Martin ready for full speed

After an off-season in which he worked diligently to heal both his badly sprained ankles, Curtis Martin is finally looking forward to running at full speed. <p>

Martin was held out of the teams OTA's, and has not touched the ball in the teams first two preseason games.

That will change Saturday night against the Saints.

"I am looking forward to touching the ball," said Martin. "The third time is the charm."

"We want to get him the ball," said Herman Edwards. "We want to get him in the process of getting ready for the game. We want him to get hit, and he is also looking forward to getting hit."

Edwards knows Martin is a warrior. For this reason, he doesn't feel bad about occasionally giving him an afternoon practice off, or about holding his star back out of preseason games.

"I am careful with Curtis," said Edwards. "With the situation we are in, you never want to beat up your skill players. Curtis is full speed all the time. You have to take a guy like Curtis out of practice, because he is not going to come out. I know Curtis well, I have been around him for three years."

Martin agrees with his coach.

"Herman, and the coaching staff they have my best interests in mind," said Martin. " 9 out of 10 times I am going to say keep me in the game or keep me in the practice, the time off has helped."

Last year Martin played despite two horribly sprained ankles.

His ankles were in such bad shape that doctors felt surgery was not a good idea because there was already too much damage done.

Despite playing through the worst pain of his career, Martin still managed to put up a 1,000 yard rushing performance.

Martin reached that plateau for the eight consecutive time in his career. By achieving this, Martin became the only player, other than Barry Sanders, to rush for 1,000 yards in each of his first eight seasons in the NFL.

Now Martin is excited about a season in which he feels health, after having to live through a full season of pain. It is an experience that has made him a stronger individual.

"My ankles feel great," he said. "I feel better then I expected too. Coming into the season I was pessimistic, but now I have no doubts.

"Last year tested me more mentally than anything I've ever experienced in the NFL. It (The injuries) took me to a whole other level mentally."

With a healthy Martin, one can expect to see a performance similar to the one in 2001, a year in which he was health for all 16 contests.

In 2001, Martin rushed for a career high 1, 513 yards. If he had not been injured for much of last year, it is possible he would have eclipsed those numbers.

When Martin is going at full speed, the Jets are a tough team to stop offensively.

"This year the running game can open up the passing game even more," said Martin. "I'm optimistic we have a better passing game this year. Santana, and Curtis are going to step up, and we still have Wayne. We also have a more experienced Chad."

EXTRA POINTS: In morning practice Chad Pennington threw a perfect spiral thirty-five yards downfield to Curtis Conway. The ball was perfectly placed over his shoulder, this enabled Conway to continue his run down the field, 60 yards, into the end zone. …

Jonathan Carter is out for this weekends game against the Saints. Bryan Thomas is functioning at around 85%, and will probably play this weekend. Cecil Moore was back at practice, and will also probably play in the game on Saturday. …

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