Giving Thanks
By John Melillo
Jets, Staff Writer
November 24th, 2004
One day before the Thanksgiving holiday, Jets head coach Herm Edwards offered some early gratitude to 31-year RB Curtis Martin, who eclipsed the 1,000 rushing mark last week versus the Browns and has been a symbol of consistency throughout his NFL career. Edwards presented the ultimate compliment to Martin, comparing him the NFL’s all-time rushing leader and Arizona Cardinals RB Emmitt Smith....Also: Pennington begins throwing and Bradway signs 2 year extension.

One day before the Thanksgiving holiday, Jets head coach Herm Edwards offered some early gratitude to 31-year RB Curtis Martin, who eclipsed the 1,000 rushing mark last week versus the Browns and has been a symbol of consistency throughout his NFL career. Edwards presented the ultimate compliment to Martin, comparing him the NFL’s all-time rushing leader and Arizona Cardinals RB Emmitt Smith.

“You marvel at guys like that,” Edwards said of two backs that have combined for 30,817 yards throughout their respective careers. “They’re basically the same age and you’ll never see them break a highlight run, but they’ll get you 110 yards a game. At the end of the day, they’ll produce a lot of first downs, rushing yards and key plays for you. And you can include the “Bus” (Steelers RB Jerome Bettis) in that group.”

In a conference call with the NY media this afternoon, Smith provided his view on why they’ve both have been able to remain productive throughout their careers.

“The good thing about Curtis and myself, is that we’ve been fortunate to be blessed with a talent and a gift to stay healthy, number one, and be productive over a long period of time and be consistent about what we’re doing,” Smith said.

Edwards noted the players’ statures as one reason for their continued success over the years.

“It’s their style of running,” Edwards said citing their ability to avoid the big hit. “And it’s usually a particular mold – they’re usually around 5’10, 5’11 and weigh about 215 –220. Those are the guys you see play with longevity.”

The player handing off to Martin for the past two games, QB Quincy Carter, will continue as the starting signal caller this Sunday vs. Arizona. Carter will make his third consecutive start in place of injured QB Chad Pennington this week.

“We anticipate a better performance by (Quincy),” Edwards said. “We need to get in a flow on offense. We weren’t able to do that last week (vs. Cleveland) in the first half. We had like 7 or 8 punts and couldn’t convert on third down. We need to give Quincy more than three plays to get in a rhythm.”

After practice today, Carter discussed the pressure of replacing Pennington in the starting lineup after joining the team late in the offseason.

“Nothing changes for me, I’m a professional and always have to be prepared,” Carter said. “That’s what they pay us for.”

In facing the Cards this week, Carter remains steadfast on his approach.

“I just have to play my game,” he said. “My approach will be the same. I’m getting more comfortable (with the offense). We need to establish the run – that’s our main goal.”

Over the past three games, the offense has uncharacteristically allowed 12 sacks with Carter at the helm. Edwards was quick to defend Carter for the alarming increase in negative plays for the offense.

“We (fans and media) blame sacks on quarterbacks, but sometimes it’s the blocking,” explained Edwards. “We all share in that. It is not always the QB.”

Two Jets will be reunited with their former team this week as Gang Green prepares to battle Arizona this Sunday. Edwards stressed the club is grateful for Cardinals’ imports OG Pete Kendall and CB David Barrett and has been pleased with both players this season.

“We knew (Kendall) was a good player,” Edwards said, recalling back to the time he was abruptly released by the Cards in August. “I’m sure he needed to get over the shock of being cut and focus on the expectations we had for him. He’s done that and some.”

Kendall admitted the juices would be flowing faster this week versus his old teammates.

“I’ll be extra charged up,” Kendall said. “It’s only human nature to be.”

Although the secondary has been scrutinized this season, Edwards praised Barrett for adjusting to the team’s scheme and providing a physical presence in the defensive backfield.

“Barrett has been a pleasant surprise for us this year,” Edwards noted. “He’s improved. (Coordinator) Donnie (Henderson) and (defensive backs coach) Corwin (Brown) have been hard on him. They’ve beat on him, (but) he’s learning the concepts of what we need to do. He’s a tough guy.”

MISCELLANEOUS TIDBITS: Various sources are confirming that the Jets have signed GM Terry Bradway to a two year extension. Bradway, who was under scrutiny after the Redskins raided the Jets' roster two seasons ago, redeemed himself by re-building the team into a contender this season. The team is not confirming or denying the report. Bradway's contract was to expire after this season's end.....Martin and C Kevin Mawae own two of the franchise’s longest current streaks for consecutive starts. Mawae has started every game (106) since he joined the Jets as a free agent in 1998. Martin’s streak of 101 games represents the longest for a running back in team history and also dates back to 1998.....Martin’s escort through the hole, FB Jerald Sowell, is receiving much-deserved recognition for his play this season as he leads the AFC Pro Bowl voting for his position. Edwards praised the fullback for his unheralded role this year. “(Sowell) does a great job of blocking,” Edwards said. “He makes tough catches; he’s good on pass protection. He does all the little things that go unseen in games.”.....Cards’ RB Emmitt Smith has never scored a rushing TD versus the Jets, but don’t tell that to DE John Abraham. “(Emmitt) still has something left in his tank. He can still rush for 100 yards on you,” the defensive end said.....Following a productive outing filling in for Martin last week, RB LaMont Jordan expressed his desire to remain in New York despite most thinking he's gone after the season. “I am thankful that I have been able to play with Curtis during my time here and hen has helped me become the back I am. I would love to remain a New York Jet and play for Herm the rest of my career.”.....Coach Herm Edwards and his family would visit and help volunteers serve Thanksgiving dinner at Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall in Wheatley Height, New York tomorrow.

INJURY REPORT: QB Chad Pennington threw about 50 passes today for 15 minutes and reported progress with his injured rotator cuff. Pennington has been ruled out for Week 12, but did not experience any discomfort in the light practice. Pennington also shot down rumors about missing the remainder of the season and said “it was never an issue” in possibly undergoing season-ending surgery. His recovery is going has planned and he has no doubt he will be back within the next few weeks. LB Victor Hobson (ankle) was upgraded to questionable today with a high ankle sprain. Edwards said Hobson is “getting better”, but LB Mark Brown would start if Hobson were unable to play. S Jon McGraw (groin) is suffering from a sports hernia, according to Edwards, and will be rested this week. McGraw, who is officially listed as questionable for Sunday’s game, will be re-evaluated next week. His injury will require offseason surgery and could shut down the veteran safety for the remainder of the season. McGraw has the same type of injury that forced DE John Abraham to the Injured Reserve list last season. Fellow S Rashad Washington (foot) was removed from the injury report. S Reggie Tongue sported a bandage on his right knee, but is not on the injury report. Here is the rest of the injured list for Week 12.

-QB Chad Pennington (shoulder): Out
-LB Jason Glenn (forearm): Questionable
-S Jon McGraw (groin): Questionable
-LB Victor Hobson (ankle): Questionable
-WR Jerricho Cotchery (hamstring): Questionable
-RB Curtis Martin (knee): Probable

The players will practice tomorrow and Friday as they prepare for the Arizona Cardinals. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. Eastern time. Check back to Jets throughout the week for all the latest news and team reports.