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INSIDER WEDNESDAY TEAM REPORT

By Drew Buono
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
December 27th, 2006
A win and they’re in. The New York Jets had everything go their way last week, and are now one win away from what seemed a couple of months ago to be an improbable playoff berth. Standing in the Jets way is a team that has the lowest win total in the NFL, yet the number four total defense. The Oakland Raiders are in shambles and are falling apart from the inside, but the Jets are not taking them lightly and definitely do not feel that this team represents their 2-13 record.

“They have a very, very good defense,” said head coach Eric Mangini. Mangini should have some experience with the defense because, Oakland’s defensive coordinator Bob Ryan worked with Mangini for four seasons in New England as the Patriots linebackers coach. Mangini said of Ryan that, “he helped bring the 46 (defensive scheme) family into their scheme.”

The key for the Jets will be to avoid turning the ball over. In reference to that, Mangini spoke about the turnover on Monday night involving LB Brad Kassell. “We were two deep on the return, meaning we had Leon (Washington) and Hank (Poteat) covering. We have a code word to avoid the ball on punt returns and I guess he couldn’t hear it,” said Mangini about the events of the turnover.

A player who is now being praised after his performance on Monday night is RB Leon Washington. Washington’s scramble after a short pass late in the game was the key for the Jets victory. Mangini joked around at Washington’s behalf during his presser, referring to rookie camp when Washington “put the ball more on the ground, than anyone else. He ran more laps than anyone,” said Mangini.

Washington though is “always staying humble and never feels content.” He is also happy the team is in a position to win their final game and make the playoffs. “When we started the second half of the season, we were trying to control our own destiny and now we are.” LB Jonathan Vilma regarded this sentiment about destiny saying, “it hits home now, being able to control our own destiny.

The Raiders on the other hand have only one thing to look forward to and that is, to beat the Jets and maybe stop them from making the playoffs. Raiders head coach Art Shell said that it is, “great to play the Jets, a playoff contender.” Shell likes the team and noted that it will be a tough match-up for his team because; the Jets “don’t beat themselves and don’t make many mistakes.” As far as who will play quarterback against the Jets, Shell said that, “if Aaron (Brooks) can go he will go otherwise it will be Andrew (Walter) who will start.”

Jets QB Chad Pennington is “not surprised” at his team’s record this season, in fact he’s excited to be here. All that’s left for the Jets is to, “cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s,” said Pennington. Pennington knew this wasn’t a team that was going to rebuild this season and felt that everyone had a “desire to play at a high level.” OL Pete Kendall said that he didn’t look at this team in the preseason as a 4-12 team. Kendall also said that, “I won’t be happy to have a winning record if we lose on Sunday.”

The key for the Jets during this short week of practice will be to continue their same approach in terms of preparation. “The goal is to win the third game in a row for the first time this season” said Pennington. “It’s a one game approach,” said Mangini and again he made reference to his core Jet values by saying, “play hard, do well and finish the week.”

INSIDER TIDBITS

- The Jets announced today that they signed DT Zarnell Fitch to the practice squad and waived DL Vaka Manupuna.

- Fitch is a rookie from TCU where he recorded 34 tackles, two interceptions, a forced fumble, and a sack in two years.

- During his conference call, Shell acknowledged that he had received no information from Raider management as to whether his job was safe for next season or not.

-Veteran DT Kimo Von Oelhoffen who won a Superbowl with the Steelers last season after they finished as a wild card entry, said today that he sees a lot of similarities between his old team and new and is very optimistic of the Jets' chances if they make it in.

- Pennington said that Washington is, “excellent in space and has enough moves to do something with it” referring to the big play from Monday night’s win in Miami.

- ESPN broadcaster Tony Kornheiser might have had fun at the expense of Pennington’s arm strength, but Pennington “doesn’t take anything from it. Tony’s sarcastic and I have no bad feelings from his comments or from the production meeting we had with him.” Kornheiser commented that "His dog could throw farther than Chad Pennington" during ESPN's Monday night Jets/Dolphins broadcast.

- WR Laveranues Coles (chin) and CB Andre Dyson (knee) were at practice in uniform and participated in light drills but were on the sidelines when action began. Dyson was walking with a slight limp and seemed to have some type of brace on his knee under his sweats. Coles seemed OK but is likley still sore from the hard hits he took in Miami. The status of both will be released later today.

INJURY REPORT

New York Jets
-FB B.J. Askew (Foot): Questionable
-RB Kevan Barlow (Calf): Questionable
-CB David Barrett (Hip): Questionable
-WR Laveranues Coles (Head/Jaw): Questionable
-CB Andre Dyson (Knee): Questionable
-FB James Hodgins (Knee): Questionable
-RB Cedric Houston (Calf): Questionable
-S Kerry Rhodes (Knee): Questionable
-DB Eric Smith (Foot): Questionable
-LB Matt Chatham (Foot): Probable
-OL Brandon Moore (Back): Probable
-DL Rashad Moore (Hand): Probable
-QB Chad Pennington (Calf): Probable
-QB Patrick Ramsey (Calf): Probable
-DE Bryan Thomas (Shoulder): Probable

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

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