FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Next up in a week filled with trash talk: Antonio Cromartie.
The New York Jets cornerback caught himself Friday before nearly letting out an obscenity when asked what he thought of comments by the Miami Dolphins' Reggie Bush about it being karma that Darrelle Revis is out for the season.
"I'm not going to say what I really want to say about Reggie Bush," Cromartie said.
But then, he did. And he pulled no punches.
"It's football and injuries are going to happen," Cromartie said. "But for him to come out and say something like that, I mean, to me, it's unprofessional and at the same time it's not showing any kind of sportsmanship at all, so I mean I really could care less."
It started in Week 3 before the teams' first meeting when coach Rex Ryan said the Jets needed to put "hot sauce" on the playmaking Bush, who later hurt his knee in the game. Bush took offense to the comments, and implied that the Jets were out to intentionally hurt him, adding that "what comes around goes around," after Revis was lost for the season in the same game with a torn knee ligament.
Ryan said his comment was misinterpreted by Bush, saying he simply meant that his team was going to pay a lot of attention to the star running back. Ryan again clarified his remarks earlier this week, and added that he expected Bush to apologize for his comments since he did for his.
That started a pingpong match of comments this week, with the Jets' LaRon Landry and Aaron Maybin and the Dolphins' Mike Pouncey also adding their takes on the situations. The banter has also ramped up and already important showdown between the AFC East rivals with the Jets (3-4) and Dolphins (3-3) both talking about how important it will be to get a victory Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Several players on both sides stayed above the fray in terms of the trash talk, with Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow seeming to be amused by comments between Maybin and Pouncey, his former college teammate at the University of Florida.
"I'm sure both of them are pretty good at talking trash," Tebow said with a laugh.
Maybin said earlier this week that the Jets would be looking to "knock out" Bush on Sunday, "but we're out to do it legally." Pouncey fired back by calling Maybin a "joke" and took a shot at his limited playing time. "He's done nothing in this league to even open his mouth," Pouncey said. "I don't even want to talk about him."
Tebow said Pouncey, in his second season with the Dolphins is a "funny trash talker."
"I think sometimes he just does it for comic relief most of the time," Tebow said. "Back in college, sometimes you'd hear it on the field and I would start laughing so hard because it would just be the most hilarious stuff. He's pretty good at it."
How about Tebow? Does he do any yappin' when he's on the field?
"I try not to talk too much trash," he said with a big grin. "I'll throw in a 'God bless you' every now and then, something like that, after a hard hit."
Speaking of which, there's been some speculation that things could get a little chippy on the field because of all the chatter leading up to the game. Ryan doesn't think either side needs to worry about late hits or physical play after the officials blow the whistle.
"They won't do any of that," Ryan said confidently. "Both teams want to be as physical as they possibly can within two things: the confinement of the rules and between the white lines. That's what it's all about.
"I expect this one to be an extremely physical game. It seems like it always is against Miami. The other stuff, extracurricular things, nobody wants to see that."
Jets safety Yeremiah Bell was on the other side of the rivalry for the last eight seasons before signing with New York as a free agent. He has played in some highly competitive and physical games between the teams, and texted a few of his former Dolphins teammates throughout the week.
"Just being there and knowing those guys, I know they're fired up," Bell said. "This is a rivalry game and when I was there, you would always get up for Jets week. I'm sure they're going to be pretty excited to get up here and get the game on, so, you know, we'll be waiting for 'em."
Bell recalled a few Dolphins players getting angry when Bush got hurt in the last game on a combination of hits by Landry, Sione Po'uha and Bart Scott. The hit was legal, and Bell takes exception to anyone thinking the Jets are out to injure opponents.
"We don't play dirty," he said. "We don't do anything to play dirty. I mean, are we going to come after people? Yeah, that's what we do. I mean, that's what this sport is, to be physical. We're not a dirty team and we're not intentionally trying to hurt anybody, but when we tackle you and we swarm to the ball, we are trying to put some hurt on you. I mean, that's just the name of the game."
Bell and Landry, two of the Jets' most important free agent signings in the offseason, have added a physical presence in New York's secondary. Landry is second on the Jets with 62 tackles, while Bell is third with 56.
Both are also known for being aggressive big hitters, something that might make them targets in some ways for opposing offenses.
"I don't feel like that, but we're always looking for it," Bell said. "If that's what they want to do, or any team, we'll always welcome it. We're two physical guys and we don't mind people being physical back. It doesn't bother us any, so if anybody out there wants to come at us, we're waiting."
NOTES: Tebow was overwhelmingly selected in a Sports Illustrated poll of 180 NFL players as the "most overrated player" in the league, with teammate Mark Sanchez tied with Dallas' Tony Romo for second. "It really doesn't bother me too much," Tebow said. "The same players, this past offseason, voted me in the top 100 (in an NFL Network poll). I guess there's several ways you can look at it. They're probably just getting a little sick of hearing the talk and everything (the media) has to say." ... Bell has seen steady improvement in Miami rookie QB Ryan Tannehill, especially in his ability to read coverages. "We're going to have to disguise a little bit and try and mess with him," Bell said. "He's still a young guy, so I feel we can still mess with him a little bit."
Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL