Two of the Jets’ trench titans are poised to climb off the injury list and make contributions to Saturday night’s wild-card effort in Indianapolis.
On the offensive side of the LOS, right tackle Damien Woody has been battling his knee for weeks. He left the Houston game early, then started without practicing during team drills against Cincinnati, New England and Miami before also leaving the Dolphins game early and getting arthroscopic surgery.
Today was his first heavy practice day since, oh, about Nov. 12.
“I haven’t done anything like that in a while,” D-Wood said. “I feel pretty good. It’s a little sore, but that’s to be expected. I’m just going out and doing things and trying to get better every day and build toward Saturday.”
That was the plan back when he got the scope. You know he didn’t want to unplug himself from the lineup — the 12th-year man had started 48 straight games, including playoffs, since arriving in 2008. But if he couldn’t keep showing up for games, the next best thing would be to show up for the next playoff game, which is in Lucas Oil Stadium in four nights.
“It’s a different feeling when you’re in the training room and rehabbing. You almost feel like you’re disconnected from everybody,” he said. “So today was he first day I got back out there with the guys and really practiced. It’s just a good feeling to get out there and get the reps that I really need in order to be effective on Saturday, so I’m definitely excited.”
Rex Ryan wasn’t revealing this early in the week that Woody would be starting against the Colts, but as the head coach said, “Damien was out there today running with the ones,” so it sounds as if there’s a chance he’ll be dancing with Robert Mathis as the Jets OL tries to keep Indy’s most excellent ends at bay.
As for Trevor Pryce, Ryan said the early-season acquisition from the Ravens didn’t practice in team drills today “but he’s going to be fine.” Pryce has sat out the last three games and had been limited in practice the past two since injuring his hip against Miami. At first he thought he’d be OK quickly. Then he said he saw his MRI and thought he wasn’t coming back this season.
“The treatment worked,” he said today. “Three weeks off is good, until it gets boring.”
Pryce has been in some postseason skirmishes before but he didn’t have to dredge up war stories from his 14-year career to get his teammates pumped up today at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center.
“Practice goes faster, guys are a little edgy, everybody’s excited and that comes out on the practice field,” said the 14-year man. “We might’ve messed some things up out there today, but everybody was going full tilt today. It was like training camp.”
If Pryce is feeling fully frisky, he could be one of the wild cards the Jets can deal at Peyton Manning and the Indy offense that they didn’t have last year. Getting some inside pressure, getting Peyton off his mark and out of his comfort zone. But he knows that’s easier said than done.
“There’s nothing you can say that hasn’t already been said, that people didn’t already know. The man’s as good as there has been in the history of the game,” he said. Slowing him down “is really difficult. You can’t get impatient. You’re not going to sack him unless he falls down. You can get to him but he’s not going to have the ball in his hand when you do get to him.”
“A lot of people have a sixth sense,” Pryce said of Manning’s pocket presence. “It’s kind of like being a cop. ‘I know that guy did it. I just can’t prove it yet.’ Even if you’re trying to fool Peyton, he’ll see something, block it out and make an assumption. If he’s right eight out of 10 times, he looks great.”
It’ll be up to Pryce to try to make Manning look less great and for Woody to help the offense keep the ball out of the Colts’ hands on offense. Injuries? What injuries? These are the playoffs.
Ryan’s early injury list had only Pryce not participating in team drills today. Mark Sanchez, Darrelle Revis, Bryan Thomas, Sione Pouha, James Ihedigbo and Woody were limited. Antonio Cromartie, Shaun Ellis, Santonio Holmes, Nick Mangold, Matt Slauson, Eric Smith and Rob Turner were all full.
Odds and Ends
Before leaving the regular season entirely, here are a few stray nuggets:
The Jets’ defense came to rest pretty close to where Ryan always expects his D to finish: near the top. The overall yards allowed was third in the NFL, the run defense was third and the pass defense was sixth. The Jets had never been higher in any of those categories this season.
Also, combined with last season’s No. 1 defensive ranking, the Jets finished in the NFL’s top five in back-to-back years for the first time since the 1970 merger. And their three consecutive top-10 finishes in run defense is the first time that’s happened since the merger.
For the second straight year, the D finished No. 1 in three-and-out drives. They had 64 last season, 63 this season.
Brad Smith’s 40-yard run out of the Seminole on third-and-16 in the first quarter was the longest rushing third-down conversion since Freeman McNeil ran 23 yards on third-and-17 at Kansas City in 1987.
New Flight Plan Coordinates This Week
If you’re a fan of Jets Flight Plan — and if you’re a Jets fan, why wouldn’t you be? — be advised that this week’s show on WEBS-TV Channel 2 in New York is being moved from Sunday morning to Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. this week.
Tags: Damien Woody, Indianapolis Colts, Lucas Oil Stadium, Peyton Manning, Trevor Pryce
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