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INSIDER THURSDAY TEAM REPORT

By David Fletcher
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
December 14th, 2006
WR Wallace Wright says his role on defense may have earned him a roster spot. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
WR Wallace Wright says his role on defense may have earned him a roster spot. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Jets Head Coach Eric Mangini learned everything he knows about coaching from his long-time mentor, Bill Belichick. Mangini has strived to recreate the winning environment he experienced in New England on this young Jets team by adding similar defensive schemes, practice regiments, and tight-lipped media sessions. Now it appears he’s added his own Troy Brown.

Undrafted WR Wallace Wright, who recently got called up to the active roster after veteran-WR Tim Dwight was placed on IR, revealed to reporters that it was much more than his work as a receiver that led to him getting called up.

“Coach Mangini wants me to be like a Troy Brown type of guy and know how to play defense and offense as well,” said Wright. “He wanted to get me up on the roster as soon as possible so I would play defense - just in case we had some injuries, I’d be able to go in - and also go in on offense as like a fifth or sixth receiver, just in case some guys go down.”

With no prior mention of Wright’s work on defense, this revelation caught many reporters off-guard. Wright, beaming with pride to merely have the opportunity to be swamped by reporters, explained the work he had been doing on defense.

“I did ‘DB’ the majority of this season,” he elaborated, “but since I was on practice squad, I was still a receiver on the scout team.” With second-team receiver Tim Dwight suffering a season-ending injury, however, Wright pointed out that, “now I’m back at receiver.”

The Jets may make use of all the receiving options they have available against Minnesota this Sunday. Although Mangini refused to admit that the team’s offensive strategy would be slanted toward the pass, it is safe to assume that will be the case. Minnesota has the best run-defense in the NFL by a wide margin, holding opponents to an average of just 54 yards-per-game.

If Mangini wishes to truly follow in Belichick’s footsteps, a good place to start would be following the same game-plan that Belichick used to lead his Patriots past Minnesota earlier this season. In that game, the Patriots threw the ball 43 times while calling only 15 runs, leading to a 31-7 defeat of the Vikings.

”You definitely look at that,” said Mangini of the Patriots’ strategy in the rout, “but there’s been quite a few games since then.” He went on to point out that the Vikings have undoubtedly looked at what went wrong in that game and that, “they adjust as well.”

Ultimately, according to Jets WR Laveranues Coles, statistics are really irrelevant and all that matters on game-day is execution. “I don’t think anybody’s thinking about stats when we’re playing the game,” said Coles. “I think everybody’s just trying to focus on the job at hand and focus on the guy in front of you.”

As always, Coach Mangini echoed that sentiment of the importance of taking one step at a time. Toward the end of his daily presser, the first-year coach was asked if he was worried, with a 7-6 record, about the possibility of getting a seventh loss before the season ends, which would most likely end any playoff hopes for his team.

”No,” he replied calmly, “we’re really looking at getting to eight. That’s what we are looking to is getting to eight wins. That’s the goal as opposed to anything else.”

INSIDER TIDBITS:

-During a special teams drill this afternoon, Jets P Ben Graham actually had a better average distance on his punts than K Mike Nugent had on his kickoffs. Graham was fantastic, averaging well over 60 yards per punt while Nugent, who has struggled on kickoffs, could barely hit the 60-yard mark.

Graham did have a slight wind at his back, whereas Nugent was kicking into a slight wind, but it was still enough of a shocking differential that murmurs arose about how Graham should be taking kickoffs, too.

On one punt, Graham booted a ball approximately 70 yards, hitting the outside of the team’s practice bubble on the fly.

-Kansas City Chiefs’ Owner and NFL-legend Lamar Hunt passed away Wednesday night after a long battle with cancer. He was 74 years old.

Hunt was a founder of the American Football League and was one of the key figures involved in the AFL-NFL merger. Additionally, Hunt was the man who coined the name “Super Bowl” for the NFL’s championship game.

Jets’ owner Woody Johnson released a statement Thursday expressing his, and the entire Jets’ organization’s, condolences to the Hunt family and the Kansas City Chiefs. Johnson’s opening sentence, though succinct, fully captures the feelings echoed throughout the sports world on Thursday: “It’s a sad day for sports fans around the world.”

RICH CIMINI FAN CHAT NEXT THURSDAY!

You are not going to want to miss this!

Be sure to log on to Jets Insider.com on Thursday (Dec 21) at 8:00 PM for a live online fan chat session with NY Daily News Jets Beat Writer RICH CIMINI. Rich will take your questions and talk about all the doings at Weeb Ewbank Hall leading up to the Jets - Dolphins game on Christmas night.

Chat is open to everyone!

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
-DE 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 Kimo von Oelhoffen (Shoulder): Probable

Minnesota Vikings
-RB Chester Taylor (Ribs): Questionable
-QB Brooks Bollinger (Shoulder): Questionable
-CB Cedric Griffin (Neck): Probable
-LB Napoleon Harris (Wrist): Probable
-WR Marcus Robinson (Ankle): Probable
-DT Pat Williams (Knee): Probable

The Jets will have a full walk-through tomorrow before traveling to Minnesota on Saturday. Be sure to check back to JetsInsider.com for a full game preview!

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