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INSIDER TUSESDAY TEAM REPORT

By Dan Powell
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
August 29th, 2006
Jets RB Curtis Martin will start the season where he finished, on the sidelines watching. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Jets RB Curtis Martin will start the season where he finished, on the sidelines watching. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
It was all about two veteran team leaders going in opposite directions at Weeb Ewbank Hall today. On the same day that head coach Eric Mangini named Chad Pennington the starting quarterback, he also announced that future hall-of-fame running back Curtis Martin will start the season on the physically unable to perform list.

The news means that Martin will not be eligible to return to the team until Week 6 at the earliest. Essentially the team has a window from Week 6 to Week 12 to activate Martin. Despite his work in the rehab program the Jets have set up for him, Martin’s knee is simply not ready to go yet.

“He worked as hard as you can work and I think the program we had in place for him was a good program but there just hasn’t been enough progress yet,” Mangini said.

Even though Martin is now a 33-year-old running back who will start the season on the PUP with what is reportedly a bone-on-bone condition in his knee, the team has not ruled out a seemingly unlikely return.

“The odds don’t really apply to Curtis,” Mangini said. “He’s always defined odds in everything he has done.”

Martin has not allowed himself to consider retirement. The veteran said he remains motivated and is still looking to help the team.

“What keeps me going more than anything is just the team,” Martin said. “The commitment I have to the team is what keeps me working.”

In his short tenure with the Jets, Mangini has already seen one player define the odds to come back from injury. Pennington, who missed most of last season with a shoulder injury, has now come all the way back from the brink as he has officially been named the starting quarterback.

“He’s distinguished himself in the way I’m looking for,” Mangini said, highlighting the veteran’s presence and leadership.

Although Pennington had been the frontrunner to win the starting job since the end of the first week of training camp, Mangini said it was the vet’s performance in situational drill that made him the clear choice for the job. Pennington has now completed a comeback that many outside the team believed impossible just under a year ago.

“I know a lot of people in the media were skeptical,” veteran wide receiver and Pennington’s favorite target Laveranues Coles said. “I knew he would be back.”

Mangini also said that Pennington would not play against the Eagles on September 1, but the other three quarterbacks will play and continue battling for the next spots on the depth chart. Still, the QBs themselves believe there will be no change in the team’s preparation.

“I think we’re all still just trying to work on our individual selves,” Pennington said. “After we cut the team down to the final 53 then we’ll start to hone in on what we have to do as a team.”

Veteran quarterback Patrick Ramsey, who was brought in during the offseason as an insurance policy for Pennington, did not voice any disappointment.

“We all just want to go out there and compete and we all had our opportunities,” Ramsey said of competing for the other spots on the depth chart. “We just have to keep working hard and keep trying to get better.”

Ramsey will be competing with veteran back-up Brooks Bollinger and second-round draft pick Kellen Clemens for what will likely be two other quarterback spots on the roster.

INSIDER TIDBITS

-While Martin will be remaining on the PUP, Mangini announced the center Trey Teague will be moved from the PUP on to the active roster. This means Teague will be eligible to play in the season opener if he is ready.

-DT/NT Tui Alailefaleula has been placed on the injured reserve with a leg injury. The injury is separate from the one Alailefaleula had earlier in camp but it will keep him out for the entire season. He joins tight end Jason Pociask and fellow DT/NT Sione Pouha on the IR. Despite the lack of depth at the nose tackle position Mangini, who played nose tackle at Wesleyan, joked that he will not be making a comeback, but does believe that the linemen the team has are flexible enough to fill the void.

-Although Martin cannot practice or play with the team for the first six weeks of the season, he will remain around the team as he has in camp. Martin will still be in team meetings and be providing leadership although he will do his rehabilitation work on the side.

“It’s funny, even though he’s not playing Curtis studies as hard as anyone,” Mangini said, praising his injured running back. “I can ask him any question about the game plan for the coming week and I know he’s going to have the answer.”

INJURY REPORT

G Isaac Snell (leg): day to day
WR Tim Dwight (leg): day to day
RB Curtis Martin (knee): on PUP list
TE Jason Pociask (shoulder): IR Out for Season
DT/NT Sione Pouha (knee): IR Out for Season
DT/NT Tui Alailefaleula (leg): IR Out for Season

The team returns to the practice field tomorrow for one more practice before their final tuneup against Philadelphia on Friday. Be sure to check back often for all the latest breaking Jets news and a game preview.

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