Moss to miss up to three months

The Jets will need to go outside the organization to fill the punt return void left by rookie Santana Moss, who is expected to miss between 8-12 weeks with torn cartilage in his left knee

One week of training camp down, two serious injuries for the Jets.

The Jets, who were already staring at the possibility that nose tackle Jason Ferguson might miss the entire season, announced Sunday that exciting rookie wide receiver Santana Moss will miss between eight and 12 weeks after he underwent surgery Saturday morning to fix torn cartilage in his left knee. The prognosis is especially sobering for the Jets considering they believed as recently as Friday that the injury would only cost Moss four weeks.

Jets coach Herman Edwards said on Friday that a four-week layoff was "...the best case. He's going to miss time, there's no doubt about that." Now there's no doubt the Jets will be go outside the organization to replace Moss, who was already penciled in as the club's No. 1 punt returner.

Free agent Darrien Gordon is the most enticing option available, especially now that the Jets can guarantee him a job for at least half the season. Edwards had said on Friday that any free agent the Jets signed would likely be released as soon as Moss is healthy again.

Until the Jets ink a veteran replacment for Moss, players such as Aaron Glenn and Wayne Chrebet may be pressed into punt return duty. "We need some guys who can at least field it," Edwards said.

Glenn said he could see rookie James Rooths, an undrafted rookie free agent cornerback, working his way into the mix. "He's a speed guy who is going to do well for us," Glenn said.

Moss suffered the injury during Wednesday night's open practice on the artificial turf of Hofstra Stadium. Moss was executing a reverse when defensive end Eric Ogbogu, who was in pursuit of Moss, hit the outside of Moss' right leg.

When Moss was still sore on Thursday, he went to the Jets' trainers, who administered an MRI. Edwards said Moss, who has never before gone under the knife, was a little spooked by the injury, which led the coach to deliver a pep talk to Moss in his dorm room late Thursday night.

"He's OK, just one of those deals [where] he's never been injured and he just wants to hurry up and find out what he needs to do," Edwards said.

Moss' injury occurred two days after Ferguson suffered a torn rotator cuff. Ferguson will miss at least eight weeks and may miss the entire campaign.

THAT'S MORE LIKE IT, COLES: Edwards and Vinny Testaverde are extremely pleased with the improvement shown by second-year wide receiver Laveranues Coles, who impressed the entire team with his work ethic and attentiveness during the off-season. Coles made a nifty catch on a go route in Friday's morning practice which won kudos from both his coach and quarterback.

"Laveranues has shown some great strides from last year, and he's gaining confidence every day," Edwards said. "He made a fine catch today on his go route, and the more you complete them, the more confident the receiver gets in the quarterback."

"He's like a different guy from last year," Testaverde said. "He's a guy that's got my attention. From the end of spring ball until now, he's improved so much. He's improved his tempo in practice, his competitiveness in practice, the plays he's making, the routes he's running. It's nice to see."

HE SAID IT: Edwards on Moss' injury: "I learned when I lost my dad that, hey, there's worst things than can happen than this. I keep thinking of Korey Stringer. Imagine how [the Vikings] feel trying to practice today."


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