Rookie LB David Harris could make his first career start this Sunday against the Bills. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Another day and still no answers. The same issue for the New York Jets was looming on them like the dark clouds that were hovering over Hofstra regarding the availability of LB Jonathan Vilma, who was absent from Friday’s activities.
Vilma has not participated in practice all week week because of a knee injury that he sustained in Cincinnati. Reports have also swirled around that he could be out not only for Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills, but also for the rest of the season.
Head coach Eric Mangini reiterated his stance regarding the situation in his press conference prior to the team’s practice in order to get ready for their rematch with Buffalo.
“We assess it as we go,” he stated. “We’re going to continue to look at him here today. He’s getting treatment. We’ll have to see how it goes and how he is.”
Coach Mangini also repeated to the media his approach on how to handle any injury that occurs to any one of his players.
“I think that with any injury, each guy is different,” he said. “It’s consistent and you have to just assess it. Sometimes you really expect someone to play, and they just can’t do it when you come down to Sunday. Other guys that you think there’s really no shot of playing do. That’s why we go through the full week, to take a look at it.”
Some in the locker room know that Vilma’s absence and the probability of him being inactive for Sunday is a big loss. At the same time, they know there are others that are willing and able to take advantage of the given opportunity.
“It’s definitely a big loss because of his presence in the locker room and he was a leader, but also we have some guys who are looking to step up.” said CB Hank Poteat.
There is no doubt that Vilma’s absence leaves a hole in the linebacker position and in the locker room. Even if he is out of action, there are plenty of able bodies to rise to the challenge and deliver for this struggling team. Guys like Eric Barton, David Harris, Brad Kassell, and Matt Chatham, who had just come off the Physically Unable to Perform list, are right by coach Mangini’s side and coach Sutton’s should they be needed.
The mystery of Jonathan Vilma's availability has been solved as the updated injury reports have been released. Unfortunately, the veteran linebacker will not be in action for Sunday's game in East Rutherford.
Coffee talk with Schotty
After Friday’s practice, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer spoke to the media in regards to the issues the offense is facing.
One persistent issue for the Jets offense has been the running game. While the focus has been to get Thomas Jones the ball, there is a feeling that Leon Washington has been somewhat underused.
“Leon is a guy that has packages, and each week as we build packages you have to react,” he explained. “While our opponents look at us and come up with a plan, we tend to try and go with what’s working. If one week Leon’s touching the ball and doing really good things, that package gets elevated. Other weeks if Thomas is doing good, that package gets elevated. “
Coach Schottenheimer also got a chance to explain his thinking on the last two offensive plays of the game for the Jets against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 6. Schottenheimer has caught heat over the preference of these plays.
“When you get into certain situations as a play caller, it’s an emotional time of the game. In that situation, Chad had been doing really good job with the QB sneaks so that was the initial thought. The fourth down call was a situation where it was something we had practiced and had a lot of success with. It was a situation where we liked to sneak and like to play on fourth down. Unfortunately we didn’t execute.”
Help on the way
With all signs pointing to the likelihood of Vilma not being able to play Sunday against Buffalo, there are many options that the Jets can go to, from the rookie David Harris to veterans like Victor Hobson and Eric Barton. More help may be on the way, as Matt Chatham is expected to be given a spot on the active roster. Chatham was on the PUP list the first six weeks of the season and all of training camp.
A favorite of Mangini’s, Chatham spent most of his career with New England, playing crucial roles on the defense and special teams and being an integral part in all three of the Patriots’ Super Bowl victories.
“Matt is an excellent special teams player and continues to get better defensively,” Mangini said. “Anytime you can add that element to the mix, I think it’s definitely a positive.”
Since being activated from the PUP list, Chatham has been aching to get back into the action.
“It feels great,” he said. “The main reason I play professional football is to play football. When you actually do what you are going to do, it’s a great thing.”
With Vilma missing in action, and likely to be out, any added depth to the linebacking corps would be welcomed. Regardless of who plays in the middle linebacker position, Vilma included, the players are more than willing to step up and give the Jets and their fans something to cheer about.
Short But Sweet
Coach Mangini kicked off his press conference as usual with an opening statement. However, compared to previous statements, this one was very brief:
“Yesterday we got some good work done. We reviewed the things we did, first and second down from Wednesday, moved into third down and introduced the red area. I liked the tempo of overall practice and I liked the folks that we had. I thought it was a good day, and a good day on top of a good day Wednesday.”
Everything was status quo for the Jets at practice during the half-hour span given to the media for team access. The team held practice on the upper field as opposed to yesterday, where it was held in the rarely-used bubble.
For a 1-6 team, the atmosphere amongst the players has been relaxing, from the light-hearted banter in the locker rooms to the dancing out on the field to the music played over the sound system. Hopefully, that positive energy can translate into success out in the Meadowlands for Gang Green on Sunday.
Out: LB Jonathan Vilma (knee)
Questionable: TE Chris Baker (back), WR Laveranues Coles (calf), DL Dewayne Robertson (knee)
Probable: WR Justin McCareins (calf), QB Chad Pennington (ankle), TE Jason Pociask (back), DB Hank Poteat (chest), TE Sean Ryan (knee), DB Eric Smith (thigh)
Out: DE Ryan Denney (foot), LB Leon Joe (knee), CB Ashton Youboty (ankle)
Doubtful: WR Sam Aiken (hamstring), S Jim Leonhard (calf), TE Ryan Neufeld (quad)
Questionable: DE Chris Kelsay (ankle), LB Josh Stamer (calf)