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Chatman Has Run Back into the RB Picture

If 75 percent equals "probable" for an NFL injury listing, then 99.7 percent — and there's no rounding up — probably means: Pour some Robitussin on it and I'm good to go.

That percentage is what Jesse Chatman came up with Thursday, pleased with his progress after missing more than week while recuperating from an injury. The running back, who had been out since July 30, returned to practice this week and was able to run full-contact drills.

"The last point-3 [percent] will come before the season-opener, though," joked Chatman, who took snaps with the third-team offense. "I just have to take care of my body and that point-3 will be back in no time."

Without incorporating a Fibonacci sequence or golden ratio, Chatman said after practice that he felt no pain and wasn't at all hampered.

He had injured himself on a carry up the middle, he recalled. He blew through a hole, leaped forward and was inadvertently "popped" by a linebacker. The injury, of course, kept him stationed on the stationary bike.

"It ain't no fun being on the sideline," Chatman said. "Everybody is playing and you're not. When you get hurt in practice, it's like the worst feeling because you know you're going to be over on the bike for two hours every day. It's pretty boring."

Not only that, but practice time (like time in general) waits for no man. An injured player's reps often go to a teammate whom he is in competition with. In Chatman's case it was his buddy Musa Smith, who has done well.

To that, Chatman said that he did consider the injury a setback, but could "only worry about the things I could control."

The benefit Chatman has, though, is that he spent the first three years of his career with San Diego, and thus is familiar with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who was the Chargers' quarterbacks coach when he was there.

"We also ran a similar system in Miami, so mentally I'm fine," he assured. "I know the playbook for the most part. It's just the exercise and reps that I missed out on."

In the Jets' Thursday practice — their last before facing the Redskins on Saturday night — head coach Eric Mangini had the units working extensively on red zone drills. Chatman didn't get many carries by the goal line, but he did a lot of blocking.

"It felt good just getting after my assignments," said Chatman, who, despite his 5'8" stature appeared an adequate blocker. "It was mostly getting my hand placements right and working on a lot of technique things."

But where the shifty back earns his living is as a slashing runner and receiver. Last season with the Dolphins, he made six starts, rushed for a career-high 515 yards and caught 27 passes while filling in for the injured Ronnie Brown.

"I have experience and versatility," Chatman said of what he brings to the table. "You can put me anywhere and I'll do anything. I'm a hard worker who's willing to accept challenges."

Here's another percentage. He caught 72.9 percent of the passes thrown to him last season. And that's with the struggles of the Miami quarterbacks.

"Please believe, if the ball is in my area, I'm going to catch it," the sixth-year veteran said with a smile. "I get on the ball machine, stay after practice to work with the quarterbacks and get to know them. Whatever it takes to get them to trust me and for me to hang on."

And regardless of how the carries are distributed this season, he expects the running game to thrive, in large part because of who will be handing off.

"I think it affects the running game tremendously," Chatman said of the Brett Favre acquisition. "You have to respect the pass, you have to. If you don't, you're going to get burnt. They have to back up and take that eighth man out of the box, and then we can run the ball down your throats."

That equation makes sense.

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