Herm Still Believes

After leading some to think on Wednesday that he believed the Jets were rebuilding this year, Herman Edwards said Thursday he still expects the Jets to contend for a playoff berth in 2001.

On Wednesday, Herman Edwards preached patience to those who wondered what was taking the Jets so long to gel on both sides of the ball. On Thursday, with the area papers full of stories wondering whether or not the coach had already chalked up 2001 as a rebuilding season, Edwards made it clear he still believed the Jets could contend for a playoff berth right now.

"No, no, if you thought I said that [the Jets weren't a playoff contender], then I didn't state it right," Edwards said. "That's my mistake. I didn't say this is not a playoff team. I didn't say that. We have a chance, just like all the other teams have a chance. If you don't think you have a chance, you shouldn't play the game."

Edwards agreed the expectations were high for the Jets, who debuted a new offense and a new defense this year but also returned most of their core veterans, and said he wouldn't want it any other way. "[Expectations were] put on this team by a lot of people, and that's fine, that's expected, and I think everybody thinks that way," Edwards said. "Cincinnati thinks [they'll contend], San Diego thought that and they're 2-0 right now.

"There has never been a question in my mind [the Jets could compete for a playoff spot]," Edwards said. "I think the players feel the same way."

NO DECISION YET ON PUNTER: Edwards said punter Daniel Pope "…was a little nervous" in his first practice Wednesday but that he performed well as the placeholder for kicker John Hall. With incumbent punter Tom Tupa (hip) still listed as questionable, Edwards said he won't decide on a punter for Monday night until at least Saturday.

WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY?: Edwards gave a less-than-emphatic vote of confidence to nose tackle Tom Barndt, who had just one tackle against New England. Shane Burton practiced with the first team Wednesday, and while Edwards said Burton would see increased playing time in running situations, he also said that "…as of now, Barndt is still the guy."

INJURY REPORT: In addition to Tupa and Santana Moss (out, knee), Victor Green (thigh) and Chad Morton (ankle) are listed as questionable on the injury report.

Tune in Sunday morning to the "New York Football Report," which can be heard from 10 to 11 a.m. on the radio at WDGA-850 AM in West Palm Beach and online at wdga.com. Jets Confidential Editor Dan Leberfeld and Giants Insider Editor Ken Palmer will co-host the show, which is sponsored by sportbet.com and will run every Sunday morning during the NFL season.

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