Jets center Nick Mangold expected to play Thursday against Bills

ByRich Cimini ESPN logo
Monday, November 16, 2015

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets expect to have center Nick Mangold when they face the Buffalo Bills, but they could be without cornerback Antonio Cromartie for Thursday night's showdown against Rex Ryan.

Cromartie has a deep thigh bruise and significant swelling, prompting an MRI exam. The nine-year veteran has never missed a game due to injury, but he's still not running, which leaves his coach pessimistic about his chances of playing.

Todd Bowles said he's "not very" confident and added, "He didn't look good today. I'll give him one more shot and see how he looks [Wednesday]. If not, I'm going to have to sit him down."

Cromartie would be replaced by slot corner Buster Skrine or Marcus Williams, usually the No. 4 corner. The secondary, which has allowed three straight 300-yard passing days, could be down two starters because safety Calvin Pryor (ankle) will miss his third consecutive game.

The Jets (5-3) have started three different players at strong safety, and their options are limited. Backup Dion Bailey (ankle) is also sidelined. The Jets could start Williams, who struggled two weeks ago at safety, or go with Rontez Miles or Ronald Martin, currently on the practice squad.

A wild card is former first-round pick Dee Milliner, who is eligible to come off the short-term injured reserve list. He can't play safety, but he could help by filling in at cornerback. The Jets have until 4 p.m. Wednesday to activate Milliner. If they pass, he remains on IR for the rest of the season.

"We have a lot of depth at corner, so I'm fine there," Bowles said. "I think Rontez will go in and play if he has to play, as well as Martin."

Cromartie, who has allowed six touchdown passes in eight games, was injured in the fourth quarter of Sunday's win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Mangold also left the game, bothered by a recurring neck injury, but he practiced fully Tuesday and received clearance to play. He missed the previous game because of what was termed a neck strain.

His return will be a boost to the offensive line, which has struggled in recent weeks. Chris Ivory was limited to 43 yards on 38 carries the past two games.

The line might not have right guard Willie Colon (knee), who missed practice and could miss his second straight game. He'd be replaced by Brian Winters.