GAME SNAPSHOTKICKOFF: Sunday, 4:05 ET
TV: CBS, Ian Eagle, Solomon Wilcots
SERIES: 4th meeting. Jets lead series, 2-1, and won 13-12 at Carolina in 2001, the last time the teams played.
*2005 RANKINGS: Jets: offense 30th (29th rush, 26th pass); defense 17th (30th rush, 8th pass). Panthers: offense 18th (25th rush, 10th pass); defense 11th (1st rush, 25th pass)
KEYS TO THE GAME: A Jets offensive line trying to make do without leader C Kevin Mawae must establish early momentum and create holes for RB Curtis Martin. If not, the Panthers, who have 16 sacks in their past three games, will make life miserable for QB Brooks Bollinger in his second career start. Carolina has allowed plenty of yards through the air, but CBs Chris Gamble and Ken Lucas have also turned in several big plays his season. Carolina's offense revolved around WR Steve Smith, who has been able to produce all season despite commanding significant attention from opposing defenses. If the Jets can avoid the big play in the passing game, they should be able to handle the Panthers' rushing game.
FAST FACTS: Jets: WR Justin McCareins has six drops and no touchdowns this season. ... Are 12-5 (.706) in November under coach Herman Edwards.
Panthers: Smith is on pace to break the NFL record with 12 100-yard receiving games this year. ... Have scored 20 touchdowns in 26 red-zone possessions (76.9 percent).
--QB Vinny Testaverde (strained right calf) is well enough to back up Brooks Bollinger on Sunday, coach Herm Edwards said.
--RB Curtis Martin (knee) was added to the injury list as probable, although coach Herm Edwards expects him to play. The knee has been bothering Martin for almost two months, yet he hasn't missed a start since 1998.
--WR Justin McCareins (Achilles' tendon) is probable. Coach Herm Edwards said he thinks that McCareins has been struggling recently in games because his practice time has been limited because of this nagging injury.
--DE John Abraham (shoulder) was removed from the injury list. He said this week that he was advised last January by Dr. James Andrews not to play in the Jets' second-round playoff loss to Pittsburgh because of a knee injury. Abraham caught a lot of flak at the time for not playing.
--LB Kenyatta Wright (ankle/knee), one of the Jets' best special-teams players, is listed as questionable but coach Herm Edwards said he wouldn't play against the Panthers. Backup FB B.J. Askew, a special-teams mainstay, missed practice Thursday because of a strained hamstring, but Edwards expects him to play.
--TE Kris Mangum was downgraded to doubtful on Thursday so don't expect him to play this week.
--TE Mike Seidman will be activated and could have a few balls thrown his way this week. Seidman has been inactive four of the last five games because the team has only gone with two tight ends.
--RB Stephen Davis will face a Jets defense that ranks 30th in the league against the run. That should help Davis' paltry 3.1 yards per carry average.
--FS Mike Minter (quadriceps) was upgraded to probable on Thursday and should start against the Jets. He practiced on Thursday.
--FS Thomas Davis was added to the injury report as questionable with a calf strain. He did not practice on Thursday.
--KR Rod Smart (ankle) returned to practice on Thursday and is likely to return kickoffs for Carolina.
INSIDE THE CAMPS:Jets:
Curtis Martin can see the difference.
"When you're not starting, then you're starting, it's a totally different mindset," the Jets running back said when asked about Brooks Bollinger taking over as the No. 1 quarterback. "It's apparent in his actions. The way he's practicing, the way he's starting to take control of the huddle, you can tell.
"A lot of people, when they come in, you can tell if that's the starting quarterback or the backup quarterback," Martin added. "Now, he's starting to take on the attitude of the starting quarterback."
It's understandable that Bollinger perhaps was looking over his shoulder during his NFL start against Baltimore on Oct. 2, five days after the Jets brought back former starter Vinny Testaverde. Testaverde started the next three games until Bollinger relieved him against San Diego and led the Jets to two fourth-quarter touchdowns. But Bollinger says it's a different feeling as he prepares for his second NFL start against Carolina on Sunday.
"It's a different situation than in Baltimore," Bollinger admitted. "(Before) Baltimore, I was the No. 3, didn't even go out on the field before and then all of a sudden, Wednesday (of that week), I was taking all the snaps. I don't think that happens very often, but I think now hopefully the guys feel a lot more comfortable with me and I know I feel a lot more comfortable."
On the Jets' next-to-last offensive play against San Diego, Bollinger had his pass batted down at the line of scrimmage by 6-foot-3 nose tackle Jamal Williams. Bollinger, who is generously listed as 6-1, had two passes knocked down earlier, and had the same thing happen on his final pass attempt during his relief appearance against Atlanta last month.
Offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger indicated this week that better footwork might help alleviate that problem.
"It's tough," Bollinger said. "When I first came in here a couple of years ago, they had drastically different footwork than I'd ever done before and it took me at least a year to get comfortable with that. ... When you're in the end of the season and the main concern is the execution of plays and all that stuff, the footwork is such an important thing, you just have to make some extra time to try and get that stuff down."
Time to tee off again?
The Carolina Panthers have 16 sacks over their last three games and on Sunday face yet another inexperienced quarterback, with Brooks Bollinger getting the start for the New York Jets over 19-year NFL veteran Vinny Testaverde.
Bollinger, a third-year player from Wisconsin, has played in three games this season with one start.
He's completed 54.4 percent of his passes with two touchdowns and no interceptions, but has not been a part of any Jets wins. He threw only two passes in his previous two seasons with the Jets.
Panthers coach John Fox said he wasn't surprised the Jets turned to Bollinger to start this week, even though the Panthers' ravenous defense devoured youngster Chris Simms this past Sunday.
"What people have got to remember is, when they brought Vinny in, he came in off the street. He wasn't in camp and didn't know all of their offense," Fox said. "They were a little bit simpler during that period of time.
"Bollinger has been with them, and he knows the sets and the offense. He has mobility at the quarterback position and he has been with them throughout the off-season, camp and this year."
Panthers defensive tackle Brentson Buckner said the Panthers can't simply figure on a win because the Jets (2-6) are starting a young quarterback. He points to the success Bollinger had last week in nearly rallying the Jets to a win over San Diego.
"You don't just look at the quarterback," Buckner said. "San Francisco beat Tampa Bay with a guy who was a rodeo guy or something like that. So you can't really look at experience. You've got to go out there and play as a team. Football is the ultimate team sport.
"They still have Curtis Martin, a Hall of Fame running back. Offensive line-wise, I know they're missing (center) Kevin Mawae, but Pete Kendall has been a great offensive lineman. They've got good wide receivers. And look at their defense. Talent-wise, it's probably one of the best in the NFL. We've just got to go out there and play our best game. Anything less is unacceptable."