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INSIDER THURSDAY TEAM REPORT
By David Fletcher
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
December 7th, 2006
Concerns about the injured hand of DT Rashad Moore were officially put to rest today when the veteran defender suited for practice without the hard cast he had been sporting for over a week. Still uncertain, however, is what help the veteran defender can be to the Jets’ resurgent defense.

Jets Head Coach Eric Mangini talked about some of Moore’s assets in his daily presser on Thursday.

”Rashad (Moore) has some definite strengths, with size being one of them,” said Mangini. Listed at 324 lbs. by the team, Moore possesses – in the words of his head coach – the “ability to clog that middle area of the defense.”

The downside of Moore’s enormous stature, however, is that it limits him significantly in terms of speed and mobility. It is this lack of burst on the line, not an injured hand, which has kept Moore from playing a bigger role on the defense.

Mangini acknowledged the shortcomings of his mammoth defender, calling Moore “a little bit more specific,” but also noted that the defensive play-calling would not cater to his lack of speed. “He just needs to continue to improve in that area,” Mangini said, adding that it was something Moore has been “working out.”

Jets DT Dewayne Robertson, who is playing nose-tackle for the first time in his career, was Mangini’s primary example of a big-man with mobility. The first-year coach called Robertson “an interesting combination of nose guard” because of his unique mixture of power and speed, but admitted the most impressive thing about Robertson is his work ethic.

”He has not missed a day of practice, he has not missed a rep,” gushed Mangini, who has been very pleased with Robertson’s development throughout the season. “He’s very competitive when things get crazy,” he continued. “He wants to be in the mix.”

Another Jets’ defender received special praise during Mangini’s press conference as well. Jets S Erik Coleman was singled out during the presser by his coach, who wanted to mention “a guy… who has really done an outstanding job, especially over the last month.”

In particular, Mangini said that Coleman “has done a very good job with communication” as well as with “improving the overall secondary run support.” He wrapped up the compliments by noting that Coleman is a team player “who will do anything he can to help the group win…”

Oft-outspoken RB Kevan Barlow, who is currently in his first year with the Jets, is also trying to be the best team-player he can be; the only difference is that Barlow, unlike Coleman, has been spending most of his time on the bench.

”I think Kevan (Barlow) has been great,” exclaimed Mangini when asked how the former starting-RB for the 49ers was dealing with his reduced roll on the Jets. Barlow, on the other hand, didn’t have much to say about the situation.

The fact that Kevan Barlow, the man who equated his former head coach to Adolf Hitler upon being traded to the Jets this past summer, is simply biting his tongue is proof of the positive atmosphere Mangini has created on this Jets’ team.

Ultimately, Mangini gave no indication as to the running-back setup the Jets will be using this Sunday against the Bills. He denied that the team would simply go with the “hot hand” (meaning the two-back, RB Leon Washington and RB Cedric Houston combo that worked in Green Bay), opting for a more diplomatic approach to the issue.

“It’s performance based,” said Mangini, referring to the importance of the week’s practices in deciding who will be active on Sunday. “If you perform well, you play more.”

With a few practice days remaining before this weekend’s game, the Jets’ coaching staff is very unsure of what the team will be doing at running-back against Buffalo. According to Mangini, at least one thing is certain, though:

”We will have one [running-back],” he said with a laugh. “There will be one at the game.”

INSIDER TIDBITS:

-Mangini expressed slight concern over the condition of LB Matt Chatham’s injured foot during his presser. Chatham has been listed as “probable” for most of the season with a foot injury but was downgraded this week to “questionable” status.

Chatham doesn’t seem to think anything of the downgrade in status. “I have no idea why it showed up on the list [as questionable],” he told reporters. “I think they (Jets officials) like to play with that list. Nothing’s changed.”

The Jets’ special teams captain was as befuddled by the downgrade in status as reporters. Asked if anything happened to him in the last game that may have led to the change, Chatham responded coyly, “Not that I’m aware of.”

-Mangini refused to elaborate on the nature of WR-KR Tim Dwight’s foot injury despite the fact that Dwight has already been placed on IR. He would only say that the injury was “season-ending.”

-LB Jonathan Vilma had a good laugh when a reporter for SNY read him comments made yesterday about him by Bills RB Willis McGahee. McGahee, a college teammate of Vilma’s at Miami, took shots at Vilma’s apparent inability to tackle him when the two play each other.

“Tell Willis that’s cute, that’s really cute,” Vilma laughed. “And tell him when he gets Defensive Rookie of the Year, and he gets to the Probowl, and he gets to the playoffs, then we can talk.”

Vilma said that the competitive rivalry between the two friends started in college and admitted that he may have been the initial instigator. “I think I set that one off back in college,” he said. “When he was on scout team, I hit him pretty good a couple times and I think he took notice. He didn’t really like that.”

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
-RB Kevan Barlow (Calf): Probable
-CB Andre Dyson (Thigh): Probable
-DL Shaun Ellis (Ankle): Probable
-RB Cedric Houston (Knee): Probable
-WR Justin McCareins (Foot): Probable
-DL Rashad Moore (Hand): Probable
-QB Chad Pennington (Calf): Probable
-WR Brad Smith (Shoulder): Probable
-S Rashad Washington (Illness): Probable

Buffalo Bills
-LB Angelo Crowell (Fibula): Out – Placed on IR
-LB John DiGiorgio (Ankle): Questionable
-RB Willis McGahee (Ankle): Questionable
-CB Terrence McGee (Ankle): Questionable
-S Donte Whitner (Hamstring): Questionable

The team continues its preparation for Sunday’s home game against the division-rival Bills with a full walk through tomorrow. Be sure to check back to JetsInsider.com for a full game preview!