Jets-Bears matchup of the day: Friday

Posted Dec. 23, 2010 @ 7:13 p.m.
Posted By Dan Parr

Here's a look at another key matchup heading into Sunday's Week 16 battle between the Jets and Bears.

Jets KR Brad Smith vs. Bears' kickoff coverage

Devin Hester became the all-time leader in kick returns for touchdowns on Monday night, but, as head coach Lovie Smith was sure to mention when praising Hester Wednesday, the Jets have a pretty dangerous returner, too.

The Jets' Brad Smith has returned two kickoffs for touchdowns this season and 32 of his 47 returns have gone for 20 yards or more. No player with more than 21 kickoff returns this season has a better average per kickoff return than Smith's 29.1 mark. The Bears haven't given up a kickoff return for a TD all season and special-teams coordinator Dave Toub usually does a fine job of preparing his players. Vikings RB-KR Lorenzo Booker was able to find a hole in coverage on Monday night, however, and had a 49-yard kickoff return against Chicago.

QB Mark Sanchez is dealing with a cartilage tear in his throwing shoulder, which could hamper him if he plays Sunday. The Jets will go with Mark Brunell if Sanchez can't play.

Either way, the Jets' offense could use a boost from their special teams against one of the league's better defenses, and Smith will provide one if his blockers clear a lane for him to burst through or if the Bears miss tackles.