Neither age nor injury will stop Curtis Martin from playing. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
RB Curtis Martin is a tough player. For 109 consecutive regular season games, Martin has put his body on the line for his team. He has played through pain and injuries. But in last week’s win over Miami, Martin suffered a knee injury. The MRI came back negative and today, Martin practiced for the first time this week. He has been upgraded from questionable to probable for Sunday’s home game against Jacksonville.
I feel obligated to be out there because of the role I play on this team, a leader,” Martin said. “I want to be out there. For me to not be out there would have to be drastic. It would have to be stupid for me to not be out there.”
Martin said if he feels he cannot go on Sunday, then he won’t play. “I think I’m smart enough,” Martin said. “I’m not some gladiator, moron out there that’s going to try and do something. I definitely take care of my body. I still want to be able to walk my kids to school without playing football. I’m always going to be smart about it.”
The last time Martin missed a game was game five of the 1998 season. “It’s the most miserable time, for me as an athlete, when I’m not out there practicing and I have to walk around and watch everyone practice,” Martin said. “That’s almost as bad as watching the game that I’m supposed to playing in also. That’s just something that I don’t like, it’s almost like a pet peeve of mine.”
Martin has earned a reputation as an ironman for his ability to play through pain. In 2000, he played the entire season with a torn ligament in his left knee. Two sprained ankles in 2002 couldn’t sideline Martin, either.
Martin said he gets better at blocking out the pain as years go by. Before last season many questioned if Martin still had it in to be a powerful rusher. Martin responded to the critics by winning the NFL rushing title. This season Martin has carried 51 times for 129 yards. “I’m not worried about yards and I never have been worried about yards,” Martin said. “I’m worried about what’s going to help the team win. If me getting the ball 50 times for 50 yards is what we have to do, I’m fine with that.”
If Martin can’t play, then backup Derrick Blaylock would take his place. Blaylock, who came to the Jets as a free agent from Kansas City, carried the ball 33 times for 186 yards filling in for Priest Holmes against the Saints last year. This season, Blaylock has only carried the ball twice.
Guard Pete Kendall expects to see Martin on the field Sunday. “I think the biggest surprise would be if Curtis didn’t play or if he was injured to the point where he couldn’t practice before playing,” Kendall said. “I suspect that Curtis would be the first one to tell you that in order to play on Sunday; you really need to take as many practice reps as you can. There is a difference between watching the practice film and the game film and taking mental reps and going out there and doing it even though he’s done it so many times before.”
Martin was asked about his pain tolerance. “Before I have been through mental and emotional things in my past, but this is physical,” Martin said. “This is dealing with something every second of the day. You just learn how to push through it and take yourself to a different pain tolerance, or take your (pain) threshold to another level.”
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As mentioned above, RB Curtis Martin (knee) practiced today and is probable for Sunday. FB Jerald Sowell (ankle) also practiced and was upgraded to probable. S Erik Coleman (thumb) practiced and is still questionable. FB B.J. Askew (ankle) did not practice and is doubtful. WE/LB Trevor Johnson (head) practiced but is doubtful.
-WE/LB Trevor Johnson (head): Doubtful
-FB B.J. Askew (ankle): Doubtful
-S Erik Coleman (thumb): Questionable
-FB Jerald Sowell (ankle): Probable
-RB Curtis Martin (knee): Probable
The Jets hold a brief walk-through tomorrow as they continue to prepare for Jacksonville on Sunday. Check back to Jets Insider.com for a full preview of Jets-Jaguars.