New York Jets wide receiver Laveranues Coles has been named AFC Offensive Player of the Month for September. Coles' 331 yards receiving are the most by a Jets' receiver through the first three games of a season since Hall of Famer receiver Don Maynard totaled 356 yards in 1968.
"I have been impressed with Laveranues' work ethic and toughness and the way he runs after the catch," said first-year head coach Eric Mangini of Coles. "It's really a nice personal award for him, and we're all really happy for him."
"It says a lot about this offense with Chad getting the opportunity to make plays, with the offensive line blocking, and Jerricho and the others taking away a lot of attention that had been paid to me," Coles said. "The credit goes out to all of them and without those guys I don't think I would have got that award."
Coles, in his seventh-year out of Florida State, leads the NFL with 24 receptions as the Jets have compiled a 2-1 record, good for a first place tie in the AFC East.
"Laveranues is a special player. He does such a great job of getting open," said Jets quarterback Chad Pennington of Coles. "Any time you put the ball up in the air, you know #87 is going to give you a chance to make a play."
Since the Jets took flight at Tennessee in the season opener, Coles has performed at an elite level. His 153 yards against the Titans is the highest total thus far for any AFC offensive player. Coles didn't cool down in week two, collecting 100 yards against the Patriots.
In the week two game against New England at the Meadowlands, Coles and Pennington connected on a dazzling 47 yard touchdown – the longest of Coles' career. In that highlight reel play, Coles danced the shimmy around five Patriot defenders before completing his first touchdown of the season. Coles has been one of the league's top targets on third down, grabbing seven balls while converting six first downs which equates to an 85.7% clip.
"He runs really good routes and he consistently finds a way to get open," Mangini said of Coles. "He always makes a nice target. He has also done that on first and second down throughout this year and in years past."
After surpassing the 100-yard plateau in each of the club's first two games, Coles now has 15 career games in which he has reached triple-digit receiving yards. His 24 receptions in the first three games are the most by any Jets player since Clark Gaines caught 31 passes during the first thee games of the 1980 season.
Last week, Coles didn't practice due to a calf injury and was listed as questionable throughout the week on the Jets' injury report. On Sunday, he suited up in Buffalo and led the Jets in both receptions (10) and receiving yards (78) as the Jets improved their road record to 2-0 with an impressive 28-20 victory.
"I love the way he plays football," Mangini said. "I love his toughness. I love the fact that when he's injured, you wouldn't even know it in his approach. That is the type of example you are looking for from young guys to show them just sheer willingness to make plays. Some of those plays he makes are just on desire, effort and toughness; you are always looking for that in your players."
Coles' toughness certainly goes without saying. His tendency to bounce back immediately after taking a big hit has been influential throughout the locker room, and he has even inspired those on the defensive side of the ball.
"You look on the stat sheet and see nine catches for ninety yards; there's a lot of different ways to get those nine catches," linebacker Matt Chatham said. "Laveranues gets those balls in traffic, gets blown up, gets up the next play and he's catching the next pass. I think that's what's impressed me the most about him."
Whether its toughness, persistence, or support from his teammates, if there is one thing Coles can credit the early success to, it's the team camaraderie.
"The chemistry with my teammates, they are the greatest. They support me and they are more excited for me than I am for myself," said Coles. "A lot of guys came up and congratulated me and that means more to me than anything. It's really a team award because without these guys none of this would have happened."
This is the first time in his career that Coles has received the award.
Coach Mangini announced that offensive lineman Norm Katnik was signed to the practice squad and wide receiver Sloan Thomas was released from the practice squad… The Jets recently signed fullback James Hodgins, a 6'1", 275-pound veteran in his eighth season, after the club released fullback Jamar Martin last week. B.J. Askew is the starter in the backfield, and he has done a good job protecting Pennington on pass plays. However Askew, a fourth-year veteran from Michigan was the only fullback listed on the team's depth chart last week at Buffalo and the ground attack is averaging just 72.3 yards per game. Before signing Hodgins, there was one specific thing Mangini liked about his scouting report. "When we were doing research about him, the quote that I liked the best is 'there were games when he'd make linebackers quit,'" he said. "He's been a productive guy and we thought that we'd give him an opportunity to see what he can do." … Guard Pete Kendall has increased his participation at practice this week according to Mangini. Kendall has an injured thigh and his status is still questionable for Sunday's game. Asked if there were any words of advice he could offer rookie tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson on blocking Colts' defensive end Dwight Freeney, Kendall joked, "I don't know how much I could help. If I were that good I'd be playing there myself."… While many teams try to use the running game to eat up time and keep the Indy offense off the field, Mangini acknowledges that it's going to take a lot more than ball possession to taste success against the well-balanced Colts. "It's going to have to take a complete team effort," said Mangini. "I forgot what year it was, but it was at Indianapolis, where I think they had 13 plays in the first half and the game was tied 14-14. They're a quick-strike explosive offense. They can hit you on any play. The important thing is playing good, solid, sound defense because if there's a crack, he'll (Manning) find it."
Thursday Injury ReportJets*Questionable: CB David Barrett (thigh), WR Laveranues Coles (calf), RW Tim Dwight (hamstring), OL Pete Kendall (thigh), S Kerry Rhodes (thigh), DB Derrick Strait (thight), & OL Trey Teague (ankle) *Probable: *DL Dave Ball (hand), *RB Kevan Barlow (calf), *LB Matt Chatham (foot), *OL Anthony Clement (shin), *CB Drew Coleman (hand), *DL Shaun Ellis (hip), *DL Bobby Hamilton (knee), *QB Chad Pennington (calf) & *DL Kimo von Oelhoffen (knee)
Out: DT Corey Simon (knee) &S Bob Sanders (knee)
Questionable:LB Gary Bracket (thigh), T Ryan Diem (thumb), C Dylan Gandy (abdomen), CB Nick Harper (ankle), * DB Kelvin Hayden (groin), DB Marlin Jackson (concussion), *DB Tim Jennings (knee), *LB Freddie Keiaho (knee), DT Dan Klecko (low back), G Ryan Lilja (knee), DT Darrell Reid (elbow), *G Jake Scott (knee), WR Brandon Stokley (ankle), *DE Josh Thomas (hip), *TE Ben Utecht (groin) & K Adam Vinatieri (R groin)
Probable:RB Dede Dorsey (ankle)
* Denotes players who participated in practice