Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Signs point to Baxter at center Sunday, MRI shows high ankle sprain for Jets' Mangold

It appears Colin Baxter will be the New York Jets’ temporary Nick Mangold.

At least Baxter sort of looks the part.

Jets coach Rex Ryan didn’t seem too optimistic Monday about getting back his elite center this week for the team’s road game against the Oakland Raiders Sunday. Mangold acquired a high ankle sprain last Sunday in the Jets’ 32-3 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“I don’t think it looks very good as far as playing this week,” Ryan said during his Monday press conference. “But with that being said, he thinks he can go. ... He’s a tough guy, but the trainers will always do what’s in the best interest of the player and we’ll never put a guy out there that shouldn’t be out there. With that said, I think it’s iffy whether he plays or not, with all due respect to Nick. There’s where we are on that.”

Baxter, a rookie, was undrafted but picked up by the San Diego Chargers before the season. The Jets scooped him up when San Diego released him on Sept. 3. In college, Baxter was a four-year starter for Arizona.

He took Mangold’s place Sunday and was serviceable, though quarterback Mark Sanchez was running for his life on a handful of snaps, which was proven in the stats by his 29 yards rushing and four quarterback hits. The Jets' offensive line has struggled through two games, Baxter or no Baxter.

“I think Baxter did a great job in that game, considering he got thrown in there, I’m sure he was a little nervous,” Ryan said. “You kind of get thrown to the wolves there, but he played three-quarters of the game, had a couple mental mistakes, snapped the ball early that one time, but I was proud of the way he jumped in there. And we’ll always say, whether it’s Nick or Baxter or whoever, we go on and there’s no excuses.”

The Jets will be up against a tough defensive-line interior of the Raiders led by Richard Seymour, though New York is probably more concerned with having Mangold back by Week 5, where he’ll be matched up against the New England Patriots’ big boys in Vince Wilfork and Albert Haynesworth.

Follow Nick @NickStDenis