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Jets get good news on injury front Monday

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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The first win of the Todd Bowles Era didn’t turn out to be nearly as costly as the New York Jets feared Sunday afternoon.

Both cornerback Antonio Cromartie and linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin got good news Monday, less than 24 hours after the Jets completed a 31-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns.

Cromartie, who went down without being touched in the second quarter, was diagnosed with a sprained left knee. He is listed as week-to-week, though Bowles said Monday he wasn’t ready to estimate the veteran’s chances of playing against the Indianapolis Colts next Monday because Cromartie hasn’t run yet.

That the Jets are even entertaining the notion of Cromartie playing this season — never mind next week — qualifies as stunningly good news given the non-contact nature of Cromartie’s injury and his reaction before and after he was carried off the field by a pair of Jets trainers. Cromartie pounded his fist into the grass at MetLife Stadium and appeared to be crying as he put a towel over his head on the sideline.

“I was very relieved,” Bowles said. “Looked like it was an ACL, sitting over there with a towel on his head. I didn’t know what happened. So I’m glad it wasn’t.”

The Jets were even more relieved to learn Mauldin’s injuries were not as serious as initially appeared. Mauldin was hurt in the fourth quarter immediately after he teamed up with defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson to sack Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, who subsequently fumbled. In the scrum to recover the ball, Mauldin was trampled upon by several players.

Mauldin tried getting up but collapsed and was unresponsive as the Jets’ trainers tended to him. He was strapped to a board and carted off the field. The Jets initially said he had both head and neck injuries, but an examination revealed no spinal problems.

There is no timetable for Mauldin, who is now in the league’s concussion protocol.

“You cart somebody off the field like that, not moving, immediately you think the worst,” Bowles said. “So to get that news was good.”

–Brandon Marshall’s first game as a member of the home team at MetLife Stadium went a whole lot better than his four games there as a visitor.

Marshall led the Jets with six catches for 62 yards, caught a one-yard touchdown pass and made the biggest play of the game on defense during the Jets’ 31-10 win over the Browns.

Marshall was the intended target for the lone interception tossed by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who badly overthrew Marshall about five minutes into the second quarter with the Jets down 7-0. Safety Tashaun Gipson, the only player in the vicinity of the ball, picked it off at the Browns’ 17-yard line and began to return it, but Marshall wrapped up Gipson, poked the ball loose and grabbed it as the two players fell to the ground.

“That’s the first thing I always think about when there’s a turnover; to try to turn into a defender and get the ball back,” Marshall said.

The Jets scored on the next play, but Fitzpatrick’s nine-yard touchdown pass to running back Chris Ivory was negated by a holding call on Marshall. No worries: On the next play, Ivory rushed 10 yards for a touchdown that counted.

“That was huge,” Bowles said. “Brandon plays everything. He plays offense. He plays defense. He plays aggressive. To me, that was the play of the game.”

Marshall’s fumble recovery led Fitzpatrick to offer the wide receiver an unusual gift.

“What a great play by Brandon,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think that play in that nutshell kind of shows his competitiveness. I definitely owe him a soda pop for that one.”

No word on whether or not Marshall accepted the can of soda, or if a good memory of MetLife Stadium was enough. Marshall had just 23 catches for 241 yards and two touchdowns in his first five games at MetLife Stadium/The Meadowlands.

He had one catch for six yards before leaving with a hamstring injury in his previous game at MetLife Stadium last Sept. 22, when he was a member of the Chicago Bears. As a member of the Miami Dolphins on Oct. 17, 2011, Marshall had six catches for 109 yards but also inexplicably stepped out of bounds on what would have been a 65-yard touchdown catch.

REPORT CARD VS. BROWNS

PASSING OFFENSE: B — QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (15-of-24, 179 yards, two touchdowns, one interception) will not lose his job to Geno Smith if he plays like he did Sunday. Fitzpatrick expertly directed a two-minute drive to give the Jets the lead for good at the end of the first half and led the Jets to 31 points on their first five trips into the red zone. He wasn’t perfect, but WR Brandon Marshall (six catches for 62 yards and a touchdown) bailed Fitzpatrick out of his biggest mistake by wrapping up S Tashaun Gipson and stripping the ball from him after Gipson picked Fitzpatrick off deep in Browns territory. WR Chris Owusu (four catches for 55 yards) got a lot of run as the No. 3 wideout while WR Quincy Enunwa, who won the No. 3 job in camp, wasn’t targeted once.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A-minus — RB Chris Ivory (20 carries for 91 yards and two touchdowns) certainly looked ready to become the bellcow back the Jets have lacked since Thomas Jones. The Marshawn Lynch-ian Ivory gained a whopping 68 yards after contact. RB Bilal Powell (12 carries for 62 yards) provided an occasional breather, usually on passing downs, in the first three quarters before running out the clock with five rushes for 39 yards in the Jets’ final series.

PASS DEFENSE: B-minus — It was a day to forget for CB Antonio Cromartie, who got burned for a 54-yard touchdown by WR Travis Benjamin before suffering a sprained left knee that has him listed as week-to-week. Cromartie’s replacement, second-year CB Marcus Williams, provided reason to believe he can be a capable fill-in by picking off QB Johnny Manziel to set up a third-quarter touchdown. The Jets got off to a slow start against Browns starting QB Josh McCown, who converted four straight third downs (two passing, two rushing) on the opening drive before S Calvin Pryor and LB Demario Davis teamed up for the touchdown-saving hit that knocked McCown out of the game.

RUSH DEFENSE: A-minus — Another year, another elite run defense for the Jets? The Browns received just 46 yards on 20 carries from running backs Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson and Shaun Draughn. Crowell and Johnson each had a long gain of eight yards, which means the Browns collected 30 yards on the other 18 rushes. The Browns’ backs were easily outgained by McCown and Manziel, who combined for 58 yards on eight scrambles.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B — K Nick Folk nailed all four of his new-fangled PATs as well as his lone field-goal attempt. P Ryan Quigley averaged 33.7 yards on four punts, more than six yards lower than his team-record average from last season. The Jets’ only kick return was fielded by TE Kellen Davis, whose 13-yard return helped set up the go-ahead touchdown at the end of the first half. WR Jeremy Kerley played just one snap on offense, so he should get used to contributing solely on punt returns (two returns for 13 yards).

COACHING: B — Once again, the Jets played like their head coach. Except this time, they played efficient, disciplined football. The Jets committed just four penalties in Todd Bowles’ first game as head coach. They committed four or fewer penalties only three times under Rex Ryan last year. Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey also diverged from his predecessor, Marty Mornhinweg, by sticking with Ivory all game. Defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers figured out a way to slow down the Browns, who gashed the Jets for 160 yards on their first two series but gained just 161 yards the rest of the way.


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