The Jets doctors don't think wide receiver Wayne Chrebet is going to be another Al Toon, but they're being extremely careful with Chrebet after his concussion against the Giants last week.
So much so that Chrebet will not practice with the Jets this week and will probably not even travel with the Jets when they fly to Oakland for Sunday's 4:15 p.m. game against the Raiders.
The decision to sit Chrebet -- for an indefinite length of time -- was made by Dr. Elliot Pellman, the chairman of the Jets' medical department and chairman of the NFL's subcommittee on Mild Traumatic Brain Injury.
Tests conducted Monday, including a CAT scan and MRI of Chrebet's back and an MRI of his brain, showed no injury. Yet because Chrebet complained of fatigue and some headache-like pain Monday night and early Wednesday (the two had no contact Tuesday), Pellman will submit the receiver for more neuropsychological tests this week with other doctors, including an independent neurologist.
"Will I look at you and say will Wayne Chrebet play football again? Yeah, I think so." Pellman said. "But I'm not sure. I need some help with this one and that's why I'm reaching out to the experts.
"He will not return to play until I'm convinced he's OK."
That's not to say Chrebet has a serious injury, but Pellman, Chrebet and the Jets want to err on the side of caution and rule out post concussion syndrome -- a swelling of the brain that can cause headaches, nausea, blurred vision, dizziness and other symptoms long after the initial injury.
Post concussion syndrome also lengthens the amount of time needed to heal from a concussion and often makes the person more susceptible to a concussion from a blow that might not otherwise cause one.
It's what cut Toon's career short. He suffered at least 10 concussions during his eight-year career and retired after the 1992 season.
"I don't know if Wayne is post-concussed or not," Pellman said. "The fact that I don't know is why I'm a little nervous. It's time for Wayne and myself and the Jets organization to take a deep breath."
Chrebet was hit on the back of the helmet by the knee of Giants safety Omar Stoutmire in the third quarter Sunday and was laying motionless on the turf for close to a minute. Pellman said Chrebet suffered brief losses of consciousness after the hit.
Chrebet was examined very closely by Pellman and other team physicians on the sideline and felt perfectly fine 10 minutes later. As one of many tests, Pellman also gave Chrebet four unrelated words to remember and then recall upon Pellman asking at various times -- Chrebet passed.
Before letting Chrebet back into the game, Pellman asked one more question: Bottom line, thinking about his current health and future in the NFL, "Are you okay?"
Chrebet answered yes and went back in.
Pellman said he isn't second-guessing himself about letting Chrebet back in but it's a move Chrebet now regrets.
"It's stupid trying to get back out there, trying to convince them I'm all right," Chrebet said. "I play one way, that's part of the game."
This isn't the first instance of Chrebet enduring a concussion or concussion-like symptoms. In the second quarter against Buffalo on Oct. 12, Chrebet complained of dizziness and blurred vision after getting hit in the back by Bills defensive end Aaron Schobel and cornerback Antoine Winfield.
Chrebet came out of the game but returned for the first play of the next drive and five more plays. Pellman determined Chrebet suffered not from a concussion but a post-traumatic migraine -- cause by the rapid constriction and dilation of the blood vessels in the brain.
Chrebet said Wednesday he's had multiple concussions but wouldn't say how many. Counting this latest example against the Giants, the Jets have diagnosed Chrebet with two concussions.
Chrebet suffered a mild concussion against Miami five games into the 2001 season that kept him out of practice for two days but he played the next week at St. Louis. In that game, Chrebet took a head-to-head blow from Rams defensive tackle Brian Young. The injury that week was not defined as a concussion by the Jets doctors, but Chrebet complained of headaches, irritability and an increased sensitivity to light and sound -- all symptoms of a concussion.
Jets doctors, however, diagnosed Chrebet with a post-traumatic migraine and he was held out the next week against Carolina.
SERIES HISTORY: 33rd meeting, Raiders lead series 19-11-2. Oakland has become a second home to the Jets and coach Herman Edwards, who grew up in the Bay Area. This will be the fifth meeting in Oakland between the two teams since 2001, including two playoff games. The Jets have won only once in their last nine trips to Oakland -- the 24-22 win on the last game of the 2001 season to put the Jets into the playoffs. That postseason game just happened to be a trip back to Oakland for a 38-24 loss. Last year, the Jets lost to Oakland in the second round 30-10.
NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES
--It's a play that never seems to want to go away and until anyone provides any solid answers, the New York Jets' botched field-goal attempt against the Giants in overtime will linger. It's the Jets version of an X-file and the Kennedy assassination combined.
After being hung out to dry by special teams coach Mike Westhoff on Monday and, to a lesser extent, head coach Herman Edwards after the game, kicker Doug Brien finally spoke Wednesday about his side of the 51-yard attempt that was blocked, apparently, because Brien was still going through his pre-kick routine.
"I clearly took too long. I wasn't ready to kick," said Brien, who barely touched the ball before Giants cornerback Will Allen came racing untouched around the right side. "At the same time, I didn't know I was taking too much time and that's a problem. In my mind, I did my normal routine."
Several players, including holder Dan Stryzinski, said they yelled in Brien's direction as he was walking on the field for him to hurry up to the ball. Brien, however, was so engrossed in his mental preparation that he didn't hear anyone.
"Unfortunately, part of that routine is to blank out," said Brien, who is 14-of-18 on field-goal attempts this season with misses from 42, 50, 55 and 51 yards out. "I'm also trying not to be aware. I'm trying to make a 51-yard field goal."
Center Kevin Mawae was one of two players Allen beat on the field-goal block and wouldn't single anyone out for the myriad problems on the play.
"All I can tell you was there was enough blame to go around," Mawae said. "I'm not going to sit around and say what coach should have done what or what player screwed up. It was botched from the beginning."
That, indeed, may be the final answer.
--Defensive tackle Josh Evans, who missed the first eight games while serving a substance-abuse related suspension, was reinstated by the NFL Tuesday and will began practicing with the Jets Wednesday. The Jets will get a two-week roster exemption for Evans so the Jets will likely make a decision then on whether to add him to the roster.
"I feel like I could make plays right now," said Evans, who had 58 tackles and a career-high six sacks last season. "I'm just glad to even have an opportunity."
Evans likely won't be able to play in the next two games but the question is, even if Evans is ready to play, do the Jets want to bring him on and cut a younger, less expensive player in a lost season?
If the Jets add Evans -- they don't have to pay him during the two-week roster exemption -- they will almost definitely renegotiate his contract. He would have been paid the pro-rated share of his $1.2 million salary but will likely get the veteran minimum, which is about a third of that.
BY THE NUMBERS: 69.7 -- Percentage of the Jets scoring accounted for by K Doug Brien (55 points) and WR Santana Moss (42). The next highest total on the team is RB LaMont Jordan and TE Anthony Becht, both with 18 points.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Progress is good but winning games is everything." -- WR Santana Moss said when talking about his recent string of success (21 catches for 328 yards and five touchdowns in the last three games.)
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
There isn't much more the Jets can do personnel-wise. They've put in just about all the young players they can as a way to start looking at 2004. They do have some veterans still struggling such as MLB Marvin Jones, WR Curtis Conway and CB Aaron Beasley but the Jets have no legitimate replacements for them at this point so there is no one on the roster worth benching them for.
The Jets are also not making any changes to their offensive and defensive schemes. With the return of Chad Pennington, the Jets want him to get as much more experience as possible with the West Coast offense.
--DT Josh Evans, who missed the first eight games while serving a substance-abuse related suspension, was reinstated by the NFL Tuesday and will begin practicing with the team this week. The Jets will get a two-week roster exemption for Evans so the Jets will likely make a decision then. The question is, even if Evans is ready to play, do the Jets want to bring him on and cut a younger, less expensive player in a lost season?
--DE John Abraham is listed as out against Oakland this week because of a strained groin and could an additional two weeks. With the postseason out of reach, the Jets will not rush Abraham back. Second-year DE Bryan Thomas will continue starting in his place.
--DE Bryan Thomas will start for John Abraham. (groin)
--CB Donnie Abraham is listed as out for Sunday's game in Oakland and will miss at least one more game after that. Ray Mickens will continue starting for him.
--CB Ray Mickens will start for Donnie Abraham (fractured right shoulder).
--FS Jon McGraw is listed as out for this week's game in Oakland and he'll miss at least another one or two games. Tyrone Carter, who had 11 tackles last week, will continue starting.
--FS Tyrone Carter will start for Jon McGraw (dislocated right shoulder).
--LB Mo Lewis was upgraded to probable for Sunday's game at Oakland and will return to practice Wednesday. He may retain his starting job but only as a sign of respect from coach Herman Edwards. Rookie Victor Hobson will keep getting an increase in playing time in the linebacker rotation.
--LB Victor Hobson will continue getting more playing time but may not start while coach Herman Edwards will play veteran Mo Lewis out of respect, assuming Lewis is recovered from a sore hip.
--WR Wayne Chrebet will not play Sunday at Oakland because of a concussion sustained last week. Kevin Swayne and Jonathan Carter will likely see some extra playing time and possibly catches. But the Jets may just use TE Anthony Becht more.
--TE Anthony Becht may get the ball thrown at him more -- particularly on third down and on short pass patterns -- with Wayne Chrebet out with a concussion.
---KOR Michael Bates will still play on coverage teams but won't be returning kicks because of two broken bones on his right hand -- he's wearing a cast. WR Jonathan Carter will take over a majority of the work along with RB LaMont Jordan.
--WR Jonathan Carter, possibly the fastest player on the Jets, will most likely take over as the kick returner while Michael Bates recovers from two broken bones in his right hand. He will also see more time at receiver with Wayne Chrebet out.
--RB LaMont Jordan will see some time as the kickoff returner while Michael Bates heals up from two broken bones in his right hand suffered last Sunday.
--RG Jonathan Goodwin will probably see an increase in playing time as the Jets explore some of their options for next season. Brent Smith has been playing better as of late but the Jets need to figure out if Goodwin has a future.
GAME PLAN: With such a lack of team speed, particularly at linebacker and in the secondary, the Jets will have to keep using zone coverage most of the time against the Raiders, who boast a pair of Hall of Famers in Tim Brown and Jerry Rice.
On offense, their short passing game will take a hit with Wayne Chrebet out and with just Santana Moss doing anything for the passing game, look for RB Curtis Martin to get 25-30 carries.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Raiders DL vs. Jets QB Chad Pennington -- The Raiders rattled Pennington big time in last year's playoff game by constantly rushing him and getting even more physical up front. Pennington also got himself way to hyped up for the game, which led to him throwing two picks and completing just 21-of-47 passes for his worst game of the season.
--Raiders WRs Jerry Porter, Jerry Rice and Tim Brown vs. Jets CB Aaron Beasley -- It really won't matter who lines up against Beasley because they're probably due for a huge game. Beasley covered Giants WR Amani Toomer last week and gave up six catches for 127 yards and a touchdown as Toomer was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week.
INJURY IMPACT: DE John Abraham (groin) will not play which will continue to affect the Jets' pass rush. They had just one sack last week against the Giants. The secondary and CB Aaron Beasley will continue to be abused while Donnie Abraham (shoulder) sits out along with FS Jon McGraw (shoulder). Without those two, the Jets will be forced to always play zone coverage a majority of the time. The loss of WR Wayne Chrebet means the Jets have little productivity from the position other than Santana Moss.
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