All on the visiting sideline of Gillette Stadium held their breath. Little words were spoken. Most simply gazed near the Jets side of the 40 yard line where ironman Nick Mangold lay facedown in the turf, motionless, surrounded by trainers.
In the fourth quarter of Sunday's 30-23 loss to the New England Patriots, Mangold collapsed to the turf when his head collided with the stomach of Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins. After remaining belly-down, Mangold was slowly turned over and taken off the field. The Jets feared the worst.
Monday, they got some good news.
X-rays on Mangold's neck came back negative. While the six-time Pro Bowler is sore, he'll be ok.
"Well, (there's) not as much (concern) as it would've been if the x-rays showed something else," Jets coach Todd Bowles said via teleconference Monday. "I don't know the time table on him getting better. I just know it's not as bad as we thought it was.
"He's sore, he has to get treatment and everything else and see if it loosens up."
While Mangold's status for this Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders is a bit up in the air, the fact the center won't miss any extensive time had all associated with the Jets breathing a collective sigh of relief. For nearly a decade, Mangold has been an anchor on the Jets offensive line, a leader on and off the field, and one of the best interior offensive linemen in the NFL.
Aside from his six Pro Bowl honors, Mangold has been an AP all-pro twice, and last year finished as Pro Football Focus' second-ranked center.
"Nick is obviously our field general as much as (quarterback) Ryan Fitzpatrick is," Jets guard Willie Colon said. "His ability to put the line in a place where we can be effective, make the right calls, he's everything for us. He's pretty much a coach on the field. His value is huge. I don't think anybody can replace him."
Speaking via conference call, Fitzpatrick echoed a similar message as Colon. While this season is the first the quarterback and center have worked together, their chemistry has developed awfully quick. Mangold knows what Fitzpatrick is thinking, and vice versa. The two working together to identify an opponent's blitz and rush formations is a big reason Fitzpatrick has been sacked just four times this year, the lowest total in the NFL.
Fitzpatrick said it was tough seeing Mangold fall to injury on Sunday, but was happy to see him at the team's facility Monday walking around.
"He saves my butt a lot, too," Fitzpatrick said. "If they're getting in different types of looks we're able to communicate and sometimes I can lean on him to get everything straight up front, especially in the hostile road environments.
"He means a lot to our team. He means a lot to the guys up front in terms of the communication aspect."
More Injury News
While the Jets exited their matchup with the Patriots relatively healthy, there were a few injuries of note. Aside from Mangold, Bowles confirmed that safety Calvin Pryor sprained his ankle, running back Chris Ivory had a tight hamstring and cornerback Buster Skrine injured his finger.
Bowles said all would be "okay," but it was too early to get a sense if anyone would be ready for Oakland.
Stevan Ridley getting closer
The Jets were close, awfully close, to activating running back Stevan Ridley prior to Sunday's game, but elected not to. Bowles said that it ended up coming down to a numbers game, and the team felt comfortable facing the Patriots with just Ivory and Zac Stacy active.
"It was fairly close at the time," Bowles said. "But we didn't feel like it was necessary to use him at that time. So, we put up a bunch of other guys that we thought we would have needed."
Bowles attempted, again, to explain his decision to not use any timeouts on the Patriots final drive. Bowles, again, failed to provide any clarity. Here's his quote on why no timeouts were called:
"(The Patriots had) all positive plays. Had we stopped them at any shorter time, then we could have used a timeout, we could have used it. They were all positive plays on their side, not on our side, so it was really hard to do."
Minor news and notes
- Bowles said he thought punter Steve Weatherford did "okay" considering the circumstances, adding that he knew he was going to be a "little rusty." Bowles seemed optimistic that Ryan Quigley would be able to go against the Raiders.
- Safety Jaiquawn Jarrett, who as waived/injured due to an ailing shoulder and knee, cleared waivers and was subsequently placed on the Jets injured reserve.
- It seems like the blame for the third-and-17 letup by the Jets is going to fall on safety Deon Baily. On Monday, Bowles said he "could have played it better."
- On the Jets final play, Bowles said there was no chance Geno Smith, despite having a strong arm than Fitzpatrick, would have been put in the game to throw a few deep. Bowles said he was too "cold" to realistically get it down the field.