NFL Wire News

Injured Jets return to practice


The Sports Xchange

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The clock has started running for New York Jets cornerback Dee Milliner and running back Stevan Ridley.

Milliner and Ridley both participated in their first practice of the season on Wednesday. Milliner, who underwent surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right wrist on Aug. 8, opened the year on injured reserve with the designation to return, which means he can’t play for the Jets until Week 9 (Nov. 5).

Ridley, who began the season on the physically unable to perform list while he continued recovering from surgery to repair his ACL and MCL last November, must be added to the Jets’ active roster within 21 days. If the Jets don’t do so, he won’t be able to play at all this season.

On Monday, head coach Todd Bowles didn’t rule out the possibility that Ridley could debut this weekend against the New England Patriots, for whom he played the first four seasons of his career. Bowles was tempered in his practice report on Wednesday, when he said both Ridley and Milliner “ran around.”

—The Jets entered the bye with a 3-1 record, but two glaring issues to remedy: Penalties and their performance on punt coverage.

The Jets performed markedly better in the penalty department last Sunday, when they were flagged just once against the Washington Redskins in a 34-20 win. The punt coverage, alas, remains a work in progress after punter Ryan Quigley’s fourth-quarter punt was blocked and returned for a touchdown.

The Jets had just 10 players on the field for the blocked punt, which seemed to make Bowles even madder than if the snafu happened with 11 players.

“They didn’t count them, we as coaches didn’t count them, we messed it up,” Bowles said. “I messed it up. It’s my responsibility.”

Nor was Bowles in any mood to excuse someone for failing to know his assignment and forgetting to run on the field with the punt team.

“It wasn’t our first punt,” Bowles said. “So it shouldn’t happen.”

The Jets have had serious punt coverage breakdowns leading to or causing touchdowns in each of their last three games. Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles broke at least five tackles on an 89-yard return for a touchdown that proved to be the decisive score in the Eagles’ 24-17 win on Sept. 27. On Oct. 4, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry returned a punt 28 yards to set up a touchdown in the Jets’ 27-14 win.

Rest assured Bowles is addressing the issue with an increased sense of urgency this week. Few teams are as adept at finding holes in coverage units as the Patriots, who have recorded at least one special teams touchdown in 12 of head coach Bill Belichick’s 15 seasons as head coach. In addition, the Patriots have returned a punt for a touchdown in four of the past five seasons.

–It’s been more than 30 years since the Jets shared a Shea Stadium home with the New York Mets. But the Mets’ red-hot playoff run might still be a good harbinger for their former co-tenants as the Jets try to turn a 4-1 start into a trip to the postseason.

The Mets reached the playoffs for the eighth time in franchise history this season and entered Wednesday night one win away from reaching the World Series for the fifth time. The Mets led the Chicago Cubs, three games to none, in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series.

Of the Mets’ first seven trips to the playoffs, three were followed by playoff appearances by the Jets: 1969, 1986 and 2006. The Jets lost their first playoff game in 1969 (in the AFL divisional round) and 2006 (in the AFC wild card) and lost in their second game (in the AFC divisional round) in 1986, when they blew a 10-point lead against the Cleveland Browns in the final five minutes of the semifinal contest.

In addition, the Jets had a winning record in six of those seven seasons. The only exception was 1973, when the Mets made the World Series while the Jets went 4-10.

The Jets’ winning percentage in the Mets’ first seven playoff seasons was .542 (59-48-1). That’s considerably better than the franchise’s overall winning percentage of .458 (381-452-8) — and perhaps a sign of things to come this fall and winter.

Notes: Running back Bilal Powell (ankle) didn’t practice Wednesday. Powell was injured Sunday, when he was limited to minus-2 yards on four carries and one yard on one reception. If Powell cannot play, lead back Chris Ivory will likely see more work on third downs and in obvious passing situations. … Wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins was promoted to the active roster Tuesday, 15 days after the Jets signed him to their practice squad. The addition of Thompkins is likely as much an indication that WR Chris Owusu (knee) will miss another game as it is the Jets’ desire to get some “intel” on the Patriots. Thompkins made the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2013 and spent the first month of this season on their practice squad. Thompkins has 53 catches for 728 yards and four touchdowns in 26 NFL games and has also returned three kickoffs for 43 yards.

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