No matter the year, the New York Jets had one sure thing week after week: Curtis Martin.
Now that he is out for the season, nothing is so sure anymore. Will Martin return to the Jets in 2006? If he does, will he be the starter?
Martin vowed to be back in '06, and coach Herman Edwards said yesterday he anticipates the venerable running back will be on the team. Many questions have to be answered first.
When training camp opens, he will be 33 -- ancient in running back years -- and coming off surgery on his right knee. Even before he got hurt against Miami in Week 2, there were questions whether he lost a step just one year removed from winning the NFL rushing title. But his supporters point to one key fact: Martin played most of this season with a major injury before deciding to call it quits.
Martin, who will undergo arthroscopic surgery tomorrow, expects to make a full recovery, saying he wants to play a 12th season.
''I'll come back without a doubt," Martin said. ''This year was tough for this team, period. I was just trying to push through the season. I feel like I can help this team and I am looking forward to doing that."
There also is the issue of his contract. Martin is due to count $8.1 million against the 2006 salary cap, a high number for any player.
Fitzpatrick keeps job
The Rams will stick with Ryan Fitzpatrick
at quarterback even though the rookie from Harvard threw five interceptions in Sunday's 27-13 loss at Minnesota. Interim coach Joe Vitt
said Fitzpatrick will keep the job ahead of Jamie Martin
as long as Marc Bulger
is sidelined with a shoulder injury. Bulger missed his third game Sunday and may miss the rest of the season . . . The Texans, with the NFL's worst record (1-12), hired four-time Super Bowl coach Dan Reeves
as a consultant and left open the chance he could remain with the organization in an expanded capacity. Reeves, 61, led the Broncos to three Super Bowls and the Falcons to one. He has been out of the football since Atlanta fired him after the 2003 season.
The New York Giants knocked the Philadelphia Eagles out of the playoff hunt and kept an undisputed hold on first place in the NFC East with Sunday's 26-23 overtime victory. But the Giants (9-4) were the ones who took most of the lumps. Injuries to tackles Luke Petitgout
(back spasms) and Kareem McKenzie
(hamstring) and linebacker Antonio Pierce
(sprained right ankle) could put a serious damper on the Giants' push to the playoffs, which continues Saturday at Giants Stadium against Kansas City. Coach Tom Coughlin
was noncommittal when asked if any of the three would be ready to play Saturday, saying he was awaiting results of medical tests . . . The cost of the new football stadium the Giants and Jets will jointly build in East Rutherford, N.J., likely will top $1 billion. Owners of both teams filed preliminary site plans for the 81,000-seat stadium, to be built between the existing Giants Stadium and the Meadowlands Racetrack . . . Running back Brian Westbrook
is finished for the season after the Eagles placed him on injured reserve. Westbrook, however, doesn't need surgery for his foot injury, called a Lis Franc sprain . . . Vikings linebacker Keith Newman
probably will miss the next two weeks with a sprained right knee . . . This weekend's NFL games on TV in Boston include three Saturday: Bucs-Patriots at 1:30 p.m. on Channel 25; Chiefs-Giants at 5 p.m. on Channel 4; and Broncos-Bills at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN. With no Patriots on Sunday, four games will be shown: Chargers-Colts at 1 p.m. on Channel 4; Cowboys-Redskins at 4 p.m. on Channel 25; Falcons-Bears at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN; and Channel 25 will have a 1 p.m. game to be determined -- likely Eagles-Rams or 49ers-Jaguars.
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