A heaping helping of Thursday Whispers

John Abraham spoke with reporters for the first time since his controversial comments last week about his knee injury.<p>

But the interview didn't last for long. After a few questions he stormed away. His is livid at reporters for claiming that he's not playing because he doesn't want to cost himself money in free agency by blowing out his knee. This is the answer he gave before storming away from a reporter.

"I didn't say anything about a contract," said Abraham. "I never said that. It's off the wall. Y'all fabricated the situation."

Don't expect Abraham to play this week. He is listed as questionable, but should probably be doubtful.

"I doubt he plays," said Herman Edwards. "We will wait and see, but I doubt it."

Abraham was clearly limping while walking out to the practice field. He doesn't seem comfortable with the knee brace he is forced to wear to protect the LCL sprain his right knee . . .

Good line from Lamont Jordan when asked by a reporter if he wanted more of a role in this game than the first Steelers game this season.

"I'm not a fish and I refuse to be baited," said Jordan.

But expect Jordan to have a much bigger role this time around. He is a better matchup against a 3-4 defense than Martin.

Jordan is chomping at the bit for a big role in this game.

"I get frustrated when we play physical teams, and I'm not in there," said Jordan. "I can match their tempo." . . .

Just like last Thursday, Pete Kendall was limited in practice. While he's not listed on the injury report, his knees are clearly bothering him. Jonathan Goodwin handled the left guard spot in practice, but Kendall will start on Saturday . . .

Brooks Bollinger will be the Jets backup quarterback this week with Quincy Carter still in Georgia with his ailing mother . . .

The Steelers downgraded inside linebacker Kendrell Bell from probable to questionable. He is battling a groin injury and the flu. He probably wouldn't have started anyway, with the nod going to Larry Foote, who has been filling in for the oft-injured Bell. Bell is a lot bigger than Foote, so this helps the Jets in the running game, especially if they use the 234-pound Jordan more. With the injury to Bell and Pro Bowl nose tackle Casey Hampton, who is on IR, the Steelers aren't as hard to run up the middle against. Kevin Mawae should be able to have his way with Hampton's replacement, 296 pound Chris Hoke . . .

Former Jet Tyrone Carter is a reserve safety on the Steelers . . .

It will be interesting to see how Steelers right cornerback DeShea Townsend plays in this game. He broke his right hand in the Baltimore game in late December, and missed the season finale against Buffalo. He had 14 pins inserted in the hand that is now covered with a cast. The Steelers plan on starting him against the Jets, but it will be interesting to see how this injury impacts his game, especially in press coverage . . .

Eric Barton is done talking about his late hit against the Chargers, that almost cost the Jets the game.

When a reporter asked a Jets publicist if he could set up an interview with the linebacker, the PR guy said, "Are you going to ask him about the last game?"

When the reporter said "no," the interview was granted . . .

The Jets have a serious matchup problem with the Steelers 6-5 wideout Plaxico Burress because they don't have a big cornerback. Expect 6-3 safety Jon McGraw to help handle Burress . . .

Derrick Strait will continue to handle the nickel back role for the second straight game in the place of Terrell Buckley. Strait is more physical and faster than the veteran Buckley, who was victimized for two big plays in the first Jets-Steelers game. Wide receiver Lee Mays beat Buckley down the sideline for 46 yards, and wideout Hines Ward got the best of him on a 26-yard reception . . .

The Jets will leave for Pittsburgh on Friday, and will stay at an undisclosed hotel, but it is a different one than during their regular season trip. Edwards wanted the hotel changed since their last trip to Pittsburgh resulted in a loss . . .

Justin McCareins has a good history against the Steelers secondary. Not only did he lead the team in receptions last month but had a number of big plays against the Steeler deep patrol while playing for the Tennessee Titans . . .

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