Heading into Week 13 of the 2010 season, every NFL team is a bit banged up. Fortunately for the 9-2 Jets, they've had a little extra time to recuperate before the much acclaimed trip to New England to face the 9-2 Patriots next Monday night.
After playing two games in five days due to the Thanksgiving night victory over the Bengals, some key members of the Jets spent time at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center to get their bodies back in proper shape.
"I'm just getting a bunch of treatment," right tackle Damien Woody said. "I spent the whole weekend while everyone else was off, I spent all my days here doing what I have to do. This game is too big to miss. I'm going to be out there."
The 12th-year veteran began his career with the Patriots and has played the last three seasons with the Green & White. During last week's victory over the Texans, Woody sustained a right MCL injury, but summoned the courage to play against the Bengals on a mere three days of rest.
During today's practice, Woody was seen working with strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi. Despite an injury that could take four to six weeks to fully heal, Woody has been sporting a compression sleeve on his leg and using a Stim machine to ensure he plays Monday night in Foxboro, Mass.
"Not only this game — it's this time of year," Woody said. "This is where teams separate themselves in jockeying for playoff position. You want all hands on deck, so I'm just doing my part and what I have to do to help my team win."
Another starter who has missed time recently is wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, who injured his groin just before making one of the plays of the year, a diving catch in overtime in the Jets' victory over the Browns. The seventh-year man out of North Carolina State was able to get in a few reps during a shortened day in practice today.
"I'm on the right track," Cotchery said. "I didn't do much today, I was limited, but I got some snaps in on offense and had a couple of routes. Thursday I'll hopefully progress even further. We have a lot of time before Monday. I'm pretty sure I'll be in good shape."
Perhaps the injury that was most severe was the concussion to cornerback Dwight Lowery, who sustained a nasty hit in Cleveland and had barely been seen by the media at the Jets facility in Florham Park since then. The recipe for getting better after a concussion is staying away from light and avoiding stress or stimulation while getting rest, so when Lowery took the field on Monday, it was a strange moment.
"It felt like I hadn't been out there in a long time," he said. "When you get in that situation, you kind of just rely on technique until you get back into a rhythm. It's hard when you've been away for a while. The biggest thing you lose is the rhythm of what you've been doing, and once you establish that, you start feeling better."
Lowery described how his scary injury put things in perspective, allowed him to work out some different muscles than he normally did, and also helped him learn a lot of the little details throughout the week that he might not learn if he were on the field.
Fellow cornerback Marquice Cole, who injured his hamstring in the victory over the Lions, also feels confident about his chances of playing on Monday.
"It's still early but I feel pretty good," Cole said. "I was out there running around today, making breaks and everything so I feel good. I feel like another week of treatment and I should be ready to go. A game like this, I'd do anything to play."
For all four Jets who among others have recently been on the trainers' tables, it's a chance to prove their toughness by suiting up against a formidable division foe on primetime television. The battle on Monday would put head coach Rex Ryan's crew in the driver's seat in the AFC East, while a loss would make their battle for playoff position a little more difficult.
"This is crunch time right here," Cotchery said. "It's the end of the year and you know you need all of your options. You need everyone available for the game. I'm doing my best to get out there."