With star-WR Laveranues Coles nursing an injured left calf and RB Derrick Blaylock absent from practice for personal reasons, Coach Eric Mangini addressed backup options for the injured starters.
Blaylock, in his second season with the Jets, missed practice on Thursday to be with his wife, who is due to give birth shortly. Head Coach Eric Mangini did not know when exactly the baby would be born, but explained with a laugh that “the stork is circling”.
The addition of a new member to the Blaylock family may make room for another running back to be added to the team’s active roster. Blaylock has started the first two games of the season in the back with RB Kevan Barlow backing him up, forcing popular Jets RB Cedric Houston to be inactivated for Weeks One and Two. If Blaylock is unable to join the team in Buffalo, it is likely that Houston will be activated.
Houston, a surprise scratch for the teams two early games against very physical D-lines in Tennessee and New England, was praised by Mangini on his work ethic. Mangini told reporters that Houston has approached each week in the same way despite being inactive and has “showed progress” in practices.
Mangini also commented on Houston’s great tackle-breaking ability, saying that “run after contact is definitely important”. Houston’s ability to break tackles could also potentially take pressure off of the team’s young O-line.
Don’t expect Houston to be activated as a replacement for recently-waived FB Jamar Martin, though. Martin was brought onto the active roster to be used as a blocker for smaller RBs like Blaylock. While Houston can replace some of his size, he proved completely inept at blocking during the preseason and training camp.
The Jets should have a much less difficult time replacing Coles for Sunday’s game if he is unable to play. Coles, who leads the NFL in receiving yards, injured his left calf during Sunday’s loss to the Patriots and is listed as questionable on the team’s injury report. Despite being hailed by Mangini as possessing “rare toughness”, it is unlikely the Jets will push their star-receiver to return quickly given the outstanding receiving corps on the team.
Coles spoke to the media about the strength of the Jets receiving corps, stating very matter-of-factly that “without some of them doing what they’ve been doing, I probably wouldn’t be able to do what I’ve done”. Coles added that he is very happy to be able to contribute to the Jets this season in the way that fans and coaches alike have expected of him.
WR Justin McCareins, who was demoted to the team’s second-string of receivers this season, will likely see more playing time this week if Coles is unable to play. McCareins told reporters that “there’s enough [passes] to go around”, but quickly added that if Coles does not play, “I plan on making the most of it.”
WR Jerricho Cotchery will also be a key to the Jets success against the Bills if Coles isn’t present. Cotchery currently ranks 8th in the NFL in receiving yards with 186, including two grabs for touchdowns.
On the defensive side of the ball, Mangini singled out S Kerry Rhodes as a player who has really impressed him lately. Mangini, who said he first became impressed by Kerry Rhodes while interviewing him for the NFL draft as a member of the Patriots, praised Rhodes’ leadership skills in the secondary and noted that recently “you see it showing up in the games”.
Mangini was asked during his press conference whether he had shown his team video clips of the Mets and Yankees celebrating their recent divisional championships as a motivational technique. Mangini said that he hadn’t simply because there had been many months of hard work that had led to that success and the Jets were not at that point yet, but that didn’t stop LB Eric Barton from sporting a brand-new Mets cap in the locker room.
There’s plenty of work to be done, but even being where they are now is quite an accomplishment for the Jets. In the words of Mets legend Tug McGraw, “You gotta believe!”
-Veteran OL Pete Kendall was on the field for practice today but looked to have great difficulty completing even the simplest of stretches. His status remains questionable for Sunday’s game.
-OL Trey Teague is yet to participate in contact drills with the Jets. After injuring his ankle in mini-camp, Teague returned to the practice field last week but has not been active by any means and is unlikely to make an appearance this weekend.
-WR/KR Tim Dwight looked good in practice, fielding the majority of P Ben Graham’s punts in an early drill. For the first time in a while, he did not look tentative to test his injured thigh, running at full speed and making very impressive cuts.
-Mangini praised a number of special teams players, including CB Drew Coleman and S Derrick Strait, who he said were doing an excellent job as fliers in covering kick returns.
-The Jets organization provided the media with hundreds upon hundreds of buffalo wings for lunch; a funny choice, considering the team is playing in Buffalo this Sunday.
New York Jets
-OL Trey Teague (Ankle): Doubtful
-CB David Barrett (Hip): Questionable
-WR Laveranues Coles (Calf): Questionable
-WR Tim Dwight (Thigh): Questionable
-OL Pete Kendall (Thigh): Questionable
-DL Dave Ball (Hand): Probable
-LB Matt Chatham (Foot): Probable
-QB Chad Pennington (Calf): Probable
-S Kerry Rhodes (Ankle): Probable
-DL Kimo von Oelhoffen (Knee): Probable
-S Matt Bowen (Shin): Questionable
-LB Takeo Spikes (Hamstring): Questionable
The team has a walk through tomorrow before traveling to Buffalo on Saturday. Be sure to check back to JetsInsider.com for a full game preview!