Sal Alosi tripped up when he told the Jets his side of the story.
Now, the embattled assistant coach could be looking to save his job.
Alosi, New York’s strength and conditioning coach, was suspended indefinitely by the team yesterday after he acknowledged that he told five inactive players to stand next to each other for a punt return, during which he tripped Miami’s Nolan Carroll.
“As we continued our investigation, we discovered some new information,’’ general manager Mike Tannenbaum said in a conference call from the NFL owners meetings in Dallas, “and the players at the Miami game were instructed by Sal to stand where they were to force the gunner in the game to run around them.’’
That was information Alosi did not initially volunteer Monday, according to Tannenbaum. The team suspended Alosi for the season without pay and fined him an additional $25,000 after he stuck out a knee and tripped Carroll, who was covering the punt in the third quarter of the Dolphins’ 10-6 win Sunday.
“Over the course of the next couple of days, more information came out that really doesn’t sit well with us,’’ Tannenbaum said.
On Monday, Alosi called his actions “inexcusable and irresponsible.’’ He also said no one was instructed to stay up on the sideline to prevent Dolphins players from running out of bounds on kicks.
However, tight end Jeff Cumberland, who was inactive Sunday, said it was nothing new for the players to line up next to each other as they did against the Dolphins.
“Since the beginning of the year, we’ve been instructed to line up behind the [white] line,’’ he said, adding that it was only Alosi who has told them to do so.
Coach Rex Ryan and special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff both have denied they ordered anyone to do what Alosi told the players.
“It caught me off guard,’’ Ryan said.
Westhoff said he doesn’t teach the technique and reviewed every return by the Jets this season with assistant special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica.
“For the most part,’’ Westhoff said, “we didn’t see it.’’
Westhoff said he didn’t believe it when he first heard that players might have been ordered to stand together along the sideline.
“I was like, ‘Please, give me a break. The whole thing is ridiculous,’ ’’ Westhoff said. “Then, when I saw it, I was like, ‘Whoa.’ You didn’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to see they were lined up.’’
Westhoff added that other teams may use the wall, and singled out the Patriots.
“I’m not accusing the Patriots of doing something wrong,’’ Westhoff said. “Maybe they’re doing something smart. Watch the tape, you tell me.’’
Tannenbaum said he met with Ray Anderson, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, yesterday and the league supported the Jets’ decision. Tannenbaum added that the NFL was also looking into the incident.
“Once we get all the information, we’ll make a final determination,’’ Tannenbaum said. “But, based on this information, Sal’s been suspended indefinitely.’’
Tannenbaum did not rule out the possibility that Alosi will be fired. A decision will be made once Tannenbaum returns from meetings in Texas.
Commissioner’s news NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said there could be a new labor agreement in place by the Super Bowl “if we all commit to it and work hard at it.’’
Following a day of meetings with NFL team owners in Fort Worth, Goodell said he doesn’t think it is practical to expect negotiations to get serious enough fast enough for a deal to be in place by the end of the regular season Jan. 2.
He added league officials would “work night and day’’ to get something done. Goodell said the league has no deadline, but notes that the collective bargaining agreement expires March 4.
Goodell said he is close to announcing whether the league will punish Brett Favre for sending inappropriate photos and phone messages to former Jets game hostess Jenn Sterger.
Goodell said he received the league’s report about the case “last week and I expect that some time in the near future I will make a decision.’’
Asked if that would come by the end of the season, he said, “I expect that, yes.’’
Old college try Backed by dump trucks and loaders, dozens of workers hoisting shovels and blowers attacked the snowdrifts covering the University of Minnesota’s outdoor stadium in a determined push to have it ready to replace the snow-damaged Metrodome for Monday’s matchup between the Vikings and Bears . . . Safety Eric Smith will miss the Jets’ game at Pittsburgh Sunday while recovering from a concussion. Smith, who has had at least two concussions, was hurt in the Jets’ 10-6 loss Sunday . . . Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel (appendectomy) was back on the practice field yesterday, but whether he will start Sunday against the Rams remained uncertain . . . Giants receiver Steve Smith injured the articular cartilage in his left knee in Monday’s win over the Vikings and will need season-ending surgery . . . Colts receiver Austin Collie (concussion-like symptoms) made it through a full practice, raising hopes he’ll play Sunday against Jacksonville . . . Marvin Lewis is defending Terrell Owens a day after the receiver pointed a finger at the Bengals coaching staff for the team’s lousy season. Lewis played down those comments and said it’s unfortunate Owens gets criticized for speaking his mind. On his cable television show, Owens said there’s been a lot of underachieving from the owner on down . . . The Texans signed ex-Patriots defensive lineman Jarvis Green after placing Mario Williams on injured reserve with a sports hernia.