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Jets coach Rex Ryan stepped softly around his choice of Bart Scott over Ray Lewis last night when he participated in a conference call with New York reporters. He called Lewis the premier middle linebacker in the game, but said Scott fit the Jets better.

Scott is four years younger than Lewis, has better cover skills and has played 58 consecutive games. More important, he also will help Ryan deceive offenses.

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The Jets will use inside backers David Harris and Scott together and either one can be the Mike linebacker. That creates a problem for the offense, which needs to identify the Mike before the play.

Ryan loves to wreak havoc with the offensive blocking schemes, and this move will enable him to do that. It also gives him a teacher of the system. The more Ravens he gets in, the better the transition will go.

The Jets have more help on the way. They've almost completed a deal for Eagles' cornerback Lito Sheppard, who will be at the Jets' complex for a physical today. Also visiting the Jets today is Ravens safety Jim Leonhard, who boosted his value significantly with his one season in the Ryan scheme last season.

Ryan appears to be putting his defense together quickly now. Offense will be the bigger question and take longer.

-- Ken Murray

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