Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What happened to Mike Nugent?

I got a great question from Kevin regarding the situation with Mike Nugent this year. As you may recall, Nugent was injured on opening day and didn't play the rest of the season. Mangini continually listed his injury as "thigh." I was able to find out the specifics of the injury, which was that he had a strained quad muscle. This is a dangerous injury for a kicker because if it is not allowed to fully heal the muscle can tear and put the player on the bench for as much as two years. It ultimately took Nugent in the neighborhood of six or seven weeks to heal the injury and then additional time to get game-ready. After that, he was what is called a "healthy scratch" while Jay Feely continued to serve as the Jets placekicker.

The cloak-and-dagger thing with the injury report aside, continuing to play Feely was an interesting choice. Most coaches are loathe to bench a "hot" kicker, however, while Feely was steady and consistent his numbers were more on the average side. Overall, my hunch is that the team felt more comfortable sticking with Feely then taking a chance on Nugent not actually being ready.

My new friend Kevin also brought up the point that the Jets seemed to get through the season fairly healthy overall. Well, yes if you overlook that several of their best players played hurt for all or most of the season - Brett Favre, Laveranues Coles and Kris Jenkins, among them. However, it is true that there weren't a lot of guys with extended problems or ending up on injured reserve. Not sure if you can attribute this to anything specific or just to a stretch of good luck. Personally it is always a relief not to repeat a season like 2005 where at the end of the year there were still guys showing up in the locker room who were complete strangers to me. (And to some of their teammates!)

The Jets strength and conditioning coach is Sal Alosi who is highly-respected around the league so I would think that having someone like that on staff would certainly have some impact. The new facility is completely state-of-the art so both of those things are definitely something to consider.

By the way - Nugent's contract officially expired at the end of the last game so I am keeping my ear to the ground trying to find out what the Jets plan to do about him. As a former second round pick, he might be expensive to keep around...

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