This has been a trying fall for Curtis Martin. The mainstay in the Jets backfield the previous eight seasons hasn't taken the field and is still on the club's Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. Martin, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on his right knee last December, will remain on the PUP for at least two more weeks and he may not play this season.
"That is the hardest part about this deal for me is I just can't will myself to do things right now," Martin said Thursday. "I have to be smart and that's what I am trying to do. I am trying to listen to the advice of the people around me, the people who know better than I know. Other people have my best interests and I have my best interests, but sometimes you need eyes outside yours to see."
Martin had hoped to return to the practice field with his teammates this week. Just three days ago, Jets head coach Eric Mangini announced that the NFL's fourth-all time leading rusher wouldn't come off the PUP – at the earliest – until after the Jets' game at Cleveland on October 29th.
"That was I have been working towards, so that this week I felt like I could get back out there and get back out there on the field with the team," Martin said.
Despite not being able to return to the practice field, Martin is trying to stay upbeat.
"It wasn't necessarily a disappointment," Martin said of the announcement. "This is one of those situations where I always say, 'It is what is.' It is somewhat out of my control and there is nothing I can do about it."
The ever-optimistic Martin says he is feeling better physically, but he doesn't know how his body would react to the moves a running back has to make.
"I feel as though I'm running a little better," Martin said. "The one thing I was concerned about is making the cuts. Once you get out there, instincts take over. I haven't been put in that situation and I don't know how that will turn out."
Martin, a 33-year old warrior, has made a living by playing through pain. He missed only eight regular season games throughout the first 11 years of his career, including four last year.
"No matter what I've had in the past, my attitude and my mentality is that I am going to go out there until it's stupid," he told reporters. "That is what I try to avoid doing now."
Football has become a way of life for Martin. His team is an extended family.
"This is my team. This is my job. This is what I like doing," Martin said. "Like I said, this is more than just playing football. This has become a way, a lifestyle, and a mentality – the way you approach every day. Your job is to be out there as much as you can until your career is over. That is what my mind is focused on."
Martin has a three-week window to begin working out with the team. At the end of the three weeks the Jets could either activate him to the 53-man roster or place him on injured reserve for the remainder of the season. If Martin starts to practice, then the Jets have an additional 21 days to activate Martin or place him on the IR.
"I think two weeks helps us make a wiser decision," he said. "I don't know how much difference it will be from now in my body physically two weeks now. But I do believe we'll be able to make a wiser decision."
It has become a Mangini custom to award players each week for various achievements. Martin, the Jets' all-time leading rusher with 10,302 yards and a professional who owns 56 career 100-yard performances, has his eyes set on a humble goal.
"I would like to get out there and get the Scout Player of the Week to start out with," he said. "If I can get that, then I believe I progressed to another level. That is what I'm thinking about. That is my number one goal right now – getting the Scout Player of the Week."
Regardless what happens, Martin will continue to rush full speed until that final whistle. He knows nothing else. If retirement is on the horizon, then so be it. But nothing is going to stop Curtis Martin's drive and it shouldn't be any other way.
"If that ends up being the situation, I'm sure I'll make peace with it," Martin says of not playing again. "Until that is a reality, my mind doesn't have peace with it. The way my mind is to have peace with that doesn't benefit me right now. I'd like to keep my drive going the way it is. And then if that was the situation, then I'll come to a peace about it."
Thursday Injury ReportJets
Questionable: FB B.J. Askew (foot), CB David Barrett (hip), WR Laveranues Coles (calf), WR Tim Dwight (thigh), RB Cedric Houston (knee), & OL Trey Teague (ankle)
Probable:*DL Dave Ball (hand), *RB Kevan Barlow (calf), *LB Matt Chatham (foot), *OL Anthony Clement (shin), *OL Pete Kendall (thigh), *QB Chad Pennington (calf), *S Kerry Rhodes (thigh), *WR Brad Smith (thigh) & *DL Kimo von Oelhoffen (knee)
Lions Out: DT Shaun Cody (toe) & S Kenoy Kennedy (foot)
Questionable: LB Alex Lewis (knee), FB Cory Schlesinger (hamstring), OL Rex Tucker (knee) & G Ross Verba (hamstring)
Probable:*RB Kevin Jones (hip) & * DE James Hall (shoulder)
- Denotes players who participated in practice