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INSIDER WEDNESDAY TEAM REPORT
By Drew Buono
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
December 20th, 2006
Do or Die. With post-season dreams likely ending with one more loss, the Jets playoffs begin Monday night when they face their heated rival Miami Dolphins who would like nothing better than to knock them out on national TV.

The 'Fins are coming off a 21-0 defeat at the hands of the Buffalo Bills and now out of the playoff picture at 6-8, they can still play spoiler for a team like the Jets. Head coach Eric Mangini is preparing for this game a little bit differently than usual. The team has decided to make Saturday’s practice open to the media and by starting early that day, Mangini is giving his players some time to spend with their families before leaving for Miami that night.

“We’ll start early on Saturday, the players will then be able to go home to their families and then after we land, we will have a team meeting in Miami and then again the next day,” said Mangini about the team’s plans because of the extra day off this week.

The Dolphins are not as bad as that scoreboard last week in Buffalo showed. They have the number three defense in the NFL and probably the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in DE Jason Taylor. Mangini said that the defense is, “stout against the run” and talked about the tremendous coaching of Nick Saban. Mangini called Saban, “a smart football coach that is incredibly detailed.”

Mangini should be complementing himself also for his great coaching this season. “Mangenius” has turned a 4-12 disaster into a legitimate playoff contender with two weeks to go in the season. He said it that it was exciting for him “personally and the team to be able to play a meaningful Monday night game in December because it’s what you work so hard for.” The goal now for the team according to Mangini is, “to maximize its intensity and to remain consistent and calm.”

QB Chad Pennington will have to worry about two things this week, staying consistent and watching out for that potent pass rush of the Dolphins. It was recently discovered that for the Dolphins game against New England two weeks ago, the team studied the cadence of QB Tom Brady to know when he was going to run certain plays. It worked as in the proof of their 21-0 shutout of the Patriots.

Pennington isn’t worried about the Dolphins understanding his cadence because, “the goal is to give them something different every snap.” Pennington further stated that the team changes the name of plays constantly and that gives him enough time before the opposition registers the name to get the play off. Besides, “it’s much tougher to use cadence on the road with the crowd and when you are in the shotgun,” said Pennington.

While most of the Jets are focusing on the game against the Dolphins, a slight interruption occurred at Jets camp Tuesday night when the Pro Bowl squad was announced. The one lone Jet to make the squad, KR Justin Miller who leads the league with a 28.7 return average.

Miller said that, “it’s an honor to be recognized by my peers and coaches around the league, and the fans. My selection is the culmination of the hard work of everyone on the special teams unit under the direction of coach Mangini, (Special teams) coach (Mike) Westhoff and (Assistant special teams) coach (Sam) Gash.” Miller was appreciative of his surrounding cast by stating that, “he wished the whole team” was going with him to Hawaii.

Two Jet players notably left off the roster were WR Laveranues Coles and S Kerry Rhodes who are each having career seasons. Rhodes said that he was, “fine with it” and laughing to himself, he said, “I’m young” and he was about to say he had more chances at it but cut himself off from making the statement. Coles said that he knew he “wasn’t going to make the roster, but knew he would be in the mix.” The most important thing for Coles is not making the Pro Bowl roster but, “the team and what we’re doing.” Rhodes also expressed this sentiment by saying, “what’s on my mind now is taking care of business as a team.”

The Jets will need a team effort to hold off another potent defense in the Dolphins on Christmas night. In a nationally televised game, they can prove their worth in the playoff hunt to all those people who are still questioning just how good this team is.

INSIDER TIDBITS:

- The New York Jets announced their 2006 Team Awards today, with the MVP award going to Coles. The members of the team vote on the awards.

- Coles said he was happier to be the team MVP than a Pro Bowler because, “it’s an award from my teammates.”

- Pennington was awarded the Dennis Byrd Award for Most Inspirational Player after coming back from his injury to have a great season. Coles said that Pennington’s award, “was a well deserved team honor.”

- Other award winners were, TE Chris Baker who received the Ed Block Courage Award for his inspiration in the locker room and the community. S Erik Coleman received the Marty Lyons Award for Community Service, and WR Jerricho Cotchery captured the Kyle Clifton Good Guy Award from the members of the Jets front office for his cooperation and willingness in every day dealings with the various departments of the organization.

- Mangini called Coles “outstanding in his production and in everything he brings to the table.”

- The Jets signed DL Vaka Manupuna to the practice squad. Manupuna was originally signed as an undrafted free agent in May by the Washington Redskins and was waived from the Redskins’ practice squad October 3.

INJURY REPORT:

New York Jets
-FB B.J. Askew (Foot): Questionable
-CB David Barrett (Hip): Questionable
-WR Laveranues Coles (Back): Questionable
-RB Cedric Houston (Calf): Questionable
-LB Anthony Schlegel (Illness): Questionable
-DB Eric Smith (Foot): Questionable
-RB Kevan Barlow (Calf): Probable
-LB Matt Chatham (Foot): Probable
-OL Nick Mangold (Hip): Probable
-WR Justin McCareins (Foot): Probable
-OL Brandon Moore (Back): Probable
-DL Rashad Moore (Hand): Probable
-QB Chad Pennington (Calf): Probable
-DE Bryan Thomas (Shoulder): Probable
-S Jamie Thompson (Ankle): Probable
-WR Wallace Wright (Thigh): Probable

The Jets return to practice tomorrow in preparation for their Christmas night game against the Miami Dolphins. JetsInsider.com will have a complete recap following Thursday’s practice.