HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (Sept. 22, 2005) -- Curtis Martin has one thought when it comes to playing through injuries: the pain is only temporary.
How else to explain his amazing ability to miss just four games in 11 seasons while taking a constant pounding? The Jets running back will do it again Sept. 25 against Jacksonville when he plays with a bruised right knee.
Martin practiced Sept. 22 and was upgraded to probable on the injury report. Coach Herman Edwards said Martin did everything in practice and will play. In his first comments since getting hurt against Miami, Martin said he has learned to deal with the pain that comes from playing such a tough position.
"My main thought is all pain is temporary," Martin said. "It can't last forever. You can get through it for three hours in a game and then you can suffer and cry and everything afterward. That's the attitude I try to take. I often try to focus so hard on something else that it takes my attention away from the pain."
The 32-year-old Martin never talks about his injuries, and declined to comment whether he had any pain. But it was clear he was eager to get back onto the field.
"I look at it, that's what you're here to do," Martin said. "You're here to put yourself on the line like that unless it's just hideous to do it. That's what football's about. 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."
He knows how to deal just fine. The last time Martin missed a game was against St. Louis in 1998, when he had a thigh injury. Compounding that problem was a hamstring injury on the same leg. Martin said "my whole leg was about to fall apart."
He decided to sit out because he didn't want to risk further damage or his availability for the season. Those are the rare times when he understands he should not push it.
"I'm smart enough, I'm not just some gladiator or some moron who's going to do something stupid," Martin said. "I definitely take care of my body. I want to still be able to walk my kids to school when I'm not playing football. I'm always going to be smart about it."
Guard Pete Kendall said nobody was surprised when Martin trotted out to the practice field.
"The biggest surprise would be if Curt couldn't play," Kendall said.
Martin took a pounding against the Dolphins, so backup Derrick Blaylock is expected to get a few more carries. But Blaylock might have much more on his mind. His parents evacuated their home in Houston because of Hurricane Rita, and Blaylock just bought a house in the area.
Those concerns will have to be tossed aside once the game starts, especially because it is such a pivotal stretch against tough defenses in Jacksonville, Baltimore, Tampa Bay and Buffalo -- Edwards referred to them as "Murderer's Row."
"This has to be the toughest schedule defensively, especially concerning the run, that I've ever went up against my entire career," Martin said. "This streak of games that we have, no one's a slouch, there's no one who you can just say we're going to at least get 100 yards minimum. There's no team like that."