"(Players) have to know the difference between being hurt and being injured," the head coach said. "If you are a football player, you are hurt every day. When you are injured, obviously you shouldn't participate."
A lot of Jets have not been participating in practice lately, but Edwards, who makes a point of not calling out his players in the media, backed away from those statements as a condemnation of anyone on the team.
"I trust the player, I really do," Edwards said. "If a guy says he is injured, then he is injured."
Wayne Chrebet (groin) returned to practice Monday after an absence of several days, as did fellow wide receiver Ken-Yon Rambo (hamstring) who has been sitting since the first day of practice. However, receivers Santana Moss and Lawrence Hamilton and linebacker Eric Barton remained out with their sore hamstrings, and free safety Jon McGraw (calf) stayed on the sideline Monday after missing Saturday's afternoon session in Albany. He joined strong safety Reggie Tongue who has been out since Day One.
Fifth-round pick Erik Coleman has been impressive in Tongue's absence, and when asked to comment on how Tongue's injury has helped boost Coleman's status, Edwards responded with a statement about the two most important facets of a player.
"The first thing you look at as a coach is that you want a guy who is coachable," Edwards said. "But with that, you also want a guy who is available. It is great to be coachable, but you better be available. In other words, you better be able to come to practice every day."
Tongue has had to watch his starting job slip further and further from his grasp in each practice.
"I have been in their ear every day," Tongue said. "They are putting the clamps on me. They are not really letting me do anything. It's probably for the better, I end up overdoing it always, trying to get back too soon."
Edwards' "play in pain" message is in the vein of his modified, tougher approach. He has spoken often of the need to make life harder for this team, the youngest in his Jets tenure.
First-round draft choice, linebacker Jonathan Vilma, is one young player who has made himself available. Last week, he returned to practice after missing a few days, despite a visible limp from an ankle injury. He played through it, and now seems to be uninhibited on the field.
But there is of course a balance. Edwards also talked about the danger of a player returning too soon and re-aggravating an injury. That fear, he said, made it unlikely that Tongue will play in Friday's preseason game in New Orleans unless he can practice for a few days first.
"Our trainers and the player are on the same page," Edwards said. "They are always sure that we are never going to put the player in harms' way. We will never force a player to practice when he can't practice. I don't want a player to practice when he can't practice."
He does want his players to practice when they are hurt.