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What's new: the Jets' Thomas Jones; Wed. notes

Jets running back Thomas Jones is the new feature back in New York's offense. He'll face the Patriots for only the second time in his career this Sunday in the season opener.

It's not unusual for the New England Patriots to praise their opponents.

It's just unusual when it's a player who shares a name with an aging pop star.

Now with his fourth NFL team, New York Jets running back Thomas Jones – not to be confused with singer Tom Jones – has only faced the Patriots one other time (last season, as a Chicago Bear).

But that's not stopping him from singing the praises of his new AFC East rivals.

"They play hard, got some hard-nosed guys," Jones began. "They've played in a lot of Super Bowls and they've won a lot of games. They're a well-coached team and they play well together."

Coupled with his limited action in the Jets' preseason games, Jones' lone appearance versus New England makes Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's scouting of him a little more difficult. Belichick admitted Wednesday that he's been relying heavily on Bears game tapes to get an accurate read on Jones.

"Yeah, yeah we have. That's really our best exposure to him," the coach explained during his daily press conference.

"He's only had a handful of carries here in the preseason. But he carried the ball a lot for Chicago the past couple of years, had 2,500 yards, so, we'll just have to project a lot of his skills into their system because there's not a lot of tape on him [as a Jet]."

And according to Belichick, analyzing how a player will adapt to a new system is the most challenging aspect of the process.

"That's the big question. If you can answer that one, you'll be ahead of the game in a lot of personnel moves."

Jones was asked during a conference call with New England media about how his injury-shortened start compares to that of Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss, who's also in his first year with a new team and didn't take part in most of preseason. Jones' reply was similar to what Moss said earlier this week: it's no big deal.

"We both played a lot of football in our careers," remarked Jones, whose brother, Julius, starts at running back for the Dallas Cowboys.

"Unfortunately, I got the injury early in camp and missed the last couple of preseason games. But I did a lot of conditioning and watched a lot of film, and was pretty much doing everything the team was doing. As far as me being up to speed, it's not an issue."

Being prepared for his job is something Jones learned from his parents, both of whom were coal miners in West Virginia. Coming from such humble beginnings gives Jones an extra appreciation for the wealth and fame he's earned in the NFL.

And having played in last year's Super Bowl as a member of the Bears, Jones is hungry to get back to the big game.

"It's an unbelievable experience," he recalled. "It's the reason why you play this game. To have that experience and know what it feels like, it definitely gives you motivation to get back there."

For both the Patriots and the Jets, the road to Glendale, Arizona (site of Super Bowl XLII) begins Sunday in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Wednesday Practice Notebook

DL Mike Wright and S Rashad Baker, who weren't on the field for Monday afternoon's practice, were both back in full pads at Wednesday's session.

WR Randy Moss and the other Pats wide receivers took part in pass-catching drills at the start of practice. Just like in his few training camp appearances, Moss made a few difficult catches look easy.

Kickoff and kickoff returns were a focus of the beginning of practice.

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