Friday, October 26, 2012

Sanchez on Keller: 'He's been my guy for 4 years'


Santonio Holmes may have been the New York Jets' best offensive playmaker, but tight end Dustin Keller is the quarterback's favorite target.

Keller missed four and a half of Gang Green's first five games due to injury, but he returned to work Week 6 and was full-go Week 7. His presence was felt last Sunday, and Mark Sanchez was elated to get him back.

"Dustin, he’s one of my best friends off the field, one of the best guys to play with, a great teammate," Sanchez said Wednesday. "He studies his butt off and he makes big catches for us always. He’s been my guy for four years and we just have to keep feeding him."

Keller caught seven passes for 93 yards and a touchdown in the Jets' 29-26 overtime loss to the New England Patriots.

"We’ve been saying the whole season what a difference it makes to have that kind of target as a tight end," Jets coach Rex Ryan told reporters Friday. "With that kind of athleticism, it’s a size-speed combination that’s hard to defend."

Ryan elaborated.

"Clearly, it does open up other things because he has to be one of their central focuses," he said. "Like we said before about Santonio Holmes, where he'd draw the coverage, they would basically roll the coverage and play Cover-2.

"With Dustin, in football terms, basically you play quarters. What that means is you’re going to put two guys on Keller where you have a guy hit him at the line of scrimmage and be able to play quarters. Sometimes when you have the combination of both, you can’t play both those coverages, you have to pick one or the other. I think that’s what Dustin provides for you as well."

Keller caught five touchdowns from Sanchez in each of the past two seasons and has 16 since being drafted by the Jets in 2008. 137 of his 222 regular-season catches have been for first downs, and he caught was on the receiving end of three scoring passes from Sanchez in the Jets' 2009 playoff run.

"He has been successful with Mark for a number of years, was our top receiver last year, so getting him back clearly makes a difference," Ryan said.

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