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Jets defense announces its mission with punishing force

The Jets’ starting defensive front spent the second half of Saturday’s preseason opener taking group runs up and down the sidelines during lulls in the action at MetLife Stadium.

Their real work for the night was done, but defensive tackle Steve McLendon wanted to keep his group sharp.

“It’s all of us together,” McLendon said. “We just want to stay in shape. We got pulled early, so the biggest thing is continue to condition, continue to get after it.”

They did plenty of that while they were on the field, setting the tone on a night when the defense racked up eight sacks and stifled the Titans en route to a 7-3 win.

On their first three defensive plays, the Jets were tagged for 29 yards and a pair of first downs. That quickly changed, thanks to a swarming defensive front.

Revved up by a sack of Marcus Mariota from third-year defensive end Leonard Williams on the very next play, the Jets went on to hold the Titans in check — and scoreless — for the remainder of the first half.

“It definitely gave us a little bit of momentum,” Williams said of his sack. “They came out and snapped the ball really quick on the very first play and caught us off guard a little bit. The defense rallied together and got off the field, offense scored on the first drive and things were rolling pretty well for us.”

With Mariota at quarterback for the first two series, the Titans mustered just 6 yards on six plays following their first three plays of the game. Buster Skrine nearly picked off Mariota near the end of the first quarter to send him off with a bang.

But it was the front seven that made the most noise. Plenty of it came when linebacker Julian Stanford delivered a rude welcome to backup quarterback Alex Tanney on the Titans’ first drive of the second quarter.

As Tanney looked downfield for a receiver, Stanford came around from the left side and hit him in the chest, flattening him for a sack and loss of 6 yards. Tanney was forced to leave the…

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