Injury Bug Bites Jets
By James J. Parziale
September 19th, 2005
Each Monday, Herman Edwards walks into his office at 7 a.m. with his itinerary for the day. Mostly it’s the Jets to-do’s and must-fixes after a postmortem from Sunday. But without fail, there is a list Edwards never wants to lay eyes on: the injury report.
“Every Monday they put five things on your desk, five things you don’t want to deal with,” the fifth-year head coach said.
On this morning, Edwards probably should have stayed in bed. After a brutally physical 17-7 victory over the Miami Dolphins yesterday, the Jets are more like the walking wounded. The name with the most shock value is RB Curtis Martin, whose status is now up in the air after “straining” his knee. Also, S Eric Coleman broke his right thumb, while FBs Jerald Sowell and B.J. Askew have ankle sprains.
Martin’s injury looked to be the result of two run-ins with Dolphins LB Zach Thomas. The fourth all-time leading rusher rose gingerly after Thomas tackled him near the sideline with 7:44 remaining in the second quarter. Replays showed Thomas tackled Martin around the right ankle, and Martin’s knee came down hard on the ground.
Martin was slow to get up and could be seen limping in the huddle on the next play. Backup RB Derrick Blaylock came in two plays later.
The initial hit came earlier. On the Jets first scoring drive, Martin rose gingerly after it appeared Thomas’s helmet and shoulder pad made contact with the right knee. Martin also limped after that hit. He carried the ball nine times for 59 yards on the Jets first drive, but managed just 13 yards the rest of the game. Miami’s defense is staunch against the run, but if Martin’s knee was ailing, it didn’t help.
Martin was not available for comment today at Hofstra, but was seen “leaving for the doctor,” according to a Jets official, with a bandage and ice around his knee.
Edwards did not announce Martin’s status for Sunday, nor did he admit to knowing the severity of the injury. Wednesday will be the day of reckoning.
“We don’t know where he’s at,” said Edwards, who will update Martin’s status Wednesday. “He’s been a workhorse. He’s always answered the bell.”
And the Jets have rung it a lot. Martin has battled through nagging injuries since joining the Jets in 1998. Much has been made of Green Bay Packers’ QB Brett Favre, who has started 207 consecutive games, but Martin hasn’t sat out since the Jets’ fifth game in 1998.
In other words, for the last 106 games, Martin’s name has been announced in the starting lineup. No matter how nicked up he’s been.
“It’s always been a comfort knowing No. 28 is behind you,” QB Chad Pennington said. “If Curtis can’t go, which I can’t see happening, I won’t lose confidence in [backup] Derrick [Blaylock].”
The onus will fall on Pennington’s shoulders if Martin misses time. “We’re going to need Chad to loosen up those [defensive] fronts,” Guard Pete Kendall said.
Pennington has always leaned on Martin. Since Pennington arrived in 2000, Martin, who after a thigh injury held him out in 1998, has played through an array of hindrances.
On Opening Day of 2000 he partially tore the ACL in his left knee and started all 16 games. In 2002, he sprained his left ankle in the season-opener against Buffalo and later sprained the right ankle against Cleveland in Week eight. That season he had a career-low 1,094 yards and was only time he rushed fewer than 300 times in a season.
Other nagging injuries have hampered Martin, like when he injured his tailbone by tearing the muscle away from the bone, but the one constant is he’s always played.
Martin, 32, squashed his durability debate last season when he won his first rushing title. The Jets even let LaMont Jordan, a potential franchise RB, sign with the Raiders this off-season. Blaylock was brought in to spell Martin on occasion, but has touched the ball twice this season. That’s about to change.
“Right now it looks like he’s going to carry the ball a lot,” Edwards said. “We have one [healthy] running back. That’s not good.”
In addition to Martin, Coleman broke his right thumb during the first quarter but stayed in the game. He had surgery today and his status won’t be known until Wednesday. Oliver Celestin would step in if Coleman can’t go.
“I don’t know that yet,” Edwards said when asked if Coleman would miss time. “It’s all about [his] pain tolerance.”
Both Sowell and Askew, whose right foot was wrapped in ice today, have sprained ankles. However, Martin’s injury hangs the biggest question mark over the Jets season. When the Jacksonville Jaguars, who held the vaunted Colts offense to 10 points yesterday, come to town next Sunday, scoring points will be a premium. The running game must be effective.
If it falters, Edwards has a plan.
“We’ll just play run and shoot,” he said in jest.
To do so, you first need the run.
56 for No. 56: DE John Abraham has surpassed all expectations since returning from his hold out before the season opener. He raised the coaches’ eyebrows in Week One by causing havoc on most of his 34 plays – a surprise in itself.
Abraham, who made his first start yesterday, changed his jersey number from 94 to 56 in the off-season, and maybe he should play it in the lottery – it seems to have brought him luck. He got the game ball after playing a shocking 56 plays against the Dolphins.
“We said when everyone was concerned about him coming in that he would be conditioned,” Edwards said of Abraham, who had four tackles and a sack yesterday. “I’m more encouraged about how he’s played the run.”
The brighter side. At times, watching QB Chad Pennington throw the ball yesterday was not pretty. But Pennington took it in stride.
“The day I get frustrated after a win I’ll retire,” he said with a laugh.
It’s been hard for Pennington to enjoy much this season. His shoulder has been the focus of this early Jets season, and his performance the first two games has come under much scrutiny. Yesterday, he missed receivers all over the place, but engineered two touchdown drives where he threw crisply.
“Footwork,” Pennington said is the reason for some of his poorly thrown passes. “When you take the hips out of the throw, it’s not good.”
One such pass was a 31-yard completion to WR Justin McCareins. Pennington threw the ball and it hung like a punt, but McCareins caught it.
“A lot of times I find myself in an area too early,” Pennington said of his reads. “I have to wait for the pattern to develop.”
DE Trevor Johnson did not play yesterday because of a concussion. During yesterday’s game, RB Curtis Martin strained his knee, S Eric Coleman broke his right finger and had surgery today, and FBs Jerald Sowell and B.J. Askew sprained their ankles.
-RB Curtis Martin (knee): unknown
-S Eric Coleman (thumb): unknown
-FB Jerald Sowell (ankle): unknown
-FB B.J. Askew (ankle): unknown
The team has a day off tomorrow and returns to practice to prepare for the Jaguars on Wednesday. Be sure to check back to Jets Insider.com for all the latest NY Jets news.