NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — When the Jets fly off to Oakland for Sunday’s game against the Raiders, Nick Mangold will have his injured ankle planted firmly on the ground — at home.
On Friday, Mangold told reporters that he won’t be making the trip to The Coliseum.
“Can’t argue with the body,” Mangold said, according to the Newark Star-Ledger.
He was barely limping, easily navigating his way through the Jets’ locker room on Thursday despite the big, bulky boot on his right foot. The All-Pro center was holding out hope he would be able to join his teammates and play in Oakland.
“I appreciate his toughness,” said Jets coach Rex Ryan. “But at the end of the day we have to do what’s right for him and the team.”
Mangold hasn’t practiced since injuring his right ankle in the win over Jacksonville last Sunday. It’s an injury that typically takes a few weeks to heal, but Ryan has been impressed by Mangold’s rapid recovery.
“He’s doing the treatment,” Ryan said yesterday. “He’s off the crutches, doing different things. He’s been on a bike and he’s also doing other exercises and stuff. For a high ankle sprain, he’s well ahead of the game.”
Rookie Colin Baxter will start in Mangold’s place.
“You look at Colin Baxter,” Ryan said. “He did come from a similar system, but there are changes. Here, three weeks into the season, now he’s starting.”
Baxter was solid in his NFL debut last week after coming in late in the first quarter when Mangold went down. He has also been a surprisingly popular guy in the locker room for a former undrafted free agent who was just claimed by the Jets from the Chargers a few weeks ago.
“I thought I’d come in here and be sort of anonymous for a while,” Baxter said. “When you come in and you’re replacing a guy like Nick, it’s expected that everybody’s kind of like, ‘Oh no.’”
Baxter was the anchor of the University of Arizona’s offensive line, but wasn’t selected in the draft after playing much of his senior season with a torn meniscus in his right knee. He was known as one of the team’s toughest players, but Baxter also has a sweet, sensitive spot — in permanent ink on his left biceps. It’s the tattooed baby footprints of his first son, Gage Roy, born on Jan. 14.
“Yeah, it was something I wanted to do,” said Baxter, who has a few other tattoos. “But I’ve set the precedent now. So, now if I have more down the line, maybe I’ll switch it up and have hand prints here or there.”
Baxter has spent lots of time off the practice field talking with Mangold, injured offensive lineman Robert Turner and quarterback Mark Sanchez. Call it cramming.
“He’s getting more and more comfortable,” Sanchez said. “It wasn’t an easy position for him to come in last week. It’s one thing for somebody to go down in the fourth quarter and take a couple of snaps, one or two drives. He came in for 50-plus snaps. For his first go, he did a pretty good (job). We’ll get the snap count down, and little things like that. The nerves are gone. He’s ready to play.”
Will Baxter be able get the job done? Be heard in the comments below…
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