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INSIDER WEDNESDAY TEAM REPORT

By Drew Buono
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
December 13th, 2006

The New York Jets find themselves between a rock and a hard place entering this week’s game against the Minnesota Vikings. The Jets are a game out of the fifth and sixth seed in the AFC playoff hunt and have the trouble of needing a must win against a hot Viking team with one of the best run defenses perhaps in the history of the NFL.

The Vikings are number one against the run this season, allowing 703 yards on the ground through 13 games. Opponents are only averaging 54.1 yards per game and a miniscule 2.7 yards per attempt. On the other hand, the Jets rush attack is ranked 17th in the league with an average of 112.3 yards per game.

Jets Head Coach Eric Mangini had just one word to describe the Vikings run defense, “impressive.” He also made reference to the fact that Minnesota is, “on the verge of breaking the record from 1942 for the least rushing yards allowed per game. The run defense isn’t the only problem for Mangini, as the Vikings running game will create problems for the Jets defense.

RB Chester Taylor is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game, giving the opportunity for RB Artose Pinner to start again. Pinner exploded last week for 129 yards with three touchdowns. Mangini called Vikings head coach Brad Childress, “a great coordinator that has a well-run offense.” Mangini will need to try to figure out how to stop two running backs, one of which is unknown except for one piece of game film.

The Jets offense is a different story. When QB Chad Pennington plays well the team follows suit. In the seven Jet wins, Pennington’s has only 5 turnovers total and in their six losses, he has 13. Part of the reason for his high number of turnovers is his career high 15 interceptions. Pennington called interceptions, “turnovers that lead to the demise of offenses.” Pennington also thinks the run defense of Minnesota is “ridiculous” and that their “gap penetration is superb.”

RB Leon Washington said that, “we execute as a team, it’s not all on Chad.” He also stated that he has not seen Pennington in more self-caused pressure situations throughout games, especially when he turns the ball over early. Washington expects a “good game plan by our coaches” in preparation for the game on Sunday in the Metrodome.

Washington is also a part of an exciting group on the Jets- the rookie class. Jets rookies have played phenomenal this year and way past expectations of a lot of people, but not Mangini. Mangini said he expected players like C Nick Mangold and OL D’Brickashaw Ferguson to play at the level they have.

One player who is looking for playing time, of any kind is RB Kevan Barlow. Mangini said that Barlow was “not out of them” referring to the running back situation and the recent starts of RB Leon Washington and Cedric Houston. Barlow continues to work on special teams in hopes of getting deactivated before season’s end.

Pennington was right when he said he doesn’t want this week “to get by too fast,” because he needs this week to get himself together if this team wants to find itself playing in January. If Pennington can become comfortable early in the game, it might not matter that the team won’t be able to establish a running game, although it would be nice for the running backs to take some of that pressure off their quarterback.

INSIDER TIDBITS:

- Pennington gave three reasons for his high interception total this season:
1) Getting use to the new offensive system.
2) Forcing some throws.
3) The ball getting tipped or something like that.

- The Jets resigned S Andre Maddox to their practice squad. Maddox was a fifth round pick of the Jets in 2005 from North Carolina State who spent last year on the injured reseve list with a knee injury. He participated in training camp this past summer but was released during the final cuts.

- Three rookies Mangini has really been impressed with are, WR Wallace Wright, WR Brad Smith, and S Jamie Thompson; saying “they have all done a nice job, especially Wright being an undrafted and unsigned rookie free agent."

- OL Pete Kendall further praised Mangold saying, “he has done everything you expect him to.”

- Pennington said that Mangold does "as an excellent job of preparation and that nothing overwhelms him."

- Childress said that he has liked QB Brooks Bollinger since, "the Rose Bowl that Wisconsin played in when Bollinger was a red-shirted freshman and that he has incrementally improved since."

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
-LB Brad Kassell (Shin): Probable
-WR Justin McCareins (Foot): Probable
-DL Rashad Moore (Hand): Probable
-QB Chad Pennington (Calf): Probable
-DL Dewayne Robertson (Shoulder): Probable
-TE Sean Ryan (Thigh): Probable
-WR Brad Smith (Shoulder): Probable
-S Jamie Thompson (Ankle): Probable
-DL Kimovon Oelhoffen (Shoulder): Probable

The Jets return to the practice field tomorrow in preparation for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings. JetsInsider.com will have a complete recap following Thursday’s practice.

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