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INSIDER FRIDAY TEAM REPORT

By Drew Buono
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
December 8th, 2006

It’s the holiday season and the New York Jets are double-checking their holiday list. Next on the list, a match-up against division rival Buffalo. The Jets march onto December in the thick of the AFC playoff race, but head coach Eric Mangini is not letting any of his players start to think that far head.

The team can not even get as far away as yesterday, as Mangini said the team would not only be practicing the two-minute drill and the red zone today but also, going over mistakes made during yesterday’s practice. This is the first time in awhile that Mangini has been so open about the mistakes of the team during practice and also, acknowledging the fact that the mistakes were so bad that they needed more work.

“In terms of practice, today it’s very important that we finish strong. It’s important that we correct the mistakes we made yesterday, be able to get those cleaned up, then be able to move on the red area, the goal line, the two-minute package, the standard Friday package,” said Mangini about the team’s practice. It doesn’t look like Mangini and Allen Iverson will ever have an agreement when it comes to the discussion of the importance of practice in a sport.

One player who has improved over the weeks in practice is TE Chris Baker. Mangini said that, “he’s really improved his rout running” and he further added that even though he’s a good blocker, he’s improved in that as well. Baker is hoping he can have more games like last week in Green Bay where he had four catches for 50 yards and a touchdown. “It helps when I can take the pressure off Jerricho (Cotchery) and (Laveranues) Coles,” said Baker about his contribution to the team.

Another key contributor to the Jets recent success that doesn’t get as much credit as he should is, K Mike Nugent. Nugent has missed only one field goal since his disastrous game in Tennessee to begin the season. Nugent said his confidence has “always been with there,” even during the Tennessee game.

Mangini said that, “Mike’s approach has always been the same.” Mangini went on to add that Nugent spends a lot of time working with special teams coach Mike Westhoff, “evaluating mechanics, the different holds, approaches and angles that he need to take from hashes.” Nugent is just happy to be part of the team and is ready whenever they call on his number.

Two people that have been calling each other out recently are Jets LB Jonathan Vilma and Bills RB Willis McGahee. The two are close friends since attending the University of Miami together and McGahee decided to have some fun at the expense of Vilma the other day. He called out Vilma saying that he would be able to run all over him. Vilma thought it was funny and made reference to the fact that McGahee has not been to the playoffs or won any major NFL award yet like Vilma’s defensive rookie of the year honors.

S Kerry Rhodes said that, “trash talking can be fun especially between two friends.” Rhodes also went on to say that he’s not a big trash talker but does say a few things from time to time throughout a game. He also said that if you get yourself in a “pissing contest, you lose track of the game.” If all the Jets can have this mindset, Sunday’s game could be as comfortable for them as last Sunday’s in Green Bay.

INSIDER TIDBITS:

- Yesterday was a new learning experience for Jets QB Kellen Clemens. The rookie was asked in a team meeting what were the records of Jacksonville, Denver, and Kansas City? Clemens quickly responded that they were all 7-5, which was the “incorrect answer” according to Mangini.

- When asked about the incident today Mangini said, “really the right answer is, it doesn’t matter. What matters is what we do, how we approach it, whether we win our games, and whether we control the things we can control.”

- In the locker room today, Clemens said that all he was trying to do was “answer the question.” He also said he got caught up in a trick question and that, “Chad (Pennington) saw it coming.”

- At the beginning of his presser, Mangini reminded the press that the team was having its annual “Toys for Tots” gift drive this Sunday at the game. Mangini asks that, “all fans bring unwrapped, unopened toys,” and that they will be collected at the gates.

- Mangini quoted a line from one of the greatest leaders in the world in the 20th century when he said, “you make your living by what you get; you make your life by what you give.” The quote is from former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

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

Game time is 4:15 p.m. for anyone who missed the memo about the NFL’s new flex schedule. JetsInsider.com will have a complete recap following the game against the Buffalo Bills.

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