Shaun Ellis was somewhat in enemy territory yesterday, going through a workout with the Patriots.
Ellis, affectionately known as Big Kaat, is hopeful of returning to the Jets, but the team has reportedly only offered him a one-year deal for the veteran's minumum. So the 6-5, 290-pound defensive end is apparently weighing his options, looking around to find other potential landing spots.
It's no sure thing Ellis will be a Patriot, but if he turns out to be a member of the Jets' AFC East rivals, Rex Ryan has a little message for the reliable 12-year veteran.
"Shoot, he knows he’s going to have to strap it on tight going against us," Ryan said. "And he’ll be ready, there’s no doubt, and we’ll be ready for him if he’s over there. But that’s the business. You get to make your decision and we’ll see what happens.
"But I can tell you this: our young guys are going to be ready."
Ryan started thinking about the Jets' youthful depth up front.
"When you add to your defensive line Muhammad Wilkerson, who’s what 6-4 1/2, 310, you add Kenrick Ellis – 6-5, 350—and you add Ropati [Pitoitua], who’s 6-9, 10 whatever it is and 310 pounds, we’ve got bigger and we’ve got young. Obviously, you can’t buy that experience, but these guys are players and we’ll see what happens."
Remember, Ellis had one of the best games of his career against the Patriots in the Jets' AFC Divisional win at Gillette Stadium back in January. For a refresher, here's some notes from our buddy Dan Leberfield of Jets Confidential.
The Jets played a coverage approach most of this game, often just rushing three, and Ellis got consistent pressure, even though he was often dealing with double teams. On the first play of the Patriots’ second possession, Ellis blew by guard Dan Connolly, and sacked Tom Brady.
Ellis had two outstanding plays in a row on a late third quarter drive. First, on the play after TE Rob Gronkowski’s 37-yard reception, Ellis stopped a Woodhead rushing attempt on the line. Then on the next play, he steamrolled Woodhead, attempting to block him, and this forced Brady to throw the ball away.
More great plays by Ellis. In the middle of the fourth, he blew by Connolly again, and stopped Woodhead for no gain. Aside from torching Connolly on this play, Ellis did a great job of bending his knees and staying real low to take to deal with the squatty Woodhead.
On the next play, Ellis beat Connolly again, and got into Brady’s face, and the quarterback got out of Shaun’s way, but ran into the arms of Sione Pouha. Ellis created this mess, and Pouha cleaned it up.
Of all of Ellis’ outstanding plays, the one that stands out the most to me was late in the first half. He displayed an indomitable will, shedding the double team of Connolly and center Dan Koppen, and sacked Brady, forcing a field goal.
So with that in mind, again, what if Ellis bolts to the Patriots?
"We’ll see if Shaun goes to New England," Ryan said. "Obviously I can’t say I wish him the best because that wouldn’t be true if he goes to New England. Now if he went to Dallas, I would say that that’s true."
Still, Ryan did say the Jets would love to bring Ellis, who was the longest tenured Jet, back for one more season.
"Like I’ve said, there’s always interest in us with everybody that we had on our football," Ryan said, "because I think every one of them can play and they are good teammates, every single one of those guys."