- The Washington Times - Friday, June 12, 2009

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) - Jerricho Cotchery realizes what people are saying about him and the rest of the New York Jets’ wide receivers.

_ They’re not talented enough.

_ There’s no true No. 1 receiver.

_ They need a game-changing presence such as Plaxico Burress.

“We don’t take it personal,” Cotchery said during minicamp this week. “It’s just something that adds to whatever you’re doing, your work ethic or whatever. It’s extra juice.”

While rookie Mark Sanchez and veteran Kellen Clemens are competing for the starting quarterback job, one major question is who the winner will be throwing to when the season starts.

Cotchery, a five-year veteran with 260 career receptions, is the only proven receiver after Laveranues Coles signed with Cincinnati. Then, there’s quarterback-turned-receiver Brad Smith, sure-handed Chansi Stuckey, speedy David Clowney and athletic Wallace Wright at the top of a list of mostly anonymous players. Those four have combined for just 92 career catches, and that has lots of fans and media insisting that help is needed.

“I don’t care anything about that at all, not even a little bit,” Clowney said. “At the end of the day, that’s all talk. Everybody wants to sit there and speculate. At the same time, they only watch TV and watch the games. They don’t see what guys are actually doing in practice.”

The Jets have had one predraft discussion with agent Drew Rosenhaus about Burress. The former Giants receiver has a brief hearing Monday in Manhattan regarding his gun possession case, which will be adjourned until September. If he’s cleared to play this season _ he could face jail time, and even a suspension by the NFL _ the Jets could be in the mix, along with Chicago and Tampa Bay, to add the playmaking but troubled wide receiver.

“If everyday you’re saying that you’re working toward the goal of winning the Super Bowl, you’ve got to do everything possible to make sure you’re putting yourself in position to do that,” Cotchery said. “So, if you’re not at least asking about Plaxico, you’re really not serious about your goals. You don’t find that type of talent on the market at this time of the year.”

Cotchery and Smith both said they would welcome Burress, but also think the team doesn’t need to go out of its way to bring him to the Jets.

“I want everybody to understand that I’m really not blowing smoke, but we have a lot of talented guys at wide receiver,” Cotchery said.

That’s an assessment with which wide receivers coach Henry Ellard agrees.

“Yeah, we would love to have him because he adds to what we already have,” Ellard said. “But, if it came down to it, I think we’ll be fine with what we already have. We’re a little short on experience, but that’s going to come with time.”

But with a team built to win soon, if not now, can the Jets risk going into the season with so many unproven targets?

“We don’t think we need him,” Wright said. “I’m just going to be straight-up honest with you. We feel like we’re a strength on this team. We feel we have it right in our room. We don’t need anybody coming in, and we don’t need anybody coming out.”

But Burress would also step in as the No. 1 receiver, a spot some don’t think Cotchery is suited for.

“Even when Laveranues was here, people still said we needed somebody else,” Cotchery said. “The past couple of years, I’ve led the team in receiving while being the so-called No. 2. I think it’s just who’s going to make the plays for you when the game is on the line.”

Ellard knows about that. The former three-time Pro Bowl selection whose 13,777 yards receiving rank eighth in NFL history is in his first season with the Jets after spending the past eight years as an assistant with St. Louis.

“I think we have the ability to win with these guys, that’s for sure,” Ellard said. “With the running game we have and the offensive line, without a doubt.”

Wright, a special teams standout, was one of the top performers during the Jets’ three-day minicamp. He was on the receiving end of Sanchez’s pretty touchdown toss on the last play of 11-on-11 drills Thursday.

“To say that the receiving corps is a weakness on this team, we definitely beg to differ,” said Wright, whose six career receptions all came in 2007.

Stuckey was a favorite target for Brett Favre early last season and finished with 32 catches for 359 yards and three touchdowns. Clowney was impressive last preseason, but had one only catch in two regular-season games after missing several games with a shoulder injury. Smith, who has 47 catches in three seasons, was a quarterback at the University of Missouri and is still learning the fundamentals of the position.

“I don’t think you have to have a big-name guy to be good,” Ellard said. “I think we’ll surprise some people. I really believe that.”

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