SAFETY FIRST: COLEMAN MAY EARN STARTING JOB By MARK CANNIZZARO -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Email Archives Print Reprint August 29, 2004 -- The fact that he was still with the starting defense in the third preseason game of the summer would suggest that rookie draft pick Erik Coleman will start at strong safety. Recording a sack and a forced fumble against the Giants in Friday night's 17-10 preseason victory over the Giants, you would think Coleman, a fifth-round draft choice from Washington State and the possible steal of the draft for GM Terry Bradway, would have cemented his role as a starter. Herman Edwards, however, didn't want to commit to that yesterday, indicating that Reggie Tongue, the eight-year NFL veteran whom the Jets signed in the offseason to start at strong safety, is still in the hunt for that job. "Nothing has been set," Edwards said. "We haven't decided who the starters are. That won't be set until opening day." Asked if Tongue, who missed some 25 practices with a strained calf muscle earlier in camp, has a chance to reclaim the starting job, Edwards said, "If he keeps playing like he played [Friday] night, [he does]. He played fairly well and got hands on some balls, made some tackles. That was a big game for him." While Coleman led the team with five tackles and that sack and forced fumble, Tongue had a second-half INT while playing with the second-team defense. * Edwards yesterday announced that CB Ray Mickens (knee) remains out, as does WR Wayne Chrebet (quadriceps/knee) and DE Bryan Thomas (knee). G/T Brent Smith (triceps) is questionable. Also questionable are some casualties from the Giants game — CB Donnie Abraham, who suffered as knee contusion during the melee that ensued after his interception, DT Josh Evans (lower back tightness), LT Jason Fabini (mid-back tightness), and FS Jon McGraw (abdomen pull). Edwards indicated that the players who were hurt in the game should be OK. As for Chrebet, Edwards said, "When he got hit in the quad, it drained down in his knee and he doesn't have full flexibility in his knee. It's blood, so you can't drain it off. We have to let it go away. He's getting a lot better. We'll just see where it's at after the end of this week." Should Chrebet not be able to play in the Sept. 12 opener, rookie fourth-round draft pick Jerricho Cotchery, who's had a terrific camp, will be the No. 3 WR. "That's why he's going to play a whole lot more this week," Edwards said of Cotchery. * The Jets cut eight players yesterday, including QB Chris Finlen, WRs Carl Kearney and Derek Lee, OLs Randy Chevrier and Sean Young, DBs Art Thomas and Jar^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^rell Weaver and DT Kory Klein.