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Jets Return with Renewed Vigor for 2nd Half


It's interesting to hear what players do during their bye weeks. Some go home to be with their families. Some choose to go on vacation, like Cowboys' quarterback Tony Romo who famously spent a few days in the comforts of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, during the week off before the 2008 playoffs.

Others just keep the focus.

"I look at it as a chance to get ahead," said 10th-year veteran RB Thomas Jones, who is the AFC's fourth-ranked rusher (704 yards) prior to Monday night's action. "You get a couple of days to work out some of the kinks, whether it is getting treatment, getting massages, seeing the chiropractor, trying to work out a little bit extra to get strength back."

Looking at the 5'10" 212-pounder, whom head coach Rex Ryan jokingly pronounced looks like he's built "upside down" because his biceps are bigger than the average person's thighs, you have to wonder how much strength he's really ever lost, let alone in just one week.

The 31-year old seems to defy the old-age running back myth, giving new meaning to hard work and preparation.

"I don't like to rest too much," Jones said. "I don't want to get off-kilter. I am still watching film. I left for a couple of days, but am still watching film, still working out."

Sixth-year WR Jerricho Cotchery, who leads the Jets with 27 catches for 430 yards despite being used sparingly in Week 5 and missing Weeks 6 and 7, was ready to get back on the field for practice outside the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center today as well.

The excited look on his face in the locker room after practice could be compared to the week preceding the second Miami game, when he grabbed three receptions for 70 yards. That included a 53-yard reception, 43 yards of which he gained after the catch to prove he was over his early season hamstring injury.

"I was just anxious to get back to work today," Cotchery said. "You could tell that everybody was anxious to get back out there energy-wise. We were focused on everything we needed to do. It felt good to be out there."

Fellow WR Braylon Edwards is a first-year Jet but one who also developed plenty of good habits in his first four pro seasons with Cleveland.

"I'm going into it giving it all that I have," said Edwards. "Week in and week out, Monday to Sunday, I am trying to do everything I can the right way to prove to these guys who I am and I'm the guy that they need.

"Whether it's third down, beginning of the game, end of the game, in the red zone, blocking, wherever they need me, I'm here for them. I'm here to help these guys win games this year."

Getting back on the winning track will be crucial as the season winds through November and December, considering the Patriots beat the Dolphins on Sunday to move two games ahead of the second-place Jets in the AFC East. Not to mention the three other divisions in the AFC are becoming more and more competitive each week, making the fight for a wild-card spot that much more difficult.

"This is a tough conference," said J-Co. "You had New England go 11-5 last season and not make it."

Some have their own conjectures about how many W's it'll take to be among the conference's top half-dozen.

"I think to give ourselves an honest chance to get in the playoffs, it's six," said Edwards. "I think this year a 10-6 team can get in because of all the average-ness going on. There are a lot of one-, two-, three- and four-loss teams, so realistically 10-6 is a good number."

That means the Jets would have to go 6-2 against eight opponents with a combined schedule strength of .563 (36-28), not as difficult as New England's .585 (38-27) but tougher than Buffalo's .516 (33-31) and Miami's .453 (29-35 before tonight's Pittsburgh-Denver game).

So what are they going to do to perform better than the first half of the season?

"Take it one day at a time, focusing on one game at a time, not getting ahead of ourselves," said Jones. "A lot of the games that we lost are games that we easily could have won, a play here, a play there."

It's going to take continued hard work by the entire squad to get there.

"You realize that with the kind of team we have, we can play with anybody in this league," Cotchery said. "If we lock in and focus in on every game, we're going to give ourselves a good shot to win."

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