Saturday, September 24, 2005

Jets Go For Second Straight Against Jags

After rebounding from a Week One blowout loss to Kansas City with a 17-7 win over Miami in their home opener, the Jets (1-1) go for their second straight win Sunday when they host Jacksonville (1-1) at 1 PM on CBS.

Curtis Martin should suit up after an MRI cameback negative on his strained right knee. In Week Two, Martin was a workhorse, carrying the ball 31 times for 72 yards. Always a gamer, the crafty 11-year vet has missed just four games in his career. Having rushed for over 13,000 yards and 85 touchdowns, the 32-year-old knows how to play through pain.

"That's what football's about," Martin said Thursday. "Most of the time you're not going to play healthy, you're going to be in some type of pain. I believe a lot of times your value and your legacy and consistency depends on how well you deal with things."

If Martin needs to be replaced, Derrick Blaylock will spell him. Blaylock, 26, was signed from Kansas City. A former '01 fifth round pick out of Stephen F. Austin, Blaylock ran for a career high 539 yards and eight TDs as Priest Holmes' backup. So far this season in Gang Green, his workload has been light with only two carries for 14 yards. That could change.

Chad Pennington looks to continue his improvement under new offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger. After fumbling the ball six times (lost two) and tossing one pick in Week One, he rebounded with a 19-of-30, 190-yard effort, tossing two scores and most importantly, no turnovers.

Pennington will face a stingy defense in Jacksonville that's allowed just 24 points the first two weeks. In last week's 10-3 defeat to the Colts, they shutdown two-time MVP Peyton Manning, holding him without a TD and a QB rating of 44.0.

On the flip side, Pennington will see a familiar face in Byron Leftwich. Both QBs starred at Marshall, which should make for an intriguing match-up.

Leftwich took his lumps last Sunday at the Colts, sacked six times and hit a number of others. In fact, he left the field when he was tackled from behind, bent awkwardly. But he still limped back on the field helping put his team in position to tie the game. Though he fell short, nobody could question his toughness.

Upgraded to probable for Sunday, Leftwich expects to play. "I'm not 100 percent, but who in the NFL is 100 percent during the season" the third year QB said Friday. "But I'll be out there playing on Sunday. I won't be limited in any way come Sunday."

Leftwich is up against an equally tough defense that's allowing 17 points-a-game. Fred Taylor (157 rushing yards) could see significant action out of the backfield.

The Jets are hoping for another big game from John Abraham. After missing all of camp, Abraham finished with a sack, forced fumble and four tackles. Abraham will team up with the anchor of the D, 2004 Defensive Rookie Of The Year Jonathan Vilma. Vilma paced all Jets with seven solo tackles and four assists last week.

With two hardnosed defenses and two offenses that haven't scored many points (Jags- 29, Jets-24), it could be a black and blue Sunday at The Meadowlands.

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