Bills WR Johnson Misses Practice

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo Bills receiver Stevie Johnson missed practice Thursday because of a sore groin that has been bothering him for about a month.

Coach Chan Gailey said Johnson was just given the day off, and fully anticipates Johnson to play Sunday when the Bills (1-0) play host to the Oakland Raiders (1-0).

Johnson appeared to tweak the injury in a position drill on Wednesday during the portion that reporters were able to watch. He took a few repetitions off before returning.

The four-year veteran led the Bills with 82 catches last season, and had four receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown in Buffalo’s season-opening 41-7 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

Defensive lineman Torell Troup (back) and linebacker Arthur Moats (knee) were both limited again on Thursday.

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With Sanchez, Jets Weigh Momentum Against Rest

Knowing the pain in his injured right shoulder, knowing the Jets have already clinched a playoff berth, knowing they need Pittsburgh to lose and Baltimore to win in order to improve their postseason standing, Sanchez said only, “I’m glad I’m not a head coach.”

Instead, the decision falls to the man who holds that title, , who reiterated Wednesday what he said Monday, that he had not made a decision regarding Sanchez, and that he might not until shortly before Sunday when Buffalo comes to town for the regular-season finale. Ryan labeled it unlikely that Sanchez would play the entire game, but he also did not dismiss the possibility that Sanchez would sit out.

Ryan said he told all of his players except safety James Ihedigbo to prepare as if they would play Sunday. “And as the week goes on,” Ryan continued, “we’re going to do what’s in the best interest of our team.”

Sanchez’s health, of course, remains the Jets’ primary concern. But Ryan also continued to point to his quarterback’s last two performances, both against stout defenses and Chicago, both on the road, both solid. Ryan also knows that three of Sanchez’s worst performances came after extended downtime: in the season opener against Baltimore, against Green Bay after the bye week and more than one week after the Jets played Thanksgiving night.

What Ryan called Sanchez’s “hot hand” on Wednesday, Sanchez described as rhythm and following the same routine. He compared it to a shooter in basketball who continues to fire away, who does not want a rest. He noted that extra repetitions, especially in real games, would not hurt.

“You don’t want to disrupt it,” he said. “You want to keep everything in stride.”

Sanchez also said his shoulder felt better, more healthy, than at this time last week.

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Jets Won’t Dismiss Starting Mark Sanchez Against Bills

They waited until the final week of the season to clinch their five previous berths (2001, ’02, ’04, ’06, ’09), so the fact that they did it Sunday, in the next-to-last game, put Coach in an unusual position.

His 10-5 team will enter the playoffs either as the No. 6 seed (more likely) or the No. 5 seed (less likely), meaning Ryan must decide whether to rest key or injured players in the regular-season finale against Buffalo next Sunday, most notably quarterback .

Immediately , to Chicago, Ryan indicated he planned to give several starters the game off against the . On a conference call Monday, he seemed uncertain.

“Eleven is better than 10,” Ryan said, referring to his team’s potential victory total. “That’s how I’m looking at it. I would like to get that win.”

Sanchez presents a special case. As he noted Sunday evening, he remains a quarterback in only his second season, one who relies on in-game repetitions that cannot be fully replicated in practice. But Sanchez also sustained a slight cartilage tear in his right, throwing shoulder against Pittsburgh, and after the Chicago game he described the shoulder as sore three times when answering one question.

While Sanchez would like to play, he said he would defer to Ryan’s judgment. On Monday Ryan gave little indication of his final decision and a glimpse into his thought process. He said safety James Ihedigbo would not play against Buffalo, along with other injured players. But Ryan noted that Sanchez “looked like a different quarterback these past couple of weeks,” then outlined his quandary. “Obviously his health is the No. 1 priority,” Ryan said. “The fact that he is in such a groove right now, we have to look at it as the week goes on.”

Ryan did not dismiss the possibility of starting Sanchez against Buffalo, then replacing him with .

The Jets’ clinching of a second straight playoff appearance Sunday represented a feat accomplished only in the history of the franchise. They did so with a second-year coach and quarterback, a rarity in the modern N.F.L.

Two factors dampened the celebration. The first was a defense that played poorly against the Bears and allowed more than 300 yards of offense for the second straight week. As a defensive guru, Ryan takes great pride in that unit — his unit — but he said Monday that his defense struggled with “Day 1 training camp-type things.”

Ryan chose to focus on his defense’s struggling fundamentals, the simple, correctable mistakes. He listed defensive backs failing to jam receivers and defensive linemen not using proper leverage among his concerns. But he said he believed the defense would improve, which, with an offense that awakened in the past two weeks, would render the Jets dangerous in the playoffs.

“We will get better,” Ryan said. “The answer is hard work, fundamentals. That’s the answer. It’s not in this call, that call, whatever. It’s in how we play the game.”

The other factor the Jets encountered Sunday had nothing to do with football. They spent Sunday night and Monday marooned in Chicago by the blizzard that hit the East Coast. Running back LaDainian Tomlinson said the players mostly kept to their rooms, resting, watching movies and ordering room service, “the typical stuff you do when you have nothing to do.”

A day after the game, the Jets tried as best as they could to replicate a typical Monday. They held meetings in the afternoon, and hoped to depart to New Jersey in the evening. They will resume a normal schedule the rest of the week.

Their exact playoff seeding is yet to be determined, which gives Ryan another reason to play his starters. If the postseason started today, the Jets would travel to Kansas City as the sixth seed in the American Football Conference.

If Baltimore beats visiting Cincinnati and Pittsburgh loses at Cleveland on Sunday, the will clinch the second seed, the A.F.C. North and a first-round bye. By virtue of their victory against the , the Jets would slide into the fifth seed, where they would face either Kansas City or the winner of the A.F.C. South, either Indianapolis or Jacksonville, on the road. The Steelers would fall to the sixth seed.

The last time a Jets coach faced the question of whether to rest players in the final week was in 1998, and in the finale against New England, which the Jets won. But even that situation was different because the Jets had a bye and Parcells did not want players to sit idle for consecutive weeks.

Ryan and Tomlinson said Monday that they believed in the necessity of momentum, especially for a team that had dropped three of its last four games.

“That’s important,” Tomlinson said, “to get into the playoffs confident and on a roll.”

EXTRA POINTS

Coach Rex Ryan announced several team honors Monday, including most inspirational (LaDainian Tomlinson) and most valuable (linebacker David Harris). He also named the winner of the Ed Block Courage Award (defensive end ).

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