Sheppard ends up on bench for Jets

Posted: January 25, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS — The most noticeable thing about Lito Sheppard yesterday was his absence.

And now the former Eagles cornerback is probably about to disappear from the New York Jets' roster.

After starting the Jets' previous eight games, Sheppard was benched by coach Rex Ryan in the team's 30-17 AFC championship loss to the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Second-year cornerback Dwight Lowery started in Sheppard's place and had more than his share of problems tracking the Colts' receivers.

"I knew about it at the beginning of the week - Wednesday, when we got in" to practice, Sheppard said. "It was obviously a big surprise."

And a big disappointment, similar in nature to the end of his tenure with the Eagles when he went from Pro Bowl starter to the fourth cornerback behind Asante Samuel, Sheldon Brown, and Joselio Hanson.

"I've been through this situation before," Sheppard said. "I didn't think it would happen again, but we'll see how it goes."

Sheppard did get on the field late in the first quarter after Donald Strickland, another former Eagles cornerback, suffered a groin injury. On Sheppard's first play, Colts wide receiver Pierre Garcon got behind him for a 36-yard reception to the Jets' 9-yard line.

Sheppard played the rest of that defensive series, but he did not return after that.

This was Sheppard's first season with the Jets after being traded by the Eagles for draft picks in April. The Jets gave Sheppard a two-year contract extension after the trade, and it included a $10 million roster bonus that is scheduled to be paid March 11. There have been multiple reports that the Jets will not exercise that option, which would make Sheppard an unrestricted free agent.

"I haven't had time to think about" free agency, Sheppard said. "I felt like we really had something good here. We do have something good."

Sheppard would not rule out re-signing with the Jets, but it's clear he wasn't happy sitting out most of yesterday's game.

"I felt like I was a key part of this team that helped us get to this point, and there was no answer that was going to satisfy me other than me being out there," Sheppard said. "I'm not a disgruntled player. I'm not going to make a scene and distract the other players. You just have to go with what they say."

Brock's second Supe

Colts defensive lineman Raheem Brock is going back to his second Super Bowl. His father, Zachary Dixon, a member of the Eagles' first Super Bowl team in 1981, celebrated quietly with him after yesterday's game.

"It feels great," said Brock, a Philadelphia native who played at Dobbins Tech and Temple. "It's just as good as the first time, but we still have a task at hand that we want to take care of. We want to win this next game."

Brock nearly had a sack of Mark Sanchez in the second quarter, but the Jets quarterback released the football just before the Colts defensive lineman hit him. The result was a 9-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dustin Keller, which was followed by some trash-talking from Sanchez to Brock.

"Hell, yeah, he said something," Brock said. "I was ready to . . . I can't say what he said. It was bad enough to tick me off and made me go cuss somebody else out."

Dixon said his memories are faded from the Super Bowl he participated in with the Eagles.

"That was a long time ago," he said. "I'm just enjoying [Brock's]."

Help for Haiti

Garcon caught 11 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown yesterday, and the Colts wide receiver said he also got some donation offers for Haiti from some of the Jets.

Garcon, an American of Haitian descent, was asked about some trash-talking that went on with Jets cornerback Lowery during the game.

"There's always jawing . . . but he's a good guy," Garcon said. "He said he was going to help me out with Haiti. He told me during the game that I should get in contact with him, and he had a couple other guys who wanted to help. I told him, 'Thanks.' "

Extra points

The Jets lost the coin flip before the game, but much worse was the fact that referee Tony Corrente identified them as the New York Giants. . . . Colts kicker Matt Stover, at 42, will be the oldest player to ever play in the Super Bowl. . . .. Colts coach Jim Caldwell is the fifth rookie NFL coach to lead his team to the Super Bowl. Only two have won - Don McCafferty of the Baltimore Colts in 1970 and George Seifert of San Francisco in 1989.

Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at 215-854-2577 or bbrookover@phillynews.com.

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