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Jets' Antonio Cromartie wants Sundays to be fun days

New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie laughs as

New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie laughs as he talks to reporters during locker room availability at their practice facility in Florham Park, N.J. (May 16, 2013) Credit: AP

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Disappointed by his play this season, Antonio Cromartie thinks he finally figured out this week what's been missing. He's not having enough fun on Sundays.

On the heels of the Jets' 49-9 loss in Cincinnati last week, the Jets cornerback said he made a point of reflecting on his season this week -- "went back to the drawing board for myself," he said -- to look for reasons why he's not the same lockdown corner he's been in the past.

What Cromartie determined, he revealed after practice Friday, is that he might have entered this season putting too much pressure on himself to replace the departed Darrelle Revis as the leader of the Jets' secondary, and that added responsibility made him tight on the field.

"At the end of the day, it's really just about having fun," he said. "I think when you're having fun, you're playing your best football and you're playing a lot looser."

The more Cromartie dissected things, the more he realized his mentality entering this season had gotten him stuck in a vicious cycle. Putting pressure on himself to be more of a leader had a negative effect on his own play, and playing poorly on Sundays had a negative effect on his ability to be a leader.

And how does that manifest itself? "If I'm doing something wrong,'' he said, "I can't tell y'all to do it and expect you to do it when I'm not doing it."

So that's why Cromartie's goal Sunday against New Orleans is to get back to having fun playing a game. Of course, that could be a tough task. Saints quarterback Drew Brees has a well-earned reputation of testing cornerbacks and frequently beating them.

But Cromartie smiled at the mention of this week's opponent, saying he welcomes the challenge. If anything, it's a well-timed opportunity to come up big, turn his subpar season around and provide a much-needed lift to the Jets' defense after last week's blowout loss.

"A win for us would be big, the position it would put us in going into our bye week," he said. "But most importantly, we just want to go out and play football the way we want to and have fun with it."

Added coach Rex Ryan, "I just think that his talent gives me confidence that he can play better. We've seen him play better, and it's not just him, but the whole group, obviously."

Notes & quotes: The Jets ruled out WR Santonio Holmes (hamstring) and listed TE Jeff Cumberland (concussion), C Nick Mangold (rib), RB Alex Green (hamstring) and G Willie Colon (calf) as questionable . . . Brandon Moore, who spent his entire 10-year career with the Jets, formally announced his retirement in an emotional news conference. Moore, who played for the Jets last season, was presented a framed No. 65 jersey by the team. "For a guy that was undrafted and came in through the back door to be escorted out the front door at the end of your career is a great accomplishment," he said . . . Ryan said his dad, Buddy, will be on hand to see him coach against his brother Rob, the Saints' defensive coordinator . . . The NFL fined WR David Nelson $7,875 for being called for unnecessary roughness against Cincinnati . . . The Jets released WR Michael Campbell from the active roster and signed S Rontez Miles from the practice squad.

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