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Jets WR Coles keeps calf injury details under wraps

Associated Press


HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Laveranues Coles strolled into the locker room with his left calf wrapped and his lips sealed.

"The right one's going good," the NFL's leader in yards receiving said Thursday, dodging questions about the unspecified calf injury that has him listed as questionable for the Jets' game at Buffalo on Sunday.

Coles reiterated coach Eric Mangini's rule not to discuss injuries, and added, "I'm doing what I can to get back."

The veteran wide receiver showed no signs of a limp Thursday, but sat out 11-on-11 drills for the second straight day. Coles has had the leg wrapped since Monday.

It's unclear when the injury occurred, but it might've been during his impressive career-long 46-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter against New England on Sunday. He caught a short pass from Chad Pennington and cut his way down the field, leaving a trail of Patriots behind.

If Coles is sidelined or limited Sunday, that could mean big trouble for the Jets. He has been a major factor in New York having the third-ranked passing offense in the NFL. Coles has 14 catches, tied for second in the AFC, for a league-leading 253 yards. Coles' presence has helped Pennington to his first consecutive 300-yard passing days of his career.

Mangini offered a glimmer of hope.

"The one thing that is indisputable about Laveranues is his toughness," Mangini said. "That guy, whether it's catching the in-cuts or dealing with injuries, that guy's got rare toughness. He's working and addressing the injury."

Coles agreed with his coach's assessment.

"I consider myself having a very high threshold for pain," he said.

When asked if that was being tested by this injury, Coles just smiled. "Anytime you play professional football, your threshold's going to be tested," he said.

The Jets have a history of physical receivers, but that approach cut short the careers of Al Toon and Wayne Chrebet because of concussions. Coles has no such fears.

"That's one of the big things I look forward to, taking the big shots over the middle and making the play," Coles said. "That's the fun part of the game for me, being able to say, 'Look, I took your best and I got up and I'm going to come back and see if you can do it again.' "

Coles developed a reputation as a clutch receiver during his first three NFL seasons with the Jets, becoming a favorite target of Pennington. He signed with Washington as a restricted free agent shortly after the 2002 season and developed into a Pro Bowler.

Two years later, the Jets reacquired Coles for Santana Moss, hoping the receiver could re-establish his rapport with Pennington. Instead, Pennington was lost for the season in Week 3 with a torn rotator cuff and Coles struggled to make 73 catches for 845 yards -- his lowest total since his rookie year. Meanwhile, Moss became a Pro Bowler with the Redskins as one of the league's most exciting deep threats.

"I think what happens is that there are so many expectations for people when decisions are made," Coles said. "I come here, Santana goes there when the trade was made and people think, 'Well, he went over there and had an amazing year.' And I'd never expect anything less from him. He's going to be a great player -- he is a great player. It was just a matter of time before that happened.

"I'm just sorry that I came back here and things didn't go well for me the first year."

Last year's disappointments and the unsettled situation at quarterback in training camp this summer caused people to generally overlook the 28-year-old Coles, wondering if he was past his prime as a No. 1 receiver. With Pennington healthy again, Coles has shown he's still a go-to player.

"I never really had anything to prove, but I like for people to see that this guy hasn't lost anything, that he's still here," he said. "Of course, you always want people to know that you still can play the game. You don't ever want to be looked at as somebody who's lost a step or a team has made a mistake."

The Jets were thought to have a mediocre receiving corps this season, with no real deep threat and no one to complement Coles. But third-year pro Jerricho Cotchery has emerged as a legitimate downfield weapon, and Justin McCareins is a solid No. 3.

"I think, without them, I wouldn't be able to do some of the things I've been able to do," Coles said. "And when you have a great group of guys who go out there on Sunday like that, there's no worries. Fireworks will fly."

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