The Jets' Thursday night game against the Jaguars will be a battle of the physical, mental and emotional. Just ask Duane Brown.
"I don't like it one bit," Brown, the Jets' left tackle starter and 15-year NFL veteran, said of those pesky TNF games and the four-day weeks that come between any one Thursday game and the game the Sunday before. "Especially not Week 16, know what I'm saying? But it is what it is."
Brown noted that there are physical and mental components for all players who would prefer to get their bodies right in the usual six days between Sunday games and not the three days the Jets are now in the middle of. Aches and pains, late days ...
And then for a large man like the 6-4, 315-pound Brown, there may be something specific, like his shoulder. He spent the first four games on short-term Injured Reserve with the injury and for each of the last 10 game weeks, his three days of practice statutes have been identical: limited-limited-full.
"I'm out there, man, that's it. If I'm out there, I'm good to go" he said. "No one's 100 percent at this time of year. I'm playing through some stuff, but I'm out there, so I'm good."
And he has been good to go. Not only has eeBrown started all of the last 10 games but he's played all 627 offensive snaps in those games.
The mental element also factors in when it comes to trying to improve your unit's play in this half-week of preparation. For instance, the offensive line found it tough sledding against the Lions' 26th-ranked run defense in managing 50 yards at 2.3 yards per pop. And that diminished production snowballed into QB Zach Wilson getting sacked four times and hit 10 times.
Jets head coach Robert Saleh said: "I can give you the empathetic woe-is-me card, but nobody cares. We've got to be better."
"Having a good run game sets up so much for the pass game," Brown said. "When you get one-dimensional, teams pin their ears back, and you don't want to be in that type of game. It's been a big point of emphasis this week and a big point of emphasis for the rest of the year."
But Brown has taken any number of younger Jets under his wing with some big-brother advice, and that includes the Jets' second-year quarterback.
"He'll be fine," Brown said of Wilson. "He understands the kind of talent he has. I tell him to just focus on the next play. Outside of that, it's our job up front to help him. That's all I care about is doing my job so he's comfortable enough back there to do his job."
The last part of the mental and even emotional preparation for the Jaguars is that with the game coming this late in the schedule, one or both of the teams involved — such as both the 7-7 Jets and the 6-8 Jaguars — may have no margin for error.
"We've got to win this week," Brown said. "That's the bottom line, that's all we can think about. We can't think about playoffs, next week, other scenarios outside our team, who loses, who wins, who can help us. We have to think about Jacksonville on Thursday night and winning this ballgame. This is a must-win in our eyes. That's how we look at it."
Then after the game the emotions can come out but only for the NFL's 24-hour rule. Win and the Jets remain alive. Lose and there's a real good chance that even if they win their last two games, at Seattle and at Miami, they won't get into the NFL's 14-team postseason dance.
It's enough to make some normal humans roll themselves up in a big ball and die. But in New York, New Yor, in the NFL, forget the discomfort, the insecurity, the emotional roller-coaster. Only one thing matters to Brown and his teammates on Sundays, and that goes double for Thursdays.
"If you're out there, you're expected to play at a high level," he said. "You've got to do your job good enough to give your team a chance to win. That's all we're thinking about."