first major league RBI. It turned out to be the winning run.

Mets closer Jenrry Mejia allowed the first two batters to reach base in the ninth before Herrera and Flores turned another double play on a grounder by Howard against the shift. Mejia gave up an RBI single by Sizemore before closing it out.

Reflecting on all the plays that allowed the Mets to pull out an otherwise meaningless game, Eveland said, "Hopefully, it can lead to us playing a strong September.

"Our pitching is going to be stronger in the future. There's talent in this clubhouse. We want to finish strong with the idea that this is going to be a playoff team."

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After a thrilling end to the BCS National Championship Game, how do you feel about moving to a playoff system?

I'm happy about there being more meaningful football. I'm bummed. I like the BCS. I don't care either way.

Vote

What do you think the Mets will do with Bartolo Colon now that the non-waiver trade deadline passed?

Trade him in August if he clears waivers Trade him in the offseason Keep him in rotation for 2015

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Anthony Recker's three-run homer leads Mets past Phillies

The Mets' Anthony Recker runs the bases after

The Mets' Anthony Recker runs the bases after his sixth inning three-run home run against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field on Aug. 31, 2014. (Credit: Getty Images / Jim McIsaac)

Travel deals

The Mets long have been out of playoff contention in a season in which they hoped to make major progress. But their dramatic "come-from-ahead" 6-5 win over Philadelphia Sunday afternoon at Citi Field showed they are anything but down about their predicament.

Although they did their best to squander the 5-2 cushion backup catcher Anthony Recker gave them with a three-run homer off Phillies starter A.J. Burnett (7-15) in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Mets showed real toughness in key spots and got a lift from rookies Wilmer Flores at shortstop and Dilson Herrera at second that offers hope for the future.

"We're very young as you can see," manager Terry Collins said of a lineup that included three rookies and two second-year players. "We haven't played anywhere near like we thought we were going to, but they come to the clubhouse each day with a smile on their face and get ready to play. You've got to make sure you stay positive, and this team does that."

Collins credited veterans David Wright and Curtis Granderson for setting a positive tone, but he sat Granderson after a 1-for-17 slump on the homestand to allow him to "clear his mind." Wright was 1-for-10 during the homestand coming into the game but had two hits, including a single that gave the Mets a 2-1 lead in the fifth.

That was when the dramatics began. Mets starter Dillon Gee (6-6) surrendered the tying home run in the sixth to Phillies slugger Ryan Howard, his 20th. But Gee's toughness in three key spots kept the game in check.

Gee allowed a fourth-inning run but got out of a bases-loaded situation when Wil Nieves hit into an inning-ending double play turned by Flores and Herrera. With a man on third and two outs in the fifth, Gee struck out Jimmy Rollins, and he stranded two more Phillies in the sixth after Howard's homer.

"I was trying to bear down and make good pitches when I had to," Gee said of the double-play ball. "I got fortunate there. I thought the big one was the strikeout to Rollins to end the inning."

The Mets took tenuous control in the bottom of the sixth when Flores led off with his third single of the day, and Herrera drew a one-out walk. Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg visited Burnett but left him in to pitch to Recker, who had struck out twice. Big mistake. Recker jumped on the first-pitch curve and buried it in the leftfield seats for a 5-2 lead.

"He had thrown me a first-pitch curve on a couple of at-bats," Recker said. "I knew they told him to attack me because we had Curtis Granderson on deck as a pinch-hitter. He had to get ahead or throw a strike. I didn't know for sure he'd throw the curve. I got lucky."

The Phillies got a run-scoring single from Rollins in the seventh before reliever Dana Eveland stranded two runners with strikeouts of Howard and Grady Sizemore. Domonic Brown homered off Mets reliever Jeurys Familia leading off the eighth to make it a one-run game, but a diving stab by Flores of a grounder up the middle got the Mets out of the inning.

In the Mets' eighth, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, playing for Granderson, doubled, stole third and scored when Herrera singled for his first major league RBI. It turned out to be the winning run.

Mets closer Jenrry Mejia allowed the first two batters to reach base in the ninth before Herrera and Flores turned another double play on a grounder by Howard against the shift. Mejia gave up an RBI single by Sizemore before closing it out.

Reflecting on all the plays that allowed the Mets to pull out an otherwise meaningless game, Eveland said, "Hopefully, it can lead to us playing a strong September.

"Our pitching is going to be stronger in the future. There's talent in this clubhouse. We want to finish strong with the idea that this is going to be a playoff team."

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College football video

Vote

After a thrilling end to the BCS National Championship Game, how do you feel about moving to a playoff system?

I'm happy about there being more meaningful football. I'm bummed. I like the BCS. I don't care either way.

Vote

What do you think the Mets will do with Bartolo Colon now that the non-waiver trade deadline passed?

Trade him in August if he clears waivers Trade him in the offseason Keep him in rotation for 2015

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Former Floyd star Stacey Bedell adds spark to Stony Brook attack

Stony Brook's Stacey Bedell cuts back through the

Stony Brook's Stacey Bedell cuts back through the Bryant line for a small gain in the second half, Thursday August 28, 2014. (Credit: George A. Faella)

Surveying the ruins of Stony Brook's offensive collapse in its season-opening 13-7 loss to Bryant, one offensive statistic offers reason for the Seawolves to take heart -- sophomore running back Stacey Bedell's 116-yard rushing performance on 27 hard-nosed carries.

The former Floyd High star who transferred from Massachusetts showed he can be a go-to guy even in a game in which Bryant created confusion by altering its usual defense and Stony Brook was breaking in untested transfer quarterback John Kinder and redshirt freshmen offensive linemen Timon Parris and Armani Garrick.

"I think we have a lot of talent on offense,'' Bedell said. "We just have to improve from our mental mistakes and everything we messed up on, including myself. I was slipping. I feel like I can get my footwork better and some of my pass-blocking.

"It feels great to be here. I like running the ball. That's what I came here for. I'm glad to be a part of something like this.''

Bedell showed early flashes of his ability as a freshman at UMass, rushing for 70 yards against Wisconsin, 58 against Maine and 81 against Kansas State in the first three games. But he was slowed by an ankle injury in the fourth game against Vanderbilt and played sparingly the rest of the way for the 1-11 Minutemen.

"People underestimated me because of my [185-pound] size,'' Bedell said, "but I showed I could run between the tackles and play against top-level competition.''

A speedster in the open field, Bedell mostly ran inside against Bryant. But Kinder struggled in the passing game in his first start after four years on the bench at Syracuse, and inexperience on the offensive line contributed to breakdowns.

"It was a lot for us to adjust to because they were giving us a lot of different looks that we weren't prepared for,'' Bedell said of Bryant. "They kept stacking the box to stop the run. In order for [run lanes] to open, we've got to get our passing game going because every team we play is going to stack the box on us.

"The freshmen offensive linemen were probably nervous in their first college game in front of a huge crowd. Then John, it was his first game starting, too. He has to adjust to the game speed. I feel like next week, he should bounce back and be a lot better.''

That would be against Connecticut, which is coming off a 35-10 loss to BYU, but as the only FBS opponent on the Seawolves' schedule, the Huskies will be tough. On the plus side for Stony Brook, after a one-game suspension for violating team rules, senior running back Marcus Coker will return to the lineup as the starter to form a powerful 1-2 punch with Bedell.

"Me and Marcus became very close friends because he was my roommate in summer camp,'' Bedell said. "He's a very cool guy. I can't wait for him to get back on the field. I like having to rotate with a guy because it gives a team a different look from a power guy to a speed perspective. That will open up more lanes.''

That's the plan, anyway.

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One big play but not much else for Stony Brook offense

Stony Brook quarterback John Kinder unloads a 61-yard

Stony Brook quarterback John Kinder unloads a 61-yard pass for a touchdown in the first half of a game against Bryant, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. (Credit: George A. Faella)

There was one moment when Stony Brook's play-action passing game worked against Bryant the way coach Chuck Priore drew it up, and it was beautiful. Quarterback John Kinder faked the handoff to Stacey Bedell on first down from the Stony Brook 39, stepped back and uncorked a rainbow to wide-open receiver Adrian Coxson, who caught the ball at about the 5-yard line and completed the 61-yard touchdown play.

That one play accounted for about a third of the Seawolves' offensive yardage in their season-opening 13-7 loss to the Bulldogs Thursday night at LaValle Stadium. The rest of the game was an exercise in boredom for an audience of 10,252, third-largest in school history.

Priore credited Bryant's coaching staff for changing its defensive scheme to add to the confusion for Kinder, who was playing his first game at quarterback since his days at Lawrence High. Kinder spent the previous four years at Syracuse in a backup quarterback role and actually switched to wide receiver last season.

Despite that long period of inactivity, Priore chose to start Kinder over backups Conor Bednarski and Carlos Hernandez, who at least had plenty of practice reps in Stony Brook's offense. Even though Priore's offense is predicated on a strong running game, it works best with a quarterback who can hit the deep ball in the play-action game and roll out of the pocket to pressure the defense with a run-pass threat.

Kinder's mobility made him great in high school, but Bryant took that away. "They forced up the field and high blitzes took away a lot of our movement-of-pocket stuff," Priore said. "They knew we had a first-time starting quarterback and they made that decision. It took away the things we were hoping to do with him."

In the second half, Kinder's two best passes were deep balls to Coxson, but Bryant defensive back Michael Johnson was more alert and broke up both near the goal line. The intermediate stuff was more hit-or-miss for Kinder, who threw two interceptions and nearly had a couple more ill-advised throws picked off.

"The downfield throws were more clear-cut," Kinder said. "When you're throwing intermediate throws, sometimes it gets a little foggy because there are more bodies in there. But I'm comfortable throwing the ball all across the field."

Stony Brook had only four first downs at the point when Priore inserted Bednarski with 3:57 left in the third quarter. The redshirt junior threw a near-interception on his first play and a third-down incompletion before Priore put Kinder back in.

Explaining the change, Priore said, 'That was just to let John look for a few plays to see what the defense was doing. Sometimes you can't see it from the field."

Former William Floyd running back Bedell enjoyed a successful debut after transferring from Massachusetts, carrying 27 times for 116 yards. But with Kinder completing only 7 of 18 passes, the running game became a little more predictable. The Seawolves converted only two of 16 third downs.

Maybe it would have been different if star running back Marcus Coker had been available, but he was sidelined by a one-game suspension for a violation of team rules back in February. He's expected to return Sept. 6 at Connecticut.

Asked how Coker's absence impacted the game, Priore said, "I really don't have a comment on that."

Maybe Coker will make a difference. Maybe Kinder will regain his touch with more playing time and with help from whatever adjustments Priore and his staff make.

Until that happens, the Seawolves must rely on a veteran defense that showed its toughness and athleticism against Bryant. Asked how frustrating it was to see the offense struggle while the defense tried to protect a 7-6 halftime lead, rover Christian Ricard stressed the importance of maintaining a positive attitude.

Recalling last season's 1-3 start, Ricard said, "We can't split as a team like we did last year when we had those early losses. We have to keep moving forward."

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Seawolves, new QB John Kinder sputter in season-opening loss to Bryant

Stony Brook quarterback John Kinder looks to go

Stony Brook quarterback John Kinder looks to go deep in the second half against Bryant, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. (Credit: George A. Faella)

For most of the previous four years, John Kinder was a spectator on the Syracuse sideline, and last season, he even moved from quarterback to wide receiver in practice. So after just one summer training camp, it was asking a lot for him to take charge of Stony Brook's offense and to produce immediate dividends.

With the exception of one highlight-reel touchdown pass, Kinder struggled Thursday night, and so did the Seawolves' offense in a disappointing 13-7 season-opening loss to Bryant in front of a LaValle Stadium crowd of 10,252, third largest in school history.

Stony Brook's usually prolific attack produced only 186 yards of total offense and a mere eight first downs. Kinder completed only 7 of 18 passes for 101 yards and was sacked four times for 37 yards in losses. He threw two interceptions, including one on fourth-and-4 at the Bryant 40- yard line that was returned 29 yards by the Bulldogs' Sebastien Amedee with just over four minutes left.

That sealed the fate of the Seawolves, who got 116 yards rushing on 27 carries by former William Floyd star Stacey Bedell. He started in place of Marcus Coker, who was serving a one-game suspension.

SBU's defense was outstanding, allowing 233 yards and 11 first downs and getting 12 tackles each from rover Christian Ricard and linebacker Jeremy Leggiero.

Kinder couldn't rekindle much that was reminiscent of his athletic exploits at Lawrence High School. "I guess it was difficult to get back in the swing of things," he said. "It was a rough night. There were a few things I'd like to have back, like the interceptions. You can't have turnovers."

Kinder's only action for the Orange came in four games on special teams, and the rust showed when his first two drives ended with third-down sacks. Gifted with good field position, Bryant came away from its first two possessions with field goals of 32 and 27 yards by Tom Aliberti for a 6-0 lead.

The Seawolves didn't manage their initial first down until early in the second quarter on a 7-yard run by Bedell to the Bulldogs' 37. Three plays later, Kinder threw an end-zone interception to cornerback Bobby Rutland.

The Seawolves' defense minimized the damage by forcing a three-and-out series, and Stony Brook took over at its 39. Nine seconds later, the Seawolves were celebrating. Kinder connected on a lightning strike to wide-open wide receiver Adrian Coxson down the middle for a 61-yard touchdown and a sudden 7-6 lead with 8:22 left in the first half. "That was my first college TD, so it felt great," Kinder said. "But I'd rather have the win."

Stony Brook's defense might have made that lead stand up, but on fourth-and-9, Easton completed the go-ahead 37-yard TD pass to Chad Ward midway through the third quarter. Redshirt freshman cornerback Marvin Hart, subbing for a starter who had cramps, fell on the play.

Stony Brook got no deeper than the Bryant 37 in the second half. Coach Chuck Priore credited Bryant for changing its defensive scheme to confuse Kinder. "They did things defensively that took away the passing game we had planned," he said. "They were 100 percent different than the way they were on film. We threw the game plan in the garbage at halftime. We had to change every blocking scheme."

If nothing else, the Seawolves know what must be fixed.

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QB John Kinder, transfer from Syracuse, shakes off the rust as he learns Stony Brook offense

Stony Brook quarterback John Kinder poses during the

Stony Brook quarterback John Kinder poses during the Seawolves' spring game on Saturday, April 26, 2014. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)

The door was open for John Kinder to transfer from Syracuse to Stony Brook a year ago, but as disappointed as the former Lawrence High star was with his lack of playing time, it never was just about football for him.

"I always knew I wanted to graduate from Syracuse and get my degree and finish out strong," Kinder said Wednesday. "I've never been a quitter. I didn't want to let my lack of playing time determine my experience and my education there."

That's the kind of mature leader who will take over as the Seawolves' starting quarterback for their season opener against Bryant University Thursday night at 7 at LaValle Stadium. Kinder got his bachelor's degree in communication and rhetorical studies from Syracuse, and he expects to earn a master's degree in higher education administration from SBU next spring.

In the meantime, he has a new set of teammates to lead in his final season of eligibility after appearing in only four games for the Orange. Despite the rust and having only the past summer to learn Stony Brook's offense, Kinder is confident he's ready.

"I very feel comfortable having guys look up to me and needing me to get the job done," Kinder said. "I've always prided myself in my leadership skills, and I think I communicate pretty effectively. I feel like it's perfect timing. I'm right where I need to be now."

Seawolves coach Chuck Priore said Kinder's leadership qualities stood out as soon as he stepped on campus. But it took something more to beat out Conor Bednarski and Carlos Hernandez, who each have a redshirt year of experience in the offense under their belts.

"I see on-the-field athleticism we haven't had at the quarterback position, ability to escape, ability to extend plays with his feet," Priore said of Kinder. "The tough part was learning what we're doing in a short period of time. But when he made mistakes, it never bothered him."

Spending his first three seasons at Syracuse as an understudy to quarterback Ryan Nassib, who now is backing up Eli Manning on the Giants, helped prepare Kinder. "I had a great relationship with Ryan," Kinder said. "At times, he got frustrated and would get on me about how 'Quarterbacks can't be clowns, can't be the goofballs.' I'm a fun-loving guy, but he'd remind me that quarterbacks have to set themselves apart from everyone else. That was one of the more valuable lessons I learned from him and also how he went about preparing for a game."

Kinder credited Bednarski and Hernandez with helping him learn the footwork and other intricacies required of the Seawolves' quarterback, and he has been impressed by the depth of talent on offense. "I do believe we have a slew of weapons," Kinder said.

From the day he arrived, Kinder has been throwing to tight end Will Tye, who will line up in a variety of positions, and wide receiver Adrian Coxson. Senior running back Marcus Coker will miss the opener while serving a one-game suspension for a violation of team rules, but Kinder named him as a valuable resource in helping him learn the offense.

"Coker knows the offense in and out," Kinder said. "He was another one of the guys during the summertime helping me come along in terms of verbiage for the plays. He's looked great coming off his [leg] injury. But all of our running backs look good."

Stacey Bedell and Tyler Fredericks will get the bulk of carries Thursday night, but it will be interesting to see how Kinder's run-pass option threat affects Bryant's veteran defense. "I don't feel any pressure at all," Kinder said. "I'm just going to have fun. This is my last go-round."

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Andre Williams excited to play Patriots on his birthday

Giants running back Andre Williams celebrates after running

Giants running back Andre Williams celebrates after running in a touchdown during the first quarter against the Buffalo Bills at the 2014 NFL Hall of Fame Game at Fawcett Stadium on August 3, 2014 in Canton, Ohio. (Credit: Getty Images / Jason Miller)

Sometimes, you wonder what NFL personnel experts are thinking when they allow a running back such as Andre Williams of Boston College to fall to the fourth round coming off a season in which he led the nation in rushing with 2,177 yards. But the Giants saw great value when they grabbed Williams, and he hasn't disappointed in the preseason.

Williams settled in quickly as the backup to starting running back Rashad Jennings, producing 151 yards on 33 carries for a 4.6-yard average and two touchdowns, including the game-winner last week against the Jets. After the starters get in a couple series of downs in tomorrow night's exhibition finale against the Patriots at MetLife Stadium, Williams should have ample chance to make Patriots fans wonder why Bill Belichick passed over the hometown hero.

"We are playing the Patriots, and they were right in my backyard in college," Williams said Tuesday. "So it is pretty special for me, and it's also on my birthday, August 28. I'll be turning 22, and it's exciting.

"I've had a good amount of success, and I feel like, through my play and dedication, the coaches have built up some confidence in me to play a role on the field. So I'm excited."

After last season, when the Giants ranked 29th in the NFL in rushing offense, their coaching staff has to be excited about reviving the running game with free-agent acquisition Jennings and Williams. Much of the focus has been on the passing game in the West Coast offense new coordinator Ben McAdoo is installing, but the running game is averaging 123.5 yards per game, which is 40 yards better than last season.

"I'm confident in my ability to run the ball, and I think coach McAdoo has put together a great offensive scheme for us to really utilize our strengths," Williams said.

If there was a knock on Williams that caused him to fall as far as he did in the draft, it probably was his lack of experience receiving out of the backfield. So far in the preseason, he has just been targeted once without a reception.

"You have questions about how you're going to perform, and there's anxiety about different things," Williams said. "I only caught 10 passes in college . Would I be able to adjust to NFL quarterbacks throwing the ball? Everything happens for a reason, and I feel like God placed me in this position to take advantage of an opportunity. I really had to recognize I can play at this level, and I just need to continue to work at things I need to work on. It's not something I can't do."

Quite the contrary.

It's something that Williams looks as though he can do for a long time.

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Jalen Saunders cleared to play following seizure, crash

Jets wide receiver Jalen Saunders (16) during training

Jets wide receiver Jalen Saunders (16) during training camp in Cortland, N.Y., Tuesday, July 29, 2014. (Credit: Hans Pennink)

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders on Monday was cleared for contact and will play in the final exhibition game Thursday night in Philadelphia after suffering what Jets coach Rex Ryan acknowledged was a seizure in his one-vehicle auto accident Aug. 15.

"For somebody to go through something like that and get back to where he is cleared to play, I think that's really big for him," Ryan said of Saunders, a fourth-round draft pick. "He looked good today, I thought."

Saunders crashed his 2014 Toyota Corolla less than a mile from the Jets' practice facility after what was termed a "medical event." "He had a seizure," Ryan said, "and that is the extent of what we know. When the doctors were confident that he would be cleared, he was."

Saunders said he has no family history of seizures and said he felt fine in practice. "It was something very, very scary in my life," Saunders said. "Other than that, I'm just blessed to be here . . . I don't know the cause for it, so I really can't give you an answer for it."

Saunders said his only goal Thursday is to "play football stress-free." He has been cleared to drive again but hadn't done so as of Monday.

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Ryan said S/CB Antonio Allen (concussion) is doing well with his concussion protocol and expects to be cleared for the season opener. CB Dee Milliner (knee) is not running full yet, and his status for the opener remains in doubt . . . CBs Darrin Walls and Kyle Wilson, S Calvin Pryor and LBs Calvin Pace and David Harris will not play to make sure they are healthy for the opener . . . WRs Stephen Hill and Clyde Gates left practice with illnesses, but both are expected to play in Philly . . . Backup QBs Matt Simms and Tajh Boyd will "take 99 percent" of the snaps, Ryan said, hinting that former Eagle Michael Vick will see token action to be recognized by the Eagles' crowd.

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After a thrilling end to the BCS National Championship Game, how do you feel about moving to a playoff system?

I'm happy about there being more meaningful football. I'm bummed. I like the BCS. I don't care either way.

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Which part of the Jets' team concerns you the most heading into the season?

Wide receiver Tight end Cornerback Quarterback Linebacker

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