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INSIDER WEDNESDAY TEAM REPORT

By Drew Buono
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
December 6th, 2006
Returning to work today, the Jets and coach Eric Mangini are being very cautious not to take the dangerous Buffalo Bills lightly this Sunday.

The team is focusing on one thing and one thing only this week, the Buffalo Bills. The dreaded “P” word, playoff has been brought up a lot by the media but no player or coach wants to even think about it. There's even rumors at the complex that speaking about the playoffs is a finable offense. The Bills are the worry, especially after almost coming back and beating the Jets back in week three.

The goal of the Jets this week is to stop RB Willis McGahee, who exploited the Jets defense for 150 yards on 26 carries during their last game. This is a different Jets defense than the one who showed up to Buffalo two and half months ago. The defensive unit has been playing exceptional over the last four weeks allowing only a little more than 11 points per game.

Head coach Eric Mangini calls McGahee “dynamic” and the Bills themselves are “tough across the board.” Mangini of course had to be referring to the 475 total yards the Bills put up on the Jets during their last meeting and not the 230 yards the team had as a whole against San Diego last week. The Jets still consider the running game to be a worry even though McGahee’s sore ribs have been a major factor in his lack of production recently. McGahee’s four straight 100-yard games against the Jets would be the reason to worry.

The key for the Jets this week will be establishing their offense early like they did in Green Bay. WR Jerricho Cotchery had the game of his young career and is now being regarded as a threat just like his counterpart, WR Laveranues Coles. Mangini said he first noticed Cotchery last year, the second time the Patriots faced the Jets. “He was always an issue of special teams,” said Mangini about his receiver.

Another key on offense has been the emergence of RB Cedric Houston who has earned his playing time with “really good weeks of practice,” according to Mangini. On the flip side, a running back that has been experiencing the negatives of recent practices is, Kevan Barlow. Mangini said the Barlow’s place on the team will be “on going” and that he worked on special teams last week for the first time in his career just to have a chance to get back into game play.

As the season now enters its final quarter, the Jets are happy to be playing December games that actually mean something. QB Chad Pennington calls December, “a fun month in this league.” Pennington also said that it was exciting for him to be playing these games after the injuries. He feels “excited about the team’s improvement” and accounts the teams recent fast starts on, “players becoming more comfortable and executing plays better.”

OL Pete Kendall called it “refreshing” to play games of importance this late in the season. Kendall wouldn’t talk about the playoffs directly, but he did say that he doesn’t pay attention to other teams in the race. He worries about his own team and not the out-of-town scoreboard. “I never think about tie-breakers or anything like that, it comes down to our body of work over 16 games and if that’s good enough then we move on,” said Kendall about the playoff race.

The Jets are putting the pieces of the puzzle together at the right time and even if they don’t want to talk about it they know the situation their in. With four games to go in the season, another 3-1 record might get them into the next round of play and a chance at something no one in August thought would be possible, a chance at a Super Bowl.

INSIDER TIDBITS:

-DT Titus Adams was signed off the Jets practice squad by the Giants to their active roster. Adams was originally a seventh round choice of the Jets this past spring from Nebraska who never cracked the active roster.

- The Jets signed WR Sloan Thomas and DE Darrell Adams to the practice squad both were in the Jets' training camp this summer.

- Autralian National Rugby League player Willie Mason was brought in by coach Mangini to have a workout with the team yesterday. Mangini called him “dynamic and feisty” but no imminent signing was announced. The Giants and 49ers had reportedly offered Mason a tryout earlier this year.

- Before the season, Pennington eluded that a problem he's had in the past is trying to be too much of a perfectionist when passing the ball and maybe being too cautious. In past years it's made him one of the lowest mistake makers in the league.

Well, this season he seems to be taking more chances. Some may say he's even been too careless with 13 INT's so far this season (the highest number in his careeer). During his press conference, the QB spoke about quest to find a middle ground between taking risk and trying to make plays.

“It's always a struggle, especially the first year in a new system," said Pennington. "This is unlike 2002 because, I was learning from Vinny (Testaverde) and this time I’m the one who is experiencing it first hand. Any time you make a mistake, you learn from it, try not to repeat it. Once you get into the off-­season, you can really study those things and see what you can do to get better in the system”

- RB Leon Washington furthered the coach’s mantra for consistency saying that, “we have to stay consistent for a full game not three quarters like in Green Bay. There is always something to improve on even if your are doing it well.”

-Beware the Penguin? Jets WR Laveranues Coles was asked if the cold, arctic weather would bring back his penguin dance if he scored. Laughing and nodding his head yes, Coles says it breaks up the monotony a bit.

“I’m just trying to make light of everything this time of year,” said Coles. “It’s cold out there and especially after playing in Green Bay , it’s a way to have a little fun.” “The Penguin” is the nickname Coles made up for Mangini, who he says resembles one while strutting the sideline.

INJURY REPORT:

New York Jets:
-FB B.J. Askew (Foot): Questionable
-CB David Barrett (Hip): Questionable
-LB Matt Chatham (Foot): Questionable
-DB Eric Smith (Foot): Questionable
-LB Bryan Thomas (Shoulder): Questionable
-S Rashad Washington (Illness): Questionable
-RB Kevan Barlow (Calf): Probable
-CB Andre Dyson (Neck): Probable
-DL Shaun Ellis (Ankle): Probable
-RB Cedric Houston (Knee): Probable
-WR Justin McCareins (Foot): Probable
-QB Chad Pennington (Calf): Probable
-DL Rashad Moore (Hand): Probable
-WR Brad Smith (Shoulder): Probable

The Jets return to practice tomorrow in preparation for their home game against the Buffalo Bills. JetsInsider.com will have a complete recap after Thursday’s practice.

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