In four seasons at the University of Maryland Bob Raba never made a [WORD ILLEGIBLE]
New York Jet followers find that hard to believe, because the former Maryland tight end and all-Met player at Walt Whitman High School is the [WORD ILLEGIBLE] of the Jets' special teams and one of their hardest hitters.
"I don't even like to think about being considered a killer or anything like that," Raba said. "The special teams is just something that I do and I try to do it as best I can."
The play of special teams is a major reason the young Jets are off to a 2-1 start as they prepare to take on the Washington Redskins Sunday at RFK Stadium.
"The special teams was a whole new world to me," said Raba, who came to the Jets last season as a free agent. "But we do things a little different, I think, than most teams. We have some flexibility with our assignments. We are able to do more than just run down the field and play like a robot."
Raba, at 6-1, 222, is not big for a fight end and he isn't particularly fast, but because of his play with the special teams, he was kept as the third tight and end behind Jerome Barkum and Mickey Shuler.
On the opponent's goal line and on short-yardage plays, the Jets use all three tight ends. Between that and playing on all special teams except field goal block and extra point block, Raba says he gets in a full day's work every game.
There appears to be a Maryland connection of sorts with the Jets. Joe Gardi, Jets special teams coach, recruited Raba out of Walt Whitman in Bethesda and coached him for a year at Maryland. Another former Terrapin, Ken Schroy, is a reserve defensive back and a Jet special teamer.
The Jets, whose average experience is only 17 years, are one of the youngest teams in the NFL this season.
They opened the season with victories over Miami the Buffalo before being upset by Seattle last week.
In that game, the Jets were assessed a team record 14 penalties. Five came on Seattle's drive to the winning touchdown. New York also had a touchdown nullified by a penalty and a 68-yard kickoff return called back.
Quarterback Richard 'Todd has thrown six touchdown passes, but he also has been intercepted six times.
The Jets' biggest improvements from a year ago, however, seem to be in their rushing offense and kicking game.
They were third from the bottom in the NFL in rushing offense a last year, averaging only 115 yards a game. In three games this season, they are up to an average of 149 a game. The leading rusher, Kevin Long, has run for 200 yards.
Pat Leahy has made all five field goals he's attempted, and punter Chuck Ramsey, who averaged 37.1 yards a punt last year, is booming them at a 44.6-yard average this season.
The leading Jets receiver is Derrick Gaffney, a teammate of the Redskins' Tony Green at Florida. Gaffney has 12 catches of 232 yards and a touchdown.
"It's frustrating to lose a game like the Seattle game." Raba said, "but we're a young team and we aren't going to give up no matter what happens. Whether we do it every week or not, everyone on this team has the belief that we can win."