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Mangold limited in practice; status questionable

By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / October 8, 2011

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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - All week, the Jets have been confident that Pro Bowl center Nick Mangold will be able to play tomorrow against the Patriots after he missed the last two games with a high right ankle sprain.

But when coach Rex Ryan ran down the injury report yesterday, he listed Mangold as questionable.

“I feel good about it, though,’’ Ryan added, saying, “There’s that Patriots response.’’

Mangold, who practiced in a limited capacity again yesterday, said he expects to play. He stayed late on Wednesday to get extra treatment, and on Thursday he participated in all but a handful of snaps.

“I hope that it’s not a decision,’’ Mangold said yesterday. “I haven’t really discussed it, but I’m ready to go.’’

Mangold anchors the offensive line and is the ultimate counterweight to Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork.

“He’s a pain in the butt,’’ Mangold said. “He’s a big man who can move. He uses unbelievable technique. It’s a 60-minute battle, and then some, depending on the game. You know you’re in for a long day when you’ve got Vince across from you.’’

Wilfork, who has two sacks against the Jets but none since 2008, said earlier in the week he wasn’t looking forward to Mangold’s return.

“I don’t believe that,’’ Mangold said. “Vince is a heck of a competitor. I’m not going to speak for him, but I imagine he enjoys the battles as much as I do.’’

Wait is over Tomorrow will mark linebacker Bart Scott’s first appearance at Gillette Stadium since his now infamous interview after the Jets’ win over the Patriots in the playoffs last year.

Scott expects some fallout from the crowd. He trademarked the phrase “Can’t wait!’’ which he yelled in the interview when asked about the Jets’ next playoff opponent, the Steelers , and launched a line of “Can’t wait!’’ T-shirts (with the proceeds going to charity).

“They bust your chops about everything,’’ Scott said. “It won’t be the first time I’ve been booed or stuff was said about me. So it doesn’t bother me one bit.’’

The anger that Scott had for those who doubted the Jets was obvious after that playoff game. But he downplayed tomorrow’s matchup.

“I think it’s different to different people in the locker room,’’ Scott said. “I’m sure it’s bigger to guys that have been here longer, who the Patriots have had their number. To me, honestly, it’s just another game. Now, it’s a division game, so you want to win it. But it’s not one of those games where I pound my chest or I lose sleep over playing the Patriots. But for some of those guys that have been here for a while, it may be like that.’’

Show of concern Damien Woody has seen the rivalry from both sides, and a quarter of the way through the season he has some concern for the 2-2 Jets. Their running game (30th in the NFL) and turnovers (10 in four games) undermine a defense that’s eighth overall in the league.

“I’m just going off what I see and what I see is a team that can’t run the football, they can’t protect the passer, a quarterback that’s struggling,’’ said Woody, who retired in the offseason. “Now, can they turn it around? Look, it’s the quarter point in the season, a lot of games left, they could turn it around. But I’m just saying what I’ve seen at this point, it’s going to be tough.’’

Ryan has said he plans to recommit to a “ground and pound’’ mentality with the running game, but Woody isn’t convinced.

“The thing that I have a problem with is Rex says we’re going to go back to ground and pound, we’re going to run the ball, but that’s something you have to do from Day One,’’ Woody said. “You can’t flip the switch and just say, ‘Oh, we’re going to be a rushing team now.’ That’s something that you have to do from the beginning. That’s your identity.’’

Julian Benbow can be reached at

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