|Jets' Coles battling through sprained ankle to provide leadership, big catches|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 05 December 2007 14:32|
While others might have packed it in for the season, the veteran wide receiver remains incredibly driven.
``When you're in it with someone, you always want to finish it with them, regardless of whether it's going the way that you expect it or not,'' Coles said Wednesday. ``Things aren't going the way that we want them to go, but I do want to finish it. However much pain I have to deal with, I'm willing to fight through it.''
Coles woke up Sunday morning with his left ankle throbbing and not knowing if he'd be back on the field or on the sideline for the third time in four games.
``It was truly a game-time decision,'' Coles said. ``Of course, I'm always trying to push myself, but it was one of those things that I didn't know until it was actually time to play.''
After missing a game with a concussion and then another two weeks later because of a high ankle sprain, Coles was cleared to play Sunday and made five catches for 69 yards. The statistics were modest, but he battled through an injury that sidelines most athletes for at least a few weeks.
``Before the snap, I was feeling a lot of pain,'' Coles recalled, adding that it was the worst he's felt while playing a game. ``Once the ball was snapped, I was able to push through it. Once the play was over, it was there again. It was one of those things where I was fortunate enough to make it through the game, help contribute and get us a win.''
His impact was felt immediately, catching two third-down passes on the Jets' opening drive. Coles had a 32-yard reception on third-and-12 from New York's 38. Three plays later, on third-and-5 from the Dolphins 25, Coles reeled in a 7-yard pass. Leon Washington followed with an 18-yard touchdown run that set the tone for the Jets' 40-13 rout.
``He definitely sets the bar for us as a position group,'' fellow receiver Wallace Wright said. ``You see him come out there and you might have a little hamstring or a little quad and you want to go out there and play, too. If he can play through that, then you can play through whatever you have. He leads by example.''
Coles sat out for chunks nursing the injury, especially in the second half, and wasn't nearly 100 percent. It was still good enough to help the Jets improve to 3-9 and avoid becoming the winless Dolphins' first victim.
``He's a good example of toughness,'' coach Eric Mangini said. ``With L.C., if he says, `I'm playing,' and you've gone through the process and you feel good about that, you know that he's going to be there and you can expect a certain level of performance.''
Coles has certainly made a career of playing through pain. Until missing the game against Washington last month with a concussion, he had played in 107 straight games and made 104 consecutive starts. It pained him so much to miss that game, Coles had to leave the Jets' locker room while his teammates were putting on their uniforms.
He was back on the field the following week, but hurt his ankle while making a 56-yard catch that set up a score. After sitting out another game, Coles hobbled through practice all last week, but showed enough to get back on the field.
``He's one of those guys that really wants to help his team win and does whatever he has to do,'' Wright said. ``It definitely means a lot to the team and to him, and as a New York Jets fan, I hope they appreciate what he does when he goes out there and plays hurt.''
Last week was especially painful for Coles. Not only did he have to deal with his injury, but also the loss of his former Redskins teammate, Sean Taylor. He spoke a few days after learning of Taylor's murder of how saddened he was to learn the news, and how Taylor was like him as a rookie.
Coles was often labeled as moody, grouchy, a malcontent - and generally for good reason - during his first tour with the Jets from 2000-02. He went to Washington as a free agent and spent two mostly frustrating seasons there before he was traded back to New York.
In his third year back, Coles is a changed person by all accounts. He's a team captain and one of the most accommodating players in the locker room, although he can still be a bit salty at times. Coles also often talks about the relationships he's built in the NFL, and how appreciative he is of being able to put on his uniform and play.
And all of that is what helps him get through the pain.
``It's not about the organization. It's about your teammates,'' he said. ``Those are the people that you're out there with. Those are the people who you went through training camp with and the guys that you have a brotherly love with that no matter what the business side shows, you still want to go out and compete with them.''