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D. Woody's Eager to Jump Back in the Saddle


Offensive tackle Damien Woody has rejoined the starting lineup. And after sitting out the first two preseason games with a concussion, he's excited about returning to action Saturday night against the Giants at the Meadowlands.

"I'm chomping at the bit — I can't wait to get my first game action," Woody said after Thursday's practice. "It was just one of those things where you want to be cautious so you don't have any setbacks, so I understood. I wanted to play in the Ravens game but it just didn't make sense. It feels good coming into this game. We'll have our group together and we'll see what it looks like against a very formidable defense."

The Jets will have their five offensive line starters available for the first time this preseason. While watching the Monday night game on the sidelines, Woody was impressed with the play of the running backs gaining 141 yards against the Ravens typically stingy defense.

"I though it was really good," he said. "I thought we really got after them. I thought we were physical, not just up front but all around. I was real encouraged by it, especially against that defense. I think we're just as physical as any team in the league. I was definitely encouraged looking at it and I think we're only going to get better moving forward."

And even better this season than a year ago, said the 6'3", 330-pounder, who blocked for AFC rushing leader and Pro Bowler Thomas Jones on the NFL's ninth-ranked rushing offense.

"I think the fact that we have the same people back, the fact that we're in the same system and everybody has the familiarity with what we're doing, I think we're going to be a lot more productive especially as far as the running game is concerned," Woody said. "I'm excited to see our progress every week."

An 11-year veteran who won two Super Bowls with the Patriots in 2001 and 2003 and a Pro Bowler in 2002 as a center, Woody is focused on this year and sharing new accomplishments with his teammates that he's continued to bond with.

"It's not about individual accolades," he said. "I'm just about winning — it's all about winning the next championship. That's all I care about. I just want my teammates to experience winning a Super Bowl.

"I'm not concerned with going to the Pro Bowl and all that. It's nice, but all the individual accolades come with team success. I'm just trying to get better as a player and do the things the coaches need me to do."

The versatile tackle, who has started every position on the offensive line other than left tackle as a pro, blocked for second-year QB Tom Brady all the way to Super Bowl XXXVI after the 2001 season.

"The thing that really stood out with Tom was his work ethic," said Woody. "He never made the same mistake twice, he worked extremely hard, he stayed in the studies, really watched a lot of tape. And he was just coachable.

"That's the makeup of somebody that's going to improve from point A to point B. Any good player, that's what they need to do. They have to humble themselves and accept the coaching, and if you do that then you'll get better, and that's what I except out of Mark."

Mark Sanchez, of course. Woody was one of the most outspoken players backing the rookie on Wednesday after the announcement was made that No. 6 would be the Jets starter come Week 1.

Through his first decade of NFL experience, Woody has never played in front of a rookie to begin a season. But that's no reason for him and his experienced offensive linemates to worry.

"It's all about everybody doing their job," he said. "Just because we have a rookie quarterback, it's not like anybody has to do more than is required of them. Everybody has to do what they're told to do on each individual play, and as long as everybody does that, we'll be fine. We know he is a rookie and he's inexperienced, but he'll grow. And the good thing about it is that we have a pretty good supporting cast to help him in the process."

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