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Receivers Have a Chip on Their Shoulders

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The Jets' receivers are tired of hearing your criticism.

David Clowney has had enough with people saying the New York Jets have no wide receivers other than Jerricho Cotchery.

No, really, he's tired of all the doubters and naysayers who insist the Jets lack a No. 2 receiver. Clowney is so fed up, in fact, he needs to censor his thoughts.

''I can't say it over the mic,'' the speedy wide receiver said Saturday at training camp, laughing and shaking his head. ''Write that down. I just can't say it.''

Clowney is among a group of inexperienced and unproven receivers trying to win the starting spot opposite Cotchery that was vacated when Laveranues Coles was allowed to leave as a free agent.

''It's the perception and it's pretty strong out there,'' said Brad Smith, taking a more toned-down approach. ''Everybody has a right to their own opinion.''

Not that the receivers have to like it.

''I don't think anyone's taking it personal,'' Chansi Stuckey said. ''Every one of us has thick skin, so I think we're just going out and want to prove everybody wrong by just making plays and hushing all the talk.''

That ''talk'' stems from the fact that Cotchery, a five-year veteran, has 260 career receptions while Stuckey, Smith and Clowney have combined for just 86 career catches. The prevailing thought has been that help is needed, and the Jets did little to quell that when they acknowledged having inquired about Plaxico Burress before the draft.

I do understand why people consider the position a concern. Aside from Cotchery, nobody is proven. I have pointed this out plenty of times. The criticism of this group might be a bit much, though. None of these guys has really been given a chance aside from maybe Smith. Stuckey and Clowney have both shown flashes of quality play during limited opportunities. Guys come from off the radar every year. It's not fair to totally dismiss the possibility these guys can play. They have displayed skill in the past. I'm sure a lot of the same people questioning this group scoffed at the idea of Jerricho Cotchery starting three years ago.

One thing I really like is this seems to have built a bond among the receivers competing for a starting job. It sounds as if these guys feel like they're in the same boat, which is not normal in a group fighting a position battle. If the receivers are there to help each other out, everybody will be better.

Perhaps they will not be able to match the productivity Jerry Rice Ginn, Fred Biletnikoff Camarillo, or Cris Carter Bess in Miami (at least that's what some Miami fans would have you believe), but you'd like to see these players at least get a chance before they're dismissed.

Perception is a strange thing. Everybody said before the Draft that the Jets were weak at quarterback. That stopped once they moved up for Mark Sanchez even though Sanchez has accomplished just as little as anybody else on the roster at the time. Perhaps we wouldn't be hearing this if the team took a receiver in the midrounds. I've heard that criticism, even though rookie receivers usually don't make a huge impact. Pundits are weird.