HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (Oct. 16, 2006) -- Curtis Martin will remain on the physically-unable-to-perform list until at least after the New York Jets' game at Cleveland in two weeks.
"I think each week that we go here, we evaluate it and see where we are, and I think having two additional weeks here to continue moving with the process and look at it is going to be an asset," coach Eric Mangini said.
Last week, Mangini said he and Martin, sidelined with a knee injury since the end of last season, discussed the possibility of the NFL's No. 4 rusher rejoining the team when he was eligible to come off the PUP list Oct. 16. After talking with Martin, team doctors and general manager Mike Tannenbaum, the decision was made to give the team more time to assess the situation.
"I'm sure there's been some other things that have been done where people may say, 'What's the point?' but every decision is made for the same reason -- to help the team win, help the team be successful," Mangini said. "And that's how we view this decision, as well."
The Jets (3-3) play Detroit this week and then travel to Cleveland before they break for a bye on Nov. 5.
"We would take into account the bye coming up there and just kind of see where he is and where things are at that point and make a decision," Mangini said.
Martin underwent surgery in December on his right knee, but was slow to recover. He was placed on the PUP list before training camp so he could continue to rehabilitate the knee, which reportedly has a bone-on-bone condition.
According to NFL rules, a player on the PUP list can't be cleared to practice until after Week 6. The Jets now have three weeks to decide whether to allow Martin to start practicing. Once he's cleared to practice, the team would have three weeks from that date to either place him on the active roster or put him on injured reserve and end his season.
The fact the Jets are entertaining the idea of Martin actually practicing gives some hope to those who feared the injury might end his career.
"We're going to just see how it goes," Mangini said. "I've felt good about his progress and his approach throughout the whole thing. You just can't ask for a better approach and a better person. He's been great and working really hard at it."
Running back Kevan Barlow, who grew up in the Pittsburgh area idolizing Martin, hopes to see him back on the field soon.
"I know Curt, I know he has a lot of pride and I know he really don't want to go out the way he did," Barlow said. "I know if it was up to him, he'd want to go out there and be out there and perform. Just seeing him going right before the game, he still comes in the locker room and hits the 'Winner' sign. I can just see it in him -- he just wishes he was still out there with us."
The 33-year-old Martin, in his 12th season, has 14,101 career yards rushing and won the NFL rushing title two seasons ago. He injured the knee last season in Week 2, but played in 12 games before ending his year. That broke a streak of 119 consecutive regular-season starts and his string of 10 straight 1,000-yard seasons to start a career, a record he shares with Barry Sanders.
When it became clear they wouldn't have Martin at the beginning of the season, the Jets traded for Barlow. The running game, behind Barlow, Leon Washington, Cedric Houston and Derrick Blaylock has sputtered most of the season, and a healthy Martin would clearly be a huge lift.
New York's running game is tied for 27th with 3.3 yards per carry, and ranks 22nd with 97.8 yards per game.
"It's unfortunate he has that injury," Barlow said. "But I see him in here working hard in the weight room, running the stuff. I don't know the extent of his injury or what's wrong with him, but I know he's putting in the effort mentally."