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Jets special teams had best day in years in victory over Lions

New York Jets special teams coordinator Brant Boyer

New York Jets special teams coordinator Brant Boyer speaks with reporters during training camp at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, N.J. on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Brant Boyer had been waiting a long time for the Jets special teams’ unit to have the type of game it had Monday night.

So long that the first thing the special teams coach said during his weekly news conference was, “You can all say it: It’s about damn time.”

Boyer is in his fourth season, but it had been nearly six years since the Jets scored a special teams touchdown. Andre Roberts returned a punt 78 yards for a score in the Jets’ victory over the Lions to end that drought.

The Jets haven’t had a good special teams unit in years. But they outgained the Lions 182-0 in kickoff and punt return yards.

Boyer, who’s hoping for another big game Sunday against the Dolphins, said the veterans led the way against the Lions. He credited Roberts – someone who appeared on game video in the special team’ meetings long before they signed him this offseason.

Boyer said he would show highlights of other teams when teaching his group, and Roberts was frequently on the screen. He had a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in 2015 for Washington, and returned two punts for scores for Detroit two years ago, including an 85-yarder. When Roberts became a free agent, Boyer suggested the Jets sign him.

“I’ve always admired that from afar,” Boyer said. “He’s always done a great job. When I came here I thought he could really help us, and I said I think he’d be a great addition for us. They got him here, which is awesome.”

On the attack

The first play of the Lions’ game didn’t work out for Sam Darnold or the Jets. But offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates said they were being aggressive, and that will continue

“When we go up to the plate we’re not swinging for a single, we’re going for the home run,” Bates said. “We’re going to take our cuts.”

Darnold and the Jets quickly put the pick-6 behind them. The rookie earned rave reviews for his play and poise. Bates was asked what his favorite Darnold play was.

“The last one when he took a knee,” Bates said. “It’s the best play in football.”

Injury report

Jermaine Kearse practiced in full for the second straight day. There’s a good chance he’ll make his season debut Sunday. … The same can’t be said for safety Marcus Maye (foot) and linebacker Josh Martin (concussion). They’re still not practicing. … Linebacker Neville Hewitt (knee) participated on a limited basis Thursday after not practicing at all Wednesday. … Offensive lineman Dakota Dozier was not at practice. Todd Bowles called it “an excused absence.”

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